I’m pleased to report that I’m up to 60,000 words on On Eagle Wings Upborne, the second in the Wings series of novels about Otto Kerchner, World War II bomber pilot, B-29 instructor, and Korean War squadron commander. The novel should run 80,000 words, so I’m about 3/4 of the way done and should finish the first draft the last of July. Then it will be time to revise!
I have also thinking about the people who have told me about their relatives’ experience in World War II when they find out about the first novel in the series. One was Walt Rew from our church, now deceased, who flew P-51 fighters in the European Theater. Such fighters would have escorted bombers such as Otto and the others flew. The father of one of the prospective publishers of the book, John Koehler of Koehler Books, flew a P-61 night fighter in the ETO. The father of Kay Evans, Manassas Chorale member, Berle Robinson, was a B-17 radio operator who gave up a railroad job which would have exempted him from service in the war. He flew over 28 missions.
A relative of someone whose name I can’t recall was shot down on his first mission and spent the war in a German Stalag.
Dub Vandegriff, who goes to our church, was a radio operator in a B-17 with the 95th Bomb Group. The story of the group is chronicled in The Wild Blue Yonder and Beyond, a treasure trove of information about American bomber groups in England during the war.
Write by the Rails member and business consultant Peggy Kimmey told me the story of her father trying to disarm or release bombs on a B-17 when the bomb bay doors opened and he had nothing between him and water below but a very narrow catwalk.
Someone whose name I do not have had an uncle who was shot down over Italy but made it back to his base in three weeks.
Local photographer Roger Snyder told me about his father-in-law’s escort ship being torpedoed and sunk. He spent 60 hours in oil-soaked water fending off shark attacks. Of 350 sailors on board, 75 survived. Their ship was escorting the cruiser Indianapolis, which delivered the first A-bombs used in combat to Tinian Island.
And, there is John Faulkner, who works with the City of Manassas’ Office of Assessments, who told me his father served on Dwight Eisenhower’s SHAEF staff during the war.
My thanks to all these who shared with me and a salute to all who served and sacrificed so nobly and honorably to give us all the lives we live today!