In World War I it was labeled “shell shock.” In World War II it was known as “battle fatigue.” Today most of us familiar with the term “post-traumatic stress disorder.” No matter what the label, it remains the destruction of a mind that follows individuals who experience traumatic events…typically events no one was ever meant to experience. Like war. When Angels Wept follows the path of one such individual, an idealistic young airman named Rod Hirsch, who experiences the most absolute horrors of war during his time fighting in World War II. Hirsch has a respect for life, and a belief in the rewards of hard work. The young man accepts his duty to his country without asking questions. When he enters the Army Cadet Pilot Training Program and eventually becomes the captain of a B17 bomber, his inner struggles begin. Hirsch learns to deal with life and the diverse personalities of the men in his charge.
Life has more in store for Hirsch than just air battles and kills. He also finds love when shopping for a special gift for his mother in a small bucolic English village. The moment he lays eyes on Shelly, a layer of complication centers his young life.
Hirsch’s record of staying alive over the skies of Europe eclipses all other pilots’ until one day when he and his crew come up against an insidious evil his mind could not concoct. After losing his entire crew, Hirsch’s grip on reality is loosed. The horrors of war begin a relentless invasion into psyche, his mid-western values compromised forever. Guilt rages in every fissure of his mind.
War indeed is hell, but for those with PTSD, it is a personal hell that no amount of medication can cure. So it is for Hirsch as the cracks between reality and horrid war-torn memories deepen and expand. His final break from reality comes when Hirsch finds the body of the love of his life, bloodied and crushed by the rubble left by a rogue German bomb. Hirsch’s new focus is to find the bomber responsible and exact revenge.
While When Angels Wept chronicles the path to destruction of just one man’s life, the result of the effects of war that hundreds of thousands of soldiers experience today. The book takes readers through the insidious downward spiral that post-traumatic stress disorder causes. You can’t see it; you can’t touch it; it has no taste or smell. PTSD is the mind’s own grim reaper that has one, single purpose…to kill the human spirit over time.
AUTHOR BIO: David McCue is a native of Southern Californian. Like Rod Hirsch, the hero in his novel, his parents were from Iowa and raised him with Midwestern values. He grew up in Palos Verdes and graduated from California State University Long Beach. He and his wife live in south Orange County and have two sons. David is a WWII and Vietnam War era history buff with a particular interest in military aircraft. When Angel’s Wept is his first novel. An avid reader in collage, he has been influenced by John Steinbeck, Pearl S. Buck and later Larry McMurtry, Herman Wouk and Mario Puzo among others.