Unforgotten Hero is the story of my uncle, Second Lieutenant Jimmy L. Escalle, a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who paid the ultimate price for freedom in what has become known as "The Forgotten War."
Jim was only twenty-three years old when he was listed as missing in action, but in that short time he lived an exemplary life, including being able to fulfill a childhood dream of becoming a pilot. He personified the typical spirit of most young fighter pilots who flew combat missions in Korea, and many just like him never came home after the hostilities ended.
I never had the privilege of knowing my uncle personally; he was listed as missing in action several years before I was born. One day, while rummaging through some old photographs in my parents’ closet, I came across a small photo of a man wearing an aviator’s cap and goggles. I asked my mom who he was. She told me that he was my Uncle Jimmy, my dad’s older brother, who had been in the Air Force, but he had never returned from the Korean War. She told me I was named in honor of him.
Well, that statement sparked my curiosity even brighter. I wanted to know more about my uncle’s life, especially his role with the Air Force. I also wanted to know about the Korean War, so I could understand the environment in which he fought and eventually gave his life. Although I was just eight years old at the time, I thought that maybe someday, somehow, I would know his complete life story and be able to share it with others, because I didn’t want him, like the Korean War itself, to be forgotten.
Over the succeeding years I slowly put the pieces of Jim’s life together. Starting in the days before personal computers and the Internet, I was able to acquire a lot of information on Jim simply from the conversations I had with my parents and grandparents, along with correspondence from some of his closest friends. Then in 2001, after I bought my first computer, I used the Internet to contact government agencies dealing with MIA issues, Air Force history offices, and anyone else I could locate. I also used the Internet for tracking down a few of Jim’s squadron mates from Korea, as well as some from his flight training days.
I began writing the book in 2002. It took a little over three years to complete, then I began shopping it around to agents and publishers. All of them liked the story, but they said that because he wasn't a famous person the book couldn't be marketed. They also said it wasn't a first person "I was there" book, which is what they published.
Undaunted by this setback, I have decided to publish the book myself under my own imprint using modern print-on-demand technology. I'll be using Lightning Source as the printer. I plan to have both a hardcover edition and a paperback. Someday I hope to produce an audio book as well. I have already created the book's website and will put it online before the book's release.
The manuscript is finished and has been edited. I've chosen the book designer (interior and cover) and the indexer. I estimate the cost for these services, along with the purchase of ISBNs and printer upload fees to be around $2,200. Anything over this amount will be applied toward promoting and marketing the book.
Although I couldn't get any publishers to take on my project, I did manage to obtain endorsements from thirty people, including well-known aviation authors, fighter pilots from four wars, a former New York congressman, and even one from a former North Korean fighter pilot who served in the war. I've also contacted various air museum bookstore managers about carrying my book. The manager at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center asked me to send a copy for possible inclusion in their store. The National Air Force Museum has agreed to look at my book as well. An editor at Air Force Times has asked to see a copy of the book for a possible article.
My book is a personal story wrapped within an historical framework. It has a mix of both military and political history, blended together with a bit of Americana. I believe readers will enjoy this unique story of an aspiring aviator who answered his nation's call to serve.
For the generation who lived through this era it will be a trip down memory lane, recalling the good times and perhaps bad. Others will learn about events in American history and the Korean War that they may have forgotten, or didn’t even know at all. It’s a peek into the lives of ordinary people who make America the great country it is. And for those men and women who proudly serve our nation today, it gives an account of a courageous young man whose service and sacrifice has set an example for them to follow.
Honor a hero who paid the ultimate price for freedom by pledging to my book publishing project. With your support we can make this project a success.
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