The author writes “Well done” on the experience of her late husband during World War II,

Authors are pushed to write their stories for many reasons – to send a message, tell a compelling story, share a piece of history, or remember a friend. For Nancy Hungerford, a former resident of Colebrook, her work is a final tribute to her late husband Robert “Bob” T. Hungerford, a WWII Navy pilot.

“Well Done: A Memoir of WWII, From Childhood Dreams to the Naval Aviator,” was published in August by Xlibris.

Time in Connecticut

Prior to their stay in Connecticut, the Hungerfords were in New York and Long Island.

“Bob was artistic director for J. Walter Thompson, and we had our own agency, Hungerford & Associates,” Hungerford said. “We had a lot of interesting experiences, and then we started a monthly lifestyle journal, North Fork Country, and ran it for about six years. It was pretty amazing. I would have a bright idea, and we would. The newspaper was nothing political, no (hard) news, just people, the arts, the history of the region.

In the 1990s, they decided to move to Connecticut and spent eight years in Colebrook, on the Riverton end of town. “It was absolutely lovely,” Hungerford said. While there, the couple joined the Nutmeg Writers Group at the local library.

“We really enjoyed this group,” she said. “It was run by Claire Vreeland, and it was a way to get reviews on anything you were working on, to get good feedback, and to have good discussions with other writers.

The Riverton Fair was one of the Hungerfords’ favorite events, and Nancy remembered winning a watermelon seed spitting contest there. “It was just a perfect little country fair,” she said. “And Riverton was so handsome. We loved it there.

The book begins

But Bob developed progressive dementia, which prompted the couple to return to Long Island where they could approach a hospital for emergencies and nursing services. “The Greenport hospital was nearby and we knew people there,” she said. “So we folded our tails and came back.”

Bob was never diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but his type of dementia was just as difficult. Hungerford said she treated each day “like a regular day” with routines, discussing the news of the day and other activities they could do together.

The book has become one of these activities.

Over the next nine years, Hungerford worked on “Well Done” with Bob, developing a story from his journals and conversations with him. Bob passed away on July 4, 2020. He was 98 years old.

“Bob was really good – he did really well for a long time,” Hungerford said. “I told him about writing a book, and he started telling me things about his time in the Navy. I was talking to him while I was writing.

“He had these newspapers and he kept saying ‘There is a story here’ mainly because the story he tells in the newspapers is very typical, about a young man with no leadership, floundering around. in all directions. He dreamed of flying when he was young, and back then WWI pilots were like heroes. He wanted to be an elite pilot.

A Hellcat pilot

“When Pearl Harbor happened it was a revelation for him, a turning point,” she said. “He became totally focused on becoming a pilot, and at the time they were screaming for pilots and stepped up training, so he signed up for the flying program in June 1941, got his wings from the Navy.” and flew the Hellcat, which was designed to fight the Japanese airplanes.

Hungerford was a member of Fighting Squadron 13, with pilots specially trained to fly the Hellcat.

“The government started a program offering pilot training to college students in preparation – because the government knew we were going to war. Bob was selected when he was in his sophomore year at Wayne University, ”Hungerford said.

The young pilot also served on the aircraft carrier USS Franklin, which was destroyed in March 1945 by suicide bombers. “He was on the aircraft carrier when the suicide bombers first hit him,” she said. “It was attacked and destroyed again in 1945, but Bob was already back in the United States. Lots of people were killed.

The book details many of these types of stories, told by Bob himself and mixed in with the daily journal entries. Hungerford said one of her biggest flying missions took place on July 4 in the Pacific and was “very dangerous,” she said. “It was poetic that he died this weekend.”

When some of Bob’s war buddies found out that Nancy was writing a war book, they started sending her their own journals and journals from their own time in the Navy. “So I went through them all and finally concocted a story. It was Bob’s, but his friends added a lot of details.

Checking the facts was a big challenge, she said. “I spent a ton of time researching everything and put a disclaimer on the book, saying if I made a mistake let me know.

“It took about nine years to make the book, but I didn’t do it all the time,” she said. “I had tons of notes and a few chapters were written, but it wasn’t over yet. When he died, I compared the book to ‘The Last Leaf’ by O. Henry, because for three years, every time it started to tumble, I would tell him, ‘You’re not leaving, Bob , because the book is not finished.

“Sometimes it was very close, and I would say it again, ‘You’re not leaving.’ My hope was to finish the book before he passed away, and after his death I intended to finish it, and I did it in three or four months, ”she said.

Back to Long Island

Nancy Hungerford remains on Long Island. She and Bob divorced from their first marriage when they met and each had two children in their own marriage in 1982. “I had one child and Bob had three,” she said. “We had a very full house. “

In August, Hungerford hosted a service for her husband in New Fairfield. Among the guests were two young Marines, who came in full white dress and formally folded the flag, presented it and played tap dancing. “They absolutely surprised me and made this ceremony complete,” she said. “My son played the Navy Anthem on the violin … It was so touching.”

She misses Bob every day. “Oh, something terrible,” she said. “We worked together and we started things together.”

And she has mixed feelings about the end of “Well Done”.

“As a writer I wrote ghost books and wrote for the newspaper so there was a real sense of accomplishment,” she said. “Ultimately the book was a solo effort, and I’m proud to have accomplished it.

“But more than that, I feel happy that his children and the people who knew him could have (his story). You can bring flowers and stuff to a funeral, but that’s his legacy. eternal It is a tribute to him.

“Well Done: A Memoir of WWII, From Childhood Dreams to the Naval Aviator” is available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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