Remember Pearl Harbor!

(Posted: December 7, 2014)

Seventy-three 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!

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.


D-Day as a POW in Stalag Luft VI

(Posted: June 6, 2013)
Today marks the 69th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion! This is a page from my Father’s POW notebook.  Notice how he has notated June 6, 1944, differently than other days.  Even though he was behind barbed wire with German propaganda echoing in the air, he knew of the D-Day Invasion!!!  It was because of the POW ingenuity in the building of the crystal radios.  They smuggled parts into the camp to build the secret radios that they would keep hidden from the German guards.  It would drive the guards nuts trying to find out where they obtained their information!  This is proof that as isolated as the POWs were, through their perseverance, determination and innovation, they did everything they could to keep faith that they would some day have their freedom!

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:


Joseph P. O’Donnell, POW 1414 Receives Award of Appreciation

(Posted: February 4, 2013)
Former B-17 Ball Turret Gunner and Prisoner of War, Joseph P. O’Donnell, recently received an Award of Appreciation at the Leadership School at McGuire Air Force Base.  He started two WWII Museums at McGuire and has donated his books to the library and Leadership School.  Joe speaks at the school about 3 times a year.   He has published a series of books  – “The Shoe Leather Express.”  They are detailed accounts of POW experiences in WWII.  Joe was a POW in Stalag Luft IV.  He, and thousands of others, were evacuated from the camp on February 6, 1945, on foot in one of the coldest winters on record.  Their march would last 86 days and would cover approximately 600 miles.  It is difficult to imagine how one could survive the hardships that were endured during this march.  Excerpts from these books can be found on this web site.  The links are: and

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)

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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