A Legacy of Letters

Letters from long ago intrigue me. Whether they be written by my pilot, from an alert- shack at a South Vietnam airbase in 1965, or one penned by my grandfather to my grandmother in the 1890s, the writers’ voices bring them back to life better than any other scrapbook could. Photographs talk, but letters shout.  

I’m a saver of old family letters and memorabilia.  My cousin once told me, “Sarajane, every family has an historian, and you’re it, kid.” I never met my maternal grandparents, Bill and Matea Nolan, so it was doubly satisfying to read his love letter to her, when on June 18, 1893, he wrote, “…I am going to a little stag party tonight. There is no pleasure in anything for me anymore except to be by your side. I have a great many more things to talk about but must wait until we meet again which will be soon. Then I am yours, forever. W.I. Nolan, Ergo Amo Te {I Love You}.”

My husband, Bernie, survived the Vietnam War and so did his many, detailed letters. As a 26-year-old fighter pilot, knowing there was a good chance he may not return, he didn’t rein in his emotions as he did later in life. His words spilled out and captured me, and I read them over and over. Just having his latest letter in the pocket of my robe made me feel close to him. One pilot I knew rarely wrote home. His wife seemed fine with it, but this baffled me. Once Bernie and I were together again, there were other ways to communicate. I stowed his letters in a tin box on a basement shelf, and didn’t revisit them until after he died, 47 years later. 

 When I reread Bernie’s war letters, that peppy, 1st Lieutenant came back to me, as did my memories of those turbulent 60s, and our adventurous marriage that began at the beginning of the decade.  I wanted my grandkids to see him as I once did, the grandpa they never knew as a young man, against the backdrop of a war they’d only read about in school.

 Stoked by my war letters, I harnessed my new-found energy onto the page in 2013 and began creating a memoir of our life together. As the recollections began to grow, chapter to chapter, so did my gratitude.  

 Seven years later, my memoir has become a reality, inspired by my pilot’s letters and my desire to soften my grief by creating something of value. 

My Pilot: A Story of War, Love, and ALS

The highly anticipated autobiographical memoir My Pilot: A Story of War, Love, and ALS from author Sarajane Giere is available today!

Within the pages of this unique memoir from a military wife’s perspective, Sarajane frankly recounts her life with her husband from the their marriage, through the Vietnam War, and ultimately to his death as a result of ALS.

This is a heart-warming story that clearly illustrates their bond through time and distance.

BUY YOUR COPY TODAY!

Cover Art for My Pilot is Released!

Imzadi Publishing is proud to present the new cover art for
My Pilot: A Story of War, Love, and ALS

Coming your way November, 2020!

“Through sickness and in health…”

Sarajane Giere offers a uniquely intimate glimpse into the life of a military wife as she tells the story of her fighter pilot husband, Bernie, a Vietnam Veteran who flew 214 combat missions in the Vietnam War and served twenty-five years in the Air National Guard’s world-class 106th Rescue Wing.

With searing love and explicit honesty, she recounts the terror of the Vietnam years and the lifelong sacrifices that affected her pilot’s life and death. In the telling she honors her husband, their family, and their extended military family, the community she holds dear.


This is a wonderful book, a monument to the authentic courage of a combat pilot who barely escaped the horror of imprisonment in North Vietnam, and his loving wife, who cared for him throughout the horror of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

— John G. Hubbell, P.O.W.: A Definitive History of the American Prisoner-Of-War Experience in Vietnam, 1964-1973