A new book titled "Letters from Walter: a Personal Look at World War II Through the Eyes of a Young Soldier," will soon be available during a book signing at Joyful Journeys of Neosho.
The book signing will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 30. The books are $14.95 each and the author, Doug Eaton, along with former Neosho resident Wilma Hawes Connely will be onsite. Connely is the sister of Walter Hawes.
The book details the life of Hawes, a young solider from the Neosho area, who grew up in a large family during the depths of the Great Depression. After entering the service and being sent overseas, he, his aunt and uncle from Indiana exchanged a lot of letters from 1943-1946, the years he served.
Hawes was stationed mostly in Italy and North Africa.
At Joyful Journeys Tuesday, Connely spoke with the Daily News about the letters.
"These letters were found in a clothes closet in Indiana for 65 years," she said. "The people passed away, the house is sold and the new owners found these letters in a box. They just put this stuff out in the yard to be tossed away. A relative happens to drive by that didn't know the house had sold. He stops and asked questions, and was told 'we bought the house' and was told that we could have any contents left in the house, but 'if you want those boxes, you can take them.' He loads the boxes up in his car and drives to Michigan where his mother lives. The reason this book came about is the letters, I am kind of a family history person and I keep in touch for family members so that is why the family letters were mailed to me."
Connely, who now lives in Tulsa, Okla., said that the Tulsa World wanted to do a story about World War II ending on Aug. 15, 1945.
"I have these letters, I talked to them on the phone and they asked, 'Can we come out to your house this afternoon?'" she remembered. "They came out and did a story about the letters. As a result of that article in the Tulsa World, Eaton contacted me and said 'I am an attorney here in Tulsa and fundraiser for the Oklahoma Honor Flights Program, I would like to meet with you and do a story of your brother's life and the letters.' And we met quite frequently."
The letters she is talking about chronicle the joys and tribulations as Hawes adjusted to military life and its challenges, including army food, learning of his mother's death and the frustration of being 'forgotten" when the war was over and members of the military were anxiously awaiting their turns to be returned home.
Page 2 of 2 - "So we got the book finished, he had it published and it came out in February," she said.
"This book is about my daddy," added Barbara Severs of Neosho.
The 150-page book contains the letters and a few photographs.
Walter passed away in 1961.
"Letters from Walter" is available at Amazon.com and on eBooks of Nook, Kindle and Apple products.
The net proceeds from the sale of this book will be contributed to Oklahoma Honor Flights, a non-profit 501c3 organization dedicated to the transportation of U.S. military veterans to Washington D.C. to view their memorials as a show of appreciation for their service and sacrifice. See www.honorflight.org for more information.