Red Skies at Night, the True Diaries of Irving J. Schaffer

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9781411642775: Red Skies at Night, the True Diaries of Irving J. Schaffer
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The secret and illegal war diary of a hero who lived the crazy existence of aviators in "Catch-22" Corsican bomber bases. Prompted by his empathy for Gulf-War Syndrome sufferers, the author reveals his WWII experiences, often sustained only by his enduring love for his bride-to-be back home.

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Post-traumatic stress disorder was not a recognized diagnosis 60 years ago. Delayed reactions to the stress of battle because it was too painful to recall was not even a concept in medical terms in that comparatively enlightened age of World War II. Yet it was exactly that kind of reaction that was the cause of the delay in revealing what was both a tender love story, and a gritty, shrapnel and flak filled tale of life on a Corsican airbase during the late days of the Southern European campaign. Technical Sergeant Irving J. Schaffer had secretly kept a diary, against military regulations, in hope of sparing his parents the agony they had already undergone with the MIA report of their first-born son. It took over 50 years for him to be able to open and read it again.

Irv Schaffer's life seems ordinary on the surface, a dapper gentlemen's habberdasher, now retired in his late 80's, he almost never talks of his military experience. It still is difficult for him. But he also recognized a kind of kinship with the Post-traumatic stress disorder veterans returning from the Gulf and Iraq campaigns. He decided to share his diaries. It was still painful to read and share with his wife, Shyrle (pronounced "Shirl"), it was impossible for him to re-write. He simply had his diaries faithfully transcribed. Red Skies at Night, the True Diaries of Irving J. Schaffer is the result.

Irv's story is also one of inspiring devotion to his stateside sweetheart. The love affair has lasted more than 60 years. The couple still shares loving glances across the dinner table after all these years. Though that part too has had its tragic moments of loss and inconsolable desolation.

If anyone doubts that "an army marches on its stomach," Irv will disabuse you of that notion, as he records in accurate daily reports the menu for virtually every meal, to almost comic effect. Yet that, too, is an insight to the psyche of a soldier (airman) since every meal could well be his last. It overshadows every day with portents of doom. Somehow with all the doom overhanging, Irv manages to hang onto a sense of optimism through his longing to reunite with his beloved Shyrle, and thus the title, a prediction of hope from the old nautical proverb, "Red Skies at Night ..."

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