An author described her “cherished friendship” with a World War II Veteran Wednesday after he passed away at age 94.
Carole Engle Avriett, the author of “Coffin Corner Boys,” wrote a loving tribute to World War II Veteran George Wiley Starks who died surrounded by his friends and family at his home in Florida Sunday.
Starks was a World War II B-17 pilot who survived after getting his plane shot down by Germans, parachuting into Nazi-occupied France, and then seeking refuge in Switzerland, according to Engle’s op-ed published in Orlando Sentinel.
“His innate sense of honor and commitment motivated him to pledge two things after his narrow escape: First, he would do whatever he could to keep in touch with his crew members as long as he lived; second, if at all possible, he would one day return to Europe to locate as many brave souls as he could to thank them for risking their lives to save his. George lived long enough to accomplish both goals,” Avriett wrote.
Avriett noted that she made a commitment to try to record as many veterans‘ stories as possible. However, she did not expect such a “bittersweet part of the process.” (RELATED: World War II Vet Miraculously Survived Getting Shot Down By Nazis, And He Still Tells His Story)
“It is hard to put into words how much I will miss George — his humor, his courage, his charm, but perhaps most of all, his clarity of vision about the world around him. He was a gentleman and a patriot, a true American treasure,” Avriett added.
Starks also shared his World War II stories in an interview published by Regnery Publishing on YouTube May 14.
“I wouldn’t take anything for it … the whole experience but I wouldn’t want to do it again,” Starks said.
Starks described parachuting out of his plane after it was shot down by Germans.
“I made a freefall when I hit the top of the clouds … I came out about 2500 … 3000 feet off the ground. I didn’t see anybody else in the air or on the ground.”
Avriett previously wrote a book that detailed Starks’ experiences during World War II called “Coffin Corner Boys: One Bomber, Ten Men, and Their Harrowing Escape from Nazi-Occupied France,” published in May.
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