“Voices of Victory” record, July 4, 1944

During World War II, a unique program offered hope to families with loved ones stationed far away. The “Voices of Victory” records, produced by GEM Razors and Blades, were lacquered cardboard records that allowed service members to record and send personalized messages home.

One such record carried the voice of 19-year-old Henry L. Keen to his family in Braxton, Mississippi. While stationed in California as a U.S. Marine, Keen recorded a message for his mother at a USO in Los Angeles on July 4, 1944. Within the recording, Keen recounts his time in Hollywood, asks about his father’s fishing exploits, and anticipates an impending visit home. He ends simply, “Love ya’ll. Son.”

Tragically, just eight months later, Private First Class Keen was killed in action on the battlefield of Iwo Jima. This record stands as the only known audio recording of Keen, preserving the voice of a son across time and loss.

Click below to listen to the recording. 


Full transcription of audio:

Woman: Hello Mrs. Keen in Braxton, Mississippi. This is the Gem Blades reporting, speaking to you from the Hollywood USO, July 4, 1944, in Hollywood, California. To you courtesy of Gem Blades and Razors. Here’s Henry.


Henry Keen: Hi, Folks. Well here I am in good old LA, I mean Hollywood you might say. A lot of good-looking women, you know, and a lot of good looking, uhh, well, I won’t go into detail about that. I’m here having a fine time. Hope all you are well. I’m well. Hope to continue to be. How’s daddy? Doing much fishing? If I know him, I know he is. I got a couple of buddies with me, you know. They’re really on the ball tonight, couple of shots I think they took, and that’s about all, that’s why they are on the ball. Oh yeah, you can expect me home about the fourteenth. And I’ll be knocking at the door, you know. Uhh. This is a very nice place here in Hollywood. Nice people, free drinks, free eats, just everything. Even free music, you know. Nice orchestra. Free records. I got a beautiful young lady here that’s helping me play this record. In fact, I got two big boys in the back that’s trying to beat me out [inaudible] my time you might say.


Woman: Tell your mom you love her.


Keen: Well, I guess this is all for now folks. So, bye.


Woman: Tell your mom that you love her.


Keen: Love ya’ll. Son.

Visit MAFM’s World War II gallery to learn more about Henry L. Keen’s story.

Source:Gift of Glenda Spann
Time Period:1941 - 1960
Related Conflict:World War II
Display Status:This artifact is not on view.


Click here to visit the World War II exhibit.
831st Bombardment Squadron patch belonging to Thomas R. Fry
Oil lamp used at an aid station during the Battle of the Bulge
Go For Broke! jumbo lobby card
Ready to learn more?