(WBIR-Downtown Knoxville) A man who grew up in Knoxville and graduated from East High School has lived in Atlanta for the past 50 years.
But Knoxville is important to him - and it's the setting of his new book: "A Fortress and a Legacy."
The man depicted on the left side of an old family picture is Ross "Bud" Perrin. The little guy saluting him on the right is his nephew, Ross Greene, who 70 years later has published a book.
Ross Greene grew up hearing the story. Bud Perrin and Thelma McGee graduated from Knoxville High School in the 1930s. Later, they married and he went off to fight in World War II. He was part of a B-17 Bomber crew. Bud was in Europe. Thelma was in Tennessee.
"As I look here from where we are I see the scenes that took place in this book. The S&W, KUB, Tennessee Theatre, Old George's which now is the KUB office and Miller's was there. All these places are in this book and form a thread that goes through the entirety of this," he said. "I tried to create a tapestry blending the love of these two people with what happened in the war with a historical background also and then the backdrop of Knoxville. Knoxville is a thread that runs throughout this book, 'A Fortress and a Legacy.'"
A telegram arrived at Thelma's home on Chicago Avenue in Knoxville. Bud Perrin's B-17 had crashed. Missing in action. Another telegram told her he died Dec. 11, 1944. About a month later their daughter Rosalind was born.
"My cousin is Rosalind Perrin Davis, she lives in Florida," he said.
In 2008, Rosalind discovered letters, a lot of letters. Even Bud's last letter sent home.
"When she called me and told me she had found these thousand letters that her mother had rat-packed away in an attic, it was amazing. So I took those letters and it brought back memories. She sat and cried when she read them. I cried some when I read them because memories came flooding back to both of us," he said.
Those letters convinced Ross to write what he calls a fact-based novel drawn from those letters and a lot of research.
The letters capture their love story. War diaries and government records fill in the history. Ross Greene's search for details and accuracy took six years and even took him overseas.
"Late in the story I was able to find where his plane crashed in Mannheim, Germany. I also found six people who saw various portions of that crash on Dec. 11, 1944," he said.
That crash claimed the life of his uncle. The book gives Bud Perrin's story to the daughter he never met.
"I really write this story for her. I wanted her to have the father that she never knew. And I've succeeded," he said.
His aunt Thelma who is featured in his book was Miss Knoxville in 1940 and competed in the Miss America pageant. She worked at Channel Ten for decades.