My next novel will be very different from those before it. It’s based on the true story of my Uncle Herbert Hopp. A navy airman, he was one of those brave souls who shipped out to the South Pacific to fight it out with the airmen and sailors of the Japanese Imperial Fleet. He fought well, and spilled much blood—enemy blood, and his own. He came home a Disabled American Veteran and lived with the aftereffects of war for the rest of his life.
Herb was the turret gunner aboard a Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber, one of the most sophisticated and deadly flying machines of World War II. While the pilot and radioman/bombardier concentrated on attacking enemy warships, Herb’s job was to fend off the counterattacking Zero fighter planes, which had every intention of making casualty statistics out of him and his buddies before they could drop their torpedo.
I have been researching Herb’s story for years, and the recent book and soon-to-be-released movie, “Unbroken,” which tell a similar story to Herb’s, have inspired me to finish this book. Hollywood will want to have a look at Herb’s story, I am certain. In many ways, it is even more compelling than Unbroken. Herb’s story shares the riveting excitement of attacking the enemy and being shot down. But Unbroken plays out mostly in prison camps, which are tough places. Herb’s story is even darker. Shot down onto a jungle island full of cannibals and crocodiles (no really!), and riddled with shrapnel and bullet holes, he crawled to a village of friendly natives and was canoed back to the relative safety of Guadalcanal, which itself was still under aerial bombardment by the Japanese.
And that’s not all. Herb’s life back in the states involved years of treatments for his wounds, and the devastating psychological effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome. And yet he went on and on.
I’ve given away about as much of the story as I care to right now. But you can expect it to appear in print and in ebook format in a matter of months. It’s a classic American tale of military bravery and sacrifice.