Dixon answers children's questions in POW/MIA book
May 27, 2008 - 3:54PM
The question about the black-and-white flag with the brooding silhouette was simple.
The answer came in the form of a 45-page book released nationally this month.
John Dixon wrote a children's book about prisoners of war and those missing in action after talking with friends in Rolling Thunder, a Jacksonville POW/MIA group.
"They've actually had children come up to them and say, ‘What's a Powmia?'" Dixon explained. "They think it's one word."
A disabled U.S. Army veteran who now works at Cherry Point, Dixon said he was struck with sudden inspiration to write his first book, "Mommy, What Is a POW/MIA?"
"Honestly, I was just sitting there one day and just started writing," he said. "I got the book written in about an hour and a half."
On the first page, a girl named Savannah asks her mother the question after which Dixon titled the book. Savannah learns that Uncle Bobby died in Vietnam as a prisoner of war.
"Nothing in there is based on anyone I know," Dixon said. "This is an inspiration from God. I truly believe God had his hand in the entire process of this book."
Exchanges between Savannah and her mother accented by Dixon's colored pencil drawings of military aircraft, emblems and objects fill the 45-page, full-color softcover book.
Savannah tells her mom that she wants to enlist in the military so she can join the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a group of 400 U.S. service members who search for American troops lost in overseas conflicts. The JPAC often identifies and returns prisoners' remains - according to its Web site, the U.S. government has no evidence of American POWs still in captivity.
The author wants to boost children's awareness of POW/MIA issues in hopes that they will grow to become advocates for the cause of honoring prisoners of war.
"They're still heroes," Dixon said. "They fought for our freedom and the freedom of the countries that we're helping, and now they have no voice. If the normal person doesn't stand up and keep these heroes in mind, I honestly feel that it will dwindle down to the point where it won't be an issue.
"It will always be an issue to those family members who want to know where their daddy is."
A native of the Askin community in Craven County, Dixon enlisted in the Army at the age of 21 in 1992. He was injured in a car wreck while driving from Fort Campbell, Ky. to Nashville, Tenn. and left the Army as a disabled veteran.
He had experienced car trouble and pulled into the emergency lane. An 18-wheel semi-trailer careened off the road and slammed into his car. The impact threw Dixon from the roadway, but he remains thankful he moved from the left to the right side before the truck hit.
"I heard a whisper in my ear to move to the other side of the car," he said. "All I saw was a flash of light."
Dixon worked at Hatteras Yachts in New Bern and later used military college tuition assistance to earn an associate's degree in mechanical engineering technology.
He has worked at Cherry Point since 2000 and now serves as a civil engineering technician for the facilities development department.
Teaching respect for military veterans to the younger generation and getting the word out about POW/MIA issues have become his passion.
"When you see a veteran, you go up and shake his hand and you thank him for his service," Dixon said. "They are the ones who have to live away from their families. They're the ones who go through their sacrifices and hardships so that the average, everyday person can go to the mall and go to the church that they want to go to."
PublishAmerica accepted Dixon's manuscript and released the book on May 5. The author's copy - the very first one printed - soon arrived in the mail.
"You get that first copy and it's really an amazing experience to see that book you worked so hard on and put your heart and all your feelings into," he said. "And there it is in print. It's almost a surreal feeling."
"Mommy, What Is a POW/MIA?" sells for $19.95 and is available online at PublishAmerica.com and Amazon.com. Locally, the book is available at Top's Cigars at 314 W. Main St., Havelock.
Dixon placed his first order for 101 copies of the book, which sold briskly. He ordered another 200 copies to sell during the Rolling Thunder XXI Memorial Weekend event Friday through Sunday in Washington.
In the POW memorial garden outside Cherry Point's main gate, Dixon pressed his fingers to his ears as jets streaked overhead. He's thankful for the noise.
"When you hear that plane going over, that helicopter going over, when you see that Marine in uniform, that's somebody's son," he said. "That's somebody's dad, their uncle, their mother, their sister, and they deserve to be treated like the heroes that they are."
WANT TO BUY THE BOOK?
‘Mommy, What Is a POW/MIA?' by John T. Dixon Jr. is 45 pages and sells for $19.95. It's sold at Top's Cigars, 314 W. Main St., in Havelock, and available online at publishamerica.com and amazon.com.