Member Books for June 2016

MEMOIR

My Dash: The Autobiography of Colonel William C. Koch, Jr. By William C. Koch, Jr., USAF (Ret). JeanShadrack Publishing. ISBN 978-0-615-88689-3.   

A follow-on to author William C. Koch’s first book, The Diary of Elsie Kleiner Koch 1932, published in 2008, which was based on a diary that Koch’s mother kept in 1932 and ended with her being pregnant and Koch’s birth in 1933. My Dash begins with Koch’s birth and runs through the present. It is the story of a man born in a small town during the Great Depression, who lived through World War II, the Korean War, and graduated from college. While in college, Koch completed ROTC and became an Air Force officer. The book includes his experiences in the Air Force while flying in the Vietnam War and retiring after 30 years of service. Finally, it delves into his second career and final retirement. It is similar to many lives lived by men of his age and time. Many will see their own lives in the story.   

We Wrote Letters Then: How Family and Friends Stayed in Touch During the Vietnam War. By Maj. William A. Walker, USA (Ret). Lulu Publishing. ISBN 978-1-329-79892-2.  

Prior to the internet, email, Skype, and social media, the primary means of personal communication was postal mail, and delivery times were subject to the vagaries of transporting personal mail in wartime. With author William (Bill) Walker in Chu Lai and his wife Elin Walker in Denmark, it sometimes took weeks to exchange information. Today’s generation, accustomed to instant communication, can hardly imagine waiting a week or more for a reply from a loved one.  

Elin’s anxiety was already high when she boarded a plan in Copenhagen, Denmark, to meet Walker for some rest and relaxation in Bangkok, not knowing if he had received her letter confirming her travel plans. It accelerated when Russian fighter planes suddenly appeared beside the commercial plane as it flew over Russia and inexplicably was ordered to land in Moscow. Passengers deplaned and were herded to a dark room while their passports were inspected. The couple’s reunion in Bangkok did occur though, and included a rendezvous with Walker’s brother Jack, who was an Air Force air traffic controller stationed at Takhli Air Force base, Thailand.   

Elin’s letters to her husband were postmarked from wherever her travels took her, beginning at Fort Ord, Calif.; Fort Hood, Texas; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; New York; Denmark; Thailand; to Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, and Heidelberg, and Goppingen, Germany.  

Walker, a personnel officer at the American Division headquarters, wrote about the ins and outs of providing an array of day-to-day personnel services to the division from the Chu Lai, Vietnam, base, where sometimes routine activities were punctuated by a rocket attack.  

The Walker family managed to save all of their correspondence, as well as letters from family members and friends. Hundreds of letters, transcribed, unedited, and arranged sequentially, are heavily illustrated with photos and make for a small time capsule of the times on a personal level. The thoughts and impressions of close family members and friends are laced with their own letters written during tumultuous times, which included the Tet Offensive, antiwar demonstrations in the U.S. and Europe, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, the invasion of Czechoslovakia and others, which influenced world affairs.  

Seasons of Triumph. By Cmdr. Kenny Wayne Fields, USN (Ret). CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1-515-30275-9.  

Seasons of Triumph is an inspiring story written by Kenny Fields, a former Navy A-7 combat pilot and award-winning author of The Rescue of Streetcar 304. In his latest book, Fields recants his trials and tribulations while growing up in the ‘40s and ‘50s. This deftly written and novel-like memoir by a coal miner’s son weaves true tales about his daily activities and schooling in hilly West Virginia, the backwoods of Kentucky, and one year in Ohio. Along his path to high school graduation, Fields struggles to break free from his overly restrictive mother, and he also fights to overcome two obstacles that are thwarting his two major goals: stardom on his high school athletic teams and the love of a girl. He constantly is told he is too small to play with the big boys and he is too shy to talk to girls. Yet, he fights on with dogged persistence, courage, religious faith, and the support of family, coaches, and friends. Fields’ experience will appeal to readers of all ages and his heartwarming memories — home life, roaming the mountains, attending a one-room school, competing with teammates, dating girls — provide a nostalgic look back in time at the daily lives of his real-life characters. This story will inspire the young who have similar obstacles to overcome, and, for the not so young, will evoke wonderful memories of their own youthful mistakes and triumphs.    

The President's First Year: None were Prepared, Some Never Learned — Why the Only School for Presidents is the Presidency. By Capt. Douglas A. Cohn, USA (Ret). Lyons Press. ISBN 978-1-4930-1192-6.  

A fascinating new angle on presidential history, assessing the performances of the presidents in their freshman year of the toughest job in the world. Grouped by issues the new presidents confronted in their first years in office, the book takes readers into the history, thought processes, and results on a case-by-case basis, including how the presidents’ subsequent actions proved they learned (or didn’t learn) from their mistakes. From George Washington to Barack Obama, The President’s First Year details the challenging first twelve months of all our presidents’ tenures.