Gary Brown never thought of his father as an adventurous man. And why would he? Jim Brown was an English teacher who spent more than 30 years in classrooms sharing his love of the written word with students throughout Kansas.

So it was a bit surprising when Gary came across a manuscript, following his father’s death in 2011, detailing the elder Brown’s time flying a P-47 fighter over Italy, France and Germany during World War II.

Jim Brown earned his silver wings and commission as a second lieutenant at the age of 19 on May 23, 1944.

Jim Brown earned his silver wings and commission as a second lieutenant at the age of 19 on May 23, 1944.

“He’s just not a daredevil kind of guy,” said Brown. “So the fact that he’s doing cartwheels in the sky was kind of an eyebrow raiser.”

Brown’s original manuscript, written in the early ’80s, describes his experiences as a small town Kansan who finds himself fighting in a war that spanned the entire globe.

“He kept a diary of each of his 85 missions,” said Brown. “The original story was a recapitulation of these missions as he thinks back to the kid in that plane.”

Jim dreamed of finding a publisher for his story but was unable to find any interest at the time. “His story wasn’t salacious nor was he shooting down Messerschmitt’s,” said Brown. “I can see why traditional publishers of that era would say no because there may not have been a market for it.”

After Jim’s passing, Gary discovered a series of additional stories his father had written. These stories turned out to be the perfect bookends to Jim’s original manuscript, providing details of his enlistment, his return to Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg (now Pittsburg State University) and the courtship of his future wife, Jean.

“They add a complexity to him as a narrator that wasn’t there before,” said Brown. “It really makes for a compelling story. It’s a tribute not just to my father, but to his entire generation and what they sacrificed for our country.”

Thanks to modern technology Brown was able to self-publish the book earlier this year. Titled “Tail-End Charley” (a reference to his position as the last aircraft in each flight) the book is available on Amazon.com in electronic and print format. More than 1,000 Kindle downloads have been purchased thus far, a figure Gary knows would make his father happy.

“Like most of his generation, he wasn’t a ‘Hey, look at me’ kind of guy,” said Brown. “To be able to let people experience this period of time from his perspective is what I’m happiest about. His story has some reach now.”

After the war, Jim Brown returned to KSTCP to earn both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He married the love of his life, Jean Helbig, in 1946. After spending a few years in Pittsburg, the couple would raise a loving family of four children and spend most of their lives in Lenexa and Overland Park, Kansas.