Linda E. Minton, a retired Franklin Township educator and a part-time teacher at Nativity Catholic School, had no intention of writing a book about World War II veterans when she set out to determine the circumstances of her late Uncle Frank Francis being awarded a Purple Heart.
“I knew he had been wounded, but I didn’t know any of the details so I started asking around,” Minton said.
This curiosity led her to being introduced to other veterans who had stories of their own, and Minton soon found herself documenting their accounts of the war.
What started out as a small task turned into an extensive research project for Minton, who eventually interviewed 65 veterans, including two survivors from the USS Indianapolis, or the families they left behind.
“They all had poignant, emotional and amazing stories that needed to be told, and I didn’t feel it was right for me to sit on all this information,” she said. That’s when I decided to write “WWII Heroes: We Were Doing Our Jobs,” and I felt an urgency to get it done.
“The accounts of these 90-year-old men are fascinating reading for anyone who enjoys history. Also, it is a reminder to be thankful for our freedom. It is important to know what these veterans endured and how they survived.
“They don’t see themselves as heroes or anything special,” Minton said. “Most just said they were doing their jobs and fighting for the love of their country. Family and country were the most important things to these veterans.”
What Minton found hard to believe was the veterans’ willingness to put themselves in harm’s way. “They are incredibly humble men. I do consider them heroes.”
Minton’s late Uncle Melvin Eakle, one of her six uncles who served in the conflict, was a prisoner of war but didn’t hate his captors. He was known for saying, “Those boys were just doing their jobs.”
Three veterans who were stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed Dec. 7, 1941, gave detailed accounts of the day. “They remembered exactly what they were doing,” said Minton, married 23 years to Ray Minton.
The overwhelming majority of those interviewed said they supported dropping the atomic bombs on Japan. “Many people died because of the bombs, but it ended the war,” the veterans agreed. “Many more would have died – on both sides – if the bombs hadn’t been dropped.”
The book also features several accounts about the men and women who worked in Evansville, Ind., making war products. And the book doesn’t omit the sacrifices – shortages and rations – that the home front had to make.
“War affected everyone during the 1940s,” said Minton, who will sign copies of her book from noon-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at Bookmamas, 9 Johnson Ave., near Ritter Avenue and East Washington Street.
Minton’s decision to write the book was timely. Of the 16.1 million members of the U.S. armed forces during the war, the Veterans Affairs estimates that only 500,000 are alive. About 135,780 are dying every year.
The project proved to be a rewarding experience for Minton, who said the veterans were happy that they got to tell their stories. “They liked that I let them talk about their faith.”