Sergeant James Vanover was the control tower operator I met on the Dew Line in early 1946 when we landed our B-17 bomber in Canada. When we both retired from the military and started writing each other in California, and when he died in 2003, I lost track of his family.
I knew of his daughter, Ladonna, but I did not know she did not know about me.
She went to her dad’s home to help move everything out when they sold the house. In the basement they found a box with my letters and photos to him those past 60 years.
She read the letters and was fascinated to know of another Vanover on the West Coast. She had not met any of her dad’s kin before.
When she returned to Canada she called me, and we talked for a very long time. She knew very little about her dad’s military career.
A lot of the things we did were top secret then.
Ladonna married Martin Stroup, who was a tank driver in Viet Nam, and they wanted to visit me. I told them to come on down.
When she found out I had a large family, she said they would get a motel room. I told her that only a couple of my kids lived with me, and that I would get them into the Travis Air Force Base Hotel for the night, which I did.
I cooked some Southern food for them and as some of my kids were here, we had a ball.
After they went back to Canada, we wrote and talked on the phone, and I sent her a copy of my story in The Mountain Eagle, which she loves.
I found Vanovers that first came to the states from Holland in 1745 and she wanted to know all about the two trips I went to Holland in 1989.
Ladonna now talks on the phone and writes my daughters. She is a very smart lady.
Note: General Patton’s son was Martin’s commander in Nam.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)