JOPLIN, Mo. —
Staff Sgt. Walter Hawes, who was born and raised in Neosho, was only 19 years old when he joined the Army in 1943. While serving in Italy and North Africa during the following three years, he corresponded with his favorite aunt and uncle who lived in Zionsville, Ind.
In his letters, Walter discussed his many siblings, his memories of growing up during the Great Depression, the death of his mother, his values and his military experiences. His cherished letters were saved by the couple for more than 65 years.
In October 2011, the tucked-away letters were discovered when Walter's aunt moved into an assisted living unit. The letters have been compiled in a book titled ÒLetters From Walter: A Personal Look at World War II Through the Eyes of a Young Soldier.Ó
Doug Eaton, the author of the book, is a CPA who earned a degree in accounting from Pittsburg State University, as well as a law degree from the University of Tulsa. Walter's sister Wilma Hawes Connely also helped with the book. Both Eaton and Connely live in Tulsa, Okla.
Eaton is active with Oklahoma Honor Flights, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the free transportation of U.S. military veterans to Washington, D.C., to view their memorials. The trip is a tribute for their service and sacrifice. Top priority is given to senior veterans along with veterans who are terminally ill.
More than 900 World War II veterans from Oklahoma have already made the trip. The next trip is being planned for April 17. All profits from Eaton's book will be contributed to the program.
Eaton and Connely will have a book-signing from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 30, at Joyful Journeys in Neosho. The bookstore is located south of the square at 219 S. Washington St.
The book costs $14.95. For more information, contact Eaton at DougEaton440@gmail.com or call 918-633-1992. The book is also available at Amazon.com and as an eBook for Nook, Kindle and Apple products.
For more information on the honor flights program, check the website at www.honorflight.org.
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