MOUNT VERNON — When Frances Constantikes visited the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C., recently, she carried with her a picture of her late husband, also a veteran of the war. She was stationed at Camp Kilmer, N.J., when they met.
She recalls that she and another sergeant were sitting in a crowded non-commissioned officers club talking, when two soldiers walked up and asked if they could sit at their table.
“Before we could say anything, they sat down,” she recalled fondly. “We had coffee and talked a while and the one sitting across from me asked if he could walk me back to my barracks. I said he should ask me again later, after I got to know him better.”
When she got back to her office, where they processed paperwork for all the soldiers staging through Camp Kilmer on their way overseas, she looked up the young soldier she had met. Theodore Constantikes was a medic with the 42nd Infantry Division, known as the Rainbow Division because, when it was organized in World War I, it was drawn from National Guard units from 26 states and the District of Columbia. He had been in the Army since before the war started, as he was a medic at Pearl Harbor during the attack.
She kept seeing him and, when he was leaving for Europe, he asked if she would answer any letters he wrote. She said she would.
She still has over 100 letters he wrote through the end of the war.
Mrs. Constantikes grew up in Hunnewell, Mo., and was teaching in a one-room school in Missouri when she decided to enlist.