Date: January 9, 2010
About: Jack Myers - Class of 1942
Quincy native completes third book The Co-Pilots Demons
Quincy native Jack Myers has become a prolific author in his retirement years.
Myers, 85, recently completed his third book, "The Co-Pilot's Demons," a fictional work set in World War II.
The book tells the story of a young co-pilot who joined the Army Air Corps after Pearl Harbor with great doubts about his courage. The man's father had proven to be a coward in World War I and carried guilt the rest of his life, transferring those feelings to the son by verbally abusing him.
After the son became a co-pilot on a B-17 stationed in Italy, he flew his missions under a constant cloud of fear that he, too, would prove to be a coward as his father had predicted. The son's moment of truth came one day when his plane literally fell apart and crash landed. The son ends up saving the day, proving he was not a coward after all.
Myers, who served as a bombardier on a B-17, flew 35 missions over Germany, Austria, Hungary, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Yugoslavia and Poland during World War II. He knows first-hand the terrifying fears many veterans faced during the war, but most wouldn't even let their best buddies know they were scared to death.
"Instead, they cloaked their insecurities in a devil-may-care attitude to hide their fears from them," Myers said.
Now, many years later, Myers said many veterans are finally able to confront their demons from the past.
That's one reason Myers wrote the book. He wanted World War II veterans -- and veteran from today's wars -- to know it's OK to talk about their fears.
"Those were different times, and we didn't talk much about them," he said. "Nowadays you read in the newspapers all the time about post-traumatic stress disorder. But it wasn't talked about in World War II. There was a stigma about it if you would admit to being uncomfortable about the war."
Myers recounted many of his own World War II experiences in his first book, "Shot At and Missed: Recollections of a World War II Bombardier," which came out in 2004.
Myers pulled no punches in that book. He described in detail what it was like to drop bombs on enemy targets from 30,000 feet while bullets and shrapnel filled their air around him.
"After I wrote 'Shot At and Missed,' I got calls from all over the country," Myers said. "Fellows who picked up my book would call me and we'd talk about things. A lot of these things came out how the war affected them and how it still affected them. They didn't tell their children about it or anyone else, but they talked to me about it. That's when I got the idea to write 'The Co-Pilot's Demons.' "
Myers feels it's important for World War II veterans to share their experiences with others because time is running out quickly on that aging generation, and many great stories are going untold.
"The World War II veterans are slipping away," he said. "They're going by the wayside about 1,500 a day."
In a 2004 interview with The Quincy Herald-Whig, Myers remarked wryly: "In a few more years there will only be me and four or five other guys left."
Myers was born in Barry but grew up in Quincy. His parents, Warren and Alta Myers, moved the family of seven children to Quincy when Myers was 4 years old. The family lived at 520 Monroe in the neighborhood known as Calftown.
In 2007, Myers authored his second book, "Calftown Boy," a collection of stories based in part on his experiences growing up in Quincy.
For example, Myers devoted one chapter of that book to his exploits with the South Side Boat Club's nationally acclaimed rowing teams in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Four-man and eight-man crews competed using racing shells -- long, narrow boats powered with oars. Myers served as coxswain. He'd sit in the stern with a megaphone, shouting the cadence for the burly oarsmen.
Myers' activity with the boat club was interrupted by his stint in the Army Air Corps. Myers joined hoping to become a B-17 pilot. But at 5-foot-3, he was an inch too short. So he became a bombardier instead.
After the war, Myers returned to Quincy for a time. He later landed jobs with insurance companies in Decatur and Springfield. Then in 1961 he moved to Oklahoma City and started his own company, Standard Business Supply.
Now retired, Myers lives on a 160-acre tract in Arcadia, Okla., that he shares with his wife, Regina, and some other family members.
Copies of Jack Myers' latest softcover book "The Co-Pilot's Demons" -- published by Ionic Press and priced at $14.95 -- are available online through amazon.com or through Barnes & amp; Noble. Autographed copies can be ordered by calling Myers at (405) 396-2898; sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by sending a check for $14.95 to Myers at 6000 N. Westminster, Arcadia, OK 73007. He will pay shipping costs for the book.