One local World War II veteran's plane was shot down over France, and he hid in a friendly farmer's basement for three months to avoid capture by the German military.
When an engine quit, another man and his crew had to bail out of their plane over the Pacific Ocean. After hitting the water, he bobbed for hours before being rescued.
Other area World War II veterans' service ranged from a remote Alaskan island to D-Day and some of the biggest battles in Europe.
Author Kayleen Reusser of Bluffton brings their stories to life and tries to share them with current generations through her new book, "World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans."
Reusser and possibly as many as 20 of the 28 veterans featured in the book will gather for a Meet the Vet event 2-4 p.m. Saturday at Bluffton Armory, 500 E. Spring St. in Bluffton. The book includes the stories of 24 men and four women from Allen, Adams, Huntington, Wells and Whitley counties.
"I wanted to honor them by doing it," she said of writing the self-published book, which sells for $20, plus $4.95 processing and shipping.
The country will pause to honor military veterans of all wars Tuesday on Veterans Day.
Reusser, who writes occasionally for The News-Sentinel on a freelance basis, also works as a library aide at Bluffton-Harrison Middle School in Bluffton. She noticed the school library has a lot of books on World War II, but most of them are geared more toward adults than middle-schoolers.
"I wrote the book so maybe even a fifth-grader can learn about the war," said Reusser, who has written 11 published children's books.
She also didn't want the book filled with facts and figures. By sharing the personal stories of World War II veterans, young people can really understand what it was like to be there, she said.
Reusser started interviewing World War II vets several years ago and hastened her efforts in the past two years because the men and women are in their late 80s and early 90s in age. Three of the veterans have died since she interviewed them, she said.
Some veterans didn't want to talk about their experiences. Others told her the interview was the first time they had ever talked about it. All exhibited amazing bravery during their military service.
Most of them didn't want to be identified as heroes, but Reusser said all are heroes in her mind.
"They all believe the heroes are those who died and the ones who were left behind," she said... (see more at: http://openparliament.ca/)