Squadron Leader Colin Mcguire is assigned to command an RAF pilot training facility in Venice, Florida in June of 1941. He falls in love with Anne Ferguson, reorganizes the air facility amid minor adventures, courts and marries Anne, and survives a hurricane, where he searches for lost pilots and seamen.
While monitoring training flights, he crashes his plane into the Gulf of Mexico, is rescued and captured by a German submarine and taken to Germany, where he is brutally interrogated by Gestapo, survives POW tribulations, is exchanged for a German POW and arrives back in Venice, December 7, 1941.
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About the Author
Joe Freitus lives in Williamsburg, Virginia with his wife and has been a teacher and writer for 30 years. In addition to winning awards as a teacher and writer, he has worked for the motion picture industry, most notably the HBO award winning mini series, John Adams. Writing about adventures related to characters that populated World War Two is his driving passion.
Read an Excerpt
Mary McGuire-Hanson slowly walked across the dry, dusty second floor store room, dimly lit by a 25 watt light bulb, her mood matching the harsh sound of the wind-driven rain pelting against the roof. Moving her mother out of the house she had lived in for so many years, where she herself had grown as a child, was a depressing, unnatural process.
This is where her mother married, lived a long life with her husband and raised a daughter. Now she was unable to care for herself. Mary was moving her across country from Florida to live in California, closing one aspect of their lives to open another.
There being no siblings or close relatives the abundance of furniture, that she did not want, was donated to a local charity; the propellers and the life long accumulation of aviation related photographs went to the nearby Venice Historical Society. Aunt Em's Cord was sold to an auto museum, however at the insistence of her mother the small, time worn Morgan sports car was shipped to her residence in California.
The furniture movers had decided it was not a good day to transfer the remaining household items as they would get wet and did not want to be held responsible for rain damaged goods. The time provided her the opportunity to sort through the few remaining items in the second floor storeroom. The first floor of the house contained boxes of clothing and other small items, in stages of being packed, waiting to be trucked across country, a lifetime of living compressed into an assortment of cardboard boxes.
Her attention focused on a large, ancient steamer trunk, covered with a thick layer of timeless dust, standing patiently upright in a corner and appeared to have beenthere untouched for a number of years. Curious, she decided to examine its unknown contents, but needed a key.
No key could be seen hanging from a nail or left on an empty cobwebbed shelf in the vacant room. Determined, she searched the attic for something that would allow her to pry the lock open. Finding nothing suitable, she returned to the first floor, located the small tool box maintained in the kitchen, hefted a small hammer, a long screwdriver and pleased with her find, hurried up the stairs.
The wind had shifted, driving the rain drumming against the two small windows, but her mood had brightened with the rise of curiosity. Kneeling before the large wooden trunk, she inserted the point of the screwdriver against the edge of the hasp and hit it with the hammer.
Lacking the proper experience with such tools, holding the screwdriver in her left hand, she hit the back side of her hand with the hammer and muttered words that proper ladies are forbidden. Picking up the screwdriver, re-inserting it against the lock, she carefully aimed the hammer. The tip of the screwdriver buried itself under the edge of the lock, which remained in place, refusing to open.
Hefting the hammer, Mary McGuire-Hanson hit the screwdriver, successfully driving the tip further under the lock, but not opening it. Straining to pry the lock open with the tool, nothing moved, frustrated, perhaps angry, she glared at the lock, decided to smash it with the hammer. She bashed the brass lock several times with no success and was about to stop when the lock suddenly sprung open.
She placed the tools on the dusty floor and stood before the trunk, pondering what its contents would be. With a struggle, she managed to open the upright door. Time yellowed-white neatly wrapped packages were placed on the various interior shelves, and appeared to have been in place undisturbed since they were carefully arranged there.
She gently almost cautiously reached out, selected one of the carefully wrapped packages and slowly began to remove the paper. A Royal Air Force blue serge uniform jacket emerged, its insignia still in place. Mary held the blue uniform before her, trying to picture her father wearing it while serving in the Royal Air Force during the war. The only image she had of her father in uniform was the small faded picture of he and mother the day they were married; he rather stiff, formal, rows of medals, in full white uniform and mother, radiant, beaming, happy in her mother's wedding dress. Mother lovingly kept the framed photo on her dresser near the bed. Memories flooded her senses of living with two people who never fell out of love. Father the well known lawyer was an English flying hero from World War Two who married her mother during wartime and stayed together the rest of their lives. A shiver traveled up her spine just thinking of it. It was unfortunate she and her husband had not made such a success of their marriage.
"What have we here?" Mary murmured, leaning forward, easing a small package from the shelf. As she carefully removed the paper wrapper, a small black leather bound book appeared that resembled a diary. Realizing it belonged to her father and the contents were of a personal nature--thoughts about the war and perhaps her mother--she hesitated to open it. She held it there, feeling its weight, the luxury of the leather cover, wondering what secrets lay within, secrets of a life together only mentioned in bits and pieces, small family reunions, parties with old wartime friends, and conversations when her mother would recall events from World War Two. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of the empty room, she took a deep breath and opened the small book. Instantly, she recognized her father's backhanded handwriting. She began to read: