Our Global Veterans with Sara Troy and her guest Sarajane Giere, on air from February 15th
Sarajane Giere, author of the new critically-acclaimed memoir My Pilot: A Story of War, Love, ALS
For many, the 1960s and 1970s were turbulent times in the United States. For Sarajane Giere, it was a time when she fell in love with her college sweetheart who became a pilot. She lived life from 30,000 feet in the air even when they were 10,000 miles apart. Her book, My Pilot: A Story of War, Love, ALS is a stirring memoir that touches hearts and allows us into the lives of a couple who leaned on each other during tough times in war and health – and who treasured their time together, raising a family, and seeing the world.
“I am so pleased that this book has received strong, positive attention from reviewers and has won a number of book awards,” says author Giere. “I set out to not only write a tribute to a wonderful man whose legacy lives on, but to honor a historical era, the value of service and courage, and what it takes to have a marriage that lasts more than a half-century.”
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My Pilot has won three literary awards: The Independent Press Award, The Military Writers Society of America’s Silver Metal Award, and the NYC Big Book Award.
· How she handled hearing news that her husband’s plane went down –twice– in Vietnam.
· What it was like to be a military wife during wartime.
· What the turbulent 1960s were really like during the Vietnam War.
· Advice for military families welcoming back veterans or coping with PTSD.
· What it was like to be wed to a pilot during flying’s Golden Era at Pan Am and Delta.
· How she helped her husband live with ALS – and the toll of caregiving.
Giere offers a uniquely intimate glimpse into the life of a military wife as she tells the story of her fighter pilot husband, Bernie, a Vietnam Veteran who flew 214 combat missions in the war With soaring love and explicit honesty, she recounts the terror of the Vietnam years and the lifelong sacrifices that affected her pilot’s life and death.
Giere, a spunky military wife with a keen knack for storytelling, recounts her fighter pilot’s eventful Vietnam years through his handwritten letters and moving personal accounts. The harrowing shoot-down in enemy territory, the joy upon learning he had a son, and the loneliness of separation are among the many subjects covered. All the while, Sarajane worked with a local police detective to uncover evidence that brought one of her neighbors to justice. With a knack for detail, she recounts the uncertain years with Pan Am, and her husband Bernie’s missions with the NY Air National Guard’s world-class 106th Rescue and Recovery Wing for 25 years.
The love that brought this intrepid couple together during their college years can be felt through the words on every page. Their bond remained strong for 52 years, helping them grasp the courage they needed upon learning of Bernie’s ALS diagnosis later in life. In telling their story, she honors her family that includes the military community, and the nation that she holds dear to her heart.
“A woman recalls her life – never dull and sometimes terrifying – as an Air Force wife in this memoir. … And while of course she did not serve in Vietnam herself, she relates Bernie’s experiences, through conversations and letters, so vividly that readers receive a captivating peek into a soldier’s life there. This is an endearing reminiscence, a kind of love letter from the author to her husband, both sweet and wise. An affectionate recollection of a memorable marriage.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Whatever happened we were stronger together.” That line defines this love story of a couple whose marriage embodied the vows of “in sickness and in health.” Sarajane Giere’s marriage to a fighter pilot survived not only the regular trials and tribulations of a typical marriage, but also separation during the Vietnam War, furloughs due to mass airline layoffs in the 80’s and finally, a terrible diagnosis of ALS. Through it all, this story read like a handbook, or a successful marriage. Sarajane writes candidly about how love and respect from each partner only strengthens the bonds of marriage. In the end, you know that every trial they underwent, they underwent it together.”–D. Bertino, 5-Star Amazon Review