Almost two years ago, I promised my friend Russ Warriner that I would somehow find the time to tell his story. Russ was a crew chief aboard a U.S. Army helicopter that was attached to the 1st Cavalry and served in Vietnam more than 40 years ago.
He paid a dear price for his service. After 18 months overseas, he returned to the United States, but he was never quite the same. During the past three years I have been lucky enough to get to know him and some of the other men who served alongside him. Despite their humility, I consider them all heroes.
This past fall, from his home in Florida, Russ connected via Skype with my classroom in Maine and talked to 16-year-old and 17-year-old students about his experiences and a bit about what it was like in the country at that time. I’m not sure who was more nervous, Russ, or the students. Perhaps the most poignant moment came during the question and answer period. A girl whose brother now serves in the U.S. Navy looked at the large monitor that connected Russ to the classroom and said, “I really don’t have a question, but I do want to thank you for your service.”
It took Russ a bit to respond, but he did. “You’re welcome.”
Well, I’m finally finishing the historical novel based on Russ’ life and some of the events he and the other men in his unit experienced. I am meeting with an editor during the first week in January and I’ve committed to sending the revised text to their offices by the end of April. I wanted to put all this in writing (sort of like a contract) and each day as I work through the manuscript, I will write a quick note here. I might even post an excerpt or two along the way.
Thanks again Russ.
Update: – while I am still working to finish this novel, I have been able to publish three new short stories. One of them is base on the stories and interviews I conducted with Russ Warriner. Let me know if you like the stories and good, bad, or indifferent, leave me a review on Amazon.com.
Yes, I will finish writing the novel this spring and hopefully, it will be well received. See you soon.