Reader Reactions & Anecdotes

 

8 November 2008

Note from Jonni: Jack continues to do very well. His strength seems to increase in quantum leaps. He sends his love and thanks to all his readers, and promises to be back in the next week or so. In the meantime, following are the first two in a series of “Jack Hunter Changed my Life” articles.

Guest Contributor: Jack Hunter Changed my Life

Jack is a true hero to me. He encouraged me, 18 years ago, to pursue writing a novel, and it has been my biggest dream since then to actually finish it. “You are a writer, and this is eminently publishable,” he said after looking over my first chapter. Those words have helped me keep my head held high at the worst, saddest times of my life.

I finally did finish that novel, recently, after all this time. Always I had Jack Hunter in the back of my mind, telling me to keep going because I had worth, urging me on.

My life and dreams would not be the same if not for Jack. I still carry his 20-year-old business card in my wallet. It is a beacon of hope to me, and the only one I keep there. He was and still is a light to me, and I am deeply saddened about his condition. Please give him all of my love.

Sincerely,

Phillip J. Milano
Writer, “Dare to Ask” column
Communities Editor
The Florida Times-Union
904-359-4483

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Guest Contributor: Jack Hunter Changed my Life

When it comes to World War I, I have it bad. I have always had an interest in history. I went to college and received degrees in history before I realized I did not want to teach.

As a high schooler in the mid 1960s I saw an amazing movie that changed my life, The Blue Max. I thought it was a great movie. I went to see it every weekend during its entire first run in my hometown. This caused me to do more reading about World War I, especially the air war. About the 28th (maybe the 38th) time I watched the movie, I sat watching the credits. I saw that some guy named Hunter was involved in writing the book and screenplay. I got a copy of the book and was grabbed by the first paragraph. When I read the last paragraph, I thought “The movie was great, and this book is incredible.”

In that moment, my passion for World War I and the Imperial German Period began. Forty-plus years later, it is still going strong. It has become an even greater part of my life, both professionally and personally.

Fast forward to the late 1980s. My wife Melissa and I were visiting a quaint little town here in Florida, St. Augustine. We were puttering around some antique stores. Standing on an easel in front of one of the shops were two attractive paintings of World War I planes. I stopped to look at them. I was not only taken with the paintings’ high-quality, but by the stories they told. I looked over the door and the shop’s name was “The Blue Max.” I walked in and saw a lively older woman behind the counter. Near her cash register was a poster depicting George Peppard in The Blue Max. I complimented her on the paintings, then I blurted out, “Why did you name your shop ‘The Blue Max’?” Her eyes twinkled and she replied, “Why, my husband wrote the book!”

It was my birthday weekend, so Melissa bought both paintings for me. I asked the friendly lady if I could call or write her husband. She gladly gave me the number and said he would be glad to hear from me. We returned home and I decided to call him. Naturally, I was nervous. He was a big-time author and I was just another fan. When I called him, he was very gracious and put me at ease. A few more phone calls turned into another visit to St. Augustine, where I met Jack. It was even better. I had found a person who was as batty about World War I aviation as I was.

That first visit twenty years ago turned into dozens more. Melissa and I enjoyed both Jack’s company and that of his adoring wife, Tommy. They were a great couple. A visit with them always made us feel good. Here was a couple who cared just as much for each other 40, 50, and 60 years later as they did when they first married. Tommy passed away in 2006. We miss her humor, grace, and devotion. If anything, we have increased our visits to Jack. We have had an opportunity to meet two of his three daughters and his son, Jay (Jack Hunter, Jr). Jack and Tommy have always been very proud of their kids, and with good reason.

We have been treated as family for twenty years, which has greatly enriched our lives. In 1996 I retired from working for international companies to do something different (much as Jack did in the 1960s when he left DuPont to write full time). I began a business selling artifacts from the Imperial German Period.

While my loving wife and parents were truly supportive of this venture, Jack served as an inspiration. If he could switch careers in mid-life, I felt I could too. Twelve years later, I have had the good fortune to carve an interesting niche in the sale of historical items. Our firm, Der Rittmeister Militaria, is known around the world. I have worked with Jack over the years, offering for sale his books, art, and even his personal artifacts.

I am sure many of you have read several of Jack’s books; but, if you have not spent time studying his paintings, you have missed a real treat. They have been well-received.

Jack and I share many things. His views on life and family are similar to mine. He is a truly decent man and patriot who served his country at great risk. While devoted to his craft and family, he has time for other people and takes a keen interest in them. Jack Hunter has affected thousands of lives. Even his casual novel reader is affected, as they have had the enjoyment and entertainment of a well-written book. Those readers who have taken the time to write to him have been rewarded by a refreshing response, and his interest in THEM. I have treasured my many visits, letters, and calls with Jack. I look forward to many more, and wish him the best in the future.

It remains the same when we get together, though. We’re just two kids talking about the good old days, when men flew with the wind in their faces in crates no sane men would get in today

Kenneth J. Greenfield, CEO
Der Rittmeister Militaria

Copyright © 2008 by Jack D. Hunter.  All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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