By Tom Delvaux
Eveready Press, Nashville, Tennessee
War is the easiest thing to write about. War is the hardest thing to write about. Any questions? Direct them to Leo Tolstoy or Tom Delvaux. On second thought, asking Tolstoy is probably a waste of time since he slipped this mortal coil in 1910.
Asking Delvaux, on the other hand, could prove to be quite revealing. A resident of Nashville, Tennessee, Tom is the author of Four Stars in the Window, the recently released story of the family of Harry and Eva Powell of West Hartford, Connecticut, and World War II. The book’s title refers to the small flag with four blue stars that hung in the Powell’s front window, signifying that they had four sons serving in the military.
There were seven children in the Powell family, six boys and “Sister.” Following Pearl Harbor, one by one the three oldest sons volunteered for service. As Delvaux learned, even the seemingly simple process of joining the military could be plagued by unanticipated problems and confusion.
David, the oldest, ended up in the Marine Corps as a tank commander during the assaults on the islands of Saipan and Iwo Jima.
Kenneth, the second son, ended up in the Army Air Corps as a B-17 pilot. His plane was shot down over Germany and he spent ten months as a prisoner of war.
Delmar, third in line, joined the Navy, and served as a medical corpsman on a LST anchored just offshore Omaha Beach as an emergency aid station on D-Day.
Roger had to wait until he turned seventeen to join the Army Air Corps and begin training to fly fighters.
Their father, Harry, worked as a supervisor at the Colt Arms factory in Hartford throughout the war. Their mother, Eva, cared for the younger children and did what millions of other Americans did—she prayed for the safety of her sons and the end of the war.
It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to meet Kenneth and discuss the pending release of the book. Although he shared his own adventures with me, he always managed to turn the discussion toward his brothers and their stories.
Although they were often in great danger, all of the brothers survived the war without injury. Typical of many veterans of that conflict, the brothers rarely, if ever, talked of those years. Only now, some sixty years later, are they sharing their stories, even with each other.
Tom Delvaux has managed to transform these individual stories in a way that captures the spirit of those times and people. The reader meets a close-knit family, a family sharing a deep faith in God, a family united by respect and affection, a family that had successfully withstood the rigors of the Depression, and a family consisting of of strong individuals who, nevertheless, demonstrated the highest forms of sibling rivalry.
Throughout desperate and dangerous circumstances, the brothers conducted themselves heroically, embodying family traditions dating back to pre-Revolution New England. They remind me of an old country philosopher I met while growing up in Tennessee, who described his service in “the Great War,” “I see’d my duty, and I do’d it.”
Delvaux has managed to reveal to the reader those special qualities of life which infused not only the Powell boys and their family, but also the citizens of the United States en mass, that has made them deserve the appellation, the “Greatest Generation.”
This story is so compelling and well-written that I will be surprised if it does not become a major motion picture in the near future, with four times the action of Saving Private Ryan.
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