Minnesota Historical Society

I Had a Comrade

$ 34.99

Stories about the bravery, comradeship, and  committment of individual participants in the Second World War.

Editor Paul Sailer's Introduction tells  about the ten compelling stories in I Had a Comrade:

     "I have known since my military service in Vietnam that comradeship between people during wartime is quite different than close personal friendships at other times in life. Our English words don’t adequately define the selfless, trust-based, sacrificial love that is intensified by warfare. Veterans find it difficult to explain this unusual emotion to someone who has not served in a combat theater. In I Had a Comrade I try to give the reader an understanding of comradeship through the stories of people I have personally interviewed or, if deceased, have come to know through their families and friends.
     Since 1995 I have been interviewing people who lived during World War II. While researching and writing The Oranges are Sweet – Major Don M. Beerbower and the 353rd Fighter Squadron: November 1942 to August 1944, I talked to numerous people about the air war in Europe. Since the book’s publication in 2011, I have continued to interview the diminishing number of men and women whose lives were altered by the tragedy of that war.
     Major Beerbower is a common thread linking the ten stories in I Had a Comrade. He either knew, served with, or was otherwise connected to the people in this book. Although aerial combat in the European theater is the primary backdrop for I Had a Comrade, the stories also include action in the Pacific, soldiering across Germany, sacrificing on the home front, life in a wartime village in Bavaria, and the gracious appreciation of the liberated people in a small commune in northern France."

n I Had a Comrade the reader will meet:


  • Illinois-reared B-17 Flying Fortress pilot Bill Healy, whose introduction to war occurred at Hickam Field, Territory of Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
  • Aviation Cadet Glenn McKean, an Iowa farm boy who left college to join the Army Air Corps.
  • Idaho fighter pilot Wally Kerley, a Boise Braves "running" guard whose flying skill puts him at the controls of a P-51 Mustang during the aircraft's maiden flight in the European theater.
  • Hawaiian-born Wah Kau Kong, the first Chinese-American fighter pilot to escort heavy bombers over Germany.
  • James Cannon, whose childhood in rural Nebraska helped prepare him for his ordeal as a prisoner-of-war.
  • North Carolinian Foy Garren, an aviation sheet metal specialist whose ingenuity kept the boys flying.
  • Infantryman Chet Sailer, a Minnesota hunter and fisherman slated to walk with Patton's Third Army across Germany in 1945.
  • P-51 Mustang aces Willie Y. Anderson and Carl Bickel, with wives Lois and Doris, adjusting to life in the aftermath of war.
  • Teenager Maria Doess Koehler, a Bavarian girl living in Nazi Germany.
  • French villagers remembering the sacrifice of a Minnesota-reared, Iowa State College educated husband and father, Major Don M. Beerbower.

Editor: Paul M. Sailer

Publisher: Loden Books (2016)

Format: Hardcover, 388 pages, 6.25 x 9.25 inches

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