Blurb & Excerpt

"28 Months of Heaven and Hell"

author J.D. Karns

published by JLB Creatives Publishing
(actual edited version may vary slightly)


J.D. Karns is an 82 year old author making his debut with this novel. His true to life / WWII historical fiction novel is based on the journal kept by Carl Lee Young who served in the navy on the DE 416 USS Melvin R. Nawman. Karns has taken Mr. Young's journal entries and brilliantly woven them with fiction creating an entertaining, breath taking, and highly factual account of WWII from this sailor's point of view. You will experience everything from the great typhoon of '44 to Iwo Jima to Okinawa to the atom bomb and on to the signing of the peace treaty. It is an emotional roller coaster of a ride between the action and the family back home, waiting and wondering. The realism of not only the war, but also the era, has been captured with expertise.

Carl's younger brother, Charles, has longed to hear his big brother's WWII story. Carl promised his little brother when he returned from the war, that some day he would tell him all about it. That day came in 2011 when Charles began receiving journal entries from his big brother. The emails totaled 168 entries. Both Carl and his younger brother Charles are excited to have the story being turned into a historic novel. 

Both brothers are still living, Carl resides in Arizona, and Charles resides in Florida. Both are still happily married, and enjoy keeping each other informed of life's happenings through letters and phone calls.


"28 Months of Heaven and Hell"

author J.D. Karns

published by JLB Creatives Publishing

(actual edited version may vary slightly)


Chapter 1
Big Decision

I was playing with my Lincoln Logs minding my own business. At age 11, I must say, being the youngest of three boys had its advantages, at times. I had taken such pride in steadying one of the last few miniature logs on my incredible fort, without the help of my brother Mike, when I was rudely interrupted. With being born nearly deaf in my right ear, I rarely could hear the family through the heat duct on the floor, let alone the talking over the radio broadcast of the World War II news. At the sound of what seemed to be a laughing ruckus coming from everyone (all but Dad, of course) I raced and slid down the banister then ran into the kitchen as I wanted in on the fun too; it had gone silent for the moment. Everyone was still sitting around the table, picking at what crumbs were left from my oldest brother Chester’s birthday cake we had devoured earlier that evening to cap off the celebration. I took my seat between Chester and mom.

Chester wrapped me on the head and said, “Hey Bean Belly.”

I enthusiastically replied, “Hey Big Brother.” Truth be known, Bean Belly was not cutting it for me name-wise. I was 11 going on 12 for crying out loud. I wanted him, and Mike the middle brother, to start calling me by my real name, Jeb. But somehow I knew better than to bring that up right now.

Chester looked at all of us as he continued smiling and spoke. “Since everyone’s in such a good mood...” A huff came from Dad, but Chester ignored it. “...I’ve got something really exciting to say.” He paused a bit too long.

“Well say it boy,” Dad grunted without looking up from his newspaper. 

Chester wasted no time after Dad’s request. “Now that I’m 18, and the United States has been involved with World War II since December 7, 1941, I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I want to serve my country.”

I saw mom beam with pride and fear all in the same breath. She said, “Well that’s nice dear. We’ve raised you to be a proud American, and as well you should be. It’s a great country.” I saw her look around at some of the things we had, as well as all of us. “I think wanting to protect our freedom is a very noble and good thing for any young man to want to do.” Her voice trembled with her next words. “So we’ll just wait and see if the draft cards fall in your favor.” She patted Chester’s forearm, then ran her hand over her new hairdo. “Until then we can all rest at ease and enjoy our time together.” She smiled right at Chester. “I know with you being 18 now, you’re going to want to get out on your own soon, and I want to make certain you’re absolutely ready for that, and have all that you need. You’ll need a job for one thing.” She chuckled. I saw Dad nod, and the smoke from his pipe whirl from the motion.

I looked back at Chester and saw his eyes widen a bit before he said, “I know, and you see, that’s just it.” He appeared to me as though he were thinking about how to say his next words. “And you’re right Mom...I want to get out on my own, and I definitely need a job to do that.” He took her hand in his, though she did not look at him. She smooshed a few more cake crumbs on her fork and brought them to her mouth as he said, “But here’s the thing. I don’t want to wait and take a chance on the draft.” He hesitated for only a second. “I’d like to enlist.”

I remember the sound of mom’s fork hitting the floor, and the sight of her mouth dropping open. I also remember Mike and I cheering at the top of our lungs! (More thrilling than the news of our big brother enlisting, we both knew if he left that meant we would each have our own room).

“I think you should join the Navy!” I blurted. 

“Me too!” Mike shouted.

We had played countless hours together planning and strategizing as though we were captains on the mighty battle ships. And now our big brother wanted to be one? How exciting. Plus, Mike and I had only heard about the great pilots, soldiers and sailors on the radio. We had never met one, let alone have one in our family. 

“Now just a minute.” Chester smiled and continued. “Did you guys ever stop to think I’d like to have a say in the matter?”

“As would I!” Mom’s tone was harsh. We all backed down. “I don’t think you should go at all. And to tell you the truth I’ve been fearing that the war would still be going on when you turned 18, and that the draft would take you away, possibly never to be seen again.” I saw her wipe a tear with her stubby little finger. “What do you say Dad?”

Dad barely lowered the newspaper and looked over his glasses. “Don’t care what he does, Mom. He’s a big boy now, in fact he’s a man. He’s 18. He’s plenty capable of making his own decisions. But if you want my two cents I’d have to say it’s a damned good idea.” Dad snapped the newspaper back into reading position. Mom glared at him.

I could not help my excitement for boats and the water spilling into my next words. “I think the Navy would be super!” I saw mom sit even straighter and I tried to douse my enthusiasm with a quick, comforting addition. “Because it’d be the safest for sure.”

“Yeah, the safest for sure!” echoed Mike, in what I assumed was a rare attempt to actually help me and my cause. But then I remembered there was a bedroom at stake. 

I took it down another notch. “And besides Chester would make a really great sailor captain. Probably the best the Navy’s ever seen.” Mom’s expression never changed. The notches I had taken down, disappeared. I looked at Chester and said, “Imagine...sailing a big ship out on the ocean. You’d get to see sharks, and eels, and maybe even a mermaid! You’d get to see the world!”

“Bean Belly, slow down. I’ve heard of putting the cart before the horse, but I’ve never witnessed putting the mermaid before the naval ship.” Even Dad laughed at that one.

Mom’s voice was sternly directed at me, as was her pointing finger. “He’s not going on vacation. And sailors don’t have luxury cruise ship captains. Have you forgotten we are at war? Putting your brother on a ship...or the ground...or up in the sky flying in one of those fancy airplanes makes him nothing more than a target for those lousy Japs or Nazis.”

Dad chimed in, “Mom, you might want to watch your mouth.” I chuckled, but that only brought the stink-eye from Dad so I shut up. 

The next hour or so the conversation remained heated, but in the end Mom granted Chester’s wish, with no help from Dad. I leaped from my chair when Big Brother chose the navy.


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