FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Unlike most conflicts of the 20th century, World War II was everyone's war. From coast to coast and from farmer to factory worker, we all played a role.
Because of that, every community has a history that likely includes hundreds of men and women who are veterans of the great war.
Florence County is no exception. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of one man there, the heroes of World War II in Florence County will never be forgotten.
Billy Campbell is an entrepreneur in Florence County. A very successful one at that. CEO of his own software company, so, not the kind of guy you would think would have the time or the interest in putting together a history of World War II. Yet, that's exactly what he did, using dozens of heroes from his own home town.
The name of his 200 page book, "Heroes of World War II from Florence County," is certainly easy enough to remember.
Though without it, many of the county's soldiers, sailors and airmen may have been forgotten.
Airmen like Rocky Gannon, who qualified in the B-17 just in time for Hitler's suicide and the German surrender, who then trained in the B-29, just in time for the atomic bomb and Japan's surrender. He often joked, the war ended because they saw him coming.
Stories like this usually die with the men and their families, but not if Campbell has anything to do with it.
"My whole objective here is making sure that we honor our heroes of WWII from Florence County," explains Campbell.
There are hundreds documented in the book, a non profit exercise that brings to life soldiers like Bobby Griffin. His military career was a race through Europe, and when this soldier returned home, that race was just the beginning.
Griffin was a founding owner of the Darlington International Speedway.
All of the men and women in the book answered the call when Campbell asked them to enlist their stories of the war, but Campbell admits, he was uncertain of what the response would be.
"I really didn't know," he admits. "I put ads in the paper, 'if you are a veteran of WWII from Florence County please send your resume and we'll see if we can put you in the book'. Well, it came in by the hundreds."
Campbell says his book really has the ability to register with so many Florence natives, as many of them have relatives in the book.
"Most of the people who read it over and over again, they've got relatives in there or they have a relative that's already deceased and they'd like to read about it and it brings back memories. That's the biggest thing I like," he states.
The fear these memories will be forgotten is what prompted Campbell to donate at least one copy of the book to every school and library in the county.
"It's about the next generation appreciating these men and women as much as the previous," Campbell says.
Any money made in selling the book is used to publish more. "Heroes of WWII from Florence County" is now in its second edition.