The Four Little Children stories became a way to escape from the stories he didn’t want to tell.
They also were a way to continue to connect with the family he thought he might not see again.
Retired LtCol Lawrence (“Larry”) Michalove was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and nine Air Medals for his service in Vietnam and is a indeed a military hero. This Unsung Hero nomination is for his off duty writings of stories he wrote to his four little children while serving in the Vietnam War. In those stories, Larry didn’t discuss his life stationed in Thailand, the 114 combat missions he flew, the successes or the near misses. Instead, he wrote fantasies starring his four little children who went on magical adventures to far-off worlds but always made it home in time for dinner.
He didn’t write about the destructive aspects of war or the memories of friends he lost along the way. Instead, he dreamt tales of dancing pumpkins and Martians, or trips underwater or among the stars. Each story served as a teachable moment for his children, relaying the importance of resolving issues from a place of kindness, without violence.
Caring for his family and protecting his little children from the horrors of war was important to Larry and his wife Sybil. The Four Little Children stories became a way to escape from the stories he didn’t want to tell. They also were a way to continue to connect with the family he thought he might not see again.
Looking back, he describes his service in the Vietnam War as something of which he is proud, but if given the chance, he would not want to do it again. “You know, it was the war that nobody cared about,” he said. “Even when I got back, it was 1971 and people couldn’t have cared less, nobody would stop and thank you for your service.”
When Larry arrived home after 14 months away from his family, the letters were boxed up and stored. More than 15 years later, his stories were unpacked and published in the children’s book The Four Little Children, A Likely Story. His book (available on Amazon) won the Military Writers Society of America’s 2005 Distinguished Book Award for Children’s Literature.
Indeed, this concerned and loving parent with a wonderful imagination and extraordinary writing skill as well as a distinguished military hero is a gift to all of us. Larry Michalove is our Unsung Hero.
Welcome Home, Beloved Vietnam Veteran.
From Over the Mountain Journal feature story, October 30, 2019: