by T.P. Wilkinson / June 19th, 2017
“I’ll never forget that day—it was the day of his mother’s funeral. I’d heard the news of Kennedy’s death on the TV and I’d gone into the living room, where the adults were consoling one another, to let everyone know. I was fourteen at the time and the first person I told was my grandfather, who didn’t hear a word I said, and who, when I repeated myself, pulled away from me and said, ‘I don’t care.’ Next I told my father the awful news, ‘Dad’ I said excitedly, ‘The President’s been shot and they got the guy who did it.’ More kindly than bitterly, he replied, ‘the guy they got didn’t do it, Doug. You can count on that.”
Unlike untold many of that generation, Douglas Valentine did not become obsessed with the question “who shot Kennedy?” At the age of 14, he could not imagine why his father had reacted in that way to news of the Dallas assassination. Yet he went on to publish his first book 24 years later in which he discovered the roots of his father’s reaction that day.
The Hotel Tacloban recounts the story of a 16-year-old high school dropout who, like many of his generation, lied about his age to get into the Army and go fight the “Good War”, for flag and country as an Eagle Scout should. He could have no idea that he would spend about one month in combat and the following three years in a Japanese POW camp.
Joining the Army was not only patriotic, it was an escape from…