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Son Writes A Memoir about His Father, A WWII Medic

Roy Kerr served as a medic in Italy, and North Africa during WWII.

A man who grew up in Kewanee has written a memoir to honor his father, who served during World War Two.

Gary Kerr is a saxophonist, pianist, and an attorney with a private practice in Springfield. In 2020 he published, WWII My Father's Journey: Friendship - War - Romance.           
As the title suggests, Kerr wrote the book from the point of view of his father, Roy Kerr, as he served in Europe and Africa.

Author of WWII My Father's Journey: Friendship - War - Romance, Gary Kerr.

Kerr says, "Well, information was acquired as a results of my father following up on my request to him several years before he passed away to take a tape recorder and some tapes and dictate his memories of his life. Because he had such an interesting life) He did that, to my surprise, and I had it transcribed and, and it was a very lengthy transcription, and as I read through it all, well this would be something to really preserve for the future for my family and future generations. As we got into it, I realized that it would make a good book. and there was so much there I had to limit it to his time immediately before entering the army, and a chapter there after when he returned to the United States after the war."

Kerr says father told him there was no glory in war, and after going with a friend, he learned what the real cost was.

“My dad of course saw the horrors of war as a medic in North Africa and in Italy, and of course typically, I mean I shouldn't say typically, but there is a major emotional, and mental and physical impact on soldiers who engage in front line battle. But there's also a significant emotional and mental impact on the medical staff, as well. And that stories not always well known. My dad was in the medical core, 5th army medical core of the 24th General Hospital. And so that comes through in this book that the stories of the medical people and what they had to endure and the impact on them."

Growing up, Kerr had a father who shared the many stories of what war, love, and friendship had taught him. His parents, the love portion of the title, met during Roy's time in Florence, by chance, because of some eggs.          

Gary E. Kerr's Book, My Father's Journey: Friendship - War - Romance.

“Well, I'll tell ya’, it's an interesting story, my father and two other fellows, while they were in Florence, decided they would go out and adventure around. My dad had a very adventuresome spirit that often got him in to trouble. But they decided to take a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs with them. And eggs were hard to come by at that time in WWII, in fact an egg on the black market in Italy, costed a dollar an egg, if you could find them.  They were walking around, they entered a certain section of town, a square, and in Italy they call them piazzas. And my mother and two of her friends had just returned from work and they were at the entrance of the apartment building. And my dad said to his friends, 'let’s go see if those ladies will cook these eggs for us'. And guess what that was the beginning of the romance. But for those eggs, I might not be here.” 

Kerr says this emotionally-driven story, told from the first person perspective has something for everyone: adventure, romance, and friendship. The 482 page book is available in hard or soft cover from BarnesAndNoble.com.

Susanna Kemerling is WVIK Quad Cities NPR's 2022 Fellowship Host/Reporter. She graduated from Northern Illinois University for Media Studies in Communication and spent the last year working as a Teaching Assistant through the graduate program at NIU.