Fort Myers man commemorates WWII veteran dad-in-law with book

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

A Southwest Florida author is getting national​ attention for a book he wrote about his father-in-law, a World War II veteran.

J. Robert Gould’s book is titled “The Last of the Greatest Generation.”

One day, the millions of Americans who served in uniform during WWII will all have died. Their stories and the secrets they were willing to share will only come from history.

This thought gave Gould his inspiration.

“When we came up to start writing, that story kind of popped in my head about a what-if scenario and the last of the Greatest Generation,” Gould said. “We know at some point in time, there’s going to be a last World War II veteran.”

Gould said he never took for granted the stories his father-in-law, “Papa” John Abplanalp, lived to tell him. Abplanalp served on the USS Ticonderoga. While he died at 96 years old, his stories will forever be documented in “The Last of the Greatest Generation.”

“I think what people will get out of it is just how humble these people were, those that served in WWII, and what they contributed in the fact that they felt compelled to tell their story, ultimately,” Gould said. “Although many, you know, tried to not say anything and keep it secret because they didn’t want to make a big deal about it, but ultimately, if you ask them questions about it and are generally interested in hearing their stories, you’ll be amazed at just the valor and in how much they contributed to the freedom that we have today.”

Gould put pen to paper, telling “Papa” John Abplanalp’s stories for others to appreciate and learn from.

“He was 17 when he joined the Navy, and on the ship, the Ticonderoga, in January of ’45, it was hit by kamikazes,” Gould said, “and he ended up having to be sealed in a compartment, if you can believe this, on the seventh deck, while the decks above him were being flooded because that’s where the munitions were, and if that didn’t get put out, the ship would explode.”

While Gould said there are more true and unbelievable stories like that in the book, the primary story is itself a fiction.

“There were some storylines that I wanted to put in there, romantic storylines,” Gould said. “There’s a lot of texture in Fort Myers. In other words, there are places in Fort Myers that people will recognize when they read the book, those that live here that kind of bring to light the city, and I wanted to kind of embellish the character a little bit, so there was some need to kind of touch on the fiction.”

Gould said he was happy “Papa John” got the chance to read the pages before he died.

“Fortunately, he was able to read the first chapter before he passed, and he kind of nodded his head and said, ‘Yeah, that’s exactly what happened.'”

The book is meant to stand as a tribute to John Abplanalp and all who served alongside him in WWII, who otherwise may not have had their stories told.

Gould, for full disclosure, is married to a long-time sales employee at WINK News.

You can purchase “The Last of the Greatest Generation” wherever books are sold. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit Hearts and Homes for Veterans, dedicated to helping veterans in need.

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