One of Tennessee’s 27,000 living veterans from World War II will add another memoir to the massive library of writings by those who lived through the conflict. This book started out as 1,500 pages of pencil and paper.
It’s not that retired Air Force Col. Alfred Asch doesn’t know how to use a computer, even at age 93 (and a half).
“But I got trigger finger, couldn’t type anymore,” he says in a voice that retains some of the command of a colonel, despite his frail state.
Four years ago, at the prompting of his son, Asch began spending days in a Brentwood assisted living facility reclined on his favorite couch with legal pads and a number two pencil. From news clippings, his military records and letters to his future wife, Asch pieced together a chronological account of his war experience.
Asch flew some of the earliest missions with the B-24 bomber. His first over occupied France was particularly harrowing, trying to keep a massive airship on course through flack and anti-aircraft fire.
“And when I got down, I said to myself, ‘my God, if all these missions are going to be this rough, I’m not going to make it through.’”
But he did, even though one mission ended in a crash landing of his bullet-riddled bomber. Asch would be awarded a Purple Heart for the incident.
Asch got help from his 66-year-old son, David, who says he had never heard most of his dad’s war stories. He also hadn’t read the letters written to his mother, who was being courted at the time.
“I didn’t really know who my father was until he wrote this book,” he says. “I didn’t really have an appreciation of his life.”
Asch’s memoir “The Whole Nine Yards” – a reference to gunners running through a long belt of ammunition – will be released in hardback later this month.