(PROVO, Utah) 6 Nov. 2008â€”Growing up, Jeff Badger imagined that if he stared long enough at the pictures of Leo Kavanaugh as a WWII GI, they would tell him the story of the grandfather he never had the chance to know. When the pictures didnâ€™t, Jeff decided to track down the men who couldâ€”the soldiers who had served with his grandfather in the 978th Engineer Maintenance Company.
Finding Granddadâ€™s War is both the story of Jeffâ€™s search and the stories of the men he found. Flattered by his interest, Jeffâ€™s new â€œwar buddiesâ€ confided in him, shared experiences they had never spoken of before, and sent Jeff hundreds of photographs taken in Europe and the Pacific. Sometimes the experience of talking was cathartic, sometimes not, but most of the men spoke on, whether they were discussing anti-Semitism within their own ranks, the unitâ€™s one casualty in three years and two theaters of war, or robbing a German bank.
Finding Granddadâ€™s War is filled with the firsthand accounts Jeff found so compelling, he expanded his search to Europe to track down sites and characters from the GIsâ€™ past. Retracing his grandfatherâ€™s steps in Holland, Jeff unearthed memories from the days when the 978th occupied the town of Spekholzerheid, drinking in the barroom where his grandfather once boxed, and speaking with people who had posed for pictures fifty years before.
As his grandfatherâ€™s war buddies became his own, Jeff came to know the soldier, the hell-raiser, the friend, and the war they had known. Their voices, in concert with Jeffâ€™s own, make Finding Granddadâ€™s War an open-eyed, loving portrait of the â€œgreatest generationâ€â€”from a grandson of WWII.
Finding Granddadâ€™s War is a new title from Ancestry Publishing, the publishing arm of popular genealogical website Ancestry.com.
Here are some quotes from the book:
You know, Jeff, you ask me about that war. What can I tell you? It was sometimes tragic, sometimes sickening, sometimes happy, sometimes sorrowful. I didnâ€™t know if I was going to make itâ€¦ But we were glad that we were alive. I have different memories. Sometimes it puts a tear in your eye, even today, even now. But even today, every day I get up, maybe I hear gunfire, maybe I hear something else, but Iâ€™m grateful Iâ€™m alive.
There were a lot of other bodies in the area that we were picking up. I came across one American GI lying on his back who had a letter sticking out of his breast pocket. Foolish me, I read it. He looked to be in his mid-to-late twenties. He was married and the letter was from his wife with a picture of her and two or three kids. He was from Kentucky, my neighboring state. That hit home quite hard. I got pretty choked up. After I read a few lines I suddenly felt like a thief. That letter belonged to him.
Well kid, Iâ€™ve really been around this damn world since the war started. A fellow really learns a lot too. I mean in a thousand different ways. I wouldnâ€™t trade my experiences for a million dollars. But I wouldnâ€™t give 10Â¢ to do it over again either.
If they told me that they needed me, that I had to go out and do it again, Iâ€™d be there tomorrow. And I could do it too. Iâ€™m not joking. I still have my uniform. And it doesnâ€™t fit me half bad.
Contact: For a review copy or to schedule an interview, please contact Russ Hannig at 801-705-7314 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more about Jeff Badger and Finding Granddadâ€™s War (including photographs) at www.Findinggranddadswar.com.