About 10 years ago I got a phone call from a lady in Canada. She wanted to know how I knew her late father, James Vanover. I told her I met James on my trips to the Dew Line in Canada, after we landed our B-17 bomber in 1946. We never saw each other again.
Then, when we both retired from the Air Force, many years later, we both ended up working in California, and he got in touch with me. I later lost track of him again.
This lady was his daughter, Ladonna, and she had just returned from James’s home, where he had died, and she went there to pack his belongings. In the basement she found a box of letters and papers that I had sent to him during those many years.
She told me she was now married and had a family. She was the secretary of Canada’s Mounted Police Force, and wanted to get to know my family and me.
I started sending her copies of my stories in The Mountain Eagle, and she loved them. I sent her copies of our first Vanovers who came to the States in 1742. I told her about my two trips to Holland while assigned to Germany. During this time she knew of no other Vanovers, and I found some for her that she now writes to.
She and her husband wanted to come for a visit, and I told them to come on down. Her husband, Marty, told me he was a tank driver for George Patton Jr. in Viet Nam. The Pattons are from Wise, Va.
When they arrived, my girls and I had food ready for them. The next day I took them to Travis Air Force Base and showed them the base control tower like her dad worked in for years. I showed them all the planes I had flown in during my 27-year career that were in the base museum.
They went back to Canada very happy with their visit, and they plan to visit again soon. I still keep in touch with them.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)