Friday Morning Bookclub

February 12, 2011

April’s Book-Unbroken: Some Thoughts From Hal, One Of The Friday Morning Bookclub Husbands

Filed under: Book Discussions,Couples meetings,Unbroken — annwalter @ 1:11 pm


Although logged in as Ann, this is Hal blogging (I have never blogged before).  I have started reading Unbroken which, as you know, is the 2011 Couples Book about a WWII airman who crashes in the Pacific.  On Friday morning (2/11/11) I saw an article in the Baltimore Sun that tied the subject of the book to current events.  Since I assume that many of you did not see the article (given that the Sun has a current readership of about three) I thought I would share it.

The article, titled “World War II airman finally comes home”  describes how a local Highlandtown man, Tech. Sgt. Charles A. Bode and a crew of 10 other men, took off from New Guinea in the Pacific on November 20, 1943.  They were flying in a B-24 bomber (the same type of aircraft that is described in Unbroken) on a sea search mission (the same type of mission that the protagonist in Unbroken was on when his plane went down).   After a routine radio check, the 11 crewmen were never seen or heard from again.

Decades later, the tail of the plane was discovered by villagers in eastern New Guinea sticking up from the rocks in a steep ravine.  Further investigation by the U.S. military then found remains which were later identified using DNA techniques.  So 67 years after Sgt. Bode was lost, yesterday he was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

Bode had been 23 years old when he died.  He was not married and left no direct descendants.  His parents died in 1967 and 1971.  His one brother died in 2000.  Attending the funeral were nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren, none of whom had ever known Sgt. Bode because they had all been born after his death.  They said they came to the funeral out of respect for their father and because Sgt. Bode was part of their family’s legacy.

As I read Unbroken and this newspaper article, I am struck by how cheap life had become, owing to the exigencies of war.  Airman in the Pacific had about a 50% chance of not surviving the war.

Attached is a link to the Sun article as well as a video published today describing the burial ceremony at Arlington yesterday.  I look forward to seeing all of you in April.,0,2033937.story,0,7759792.story




  1. Hi Hal, I also heard the story of Tech. Sgt. Charles A. Bode, however, I have not started the book so I did not make the connection. Thanks for the informative post.

    Comment by susanbright — February 12, 2011 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

  2. Nice post Hal, I just finished the book and it was heart-wrenching. The human spirit is incredible. What makes some people so incredibly strong? I am looking forward to the discussions. I think the men will look at this book somewhat differently than the women. I would love to hear from some Moms and Dads who had to wait for “word” of their sons from WW II, Korea, Nam, The Middle East.

    As an aside, my novel Soul Survivor was entered in the 2010-2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition, judged by established writers and literary agents. I was just notified today that I made the cut into the second round, 10,000 applicants down to 1,000 in the general fiction category. Whaddaya’ know?

    Comment by Edward Steiner — February 24, 2011 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

    • Congratulations Ed! That is wonderful. Soul Survivor was a fascinating read. It is great to hear from some of the men for a change!

      Comment by susanbright — February 24, 2011 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

  3. Hi Ed, Congratulations on making the cut. Dana lent me Soul Survivors and I must tell you it was one of the most fascinating and enjoyable reads I’ve had. I don’t have the book any longer. Dana wasn’t at the next meeting. I shared my opinion of your book in such glowing terms that another member of the club asked to read it. Besides loving the plot and the characters, your book has a kind of personal connection for me. My husband was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina (1960-62) as preventive medicine officer. He was threatened with court martial for insisting that remdies be made to the substandard health issues in the kitchen of the officers club as well as in the kiddie pool officers families could use. Even though the subject of your book is very different, my take away is that the ethics of military medicine hasn’t changed all that much in over 50 years.

    I think Soul Survivors would make a great movie, T.V. or big screen.

    Comment by Ruth Bukatman — February 27, 2011 @ 10:47 am | Reply

  4. Ruth, thank you for your kind words. I actually interviewed multiple military officers that were spec ops in Nam and Korea and a CIA operative that did some nasty stuff (New Years Eve 2008 with 4+ martinis on board). I incorporated everything in the book, most under the surface in a sentence or so.

    I have a “case” of books in my possession from my final print. I will be happy to leave 20+ copies as a gift to anyone that wants a “trash summer read”. My only request is an email with comments… Thanks again.

    Comment by Edward Steiner — February 27, 2011 @ 7:38 pm | Reply

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