The Messenger, an Interview with Military Author, Marilyn Swinson

In the book, Scars of War, author Marilyn Swinson interviews veterans and their tales of pathos and pageantry from those who survived. 

Historically, messengers have been vital in times of war. Messengers have been used to help multiple squadrons find the best locations to fight against enemy troops. Sometimes messengers have been assigned to carry letters of peace or surrender in the final days of battle. Messengers have even been used to deliver news of the recently departed to loved ones back home. Four years before publication, Combat Airmen/Joshua’s Troops of Mayodan chose a messenger to tell their stories. In a collection of forty eyewitness accounts, these survivors deliver their intimate tales of sorrow and triumph to their elected messenger, Marilyn Swinson.

The collection, Scars of War, provides firsthand accounts of combat experiences from World War II to Baghdad. Pete Comer, commander of Combat Airmen/Joshua’s Troops, proposed the idea to Marilyn after reading her 2007 book, Taking the Long Way Home. Although Swinson had only written poetry for the majority of her life, she jumped on the opportunity to create a collection of war stories from Rockingham County natives. Recording interviews, driving miles to confirm facts, and spending endless nights in front of a computer screen, Scars of War began to take form. “After several interviews, I feared I would not have the skill to do these stories justice,” recalls Swinson. “I prayed I would be able to deliver, to write over my head.”

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Swinson has always had a strong faith, which she shares each Sunday as both she and her husband, Nick, teach Sunday school classes at Woodbine Baptist Church. Although retired from her career as a family counselor, Swinson still teaches weekly parenting class and collaborates with local authors monthly in a writer’s group. She attends the Combat Airmen/Joshua’s Troops meetings the second Thursday of each month and hosts a radio show, Salute to Veterans, the fourth Monday of each month at 8:30 a.m. on WMYN/WLOE. Since finishing the book, she has chosen to speak at local venues like the Summerfield Historic Society and military history classes in North Carolina high schools, among other places.

Scars of War was revealed to the public in an official book launch held at Woodbine Baptist Church. People came from all regions of Rockingham County and Greensboro to get their books signed by the local author. Members of Combat Airmen/Joshua’s Troops were on hand to sign books, as was surprise guest, Brigadier General Cecil Adams. Behind the author’s table, a historic World War II era scene sat on display. The exhibit consisted of a rocking chair covered with an antique quilt, a knob-style radio, Bible, spin-dial telephone, parlor tables, and a children’s tricycle. Along with the exhibit, guests were invited to enjoy refreshments while listening to music from the time period—such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Although the official book launch has passed, Swinson is filling her calendar with future speaking engagements, as well as planned participation in events for upcoming Veteran’s Day. With the success of the book launch and reception of the coveted Editor’s Choice and Rising Star Awards, Swinson’s prayers, persistence, and discipline have paid off, culminating in this collection becoming a triumphant message that will help the stories of Combat Airmen/Joshua’s Troops live on.

To purchase a book, call Swinson log on to http://www.marilynswinson.com/scarsofwar. For Piedmont locals, books can also be picked up at Madison Pharmacy, The Drug Store in Stoneville, and Ed A Gunn Bookstore in Reidsville.

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