WWII veteran's book woes continue
February 5, 2001, Update on the 22nd Bomb Group History
On February 4, 2001, Bob Lauducci and Don Evans visited
Larry Hickey to
evaluate the status of the History manuscript, and to
material in his possession.
He has a tremendous amount of material. Over 1000 of our
chronologically and identified in about a dozen 3" binders.
These are also
scanned with a high resolution scanner in to his publishing
program and are saved in Jazz disks, each with a capacity of
one gigabit. For
all information, he has about 90 Jazz disks (but that also
includes info for
other groups). His data base is huge.
He has file drawers packed with several hundred folders on
22nd people by
name, and with actions by date. He also has over 100
reference books dealing
with the SW Pacific air war.
The draft manuscript completed to date was carefully
reviewed, page by page.
The state of completion of the chapter texts ranges from
about 50% to 95%,
with an estimated average of about 80%. The total time for
estimated to be four months. In Evans' estimation, it can be
done in that
amount of time, but it will require a dedicated effort on
Hickey's part to do
so. Of course, all of the information required for the final
text has been
assembled and is available.
Among the completed parts of the book are most of the
peripheral material, specifically:
Dedication, preface and introduction. Complete and
A color section, showing color photographs submitted by
photography of SW Pac is rare), several pages of artist's
each type and model of aircraft we used. Our patches and
reproduction of large oil paintings specifically mde for the
book. one for
each squadron, depicting a memorable mission.
Listing of Group leadership.
An 18 page coverage of all casualties, describing the event
and naming the
A ten page listing and description of all planes with their
pilots and crew
A forty page coverage of profile histories, delineating in
detail the total
history of each aircraft assigned to the Group, including
its major combat
misions. This about 70% complete.
Sixteen detailed maps showing all missions, lost a/c,
etc.... a tremendous
amount of information.
A Bibliography, and acknowledgements of those who
contributed info and
material to the book.
A large index...not yet complete, but will have over 12,000
references in it.
While the fact that the manuscript is not yet ready to be
sent to a printer
is deplorable, we decided that considering the vast source
material, and the
ability of Hickey to retrieve the information from these
along with his knowledge of the subject (which is
impressive), we would delay
publication of the book by at least a year in time, and many
dollars in additional cost, if we attempted to transfer the
another editor/publisher at this time.
We now own the book and all of its copyrights, source
material and graphics,
and will retain this ownership until the book is completed
and distributed to
Association members, but have agreed to allow Hickey to
publishing the book for an additional four months at his
personal expense. We
will be monitoring his progress and working with him for
this entire period.
A new story about the non publication of the Red Raider book appears here from The Boulder News
Scribe or Scamp?
LONGMONT -- Lawrence Hickey is one of the world's foremost authorities on the Pacific Theater during World War II. Few men are as knowledgeable about air combat against the Japanese than the Boulder entrepreneur. He gives riveting lectures and attends World War II reunions and is well known among war veterans of that era.
But many of those veterans say they know him as a pathological liar who has cheated hundreds of veterans and their families out of money and memorabilia to be used for books which he has promised and failed to publish for 13 years.
To them, in a publish-or-perish world, he is the dead man walking. Just in the last three months alone since members of the 22nd Bomb Group Association filed a civil lawsuit against him, at least four more of their comrades have died. The aged and dwindling group is eager to have Hickey publish a book about their exploits during the war.
So are the members of the 38th, 43rd and 312th bomb groups. Since the late 1980s, Hickey has contracted with the groups to publish their stories in a series of five books entitled "Eagles Over the Pacific." The brave and highly decorated fighting men who trusted him to tell their stories want him to publish before any more of them pass away.
This man has a talent, but he's a crook," said Patty Mazzara of Arizona, wife of 38th Bomb Group member Sam Mazzara. The Mazzaras have picked up the torch for the 38th Bomb Group and have filed a formal complaint against Hickey with the Colorado Attorney General's office. The 22nd's lawsuit is filed in Boulder County but is not yet scheduled for trial. "This thing has become very emotional for the members involved," Patty Mazzara said.
Hickey, however, contends that the lawsuit will become moot very shortly once the "Revenge of the Red Raiders" is published. "I expect it to be published before it goes to court," Hickey said by phone from his southwest Boulder home.
Three months ago Hickey told the Times-Call the case would be dropped because the book would be finished by the end of August. He now refuses to give an estimate on a completion date beyond "a few weeks," saying the missed deadlines were causing too many problems. He said he is working on it full-time, 14 hours a day. "I'm doing everything I can and it's my top priority," he said.
"Top priority, a few weeks more, and 14 hours per day' are all part of his standard lexicon. He always sounds so convincing. I wonder if he believes it himself?" asked Don Evans of California, a member of the 22nd who has been pushing Hickey for 13 years to publish the book.
Since Hickey first agreed to do the book for the 22nd, membership has dwindled from 1,100 to about 800. Members are dying off at an increasing rate.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the 22nd Bomb Group Association by Michael Edmonds of Hong Kong, the son of a bomb group member who was killed in Formosa in 1945.
The other bomb groups have not joined the lawsuit, saying a class- action suit would be too long and complicated to see through. All of them would rather have their books than to have a triumph in court.
"That is our desire," Evans said. "We want to put every pressure on him, one way or another, to push him into completion of the book."
The bomb groups' battle with the Boulder author and publisher began in 1986 after Hickey published the authoritative "Warpath Across the Pacific," featuring the Air Apaches of the 345th Bomb Group. Within the next three years, four other bomb groups contracted with Hickey to write their stories as part of his series. "The 312th vets expected the book post haste," said member John T. Happy II. "We were put off, as were the other groups. None of us knew he was working on four books. We thought ours was the only one after the 345th's, that was already in print."
In the following years, Hickey has attended reunions, borrowed photographs and memorabilia and made repeated promises of impending publication. Hundreds of veterans, family members and others in the general public have pre-paid $75 each for copies of the books. Many of those men have since died and their widows and children are now taking up the fight.
In addition to wanting their books published, each of the bomb groups say Hickey has not returned any of the thousands of photos and other memorabilia he has borrowed from them.
"I can cite you numerous guys who have asked but haven't got their photos back," said Sam Mazzara, who was a turret gunner in the war.
"The photos and things they've provided ... have been sent back two, three, four years ago," Hickey said. He noted he may have a few collections at his home which have not yet been returned, but he said he has returned every one on request.
Jim Murphy of Alabama, who at age 79 is one of the youngest surviving members of the 43rd, has authored a book about "skip bombing" the Japanese during the war. He said there is at least one Congressional Medal of Honor member in his group and most were highly decorated during the war.
"That's the kind of people that are expecting to get this thing done, but can't get this man moving to get this done," he said.
Happy, who said he is frustrated with the delays but remains a supporter of Hickey, said a well-researched, encyclopedic volume takes time to write and he'd rather see a high-quality book which preserves the history for future generations. He said many of the others in the 312th don't share his optimism.
"I do know they are all really ticked off, but don't have a clue as to what to do about it," Happy said. "They are mostly frustrated, resigned and hoping for the best. Could they turn the clock back? I don't think anyone would have pre- paid ... They just wanted to get Mr. Hickey started on the project. And now they would just like to see it. Most do not want their money back."
After eleven years of promises, Red Raiders story remains untold
LONGMONT - The Red Raiders have been called back into action 54 years after they last flew as members of the 22nd Bomb Group in the South Pacific.
Only this time the battlefield is a courtroom and the enemy is their strongest ally. The dwindling group of World War II veterans in the 22nd Bombardment Group Association are taking a Boulder book publisher to court for failing to publish a book about their exploits during the war. For the past 11 years the veterans say they have endured multiple broken promises of publication dates by Lawrence Hickey and have yet to see a single copy of their long-awaited story.
"The book is within 90 days of going to the printer," Hickey said Wednesday. "At this point the lawsuit is going to become moot in about 90 days. I'd like to have a dollar for every time he's said 90 days in the last 10 years. Ninety days stretches into six months and then another year," said Bomb Group member Don Evans of Bonsall, Calif.
But do the men of the 22nd Bomb Group have any guarantees this promise is any different than the ones before it?
"They don't," Hickey admitted.
Members of the 22nd Bomb Group, 5th Air Force, have supplied Hickey with volumes of text and hundreds of photographs for the book and more than 300 people have prepaid for copies at $75 each.
"A lot of the guys who have paid for the book have died," said Horton Steinmeyer of Denver.
Steinmeyer, 73, was a tail gunner in a B-24 during the last year of the war. He hasn't purchased a copy of the book, but would like to. Because he is an association member who lives reasonably close to Hickey, he has agreed to assist the group in its quest to get Hickey to publish the book. "He's promised us for 10 or 11 years in a row now and I don't see where a 12th year will make a difference," Steinmeyer said.
Hickey said it has taken him much longer than expected to complete the book because his business interests have had to come first. "This is an avocation, not a vocation," he said. But to the rapidly aging members of the 22nd, time is of the essence. "I don't think he really realizes just how important it is to many of our members," Evans said.
When Hickey first contracted to do the book in 1986, the association had 1,100 members. That number is down to about 800 and shrinking quickly. One of those members who purchased a book but has since passed away was John A. Webber of Longmont. His widow, Margaret Webber, still has the canceled check dated Aug. 6, 1991, which her husband wrote to pay for his copy. John Webber, a native of Hygiene who lived most of his life in Longmont, died in 1995 at the age of 80. "I would like to have the book, but if you don't get the book, you want your money back," Margaret Webber said.
She said her husband used to contact Hickey frequently about the book and sent him all kinds of photographs and memorabilia., She has yet to see any of it come back. Hickey said he returned all the items given to him for the book back to association president Walt Gaylor of Arizona. Attempts to contact Gaylor for comment have been unsuccessful.
Margaret Webber has an oil painting of her husband, which was done while he was serving overseas, hanging on her living room wall. It's one of the few keepsakes she has left of his wartime collection. The rest was given to Hickey or were given to his children from a previous marriage after he died.
The book controversy began in the mid-1980s when Gaylor gathered information from association members for use in a book about the 22nd. Gaylor shopped around for a publisher and came across Hickey, who had just published "Warpath Across the Pacific," the story of the 345th Bomb Group "Air Apaches." The book became Volume I in his "Eagles Over the Pacific" series. "Revenge of the Red Raiders" - the story of the 22nd - was to be the second of five volumes based on World War II bomb groups in the South Pacific.
Hickey said it was important to him to have complete control over the final product, so he created his own publishing company to make the books - International Research and Publishing. All of the books - most of which haven't been published - are available to order on his Internet Web site, www.airwar-worldwar2.com.
But members of the 22nd Bomb Group don't advise anyone to purchase the book just yet. Many of them doubt the book will ever be written. Hickey met with the association at a reunion in 1986. He set his first publication date for March 1, 1989. At that time Gaylor was the author and Hickey was listed as editor. Hickey said Gaylor agreed to make him a co-author when they decided to expand the scope of the book to include the entire history of the 22nd, rather than the focus on the third of the war when Gaylor served. That caused Hickey to push the publication date back a year. When 1990 arrived, Hickey started soliciting orders for the book and announced it would be published soon.
For the next two years, Hickey continued to do research and kept pushing back publication dates. In December of 1992 he announced a publication party in Boulder, but it never materialized. In 1994, the group forced Hickey to sign a contract guaranteeing publication by August 1995. By then Hickey had collected more than $20,000 in advance orders, In November 1995, Hickey attended another reunion in Colorado Springs and brought 25 proof pages of the book. He again promised it would be done by 1996.
"In August of 1996, Hickey adds input from a Japanese 'researcher' that incorporates revisionist elements into the text," Evans said. But Hickey countered that "Osamu Tagaya is a foremost authority on Japanese air combat during World War II. I wanted to match the activities of one side with that of the other." Hickey said.
By now Hickey is listed on the cover as the principle author with Gaylor as a co-author and Tagaya as a contributing writer. That outraged the veterans in the group, who by this time were voicing strong complaints against Hickey.
The next year Hickey called for a second publication party to be held at his Boulder home. But again nothing happened. In November, Evans enlisted the help of association members living in the area to contact Hickey in person and to threaten legal action. The meeting between Hickey, Steinmeyer and Ray Simpson of Littleton took place in January of 1998. Even then Hickey continued to make unfulfilled promises of a pending publication.
Finally, this year Michael Edmonds of Hong Kong, the son of a 22nd Bomb Group member who was killed in action in Formosa in 1945, financed the group in its lawsuit against Hickey. Even with the lawsuit pending, Hickey claims to be working on the book, "I'm doing this because I wanted to, not to make money," he said.
He said he has personally invested more than three times the $20,000 the group has invested in the book. He a1so said he has granted refunds each time it was requested, but that most callers would rather wait for the book. "They are absolutely right; it has taken a lot longer than I had expected to do the book," he said. But he added, "I'm a lot more motivated to print the book than they are."
Hickey said he retired from his jewelry manufacturing business nearly two years ago and now dabbles in real estate. He said his books are now his priority. He said he admits that most of the group's allegations are true, but denies there has been any intent to defraud anyone. "There is no truth that I'm waiting for them to die off so I don't have to pay them," he said.
But the members of the 22nd don't want to wait any longer. They say too many of them have died already without seeing the fruits of their labor. And if they don't live long enough to see the book through, they can rest assured their sons and daughters will carry on the fight, Edmonds will see to that.
"The men of the 22nd are no longer young," he wrote in a letter. "They can no longer fight their own battles. Many dozens of them are dying every year without seeing the promised book of their exploits or the return of their memoirs. Mr. Hickey has not only stolen their money; he has stolen their memories. Not only should he be ashamed, we all should be ashamed that this travesty has been allowed to continue for 10 years."
"I am not a wealthy man, but I will spend every penny I have to make sure Mr. Hickey is brought to justice; that the money and memories are returned to the veterans or next of kin, and that we find an honorable man to publish the long promised book."