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
It looks like his ship saw plenty of action! How compelling that Becky was able to include what her father had recorded.
Thank you, Joy, for stopping by, Joy. Yes, my father saw astounding action aboard the USS Denver as well as the other 1,200 sailors.
Thanks for the introduction of the new book. Will have to get a copy for my Father-in-love, a “Navy Man” of the Korean War.
Thank you, JD, for stopping by Gail’s blog. I have included much about the US Navy. I think most likely your Father-in-love would probably appreciate that aspect. (Boot camp, gunnery school, all the ship’s protocols with the Navy)
What a wonderful opportunity for you to make those tapes with your father and include them in your new book. I hope the readers of today will learn and understand what made the “Greatest Generation” and in particular, your father, tick.
Thank you for stopping by Gail’s blog, Connie. Yes, it was indeed a wonderful opportunity to record my father 30 years ago. I could never have written this book without his actual stories.
This sounds like a marvelous read, Becky. Congratulations on getting this published!
Thank you, Martha, for stopping by Gail’s blog. And thank you for the encouragement. It was a privilege to write my father’s story and preserve it for many generations to come.
I love the cover photo. You’re right–those of our generation grew up hearing stories from this era. Best of luck. I’ll check out your book.
Hi Cherie–thank you for commenting! And I appreciate your compliment about the cover photo and your encouraging words. I will always appreciate hearing all those stories from my parents.
Becky, you are fortunate to have received your dad’s memories of WWII first hand. My brother served in the Pacific for 33 months. The little I know of his experiences is from research because he would not discuss anything pertaining to those months, not even his injuries suffered aboard the destroyer, USS McDermut, in 1944. Many years later, I found an old book about the McDermut. I expected him to be at least a little bit excited. I was wrong. At first he simply looked at it, then picked it up long enough to riffle through a few pages. His only comment was: “I recognize some of the names.” He then pushed the book away. While he was serving, I, a small child, watched my mother’s anxiety over her firstborn. My book, Challenges on the Home Front, World War II, recounts her story and the lives of women who lived in eight countries during the war years. These women, who held the family together during the Great Depression and then accepted, and conquered, the challenge to hold the nation together during the war years are part of Mr. Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation.” If you are interested, you will find my guest visit on Gail’s blog on March 4, 2022 at https://www.gailkittleson.com/challenges-on-the-home-front-world-war-ii/
Hi Peggy–thank you for sharing! I read your own guest blog visit on Gail’s site. Thank you for the link. And what a gem you have with this kind of publication about women’s experiences and contributions to the war, firsthand stories, representing other countries. Amazing! When I was writing my book and busy with research, I remember reading about the McDermut. You might already know, these destroyers were called Tin Cans, and their role was hugely significant out on the waters. I understand about your brother’s hesitancy to talk about it. My father was really the same way until I “twisted” his arm to preserve his stories for the grandchildren! And then he opened up. Tom Brokaw’s term of “The Greatest Generation” is such a tribute, a very accurate title indeed!
Hi Peggy! You’re the winner! I will be mailing you a copy of my book. Here is my email address: email@example.com
Please send me your address. Congratulations, and Merry Christmas!
Becky, thank you for sharing about your wonderful book. My dad was in the Air Force in WWII, and my husband was a Navy man in the Vietnam War. Your book sounds like a wonderful tribute to your dad and to all the brave men who fought and served our country. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Hi Esther, thank you for stopping by Gail’s blog. What a privilege we both share in that our fathers served in the war and brought all of us great honor through their teamwork, patriotism, and sacrfices.
I’ve known Becky since we were young. I spent many nights at her house. Her Mother and Father were wonderful Christian people. He Father Walter was a wonderful song leader at Church. I’m very impressed with to books Becky has written.
Thank you for stopping by, Deborah. Our childhood memories are sweet treasures we both have, that’s for sure!
I can say, “I knew you when.” My father served in the navy in the Pacific. I discovered some pictures he took on the Pacific islands. Congratulations on your latest book. I hope it reaches many readers.
Thank you, Susan, for stopping by Gail’s blog. I’d love to hear more specifics about your father in WWII. I’ll follow up with you!
Would love to read and share this book