In What I Never Told You: A Daughter Traces the Wartime Imprisonment of Her Father (published by AuthorHouse), Candy Kyler Brown collects and tells her father’s personal account of being a prisoner of war during World War II.
Though Brown’s father, John Kyler, an Army Air Force B-17 ball turret gunner who served during World War II, died without ever setting his experiences in book form, Brown was able to piece together the events of his heroic, terrifying ordeal through the personal journals her father kept during his captivity.
“I was in awe,” remembers Brown upon finding the handwritten notebooks. “It took me back in time, and I could imagine so clearly my father as a young boy and picture him, his freedom lost, sketching these pages from his “home” behind barbed wire. I thought of all the boys who were held captive by the German guards and how they must have feared that every day could be their last.”
Brown’s father was shot down February 4, 1944 while on a mission to Frankfurt, Germany. As their damaged ship lost altitude over Belgium, he and the other crew members were forced to bail from their crippled bomber. On the ground, he was quickly taken prisoner. John Kyler would remain a prisoner for 15 months.
While Brown was aware of her father’s heroic survival, accounts of the ordeal were not easily spoken of by her father.
“It never felt comfortable to ask about that time in his life that he had put behind him,” Brown says. “I believe that men like my father – men who had witnessed so many life changing events – felt both lucky and guilty to survive when many of their comrades did not. I remember months before his death I told him he should write a book, and I would be his secretary and help him record his memories. He responded, ‘What’s there to write about?’, and that was it.” Brown’s father would pass away suddenly soon thereafter.
With What I Never Told You, Brown has shared not only her father’s story, but also the countless other stories untold by soldiers who are unwilling or unable to speak of their traumatic experiences. An engrossing read, What I Never Told You tells the war stories that go missing from history books. These are personal odes, each page alive with curiosity, fear, panic, frustration and an unbreakable optimism. It’s a read not to be missed.