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  • Museum of Military Culture

Fruit Cake Follows GI Home

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

A story on how a fruit cake followed Pfc. Paul Davidson from the U.S. to Vietnam and back.

The original newspaper article cut out by Paul Davidson

Article from the Rockland county journal-news:

"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays, these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" the inscription above the New York Post Office reads. Herodotus may have had the best intentions in mind when he jotted down that phrase centuries ago, but he did not take in account the problems the Vietnam conflict would present to today's postal service. Last week, Pfc. Paul E. Davidson, 20, of Pearl River, was handed a Christmas fruit cake, mailed to him more than six months ago. And instead of a United States mail carrier handling the delivery, it was made by the woman who sent the package to Davidson back on Nov. 23, 1965 --- Mrs. Victor E. Prezioso of the Pearl River Honor Roll Committee.

The package, re-sealed by some thoughtful Army postal employee, with kahki-colored tape, bore no less than 16 changes of address from the time it was mailed until this week. Every available square inch of the brown wrapper was stamped with red, blue and black markings from San Francisco to Japan to Vietnam.

Paul is home for 30 days, after spending more than a year in Vietnam in which he participated in several combat missions. He has been a member of the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam but will be re-assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky to finish out his remaining 1 1/2 years of military service. His Christmas cake was one of 400 mailed out each year to local servicemen by the Honor Roll Committee, comprised mainly of women connected with Pearl River's veteran auxiliaries.

Mrs. Prezioso, in handing the cake to him said that frequently such packages never reach their destination because the committee is not kept informed of changes of address for the service man. This cake followed Davidson to Vietnam, but by that time, he had taken ill with malaria and was in an Army hospital in Japan. The cake was re-routed there, be he in turn went back to Vietnam and so did the cake. Once more he came down with malaria, but this time he was sent to a new hospital in Vietnam. the cake apparently sped back to Japan. Sunday, Paul arrived unexpectedly at home in Pearl River, unaware of the cake which was still following him. It arrived Monday, marked "return to sender", thus ending up with Mrs. Angelinn Mendolio, who is chairman of the cake sending division of the Honor Roll Committee. Her son, Arthur, who operates a barber shop next to The Journal-News Pear River office, stopped by Tuesday to see if the paper might be interested in the package. We soon discovered that its intended recipient was in town.

The cake was stale, "hard as a rock," Paul said, He is keeping it in its cellophane wrapper as "a souvenir" of Vietnam. Mrs Prezioso found a moral in the episode however, and that is a plea to the parents of all servicemen from Pearl River: "Please keep us informed of the new addresses of your children each time they are transferred, so that we can keep sending them fruit cakes and newspaper."

- Robert Knight

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