Dear Valentina: Book shares real life love story - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dear Valentina: Book shares real life love story

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Dear Valentina is a compilation of letters written from Merle Martin to his wife, Valentina, during WWII.

Merle shipped out on the couple's third wedding anniversary. It was December 15, 1944. He was gone for a little more than a year and wrote 349 letters to his "Darling."

"In that time it took 12 and a half days for a letter to reach," said 87-year-old Valentina Martin.

The couple wrote back and forth almost every day, sometimes writing more than one letter a day.

"He says I'm gonna save all these letters because of the promises you made," she said.

But none of the letters Valentina wrote are in the book. That's because her letters were lost in a tornado near Okinawa where Merle was stationed.

Merle grew up in Waterloo, but met Valentina in Traer -- her hometown. She was riding in a car with friends and Merle was at a gas station in town.

"We side swiped a car and said I think I'm bleeding and said I'll take you to the hospital, and I said don't bother that's watermelon juice," said Valentina Martin.

Valentina said Merle called her every night after that, and the pair spent a lot of time dancing.

Through these letters, you can see Merle's love for Valentina never faded.

"He was very good to me. He spoiled me," she said.

After the war, the couple lived and worked in Waterloo. They had one son.

Merle died in November 2005 at age 87.

Valentina actually started compiling the letters in 2007 -- but due to some medical problems -- it got delayed for several years.

She said she wanted to share Merle's memory and his service to our country.

The couple was married more than 60 years, and her advice to young couples today - communicate with each other.

Dear Valentina is available online at Amazon.

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