Help wanted

Long before I publish a story I begin researching information that will make the story informative as well as entertaining. This post kicks off my search for information about the brave American aviators who flew against the Japanese Imperial Fleet in World War II. In particular, I’m trying to “make it real” by turning up details about the experiences of my Uncle Herbert A Hopp who flew in a Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber and was shot down over New Georgia Island in the South Pacific.

Anyone having information bearing on the battles, ships, aircraft and human events of that time in history, please reply. I have a long road of research ahead of me to fill in the details.

I intend to develop a story of wartime courage, discipline, heroics and tragedy. Herb’s time in the war zone was incredibly brief. He was put ashore at Guadalcanal on February 1, 1943 and sent out in an Avenger attack on a Japanese task force on February 4. He was shot down on that day. Herb was a turret gunner and was credited with one kill of a Japanese Zero fighter and a probable second kill. His pilot, mortally wounded by flack from the ship they attacked, put the plane on autopilot aimed for New Georgia Island. Pilotless, the Avenger crashed into a jungle of giant trees, leaving Herb wounded and alone, the only survivor. He crawled through the tangled, muddy, malaria infested swamps of New Georgia for three days until he got to a native village where he was rescued by a float plane.

I’ve already turned up Herb’s service record (664-09-50) and his medical record, which describes his horrendous injuries: shrapnel wounds in multiple parts of his body, including a large fragment in his forehead and several pieces next to his heart. He used to tell a story of having to dig a Japanese Zero bullet out of his breastbone with a stick while on the island.

Herb accounted for himself well with his two kills — one theory goes that a shortage of Zero pilots is THE reason Japan lost WWII. However the crash, his injuries, and having to bury his dead crew mates took a toll. Back in the states, he descended into alcoholism and destitution, the fate of many servicemen suffering post traumatic stress syndrome, reliving the horrors he’d witnessed in dreams and waking nightmares.

I plan to write a novelization of Herb’s story to bring out the bitter human truths that surround war and the lives of individuals who undergo its rigors.

Uncle Herb’s story is the tale of a war hero even though it ends sadly. I’ll do my best to bring it to light in the interest of illuminating the price paid by fighting men and women in every generation since time immemorial.

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes medical thrillers, natural disaster novels, and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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