Ellisville veteran honored in book, thanks to dedication of friend

Ellisville veteran honored in book, thanks to dedication of friend
Photo Credit: WDAM
Photo Credit: WDAM
Photo Credit: WDAM
Photo Credit: WDAM

ELLISVILLE, MS (WDAM) - Within the pages, war-time stories from an Ellisville veteran named Basil Red.  Enlisting right out of high school, he ended up in the Army Air Force during World War II.

"He nearly lost his life four times and he said he was scared the whole time," Haynes said.

It's a book that may have never existed, had it not been for Red's best friend, Mac Haynes and the stories Red told him.

"I found it so interesting," Haynes said.

Red created a working manuscript, detailing his time in service, complete with notes, stories and pictures. Haynes never even knew about it, until Red showed him.

"I told him, I said, this could be a book.  You ought to make a book out of it," Haynes said. "He didn't want to do that."

While many veterans who served during that time wouldn't talk about it, Red would and did. When Red died however, so did his stories, until Haynes remembered his initial reaction to his friend's experiences.

"I just wanted to do it in his honor, to remember him and all the other men that served during World War II," said Haynes.

Tilted "Crew No. 8434," which was Red's unit, it wasn't an easy book to get published. Haynes says it took years and lots of trying to get it done, even though his friend never cared to have it published.

"I think he did it just for a record for his family more than anything else," Haynes said. "He might be mad at me, I don't know."

Red's daughter, Nikki Walters, says thumbing through the pages is a bit surreal.

"It's an honor to read them and it was many things I knew nothing about and he really never talked about it to us much," said Walters.

Walters works at Ward's Pharmacy in downtown Ellisville, which her dad and grandfather both ran before she took over. It's also the place where Red and Haynes really began their friendship. Walters says she'll be forever thankful for the dedication Haynes put into making the book a reality.

"It was the nicest, kindest, most generous thing I've ever seen anyone do," Walters said. "It's just hard not to, it's hard not to cry when I think about it."

For Haynes, giving up was not an option.

"I just wanted to do it to honor him. It's his book," Haynes said. "I wanted to do this before I ran out of time."