Notes from Candy

Rest in Peace, Joe O’Donnell

(Posted: September 24, 2014)

I’m deeply saddened to say that my mentor, my hero and very special friend, Joe O’Donnell, passed away this morning, September 23, 2014.  He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.  Much of the content of this web site pertains to Sgt. Joseph P. O’Donnell and his “Shoe Leather Express” books.

May you Rest In Peace, Joe.

Remembering His Story With Hailey

(Posted: June 15, 2013)

I love it…….when members of the younger generation express an interest in WWII history; … when you can see that a younger person gets it; … when it’s obvious that they realize that freedom isn’t free!  I recently had the heartwarming experience of meeting 13-year-old Hailey Dunmire and her Mom.  Hailey chose my book “What I Never Told You” for a report required in her class in school.  Her Mom took the time to contact me via my web site and inquired if I could possibly meet Hailey and perhaps add to her project in “feeding her sense in this history.”  I was delighted to meet them and give Hailey insight into my, and more importantly what I’ve learned of my Father’s experience.  I took my Father’s original notebooks and talked about some of the pages.  I commented on additional relevant facts and events that have come about since the book was published.  I showed her a “souvenir” that I obtained from my Father’s crashed B-17 that was given to me after the book was published.

Hailey is a breath of fresh air and I wish more people her age would follow her lead and feel the same sense and values in our freedoms.  I realize how easy it is to take it for granted when we’ve never lost it or had it threatened.  It means so much to know that she understands and appreciates those who have served and are serving to maintain the level of freedom that our heroes in WWII fought for and won for us.

We enjoyed a meeting in a most appropriate place, Veteran’s Memorial Park, in Salamanca, NY.  If you look closely at the photo, you will notice a memorial brick to the far left and three bricks down with my Father’s name, “John R. Kyler” inscribed.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect venue for our meeting!  When I showed Hailey and her Mom my Dad’s brick, I remembered that I obtained it for him several years ago for Father’s Day.  I recalled how I had to ask my Father what branch he had been in and his service period, something I really should have known at that time.  If only I had been like Hailey, I would have had more questions then and learned about my Father’s wartime experience from him rather than researching after his unexpected passing.  I admire her awareness and curiosity ensuring that the price of freedom indeed lives on in the future generations.


Remembering Dad

(Posted: May 4, 2013)
My Dad passed away suddenly nine years ago today, May 4, 2004.  Every year I mentally replay the events of that fateful day.  I have written every detail of what transpired but I don’t have to read it because it is burned forever in my mind.  It was my …Father’s death that started me on this journey to keep his memory alive, as well as  that of the thousands of Airmen and POWs that he symbolizes.  Leafing through the pages of Dad’s POW notebooks inspired my mission to follow the path of a man I admired for the role he played as “Dad,” to find the story of a lifetime that he never spoke of.  How I wish I could hear Dad talk about all of the things I’ve learned and know about the B-17 Ball Turret Gunner and Prisoner of War.  I know he would talk for hours if I got him started, once he saw how dedicated I was to carrying on the legacy of him and his friends.  I can just imagine his excitement in learning about his crew members and bunk mates that he never saw or talked to again after the War.  It would amaze him to know that I met and formed a treasured relationship with his Pilot.  He would be surprised to know how many of my very best friends are former airmen and POWs who are the age he would be (90) if he was still here; PLEASANTLY surprised!

Me and Dad

The excerpt from my journal describing that last day can be read at:


December 7, 1941: “A date that will live in infamy”

(Posted: December 7, 2012)

Seventy-one years ago today at 7:55 AM on a quiet Sunday morning, America was thrust into WWII when Pearl Harbor was attacked!  Approximately 2400 precious young  lives were lost and over 1100 were injured in the blatant attack!  It is “a date that will live in infamy.”  We must never forget!

Facebook Page: What I Never Told You

(Posted: November 21, 2012)

Follow me at this link on Facebook:

Honoring Those Who Serve: Patriot Ledger Article by Suzette Martinez Standring

(Posted: November 15, 2012)

Please check out the following link:

What an honor to have my Father remembered in Suzette Martinez Standring’s column!

Remembering Dad & Crew on Veteran’s Day 2013

(Posted: November 11, 2012)

I could not let the day pass without remembering my Father’s crew – The Cook Crew who I affectionately refer to as MY crew. . . . .

I have studied this photo and the names so many times that they are like family; they are a very special crew to me!

In the back row is:         Thomas Mikulka, Tailgunner

                                      John J. Alexander, Jr., Right Waist Gunner

                                      Milo Blakely, Left Waist Gunner

                                     Jay Joyce, Radio Operator

                                     John Kyler (Dad) Ball Turret Gunner

                                     John Booth, Top Turret Gunner/Flight Engineer

In the Front Row:          Emmett Bell, Bombardier

                                     Donald Caylor, Navigator

                                      Robert Bangs, Co-Pilot

                                      Lawrence Cook, Pilot

Veteran’s Day 2013

(Posted: November 8, 2012)

I hope that our Veterans realize just how much we appreciate their sacrifices for our freedom.  My sincere and heartfelt sentiments are sent to those who have served in WWII; to those who’ve served since then; to those who are serving today and to those who will serve to preserve the freedom that our Fathers fought for in WWII and won.  My wish is that we never forget the price of freedom and November 11 is a day that is set aside to exhibit our appreciation of our worthy heroes.  Keep in mind that every day is a perfect day to thank our Veterans!

In honor and memory of our heroes I’d like to add this poem that was taken from my Father’s radio operator, Jay Joyce’s,  notebook which he wrote in as a Prisoner of War.  He was held in the same camps as my Father – Stalag Luft VI, Stalag Luft IV and Stalag Luft I.   It is notated that it is written by “Stebbins.” . . . . . .


When I depart these thinning ranks to follow

The tracks of better men “gone west” before

The pointing feathers fallen from the swallow,

The shells that litter that last lonely shore.

When I have tipped the canteen of my measure,

and, parched, must turn to life and say adieu–

Remember, I shall pack along the treasure

of marching these few windswept leagues with you. 

Underneath this poem there was a jagged line drawn and these words were written: “The War news makes you feel pretty good – if you don’t stop to think how many Americans are dying to make it good.”

World War II Aircraft: B-17 “Nine O Nine”, B-24 “Witchcraft” & P-51 “Betty Jane”

(Posted: August 22, 2012)

August 10-13, 2012, the Collings Foundation,,  brought the B-17 “Nine O Nine,” the B-24 “Witchcraft,” and the P-51 “Betty Jane” to the Jamestown Airport as one of the stops in their “Wings of Freedom 2012” tour.  It was exhilarating to see all 3 of these WWII vintage aircraft in one place.  It was a cool breezy morning, and exceptionally windy when the engines started one by one increasing the velocity and adding to the enjoyment and appreciation of the experience!  There’s nothing like it!  Of course I think of my Dad and feel pride knowing that he once was an integral part of the B-17 crew.

I loved seeing the looks on the faces of the Veterans who were waiting to fly perhaps for the first time since the War.  My friend, Lester Bishop, rode in “Witchcraft” on Monday, August 13, the anniversary of the day he bailed out of his B-24 sixty-eight years ago.

I took advantage of the opportunity to walk through the 2 Bombers.  I’d walked through the B-17s “Fuddy Duddy” and “Liberty Belle” in previous years but could not pass up the chance to once again view the impressive “Flying Fortress” that my Father had once flown in as ball turret gunner.  I had never seen the inside of the “B-24” and that, too, was amazing to me.  It is hard to imagine the young boys who flew in these bombers; the quarters were so cramped.  It just reiterates the incredible bravery exhibited by the crews.

While we were at the airport the P-51 “Betty Jane” was under cover due to the threatening weather conditions so I didn’t get to see the fighter plane fly but I did get to see “her” and that was a treat!!  All in all it was a grand morning.  I remarked how amazing that it would have been during the days that the skies were filled with these beautiful machines.  It is such a treat today to even see just one lone plane from this group in flight!  What nostalgic feelings emerged upon viewing the historic specimens that helped us win the War; thanks to the brave men who flew them!!

Thank you to the Collings Foundation for providing a trip back in time to all who were fortunate enough to ride, walk through or just catch a glimpse of these beauties.


P-51 “Betty Jane”


B-17 “Nine O Nine”


B-24 “Witchcraft”



“What I Never Told You” in e-book

(Posted: July 17, 2012)

I’m pleased to report that my book is now available as an e-book and can be purchased through AuthorHouse at the following link:

It is also available at Barnes and Noble.