MOUNT PLEASANT MILLS — Lincoln Hokenbrough has always been a history buff; wartime history has always impacted him. And he has his grandfather, a wartime “hero,” to thank.
Hokenbrough of Lititz and originally of Mount Pleasant Mills is the author of “Every Soldier Has a Story.”
The book marks the time his grandfather, Clarence Hibbs, also of Mount Pleasant Mills, spent on the war front during World War II.
“ I like narratives of the common soldier, the guy in the trenches who wins the war. Knowing about the leaders is neat, but it’s a lot easier to connect to the ordinary GI Joe because it could be any of us. Grandpa is that guy. He’s the guy down the road who liberated a Nazi concentration camp and no one has any idea because he’s just an ‘ordinary’ gentleman.”
Hokenbrough began interviewing his grandfather six years ago.
“I always enjoyed hearing about some of the lighter moments from his service during the war, and I thought it would be a good idea to get a record of his stories before it’s too late.”
The grandson began with audio recording but later decided to write down his memories.
Hokenbrough, who is a teacher at Lititz Christian School, said it was hard for Hibbs to share some of the details at first.
“ We got through (his) being drafted, basic training, and going across the Atlantic fairly quickly. However, when we got to the Battle of the Bulge, the memories were pretty tough on grandpa. He told me thinking about it brought back the nightmares, and at that point the project was on hold.”
In the meantime Hokenbrough researched the war to give a better visual approach to the book. When his grandpa was ready to talk again they did so in a way that allowed Hibbs to initiate his memories and to share as he was comfortable.
In March 2012 Hokenbrough and his wife Leah were able to visit Europe.
“It was neat to see where grandpa crossed the Rhine and fought in the Bulge. However, being at Dachau, a concentration camp outside of Munich, the air is just heavy with the feeling of death,” he said.
The Middleburg High School graduate finished the book after his own father passed away last June.
He says his grandfather has read the book since it was printed the end of 2012.
“He was very grateful. I feel that it was a relief for him to get his story out to the family, even though it was painful in the process.”
Hokenbrough wants readers to envision this wartime story with gratitude of their own.
“Like the title says, every soldier has a story. We do a disservice to our veterans when we don’t recognize the horrors they witnessed in protecting our country and preserving our freedoms,” he said.
Lincoln Hokenbrough and Clarence Hibbs will sign copies of their book 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday March 2 at Guardian Angel Bookstore in Richfield. Copies of the book will also be for sale at that time and are also available on lulu.com and Cruiser’s Café in Mt. Pleasant Mills.