Keeping a secret is one thing. Keeping a secret for 62 years is quite another. As Nietzsche said, “One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one makes.” Clarence Wolfe, a 20-year-old U. S. Army private stationed with the 134th AAA Battalion in Folkestone, England in 1944, made a promise to his commanding officer to keep between them the secret behind the death of popular bandleader, Glenn Miller. Wolfe not only kept his word for 62 years, but he also clearly remembers vivid details surrounding that fateful day.
One had to have lived back then to know how the magical music of Glenn Miller captivated the hearts of young soldiers serving in a grimy global war. Off duty, they danced and fell in love to Miller’s swing sounds and, like Clarence Wolfe, now 82, tears well up whenever they listen to Miller favorites, like “Moonlight Serenade” or “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Too many memories – happy and sad – are interwoven with the notes of their favorite numbers.
How could a Captain and his young private know what happened to Glenn Miller and no one else did? According to Wolfe, others have known all along, but they chose to mastermind an intricate cover-up, designed to protect troop morale, which grew more and more fragile as the months of 1944 wore on. In I Kept My Word, Wolfe lays the blame for the cover-up squarely at the feet of the top brass of the 8th Air Force and calls for an official inquiry into the death of Glenn Miller.
The heart of I Kept My Word details the events surrounding the death of Glenn Miller, but the meat of the book tells many tales of what it’s like for a poor Indiana farm boy to suddenly find himself fighting on a faraway continent. The raw grit and grime of war are present, as are stories of love, romance, practical jokes and daily survival. Once you start reading this book, you won’t be able to put it down.
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