Here in the United States, Veterans Day is coming up November 11. Originally tied to the end of World War I and honored by different countries under various names, the day has more significance than we sometimes give it credit for. I’ve shared a bit in the past about my mother’s service in uniform during World War II. As a Baby Boomer, it isn’t surprising that others in my generation have stories to share as well.
R Grey Hoover is an Air Force veteran with a family tradition of military service that dates back to the American revolution.
He wrote his book “KICKER (The Forgotten Front): A WWII thriller about a family’s hardships on the home front and the Army airmen who flew unarmed missions over Japanese territory in China, Burma and India” to honor his father and the other veterans of World War II who fought in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theatre. During the war, the European and Pacific theatres got most of the supplies and media attention leaving the CBI theatre with the leftovers. Even in today’s media coverage of World War II the CBI theatre is never mentioned. The author’s book is an attempt to correct this gross oversight.
We have scheduled this blog post to coordinate with the launch of your book. Can you tell us why you selected this date?
Every year I watch the TV programs on Memorial Day and Veterans Day that are presented to honor the veterans of World War II, and every year I am disappointed that a segment of those veterans is forgotten. The history and actions of veterans of the European, African and Pacific theaters are always well represented and honored, but the veterans of the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater are never mentioned. The CBI gave us such notable units as the Flying Tigers, Merrill’s Marauders and the first military use of gliders. It was the largest WWII theater with the worst weather conditions imaginable and it featured over 700,000 allied troops completely supplied from the air for over 3 years. As the son of a veteran of the CBI theater, it is very disappointing to me that such an important segment of our honored military is always overlooked.
This Veterans Day I want to see that the men and women who fought in the CBI theater are recognized for their service. I intend to do this by making my ebook Kicker (The Forgotten Front) available on Amazon for free during the Veterans Day holiday. Kicker is based on actual experiences and military records and tells the story of my father and many other CBI veterans through the eyes of a single protagonist. The book does not contain vulgar language or erotic scenes and is acceptable for teens as well as older generations. It tells the story of our forgotten veterans both on the home front and the CBI front.
You must have done a huge amount of research. How did you select your sources?
I spent 7 years researching my book. The primary sources of information about the CBI theater came from attending meetings of many CBI veterans groups. They called their groups Bashas which is the Indian term for house. I was lucky to be able to meet with those groups because most have been disbanded due to the loss of members. Another excellent source of data was a monthly magazine called the Ex-CBI Roundup which contains many stories submitted by CBI veterans. I was given about 10 years worth of these magazines by a veteran I met and befriended. Of course I had the actual experiences of my father as my most intimate source.
You’ve been involved in independent books since before we met, but this is your first work as an author. Tell us about that transition.
I started out with the intention of just documenting my father’s war time experiences for my family. However, as my research let me to meet many veterans of WWII, I felt I needed to tell their stories too. That is when I decided to write a book in their honor.
Your bio says you were a commercial airline pilot. Can you tell us about that?
I have always been interested in flying, and although I am not an airline pilot, I used by GI benefits to obtain both fixed and rotary wing commercial licenses and I was a flight instructor. I enjoyed flying all kinds of aircraft, but I enjoyed flying helicopters the most.
I’m ready for a flight lesson if you are? Is there anything you want to share that I haven’t asked?
Thank you for this opportunity to share my concerns about our forgotten WWII veterans from the CBI theater. During my years of research I met many of them and was impressed with their dedication to our country and to our freedoms. I can also say that about all of our past and present veterans.
And where can people find more about you?
Amazon URL for Kicker http://mybook.to/Kicker
Links to my website and pinterest boards that honor veterans
Social media links:
Excerpt from Kicker
Sam and Bobby Joe were totally exhausted when they crawled into their charpoys. The harrowing events of the day had taken its toll on them physically and mentally. In spite of the heat and noise of the jungle, Sam felt the blessed relief of sleep approaching soon after his head hit the pillow. However, as he drifted off, a feeling of unease came over him. It was a feeling that something was wrong, not here in India, but at home. He didn’t know if he felt uneasy because he still hadn’t received mail from home or because of some unknown reason, but the feeling stayed with him until he finally succumbed to his exhaustion and slipped into a deep sleep.
Thankfully, his slumber was not disturbed by his recurring nightmare, and he slept soundly until the wee hours of the morning when he suddenly awoke not knowing what had disturbed him. A light rain was falling outside, and except for an occasional flash of distant lightning, the basha was in total darkness. He lay very still, listening to the sounds around him. He strained his hearing, but no sound came except for the steady breathing of the sleeping men around him. After several minutes, he relaxed, thinking his imagination was playing tricks on him. He was almost asleep again when he thought he detected a faint unfamiliar sound coming from somewhere in the basha. Once again, he listened intently, not sure he had heard anything; but then he heard the sound again—only this time it seemed closer, and he was sure it came from within the basha. He couldn’t quite place the sound, but it seemed like something soft brushing against an object. He listened closely, but all was silent. None of the other men in the basha stirred, and after an extended period of silence, he relaxed once again in anticipation of sleep.
He was in that dreamy state just before slumber when he felt the presence of something or someone nearby. Once again, his senses came to full alert, and he made a conscious effort not to move. He listened carefully, bringing all his senses to bear. He could see or hear nothing, and yet he was sure something was there. He was startled when someone at the other end of the room moved, but then all was silent once again. He was lying on his back, so he slowly moved his head to the right and scanned the darkness.
At first he saw nothing, but then attention was drawn to a slight movement at the foot of his bed. He couldn’t make out what it was. It appeared to be an undistinguishable shadow against the darker background of the room. As he watched, the shadow moved, and he held his breath as it silently glided along the side of his bed. There was no sound as it moved, and it slowly drew nearer and stopped near the head of his bed. He could tell that it was something large, but due to the extreme darkness, he was unable to see what it was. His instincts told him this was something dangerous and evil, and the hairs on the nape of his neck stood erect. At that moment, a distant flash of lightning faintly illuminated the scene, and in that instant of light, Sam could see the large form of a tiger standing beside him.
The animal’s head was enormous. Its eyes, momentarily reflecting light from the faraway lightning, gave the beast an evil, devil-like appearance. This was death incarnate staring directly at him.
Sam was frozen with fear, and his heart seemed to stop. His .45-caliber pistol hung on the wall not three feet away, and he cursed himself for not keeping it inside the mosquito netting with him. He knew the tiger could see that he was awake, and he feared any movement would cause it to attack. The animal stepped closer, and Sam could see its dim outline and smell its damp fur and the fetid odor of its breath. The tiger appeared to know its victim was helpless. The great beast took its time as it sniffed the mosquito netting as if testing its strength. Slowly it raised a huge paw and placed it against the puny impediment. The tiger’s claws caught in the netting, and with a mighty swipe, it ripped the flimsy material away from the bed.