New book features area vets

Published 12:52 am Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Opp native and retired Air Force Lt. Col. James “Jim” Lawrence has released another book, “American Veterans: Their Stories of Service and Valor.”

“I was inspired to write the book about other veterans after I got such a good response and feedback from the final Chapter 12 in the first book I wrote titled “Airman’s Odyssey: An Air Force Special Operator’s Incredible Journey,” which came out in 2011,” he said.


Lawrence said the new book features 62 stories about veterans from across the country, and covers stories from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Stories in this book include locals such as Sir Francis McGowin of Andalusia, Joel Lawrence born in Florala, but living in Andalusia at the time of his service in the Korean War, and Evon Williamson of Gantt (WWII),” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said the majority of those featured are Alabamians, including veterans from Greenville, Florala, McKenzie, Opp, Rose Hill, Luverne, Babbie, Onycha, Elba, Samson and Troy.

“One of the most notable veterans interviewed and written about was Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot named Richard Cole of San Antonio, who is still alive, age 98 and doing well in Texas,” Lawrence said. “There are only four of the 1942 Doolittle Raiders still alive, and I was able to meet three of the four in April 2013.”

Lawrence said he took 18 months to write the book, which included his travels to meet and interview the veterans featured in the work.

In 2012, Lawrence was named Opp’s Own, by the Opp and Covington County Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the OHS class of 1965.

He graduated from Troy University and entered the United States Air Force, working his way up to lieutenant colonel.

Through his nearly 27-year career in the military, Lawrence logged more than 2 million miles; set a world record for transcontinental flights, flew a mission to attempt rescue of American hostages in Iran, was handpicked for a highly classified organization to deal with response to international terrorism in the U.S. and more.

Lawrence has also had the opportunity to see an amazing site, while flying at 47,000 feet in an Air Force jet – the Earth’s curvature.

Lawrence said the book is available in the Goat Hill Museum Gift Shop in Montgomery, the State Archives and History gift shop and the Governor’s Mansion gift shop.

“It is very gratifying to be able to spread the world about our South Alabamians, who contributed so much to the defense of our country over the years,” he said.