While sitting on the corner of her couch, Mary Ellen Rodgers' eyes fixate onto her kitchen table. Upon it sits a neatly organized, typed, wartime memoir that details a first-hand account of her late husband’s time in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.
Frank’s words have remained well preserved and held together in a blue three-ring binder for over a decade.
With the declining health of Veterans from the Pacific War, Mary Ellen is adamant about having Frank’s words made readily available in print. She hopes this will help his legacy to live on to inspire others.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair statistics, only 496,777 of the 16 million American who served in World War II were alive in 2018.
Although Frank passed away on Feb. 24, 2008, the 95-year-old resident of Keystone Villa at Douglassville is looking for a publisher, and she’s made it her last wish.
“He was such a great guy, he was a genius and so articulate,” said Mary Ellen.
Frank’s forward is evident to his well-spoken disposition. He wrote, “As a member of pilot training class 43B, he entered a world of spit and polish, long days and short nights, hard work and tough upperclassmen.”
In 1941, he hot-footed it over to a recruitment center where he would discover his abiding passion for flying. He rose to the rank of captain and served in the 72nd Fighter Squadron, 318th, and 21st Fighter Groups.
The memoir, which he titled “Fighter Pilot, A Memoir of the Pacific War: 1941 to 1945,” is filled with experiences of pride, gumption, courage, and valor, including a near-mortal wound while in Iwo Jima that led him to become a Purple Heart recipient.
“It truly is a fascinating read,” said Mary Ellen, who had intently listened to his memories and encouraged him to write them down.
The pages were edited and assembled with help from his younger brother, John, “Little Butch,” to attest for “a young man who went to war and had the time of his life.”
“I want his story to remain just as he wrote it; no editing,” explained Mary Ellen. “He wrote it just the way he told it.”
She has high hopes that someone will be as intrigued by Frank’s story as she is. “I pray on it, she said. “I know I got a late start at wanting to get his memoir out there. I hope I’m just not too late.”