– Member Biography –
Elmer Freeman enlisted in the Navy in 1939 and began his career in Naval Aviation as a PBY patrol bomber air crewman in the Aleutian Islands in 1940.
He became crew chief of a Patrol Squadron crew in early 1942. Subsequent to his tour in the Aleutians, he served in seaplane squadrons in both theAtlantic and Pacific fleets and aboard tenders USS Pine Island and USS Kenneth Whiting.
When flying boats were phased out of the Navy, he served in various long-range landplane types and eventually qualified as gunner/navigator in the A3D, the twin-jet carrier attack plane, serving aboard the USS Midway on his final tour of duty.
He retired from the Navy in 1959 and, after graduating from Gonzaga University, was later employed as Budget Manager at the university, retiring from that position in 1984.
In the last fifteen years, Elmer has had articles published in Air Classics magazine and by Reminisce magazine, and he has self-published his account ofthe Aleutian Campaign in World War II. His book, Those Navy Guys and Their PBY's, is now in its second printing, having sold out the first printing of 4,000 copies.
Elmer Freeman, SASP founder and good friend, passed away last May 19, 2003 after an extended period of respiratory complications. Elmer and his wife Pat have been strong advocates of self publishing and have successfully sold over five thousand copies of Elmer’s book Those Navy Guys and Their PBY’S. Those Navy Guys, a war time memoir of Elmer’s experiences as a Chief Flight Engineer, described his numerous combat missions in the Aleutian campaign during the Second World War. Elmer was a decorated Navy veteran with over twenty years of service and retired from the Navy in 1959.
Born March 26, 1920 in New England, North Dakota, his early years were involved with wheat farming where his family owned wheat elevators. Music was an important part of Elmer’s young life where he played clarinet and saxophone, with his friends, in a dance band called the “Swanky Swingsters”. Joining the Navy in 1939 he enjoyed a distinguished career in Naval aviation serving aboard the Navy Carrier U.S.S. Midway. Although he flew many varied aircraft, the bulk of his wartime tales were about his harrowing experiences in his beloved PBY Catalina Patrol Bomber. Retiring in Spokane in 1959 Elmer and his family bought the family home on W. Eighth Street, where he lived the past forty four years. Working as a tractor parts man, insurance salesman, and a travel agent for a time, Elmer earned an accounting degree from Gonzaga University and then worked as an accountant after graduating .
A real family man Elmer has thirteen children. His first wife predeceased him. Elmer’s second wife Pat, a staunch “Spokane Authors” supporter, married Elmer in November 1984 while they were working together on Elmer’s first book Kedging Through Air-pockets. This two volume epic was also written about his extensive Naval aviation career. Elmer and Pat also produced a yearly Christmas volume of Elmer’s stories for family and friends called Scribblings for Siblings. It has always been a real honor and treat to be on that selected mailing list.
Elmer, Dan Vollmer, Joe Meiners, and Chuck O’Connor started Spokane Authors and Self-publishers in the fall of 1998. The four often met for lunch to commiserate on the vagaries of self-publishing. They decided to throw their lunches open to anyone with similar interests. The first meeting attracted thirteen people and SASP has been growing ever since.
Elmer’s great humanity, droll wit, and love for writing has been an inspiration to us all. A wonderful story teller and poet, it was always a treat to get him to unravel one of his yarns! Our preeminent, founding Self-Publisher will be sorely missed and long remembered.
Charles E. O’Connor
Page revised 03/18/07 BSC