WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A new book is being published to honor a group of WWII veterans who all live at the Plantation Village retirement community in Porter’s Neck.
“Answering the Call: A Story of Everyday Valor” is made up of firsthand accounts of the war, complete with photos both from wartime and portraits of the veterans today.
According to the community’s marketing coordinator, Beck Grogan, nearly 60 WWII veterans were living at Plantation Village four years ago. Grogan wanted to do something to honor and remember them and launched the book as a sort of passion project added into her day job.
“They’re special people, you know, they’re your neighbors and their stories are so heartwarming and its just wonderful to be able to talk to them and get to know them and to be able to put these down on paper for their families to read,” Grogan said.
Emerson Foote will never forget one particular day in 1941.
“I can remember very clearly that Sunday afternoon, December 7th, when Franklin Roosevelt announced that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor,” said Foote.
Foote says he’d never been near an ocean, so he volunteered to join the Navy.
“It wasn’t really a question, it was the thing to do. It was the thing to do. You had to do it, you had to go, to do your part to bring an end to the whole thing,” said Foote.
Roland Berube dropped out of high school at 16 to work for a defense agency until he could enlist at 17. He says his selflessness was not unique.
“I think our WWII is unique, and I would say the majority of the servicemen had volunteered. I don’t think we had much to do with drafts, everyone wanted to join,” Berube said.
To preserve these stories, Grogan enlisted the help of local best-selling author Kevin Maurer.
“I feel like these stories are important, you know, this generation, we’re losing them. We’re losing them faster than we can stand. I think its important to capture as much of this history as we can,” Maurer said.
This past spring, there were 29 living WWII veterans at Plantation Village. Maurer did sit-down interviews with each of them, and recorded the audio with transcriptions as a lasting testimony.
“A lot of WWII stories have been written. Everybody knows the big battles. These are the quiet moments, the personal stories, these are the inner thoughts these guys have,” Maurer said.
The transcripts were edited for length, and Maurer brought in a photographer to take portraits of each participant. They’ll each have one or two pages of their story included in the book.
“When I look at these pages and I see their faces as young people and now, I feel like I know them. I hope people think it’s a beautiful book and want to get to know them as well,” Grogan said.
Plantation Village is a non-profit community. Each veteran will be presented with a copy of the book at its annual Veteran’s Day celebration in November. A copy will be presented to the family of the six veterans who have died since the start of the project. Grogan says she hopes to use any additional proceeds to publish books about Vietnam War and Korean War veterans.
The book is scheduled for launch in October and is available for pre-order now. Pre-ordering information is available here.