Clay County resident writes gripping war novel
World War II had many casualties. One was Lena, Indiana, native 2nd Lt. Wilbur “Web” Thomas Reinoehl. The 26-year-old man was a navigator on a B-24 bomber flying missions over Germany. Unfortunately, he was killed in action when his plane was shot down during his 6th mission on May 19, 1944.
Several generations later, Reinoehl’s great nephew, Troy Allen, researched the downing of Web’s aircraft.
“I remember the warm summer evening that my grandmother, through tear-filled eyes, told me the story of her eldest brother and his death,” Troy said. “It was a very emotional experience. She explained that there were many unknowns about the downing of his aircraft so over the next two years I obtained declassified government records and eventually traveled to Germany with Web’s youngest brother Dean Reinoehl and his wife Maxine. We located the crash site, visited the church cemetery where the men were buried and spoke to Germans who, as children, witnessed the downing of his bomber. My second son was named in honor of Web.”
Troy was always fascinated with airplanes. He received his pilot’s license in 1989 and has 25 years of aviation experience. He acquired his BS and PhD from Indiana State University and is now a faculty member in the aviation department at ISU.
The father of three sons, Troy is devoted to family. His research into the downing of his great uncle’s bomber inspired him to write this novel. “The Buckeye” is a work of fiction based on fact. With love and dedication, his aviation knowledge and years of research, Troy has written a fact based, military action detailed, heartfelt story of one man’s life as an airman during World War II.
“The Buckeye” starts when a young, new, reporter, Tucker McQueen, is given an assignment about a vintage World War II B-24 Bomber. While taking a flight on the bomber Tucker discovers a hidden journal left behind by the plane’s navigator, William Pritchet.
The journal tells of William, his crew mates and the ever present life threatening risks they faced on each mission. The reader experiences the pain felt from leaving family and friends, the crew’s personal experiences when on a bombing raid, and their social life on and off the airbase.
The characters are made to come to life by the storyteller. You feel you know these men personally and you’re rooting for their safe return.
The novel also has a tender love story interwoven throughout the book. William meets Elizabeth near their airbase in England. He tells in the journal how they met, the courtship and his hopes to marry her after the war. But the journal stops before telling the end of the story. Did William survive? Did he and Elizabeth marry? Where are they now?
Tucker is intrigued by William’s life story with an uncertain outcome. He is determined to return the journal to its owner and attempt to unravel the decade’s old mystery.
“It’s amazing what these men endured,” Troy said. “They flew in unpressurized aircraft at altitudes above 20,000 feet. Temperatures were at times below -40 degrees. They battled fast nimble German fighters and endured anti-aircraft barrages knowing that at any minute their plane could be shot down and they would fall to their death.
“The sacrifice of these men reminds me of the words of Jesus,” Troy continued. “‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ They certainly showed great love for their country.”
“The Buckeye” in paperback can be purchased at Amazon.com for $14.99 or an electronic Kindle version for $2.99.
Linda Messmer can be reached at 812-448-8725.