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The Amazing Stories That Inspired Flight of Faith, Book 7 of the Virtues and Valor Serialized Story

WHILE the story of the special team of operators I named The Virtues is entirely fictional, set in a fictional town, and comprised of fictional characters who form a fictional military division, every single one of my fictional heavenly heroines was inspired by a real World War II heroine and the story was inspired by real events.

Today, Flight of Faith IS FREE. Yes! FREE. You can get it in ebook form at this link.

Here are the amazing stories that inspired the writing of Flight of Faith, Part 7 of the Virtues and Valor Serialized Story.

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My fictional little town of Lamarr, Texas was inspired by none other than actress and inventor, Hedy Lamarr. Born in Austria as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on November 9, 1914, Hedy died in her Florida home at the age of 85 on January 19, 2000. In 1933, Hedy had fled from her abusive husband and secretly moved to Paris, France. There, she soon met American film mogul, Louis B. Mayer. In no time, Hedy Lamarr became known the world over as the world’s most beautiful woman and played alongside MGM’s most famous leading men from Spencer Tracy to Clark Gable. What few people know is that Hedy was also a brilliant – or perhaps genius – mathematician.

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Hedy, along with composer George Antheil, co-invented the technology for spread spectrum and frequency hopping communications. This became important to America’s military during World War II and was used in everything from controlling torpedoes to helping guide bombers onto their targets. Her invention is still used today in such modern technologies as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Hedy Lamarr was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014

While researching the incredible women during World War II to write this series of books, I often experienced the difficult task of choosing between this or that remarkable story of one incredible woman or another equally incredible account to help inspire my heroines. However, in the case of my fictional character, young Helen Mulberry (later Green), my inspiration was very clear.

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The heroic then 22 year old woman on the cover of this book photographed at Love Field, Texas in 1943 is the incredible Florene Miller (later Watson). Florene Miller was born on December 7, 1920. She turned 21 on the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. When writing my Virtues’ stories, I very purposefully shied away from too much mention of specific historical events surrounding the war. I had no desire to tred on true history and sought only to create a world with my characters doing their things in the fictional towns I crafted. However, I did have a very significant scene in this book that pertained to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In a way, that was my little nod to Florene.

Like my fictional Helen, the real-life Florene was a Texan, born in San Angelo. At 8-years-old, she took her first airpline ride in a WWI era Barnstormer’s open-cockpit biplane and fell in love with flying. While she was in her sophomore year at Baylor University, her father purchased the family a Luscombe airplane. Much like my fictional character Ruth Aubertin in Grace’s Ground War, the real life Florene’s father believed his country would soon go to war with Germany and he wanted his children to be trained aviators in the war effort.

The Luscombe enabled Florene to spend numerous hours flying and studying aircraft engines, navigation, meteorology, and flight rules and regulations. At 19, she graduated from flight school. In a few short months Florene became a commercial pilot, obtained flight and ground school instructor ratings. Before her 21st birthday, she would be teaching men (including her future husband, Chris Watson) how to fly in the War Training Program in Odessa, Texas.

Women's Air Ferrier Service members-Betsy Ferguson, Florine Miller, and Helen Richards at Love Field, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 1943 Picture loaned by Florene Miller Watson, Dec. 5, 01.
Women’s Air Ferrier Service members-Betsy Ferguson, Florine Miller, and Helen Richards at Love Field, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 1943
Picture loaned by Florene Miller Watson, Dec. 5, 01.

In 1939, after Germany invaded Poland, female pilot Jacqueline Cochran wrote to the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, regarding using women pilots in the armed forces. Shortly thereafter, female pilot Nancy Harkness Love wrote a similar letter to the people in charge of the Ferrying Division of the Armed Air Forces. Early in the European war, the United States wasn’t quite ready to utilize women as pilots for military planes. However, by September 1942 – 9 months after the Pearl Harbor attack – they started shifting that idea.
An increased demand brought on by male pilots heading out of the country to fight in the war left a shortage of experienced pilots in the United States. The leaders of the Air Transport Command contacted Nancy Harkness Love, and hired her to recruit qualified women pilots.

As I mentioned, December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, was Florene’s 21st birthday. After Pearl Harbor attack, both Florene and her brother had volunteered for the Army Air Corps. To qualify as Army pilots, men were required to have 250 hours of flying time, a commercial license, and a horse power rating. On the other hand, women were required to have a minimum of 500 hours.

A call was put out for 50 women who had logged over 500 hours of flying to help ferry aircraft, cargo, and troops. Only 25 women in the entire country met the criteria, though the women who qualified at the time averaged 1,100 hours each.

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Florene was one of those 25 women who qualified, and she became a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and, a very short time later, its first Commanding Officer.These women flew 8 months delivering airplanes nationally before any of the 1,074 other women pilots graduated from Jackie Cochran’s flight training school.

Then, on September 14, 1942, General Henry “Hap” Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Forces, approved a program that would train qualified female pilots to serve as ferry pilots. The program was placed under the direction of Jacqueline Cochran, and named the Army Air Forces Women’s Flying Training Detatchment (WFTD).

On August 5, 1943, the WAFS and the WFTD merged and became re-designated as the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). Jacqueline Cochran was appointed the Director and Nancy Harkness Love was named WASP Executive with the ATC Ferrying Division. Florene, the fomer Commanding Officer of the WAFS, became the first Commanding Officer of the WASPs stationed at Love Field, Dallas, Texas.

Although the WASP held officer status, they were classified as civilians, ineligible for government life insurance, military funerals, burial expenses, and other G.I. benefits. More than three decades elapsed before the first honorable discharge was awarded to a WASP.

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By the end of the war, Florene had flown every type of plane that the Air Corps used including: Aeronea, Waco, Taylorcraft, Piper Cub, BT-13, PT-17, PT-19, AT-6, AT-9, AT-10, AT-11, AT-17, A-20, A-26, P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, P-51, SB2C, C-47(DC-3), B-17, B-24, B-25, Lockheed P-38F Lightning and her favorite, the North American P-51D Mustang. In 1944, Florene was chosen to be a test pilot in a secret program to develop radar equipment for planes.

After the war, Florene and Chris Watson married, and she earned her BA then MBA. Her husband worked for Phillips Petroleum, and she taught college for 30 years.
The image used on the cover of this book was also selected by the US Department of Defense for its official WASP website:
http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0310_wasp/

Among her many honors and distinctions are:
Membership in the Distinguished Flying Corps in the Kritser Aviation and Space Museum, Amarillo, TX
Induction into theNinety-Nines International Forest of Friendship, Atichison, Kansas (Amelia Earhart’s home) for exceptional contributions to aviation
First woman inductee into the Panhandle Veterans Hall of Fame
Distinguished Veteran honoree at the Air Force Military Ball in Dallas, TX
National Medal of Honor from The Daughters of the American Revolution
Designation as an “Eagle” 4 separate times at the Air Force’s annual Gathering of Eagles celebration
National Air Force Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Induction into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame
The renaming of the airport in her hometown of Big Lake, TX the Florene Miller Watson Airport
The Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award the United States Congress can present to a civilian.

Florene had extensive Bible training and spent ten years as the National Chaplain of the WASP. She was active in her church and community affairs in Borger, Texas near Amarillo.

I’m sad to say Florene died on February 4, 2014 at the age of 93, just 13 months before this book published. I’ve read numerous articles and interviews about this incredible woman. In everything I’ve read about her, this stood out to me:

“During the years, I have been asked to give many, many WAFS- WASP WWII presentations … been inducted into several prestigious ‘Hall of Fame’ type honors, and been featured in newspapers, books and magazine articles – but the bottom line for me is – ‘What does my Lord think of me!'” – Florene Miller Watson

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

Today, Flight of Faith IS FREE November 5-9. You can get it in ebook form at this link.

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The Breathtaking Conclusion to the Virtues and Valor Series Releases Today!

The exciting Virtues and Valor serialized story CONCLUDES with Flight of Faith!

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v07-faithHELEN MULBERRY, the youngest child and only daughter of a wealthy Texas oil tycoon, has always had her every wish granted immediately. When the Germans march into France, no one denies her request to fly her plane to England and help free up a male pilot for combat. Her father’s influence opens doors, and 19 year old Helen joins the Virtues team.

Now under the code-name FAITH, she flies between Britain and France, transporting passengers, supplies, or performing reconnaissance. The Nazis guard their skies with vigor, and Helen learns to fly in combat, land in a field with no lights, and evade the anti-aircraft fire. She masterfully takes on each mission, despite the perceptions and chauvinistic attitudes of many of the male pilots.

Shot down over France during the mission to rescue the agent code named TEMPERANCE from the clutches of the Gestapo, Helen must make her way through enemy territory with no language skills and somehow come through with a means to get her team back to Britain. Can she save them, or will they all find that they have no way out?

FLIGHT OF FAITH is the final episode in seven serialized novellas entitled the Virtues and Valor series by Hallee Bridgeman. Seven serialized novellas, each inspired by real people and actual events, reveal the incredible story of amazing heroines facing the ultimate test of bravery.

In 1941 Great Britain a special war department assembles an experimental and exclusively female cohort of combat operatives. Four willing spies, a wireless radio operator, an ingenious code breaker, and a fearless pilot are each hand-picked, recruited, and trained to initiate a daring mission in Occupied France. As plans are laid to engineer the largest prison break of Allied POWs in history, the Nazis capture the Virtues’ radio operator. It will take the cohesive teamwork of the rest of the women to save her life before Berlin breaks her and brings the force of the Third Reich to bear.

Some find love, some find vengeance, and some discover the kind of strength that lives in the human heart when all they can do is rely on each other and their shared belief. Courage, faith, and valor intersect but, in the end, one pays the ultimate price.

Concluding the Virtues and Valor series by Hallee Bridgeman. Seven serialized novellas, each inspired by real people and actual events, reveal the incredible story of amazing heroines facing the ultimate test of bravery. Book 7, Flight of Faith, is now available at the following locations:

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Christian Fiction Friday: March 13th

Welcome to this week’s edition of Christian Fiction Friday brought to you by me and my lovely and talented co-host, Alana Terry! This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

I do realize that it’s Saturday. I think I was distracted by my daughter’s birthday Friday the 13th, and just didn’t get to my blog. So, a day late, here is my offering for the week, from my current work in progress, Flight of Faith, Part 7 of the Virtues and Valor Series. This book publishes on Tuesday, March 17th!

v07-faith“What do you think you were about up there?” Captain Green bellowed.

Helen ducked under the nose of the blackened Avro Anson and stood toe to toe with a red-faced Captain Green. Irritation at the dressing down in front of the ground crew bristled up and down her spine. It caused her to mouth off, which she immediately regretted. “You mean besides out-flying the rest of your men?”

“The rest of my men did not break protocol.”

“Break protocol?” With exaggerated movements, she tapped her chin with her finger, then her eyes widened and she held that finger up. “Oh! You mean with the lights? Gee, Cap, I was just sayin’ howdy.”

“Sayin’ howdy?” he sputtered. He closed his eyes, as if praying for patience, then opened them and glared at her, his vivid green eyes staring her down and putting her into place much more quickly than any angry words he could speak. They almost shone in the night with their intensity and she knew she had crossed a line. “Faith, the second those lights came on, the aggressor had you in his sights and fired. You’re officially dead. Consider that for the next three days if you can. You’re grounded.”

Indignation huffed a sound from deep in her chest out of her. She had simply flashed her plane’s exterior lights off and on one time after the exercise concluded. It was almost a victory flash more than anything. “Three days? You can’t do that!”

“Oh, but I assure you that I absolutely can. In fact, I already have. It’s done. Take protocol seriously, like those men you’re up there flying with, and we shall never have to have this conversation again.”

 

Now, link your Christian Fiction Friday! Here are the rules:

1. Christian Fiction Friday is a blog hop where authors post short (400-ish words or less) snippets from their current works in progress (not published pieces).

2. Keep it PG-13 or lower. No swearing, no sex scenes. If you have a particularly violent scene or deal with a heavy or controversial subject matter, please include a disclaimer at the beginning of your post.




Suggestions:

1. Visit at least some of the other Christian Fiction Friday authors each week and comment on their blogs.

2. Don’t offer critiques unless the author specifically asks for it in his or her post.

3. Please include this blurb at the end of your weekly post:

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.

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Christian Fiction Friday: March 6th

Welcome to this week’s edition of Christian Fiction Friday brought to you by me and my lovely and talented co-host, Alana Terry! This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

Here is my offering for the week, from my current work in progress, Flight of Faith, Part 7 of the Virtues and Valor Series.

v07-faithHelen slipped into the pilot’s seat and looked around.

“Everything’s written in German,” she said. For the first time, she started to allow a little bit of that fear to begin to spread through her.

“What? In a Luftwaffe Junkers JU-52? How dare those cheeky Nazis write everything in German in a German aircraft?” Harold replied.

“Wow, Lieutenant, that’s mighty insightful. And helpful besides.” It actually was helpful. It pulled her away from the despair that had started to clutch at her. She huffed out a breath and closed her eyes, willing herself to reflexively reach for controls. She reached forward where she thought the ignition should be and pressed the button. So far so good.

 

Now, link your Christian Fiction Friday! Here are the rules:

1. Christian Fiction Friday is a blog hop where authors post short (400-ish words or less) snippets from their current works in progress (not published pieces).

2. Keep it PG-13 or lower. No swearing, no sex scenes. If you have a particularly violent scene or deal with a heavy or controversial subject matter, please include a disclaimer at the beginning of your post.




Suggestions:

1. Visit at least some of the other Christian Fiction Friday authors each week and comment on their blogs.

2. Don’t offer critiques unless the author specifically asks for it in his or her post.

3. Please include this blurb at the end of your weekly post:

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.

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Christian Fiction Friday: February 27th

Welcome to this week’s edition of Christian Fiction Friday brought to you by me and my lovely and talented co-host, Alana Terry! This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

Here is my offering for the week, from my current work in progress, Flight of Faith, Part 7 of the Virtues and Valor Series.

v07-faith“We aren’t going to make it!” Helen yelled as she struggled with the controls.

“Just lost the left engine,” her copilot Harold Curtis said, looking beyond Helen to the burning wing. Less than a second later, the entire plane shuddered as another antiaircraft burst exploded right next to them, causing her to rapidly start losing altitude.

“You need to find me a place to set this baby down or else we’re going to be in a heap of trouble,” she managed to say as she stood and used the weight of her body to try to control the yoke. Some part of her brain told that right now she ought to feel absolute terror, but she didn’t have time for that. Maybe later, when this was over, would she take time and react to the fact that she was crash landing into enemy territory, into a country in which she did not speak the language.

 

Now, link your Christian Fiction Friday! Here are the rules:

1. Christian Fiction Friday is a blog hop where authors post short (400-ish words or less) snippets from their current works in progress (not published pieces).

2. Keep it PG-13 or lower. No swearing, no sex scenes. If you have a particularly violent scene or deal with a heavy or controversial subject matter, please include a disclaimer at the beginning of your post.




Suggestions:

1. Visit at least some of the other Christian Fiction Friday authors each week and comment on their blogs.

2. Don’t offer critiques unless the author specifically asks for it in his or her post.

3. Please include this blurb at the end of your weekly post:

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.

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Christian Fiction Friday: February 20th

Welcome to this week’s edition of Christian Fiction Friday brought to you by me and my lovely and talented co-host, Alana Terry! This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

Here is my offering for the week, from my current work in progress, Flight of Faith, Part 7 of the Virtues and Valor Series.

v07-faithHelen popped the canopy on Diamond and pushed herself out of the cockpit. As her boots landed on the ground, she saw the two men rushing toward her, one of them with a gun drawn from the holster on his belt. She weakly raised her hands. “I have a letter of permission,” she declared before they even came to a stop.

The man in the officer’s uniform looked her up and down, intense green eyes taking in her leather jacket, pants, and boots. He inspected her with a methodical eye for detail, taking in her apparent age, weight, and state of alertness along with her very American accent. He waved a hand at the gun toting man next to him. “Put that away, Erickson.”

The trip here had taken Helen from Texas to New York to Newfoundland to Greenland to Iceland and finally here. The trip had taken seven days. Exhaustion overrode every cell in her body, and Helen didn’t know how much energy she had left from which to pull reserves, especially standing here with her hands in the air. “Let’s have a looksie at your letter, then, shall we?” he demanded.

“I have to get it out of my jacket pocket,” she warned, her voice hoarse with exhaustion. “Don’t let Skippy here get an itchy trigger finger.” The officer simply raised an eyebrow and extended his hand. She retrieved the letter from her inside pocket and handed it over to him.

After he skimmed it, he looked at her again. “This says H. ‘Troy’ Mulberry. You don’t strike me as a Troy.”

She loved his accent. She didn’t think he’d appreciate hearing it at this point, but she honestly thought she could listen to him talk all day. “Well, shucks, Admiral. We just met. Give it some time to grow on ya.”

He didn’t look amused. She lowered her hands and shoved them into her pockets. “Everyone who knows me calls me Troy. Not my fault people assume that means a man.” Helen slumped down onto the wing of her Na-16. “I’ve been flying for half a fortnight. Think I could catch forty winks somewhere, Admiral?”

He looked at Texas Diamond, dusty and dirty, and back at her. “Where did you fly out of, Miss Mulberry?”

 

Now, link your Christian Fiction Friday! Here are the rules:

1. Christian Fiction Friday is a blog hop where authors post short (400-ish words or less) snippets from their current works in progress (not published pieces).

2. Keep it PG-13 or lower. No swearing, no sex scenes. If you have a particularly violent scene or deal with a heavy or controversial subject matter, please include a disclaimer at the beginning of your post.




Suggestions:

1. Visit at least some of the other Christian Fiction Friday authors each week and comment on their blogs.

2. Don’t offer critiques unless the author specifically asks for it in his or her post.

3. Please include this blurb at the end of your weekly post:

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.

Pin It
6 Comments
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