Wednesday, October 29, 2014

World War II Talks in Warsaw, Columbia City

Two of Indiana's most notable heroes of World War II--U.S. Navy ace Alex Vraciu and beloved war correspondent Ernie Pyle--will be the subjects of talks I'll be giving at two libraries in northeastern Indiana in early November. Both programs are free and open to the public. 

At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 4, I will be at the Warsaw Community Public Library, 310 East Main Street, Warsaw, to talk about Vraciu's career as a fighter pilot in the Pacific during World War II. A graduate of DePauw University, Vraciu learned to fly during his college years through a government program and joined the navy before America was thrust into the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Possessed with keen eyesight, quick reflexes, excellent shooting instincts, and a knack for finding his opponent's weak spot, Vraciu became skilled in the deadly game of destroying the enemy in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. For a period of four months in 1944, Vraciu stood as the leading ace in the U.S. Navy. He shot down nineteen Japanese planes in the air and destroyed an additional twenty-one on the ground.

At 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 5, I will be at the Peabody Public Library, 1160 East Highway 205, Columbia City, to talk about the life and death of Pyle, who wrote so well about the average GI for those back on the home front during the war. In his columns Pyle offered a foxhole view of the struggle as he reported on the life and death of the average soldier. When in died in 1945, Pyle's popularity and readership was worldwide, with his column appearing in 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers.

For information on the Vraciu talk in Warsaw, call the library at (574) 267-6011. For information on the Pyle talk, call the library at (260) 244-5541.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gus Grissom Program June 25 in Columbia City

On January 27, 1967, American astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee entered the Apollo Command Module on Kennedy's Space Center Pad 34 to conduct a test of the new spacecraft as part of NASA's effort to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade--they never made it out alive. What happened that day will be explored in my talk "Tragedy at Pad 34: Gus Grissom and the Apollo 1 Fire" at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at the Peabody Public Library in Columbia City, Indiana.

The talk, based on my biography of Grissom, examines the career of the Mitchell, Indiana, native, including his selection as one of the Original 7 Mercury astronauts, his ill-fated Liberty Bell 7 mission, his contributions to the Gemini program, and his final mission on Apollo 1.

For more information on the talk, contact the library by calling (260) 244-5541.

Ernie Pyle Program in Pendleton

To the millions of Americans on the home front during World War II, Ernie Pyle’s columns in newspapers across the country offered a foxhole view of the struggle as he reported on the life and death of the average soldier. When he died, Pyle’s popularity and readership was worldwide, with his column appearing in 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers.

At 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 24, I will be at the Pendleton Community Library, 595 East Water Street, Pendleton, Indiana, to talk about Pyle's career, from his birth in the small Hoosier community of Dana, his days at Indiana University in Bloomington, his career as a reporter, and his coverage of American troops overseas during World War II. The talk is based upon my biography of Pyle, The Soldier's Friend: A Life of Ernie Pyle. Copies of the book will be available at the talk.

For more information, call the library at (765) 778-7527.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jontz Biography Review

The March 2014 issue of the Indiana Magazine of History featured a review of my biography of the late Indiana congressman Jim Jontz. The reviewer, Nancy Gabin, praises the book, calling it an "engaging biography" that captures the life of the dedicated public servant and environmentalist. "Well-researched and drawing on interviews with family and friends, staff members and political associates, political observers and journalists, the biography is an important addition to recent Indiana history and a welcome contribution to modern political history and the history of environmentalism."