As a member of the “Greatest Generation,” ninety-year-old Harold Kiel would be a hero in my book even without the story of his life journey, which inspires me not only for its insights into World War II, but for the kind, intelligent man behind them. Harold and his biographer/neighbor, Michael Kincaid, live not far from me in northern Idaho.
I write a column for a veterans’ organization, so when Mike, whom I had met through the Idaho Writer’s League, sent me a notice of the release of his book, Harold’s Voyage, I jumped at the chance to interview a US Navy veteran from the war. There aren’t many left.
I met with Harold, Mike, and a videographer named Kevin Hochstetler at a small coffee house in Hayden. Harold’s wisdom and sense of humor impressed me to the extent that I forgot to write things down, and what I did write later proved to be a jumble of unintelligible hen scratching. Fortunately, Mike gave me a copy of the book, or I’d have been up a creek without a paddle.
During his active duty in the war, Harold kept five journals that were his sanity and solace while on board the Patrol Craft Rescue Ship “PCR 851.” He was unaware at the time that journals were a court martial offense during the war. Those journals became the basis of Harold’s Voyage. Continue reading →