A hearty welcome to Becky Van Vleet, whose first novel tells her father’s WWII story and honors his sacrifice. Becky’s offering a signed hardback copy of Unintended Hero to one commenter–for yourself, or would make a great gift!
The Story Behind the Story
As a baby boomer, I grew up in a household hearing stories from my parents about the Great Depression and WWII. I don’t recall being all that interested as a youngster, yet I never forgot the firsthand stories my parents shared. Fast forward a few years, and I marry a baby boomer, who also recalled similar stories. As an educator with four children, the call to preserve these stories in some fashion or form came to me. Not knowing how long our parents would live to share their firsthand accounts with our children, I decided I’d better not let the stories perish in oblivion.
I’d always been fascinated with my father’s stories he shared about the USS Denver, the light cruiser he was a gunner on in the South Pacific in WWII. So I whipped out my dated cassette recorder on March 19, 1990, corralled my father to our kitchen table, and asked him to recount his WWII adventures, experiences, and battles so I could save his stories for our children, his grandchildren.
For the next two hours, his stories tumbled out with pride and a remarkable remembrance. I sat spellbound, taking it all in. At the time, my plan was to simply save the cassettes as historical keepsakes for my family.
Fast forward again, thirty years later. Covid hits, and I’m homebound with a worldwide shutdown. My children are grown up with children of their own. Time is on my hands. Another call to write a book to preserve my father’s WWII stories came loud and clear.
Google and search engines became my friends, working in tandem with my fingers on my keyboard. I had a big puzzle on my hands to fit all the pieces together—my dad’s stories on the cassettes, the USS Denver deck logs, tedious research for the whole Pacific Theater for WWII, researching ammunition and guns (remember I said my father was a gunner), all the battles, hundreds of other Navy ships, and the . . . well, I had a lot of pieces to fit together to formulate a story. And a well-written story. I wouldn’t settle for less than the best.
This was a story, after all, about my father.
He was no longer living, and my book must honor not only him, but the other sixteen million Americans who also answered the call of duty to fight for our country. They had sacrificed school, jobs, families, homes, personal aspirations, and their very lives. My book would represent them as well.
Tap, tap, tap. My fingers flew over my keyboard faster than armor piercing shells flying from WWII battleships for more than a year as a manuscript immerged. Help came from everywhere–my husband, editors, WWII veterans, and friends. Family cheered me on.
Unintended Hero, my debut historical novel, finally made an inaugural appearance on Amazon in August, 2022. For Gail’s readers, if you know of any WWII buffs in your circle, or, if you have young people in your circle who could benefit from a good story about patriotism, sacrifice for a cause beyond self, and teamwork for America, I’d like to recommend this book to you. This is not about self-promotion nor sales. That was never my intention when I set out to write my father’s story. This book is about preserving a firsthand story from Walter Troyan, my father, who came from The Greatest Generation, to use Tom Brokaw’s term. A story about sacrifice and freedom which impersonates Thomas Paine’s “The American Crisis” which he wrote in 1776.
Becky Van Vleet
Becky Van Vleet is a wife, mother, grandmother, swimmer, gardener, oil painter, power walker, and a writer who loves God. She especially enjoys getting together with friends and family, eating cotton candy, asking Alexa hundreds of questions, and reading books to her grandchildren. An award-winning author of children’s picture books, she’s over the moon about her debut novel, Unintended Hero, a true story about her father’s experiences on the USS Denver in WWII. Her website is devoted to preserving family stories and memories, believing it’s important to tell our stories to the next generations. Check out her website at www.beckyvanvleet.com