Welcome to Echoes From an Eagle!
My father, Vernon Elder, died in a car accident on an icy, country road near La Junta, Colorado. How could it be that this small town produce manager, the survivor of a year of intense aerial combat during World War II, died in silence on this empty road?
After Vernon’s funeral, I began exploring his basement and found a scrapbook full of newspaper articles and a bundle of 46 letters addressed to my Grandmother Elder. Most of the articles reported on the war in the SW Pacific; and 41 of the 46 letters were written in 1942 when Dad was serving in Australia as a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber with the 19th Bomb Group, 30th Squadron.
Because my parents divorced when I was very young, I knew almost nothing about Vernon or his war experiences. I wondered:
- What would the scrapbook and bundle of letters reveal about my dad?
- Were any of the people mentioned in these articles and letters available for interviews, and would they be able to tell me about my dad and the experiences that shaped his life?
- How could I find the answers to these questions, since the few official records from the 19th’s traumatic time in the SW Pacific had been destroyed by a fire in St. Louis, Missouri?
My goal to reconnect with and know my dad resulted in 10 years of extensive research and a trip halfway around the world to dive on his B-17 crash site. Vernon survived the crash but lost his best friend, and this traumatic event changed his life forever.
Through my research, I came to know my dad as an honorable, patriotic man many considered a true hero. My only regret is I never had the opportunity to hear Vernon share these experiences in his own words. My dad is gone; but through this book, I hope he and the other brave members of the 19th BG will never be forgotten.
~ Ken Elder Bledsoe, Author
In The News
Great to see Erin Udell's article in the online Coloradoan, Tracing dad's WWII past, Fort Collins teacher finds 75-year-old plane wreckage and also in print.
PDF courtesy of The Coloradoan.
We are deeply pleased by Mike Spence's article in the Pueblo Chieftain, "Tracking an eagle"
PDF courtesy of the Pueblo Chieftain.
Fred's Used Websites