Three Books by Clark County Authors Describe the Sacrifices of Military Service
“They called him Marvin”
Roger Stark, author of Washougal
The joys of love and the horrors of war are on display just as intensely in “They Called Him Marvin,” a true story that’s been imaginatively fleshed out by Washougal author Roger Stark.
The book, $19.99, is available from Birdhouse Books and Vintage Books in Vancouver.
Stark said he ran into Marvin Sherman, a retired Vancouver veterinarian, about ten years ago at a dinner party, and was inspired by Sherman’s heartfelt and captivating story about the pilot father he never knew.
Stark, the author of books on addiction and recovery, got Sherman’s blessing to research and write the story. It became an eight-year project involving research trips to the National Archives in Washington, DC, and even to Japan.
Marvin Sherman’s father, Dean Sherman, enlisted in the US Army Air Corps after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Dean married his childhood sweetheart in Salt Lake City. Connie Sherman was pregnant with Marvin when Dean was sent to the Pacific.
Stationed in India and then in the Mariana Islands, Dean Sherman was the commander of a B-29 Superfortress bomber whose initial mission was to attack Japanese industrial and military targets. But as the war dragged on, squadrons of B-29s also bombarded civilian populations.
“I was shocked to hear what we did there as a country,” Stark said. “It’s hard to rationalize. But I tried to get into the minds of decision makers who just wanted to end the war.
To get inside the heads of his many characters, Stark attended creative writing workshops and asked for feedback. He knew “They Called Him Marvin” had to be a work of creative non-fiction – based on facts and evidence, but also dramatizing people’s thoughts, feelings and dialogue as if they were characters in a novel. .
This even includes the vivid horrors endured by the family of Kyosho firefighters and other Tokyo residents who fled or were burned to death by bombs dropped by American B-29s. They’re composite characters that Stark created to balance his narrative, he said.
“I felt it was very important to explain the Japanese background and the Japanese experience,” Stark said.
While it’s deadly serious work, the multifaceted “They Called Him Marvin” is also brimming with love and joy. Marvin Sherman was able to provide Dean and Connie Sherman’s long-distance letters, and Stark insisted on including many of them in the book — because they’re so piquant and honest about love, separation, and longing, he said. -he says.
“I felt strongly that it was their story,” he said.
‘Pull the wedges, I’m throwing’
Back. Major-General David EB Yacolt-Amboy Area Quarter
Back. Maj. Gen. David EB Ward, 84, who lives in the Yacolt-Amboy area, tells stories of the first three decades of his life in “Pull the Chocks, I’m Launching.”
“I was telling people stories, and they kept saying, ‘You have to write a book,'” Ward said. “So eventually I started writing a book. The stories multiplied to the point that this book is the first in a trilogy.
The book is available by special order from Vintage Books in Vancouver ($25.50 for paperback or $42.50 for hardback), as well as on Amazon.
Ward completed his Air Force pilot training in 1962. His first assignment was as a T-33 jet pilot training instructor.
After leaving active duty in 1967, Ward joined the Oregon Air National Guard as an instructor and fighter pilot. He then commanded the 142nd Fighter Wing based at Portland Air National Guard Base. His final post before retiring after 36 years of military service was as Air National Guard Special Assistant to the Commander, United States Air Forces in Europe.
“The first time I saw fighter jets lining the skies over Anchorage, Alaska, I dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot. I was 12 and it was during the Korean War,” writes- he in the prologue of his book.
He moved often as a child, which prepared him for military life.
He spent formative summers on his grandparents’ ranch in Montana, which also housed German prisoners of war during World War II.
“I rode a horse at full gallop when I was 5 years old,” he said.
It details his entry into military service, a medical condition that nearly grounded him in 1963, his recovery, and his transition to the Oregon Air National Guard.
“The title, ‘Pull the Chocks, I’m Launching’ – it’s kind of a metaphor to inspire young people or anyone. Break down the barriers and live your dream as best you can. That’s the message that I’m trying to convey in the book,” Ward said.
“You can have a lot of interesting experiences if you keep moving forward.”
“When your dad is a soldier”
Camas author Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan
When military parents are called to serve, said Camas author Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan, their children end up serving too.
These overwhelmed children are the focus of McLellan’s new book, “When Your Daddy’s a Soldier.”
“It’s been a lifelong goal of mine to represent military kids in the press,” McLellan said. “We are a silent and broad subculture of American society.”
McLellan grew up an Army kid very familiar with the fears and worries about his soldier father, she said. When the Iraq War broke out in 2003, she realized she was just as concerned about military children as she was about their parents.
“My heart ached for the children who had to say goodbye to their mothers and fathers,” she said.
McLellan wrote “When Your Daddy’s a Soldier” so military families can relate to each other and explore their difficult emotions in print and pictures, she said. After a long, winding journey, the little book is finally out. It features soft and warm illustrations of home life by EG Keller.
While publisher Penguin Random House is aimed at readers ages 4 to 8, it’s suitable for the entire military family, as well as others who want a glimpse of that challenging experience, McLellan said.
While some portrayals of military families exist in the press, McLellan said, they tend to play on the angle of pride and patriotism while skipping the real anxieties of young children.
To refresh his own childhood experiences and emotions, McLellan made numerous visits to gatherings and events for children of deployed parents. She was thrilled to see how much more support children have today — from summer camps to therapy dogs — but their core insecurities and fears remain, she said.
This is true of the whole family, as in this complicated passage:
“When your dad is a soldier far away at war, your mom is no longer the same. Sometimes it looks like she’s gone too. Sometimes you have to jump in place before she even knows you’re talking. Sometimes she expects you to have grown up, and other times she acts like you’re a baby again.
The book ($17.99) is widely available at bookstores, McLellan said. A second version of the same book, entitled “When Your Mommy’s a Soldier”, should also be available soon.