James Diehl and World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware
Today's guest blogger is James Diehl, author of World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware. James is an award-winning journalist who has covered Sussex County, Delaware for various media outlets since 1998. Since 2007, he has owned and operated a freelance writing company based in Seaford, Delaware and is also a partner in a Lewes, Delaware-based public relations and marketing firm. He is the author of one other work of non-fiction – Remembering Sussex County, from Zwaanendael to King Chicken, published in 2009 by The History Press.
I won a copy of James's book during his virtual book tour, so look for a review coming soon.
World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware is a book unlike any other ever written. In its pages are profiles of 50 ordinary Americans who did extraordinary things during a time unlike any other in American history.
These are men and women who today call southern Delaware home. In the 1940s, these brave Americans put their lives on hold to fight for freedom and democracy against the horrific threat imposed on the world by Emperor Hirohito of Japan and German Fuhrer Adolph Hitler.
When Imperial Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, the world changed forever. These men and women were a big part of that change; they fought to protect our freedom and our way of life.
Among the amazing stories you’ll read in “World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware” are:
* A United States Marine who was a part of the 1945 attack on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima. He was one of 17 members of his company who survived, a company that numbered more than 300 at the beginning of the attack. * An Army soldier who was responsible for uncovering Adolph Hitler’s enormous, and illegally gained, fortune toward the end of World War II. * An Army navigator who led a group of 500 B-29s over Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, the day the Japanese surrendered to the United States. * A United States Navy machinist’s mate who narrowly survived a Japanese kamikaze attack. * A United States Marine who witnessed the horrific attack on Pearl Harbor from the deck of a nearby ship. * Men who survived German prisoner of war camps. * First–hand accounts from the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion. * Two black soldiers who served their country with pride during World War II. * Men who liberated German concentration camps. * A woman who served her country by becoming a part of the “Rosie the Riveter” movement. * And much, much more.
Readers of World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware will also receive a bonus section on Fort Miles, the immense, heavily fortified military facility built to protect the mouth of the Delaware Bay and the city of Philadelphia from an attack by the German navy. Today, the fort is being renovated and will soon become one of the largest World War II museums in the country.
I asked James to tell us about one of the fifty people profiled in his book and how he discovered this person's story. Here's what he had to say:
Wow! There are 50 brave men and women featured in the book and it’s so hard to pick out one above the rest, but if I must...
There’s one man in my book who was a United States Marine and was in one of the first units to invade the island of Iwo Jima in 1945. Of more than 300 members of his unit, he was one of only 17 who survived the attack. As a result, he had terrible survivor’s guilt for many, many years until he was finally able to come to peace with it.
He saw things during that time that are just incredible, surviving dozens of close calls. He was hit by body parts, spent days in foxholes, saw friends and colleagues killed in front of his eyes and was just missed by Japanese fire many times over. BUT, he also got to witness firsthand the raising of the Stars and Stripes atop Mount Suribachi, one of the most famous and emotional photos ever taken.
My book is filled with heroes just like Mr. Russell, men who put their lives on the line to protect our way of life here in the United States. They are all heroes, whether they’re comfortable with that title or not.
It’s hard to pick out just one, but that was one that came to mind. I should also note that not every person featured in my book saw as much action as did Mr. Russell, but each has his or her own special story to share about the war.
As to how I found them, I started out by going through lists provided to me by the local VFWs and American Legions. As the series picked up steam, however, more and more members of the public contacted me to recommend friends, neighbors or family members.
Here’s what people are saying about World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware:
“When the Seaford and Laurel Star newspapers decided to run a series of articles on World War II veterans, we were excited about the opportunity to preserve a part of history that would be lost forever, if we did not take action: the personal experiences of our local veterans. Through his interviews and research, James Diehl allowed us to share with our readers the amazing stories of the courage and sacrifices of our local heroes. Diehl put his heart into this assignment and his reports represent some of the best journalistic efforts I have read in my 37 years of newspaper involvement. We know readers of today and tomorrow will enjoy learning more about this tumultuous time in the history of the world from a local perspective.” -Bryant Richardson, Publisher, Morning Star Publications, Inc.
“Mr. Diehl does an exceptional job at getting to the heart of long ago war stories that live on in World War II’s reluctant heroes.” -Anonymous Judge, Maryland/Delaware/ D.C. Press Association