Those of you who follow the blog updates may have noticed a substantial gap since the last posting. There is a pretty good reason for this. September has been a big month for promotion and marketing 32 Answered to an ever-widening readership. Again, this is all new territory for the author, and a one-man enterprise to boot. That said, what follows is a summary of the first series of solid marketing and promotional efforts.
-Saturday,19 September saw the first guest appearance on the Columbia, SC local talk radio channel, The Point (95.9 FM/1470 AM), alternately called “Make the Point Radio”. A show on Saturday mornings called “Take Point”, hosted by Bryan Kerouac, addresses veterans affairs subject matter and has many listeners locally as well as nationally + internationally via the webcast. This served as the first of two visits to Bryan’s show to discuss the book and how it came to be. So much to talk about that Bryan soon realized that there needed to be a “part II” follow-up visit. Additional guest on this installment was Sheldon M. Dannelly II, the nephew and namesake of one of the principal subjects of the book.
As a testament to the realization that just because the book is “finished” it doesn’t mean that the research necessarily is, after the show Mr. Dannelly graciously handed off another set of letters that was thought to be missing from the original family collection of correspondence he had granted me access to in early 2014.
-Tuesday evening, 22 September, saw a book-signing event with presentation program at the Anderson County Museum, Anderson, SC. The ACM is an excellent and quite well-rounded facility for a city of this size, and aside from other proceeds and donations it is predominantly county-supported. Director Beverly Childs has an astute, educated and highly competent staff who helped make this event run smoothly. Its success would never have been possible without Beverly and especially the organizing efforts of Anderson residents Carl and Cathy Beard. Cathy’s father, Harry Williams (Citadel ’39), is another of the book’s principal subjects. He is actually in the photograph(standing, second from right) used on the “About” (home) Page.
This event was a very moving experience, and remarkable as such for the first public presentation of the subject matter. It was somewhat surreal in that at the end of the presentation, I cannot remember any applause, just stunned silence, and more than a few tears. During the Q & A and discussion session immediately following the actual presentation, several of the guests spoke up, quite emotionally, about their own fathers who had been WW II veterans. This discussion continued for quite a few minutes past the allotted time. In all, a very successful engagement that raised some awareness and hopefully won over more than a few new readers.
Otherwise, aside from making a few new and potentially valuable contacts related to tangential elements of the story (more on that in later posts, hopefully), the two-week interim between Saturday 19 September and today was spent sorting, collating, organizing, conserving, and scanning the newly located Dannelly correspondence. The original collection used for the book research had stopped abruptly at October 1943, just short of the Division’s re-entry into combat in January 1944. That year, as you may know from the narrative, was spent rebuilding the unit after its decimation at Buna; also, that down-year saw much training on amphibious tactics and execution of practice landings along the Australian and New Guinea coasts.
At the time of writing 32 Answered, there was much concern over why the correspondence stopped so suddenly. One speculative assumption had Captain Dannelly profoundly impacted by the incident at Teteri, along the Mot River, as part of the Saidor operation; it was there that a patrol from Dannelly’s A Company 128th command got trapped against the river, and the rescue efforts had cost the life of the Battalion Commander, LTC Gordon Clarkson, USMA Class of ’38. In that construct, Captain Dannelly was so affected by the incident that he might have stopped writing altogether. Another scenario, proposed by the family, was a partial loss of the materials to damage in years of storage. In the end, neither turned out to be the case. They were merely stored in a different container that was in a different location, and the actual correspondence, as it turned out, gave no indication of anything but a positive accolade for the men involved in the Teteri ambush and the continued upbeat personality of the Wofford ’39 graduate in his letters home. There were, however, some interesting revelations garnered from the new correspondence, which, while leaving the book’s triangulated assessment of the events largely correct and luckily (thankfully) not warranting a section rewrite, will definitely be an inviting topic for an upcoming post. Again, many thanks to the Dannelly family for sharing these treasures for the book’s sake.
-This morning–Saturday, 3 October, the author braved the potential heavy downpours and flooding associated with the Hurricane Joaquin near-miss to travel back to Columbia for part II of the “Take Point” discussion with Bryan Kerouac. The focus of today’s installment was the actual combat experience of the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division in the Pacific campaigns, and how the South Carolinians who served as officers gravitated from the margins of command, as evidenced by their roles prior to Buna, to the core of the Division’s experienced leadership for the remainder of the war.
Again, all re-emphasizing the inevitability–“just when you think you’re done….”– there’s still so much left to do.
3 October 2015