Helping Real Life Heroes Tell Their Stories 
On May 17, 2024 | 0 Comments

Jerry Borrowman – Award Winning author of 21 published books 

I believe that talents are what we’re born with – unique abilities that come easily. Skill is how we develop those talents over time, which takes a great deal of work and effort. We can’t really take credit for talent; it is something to be grateful for and to improve upon. This comes naturally when I tell a story to an audience. It’s much harder to write a book and sustain the story over hundreds of pages – and it doesn’t get easier with practice! 

My first published book was “Three Against Hitler” written with Rudi Wobbe, a young German boy who, with his two best friends, tried to warn their neighbors in Hamburg about the evils of Nazism. They paid a heavy price for their courage as they were arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and brought to trial on the charge of treason. Helmuth Huebener was the leader of the group, and for that his life was ended by guillotine. It became Rudi’s passion to keep his story alive – but Rudi had no idea how to write a book. I’d written numerous articles in a variety of magazines, but after hearing Rudi and Helmuth’s story I desperately wanted to write it as a book. And we did! But it took three years of back and forth. During that time I came to respect Rudi as a man of deep conviction and integrity. When finished, our book was rejected twenty-three times by publishers. I gave up. But Rudi didn’t – goading me to keep trying. Finally, Robby Nichols at Covenant Communications stood up for us and persuaded their acquisitions committee to give the book a chance, recognizing the inspiration of the story. It became a best-seller. Sadly, Rudi never saw the book in print – he died of cancer a week after signing the contract. But he knew that the memory of his friend Helmuth would live on to inspire hundreds of thousands of readers around the world. 

I then co-authored two other books; “A Distant Prayer” with Joseph Banks (who was a flight engineer in a B-17 bomber in World War II whose aircraft was shot out of the sky with Joe being taken as a prisoner of war) and “Beyond the Call of Duty” with Colonel Bernard Fisher, United States Air Force, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by Congress for his heroic rescue of a downed pilot in Vietnam. Both these men displayed courage and humility and inspired countless others by their stories; Joe for the miraculous events that saved his life, Bernie for his willingness to sacrifice his own life for another person. I am so grateful that I was able to help them preserve these stories for posterity. 

Which brings me to “An Ocean of Courage and Fear,” the true story, written as a novel, of the “USS Salt Lake City” in World War II. The ship had a very distinguished service record and became the inspiration for several movies and stories. As I started researching the story, I was surprised to find that three veterans of the Salt Lake City were still alive – and meeting for a reunion in Alexandria Virginia in 2022. I signed up for the reunion and was humbled (and delighted) to hear the stories of Al Jowdy, Sandy Oppenheimer, and Walt Freisinger. With the permission of my publisher, I incorporated their true life stories into the novel using their names and identifying them as authentic witnesses to the events of the book. Wow! To have first hand accounts provides an added dimension of realism to the story as I learned of terms such as “Pogey Bait” (the ship’s candy store) and “Gedunk Stand” where the men got ice cream. I also laughed at Al Jowdy’s incredible stories of practical jokes and shenanigans. I also felt the anxiety of learning of his surviving three ship’s sinking out from under him – one time requiring Al and other survivors to spend nearly a month in life rafts until the Navy could safely rescue them.  

Which is why “An Ocean of Courage and Fear” is one of my personal favorites – a great ship fighting in a great war and featuring the stories of inspirational men and women.  

Meeting great people like Rudi, Joe, Bernie, Al and Sandy has such a positive influence in my life – I admire their talents and courage. I’m glad that through our collaborations their stories will live on for generations. 

Jerry Borrowman is an award-winning author of historical fiction and nonfiction. He has written about World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, and the Vietnam War, and about how four feet of plywood saved the Grand Canyon. He is the recipient of the George Washington National Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. Jerry and his wife, Marcella, raised four children and live in the Rocky Mountains.

NEW! AN OCEAN OF COURAGE AND FEAR: Based on survivor accounts, this gripping novel opens days after the attack on Pearl Harbor and details three years of sea battles that spanned between Hawaii and the shores of Okinawa with the crew of one of the most decorated ships of the Pacific War.

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