Two Tamaqua area natives and graduates of Tamaqua High School have co-authored a book about a local man's heroism during World War II.

Victor Merkel, Class of 1960, and Ann Frommer, Class of 1957, have produced "Tailgunner: War Defines Us If We Let It."

The work fulfills Merkel's longtime dream to honor his eldest brother, Walter C. "Buck" Merkel, Jr., for service to his country during World War II.

The novel, which makes various references to Tamaqua, lets the reader witness gut-jarring missions over Nazi Germany as Merkel and fellow airmen dodge 8 mm slugs ripping through the fuselage of their B-17.

"Upon reaching enemy targets, feel the adrenaline coursing through their veins while winging over 88 mm anti-aircraft flak, spraying death upward in the form of shrapnel, capable of ripping an airplane, engine or airman to shreds," states the book's promotional material.

"At the onset of World War II, Ilona, a sophisticated woman of privileged Jewish class from Budapest, embarks on a dangerous journey by train through Nazi-occupied Europe to England. For too long, she watched Hungary turn into a police state, now Ilona sought to escape the Gestapo's midnight arrests and mass executions. Grappling with fear of discovery at any moment, she uses cunning and deception to outwit the Nazis.

"Their worlds collide when Buck meets Ilona working as a singer in London's cabaret district. They find love in each other's arms until the war pulls them apart. When Buck receives orders to report for a secret mission, Ilona vows to wait for him, but soon encounters a life-changing discovery."

Merkel and Frommer grew up in the Lewistown Valley and New England Valley area.

After serving in the U.S. Army, Merkel majored in business administration at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

During the peak of his career as a sales executive, he secured multimillion dollar contracts with international companies to produce and distribute industrial electronics.

His first novel, "Misery Mountain," was published a few years ago.

Merkel and his wife, Fran, reside in Arizona. They are parents of a daughter, Deb Wanamaker, who lives with her family in Pennsylvania.

Frommer, of New Jersey, delves into her first novel with this project.

She spent considerable time doing research for the book and creating the heroine while living in Budapest, Hungary.

Frommer's father, Edgar Arner, a former private pilot, provided colorful background for the story.

Frommer and her Hungarian-born husband, Robert, travel widely and live part-time/part time in Budapest. She is an RN with a successful health care management career and has written and published multiple medical articles.

Frommer studied liberal arts at Columbia, art at NYU, and completed her bachelor's and master's degrees at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey.

When not writing, Frommer is either traveling or exhibiting photography of European scenes in various New Jersey galleries. The book is available through Amazon.