Son of Bellevue World War II veteran to sign copies of book at Kirkland Costco
January 13, 2012 · Updated 5:33 PM
Barely four months after his first mission in World War II, U.S. Army Air Force pilot Lt. James Keeffe Jr. was shot down over Nazi-occupied Europe.
“There I was standing on the ground in enemy occupied Holland," said Keeffe, of Bellevue. "I had just bailed out of my crippled heavy bomber and had no idea what had happened to my crew. I was hungry. I’d had only two hours of sleep in the past thirty-six hours. My face was smeared with mud and blood. And I was just four days away from my 21st birthday.”
Lt. Keeffe is clever enough to evade capture, but as you read in "Two Gold Coins and A Prayer," he still vividly remembers seeing the boots of a German policeman who was part of the contingent going door to door searching for him near the small town of Papendrecht.
Hours later, an almost comical encounter with a Dutchman ‒ a German sympathizer ‒ in whose tool shed the downed American was hiding, leads to five months of friendship and help from members of the Dutch Resistance.
Lt. Keeffe’s life enters an odd, almost peaceful limbo as he evades capture as a secret guest in a series of brave citizens’ homes. The Underground creates false identity papers for Lt. Keeffe, labeling him a “deaf and dumb” basket maker.
So, unlike many he encounters in hiding, Lt. Keeffe is able to go out and about in wartime Rotterdam – as long as he doesn’t speak!
The airman’s determination to return to England and rejoin the Allied air battle leads to a double-cross that lands him in the infamous German POW camp - Stalag Luft III.
One twist of fate after another unfolds in this war story, which follows the resourceful pilot back to his family in Seattle and to post war reunions with his surviving Dutch “families” and friends.
The saga continues into the present. Now 88-years-old and living in Bellevue, Lt. Col. Keeffe was visited in September by a Jewish woman with whom he was in hiding 67 years ago.
It came about because Keeffe’s oldest son, James Keeffe III, wrote and published his father’s astounding war adventure – a story that now has a new ending.
Author James Keeffe III will sign copies of his award-winning book, "Two Gold Coins and a Prayer - The Epic Journey of a World War II Bomber Pilot, Evader and POW," from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Kirkland Costco.