For seventeen months, during World War II, my uncle was a POW held by the Japanese in Rangoon, Burma. He has never talked about his experiences, and if inquired about them, he would state, “Change the subject and don’t ever ask again.” While I was a boy growing up, he was my hero. I had a thirst to know what he went through, but my thirst was never quenched.
I could never understand what could be so horrible for him to hold it inside. Following extensive research, I believe I learned the answer to my question. I was amazed from the results of my research. I was even able to find a Japanese Army Newsreel, used for propaganda, showing my uncle and the rest of his B-24 crew during their capture. It also showed the aircraft as it rested in a marsh following an emergency belly landing.
Because it was not possible to know the characteristics of the actual POWs or the brutalities inflicted on specific individuals, it was not possible to write a biography… fictional accounting of historical events became my only option. The bombing mission, the capture, the brutalities and endurance were real, but most of the characters are fictional.
As I researched and wrote, I constantly returned to my childhood question of why my uncle never told anyone about his experiences. I believe I figured out why, and the story I created delineates a fictional character struggling with his secrets… finally opening up to his son prior to his child’s deployment to Vietnam.
I honestly believe the reader will find the approach used in the writing of Breaking Liberator’s Shackles is inspirational.