About the Author

Joann Nesbitt, AuthorI wish I could write about myself as easily as I wrote about the sailors in my book. I just find it very difficult to take the space to talk about me! But, I’ll give it a try.

I am the middle child and as such have all the signs attributed to a middle child.  My sister is six years older than I am. My brother was four years younger than me. Unfortunately, I lost my brother seven years ago when he had a massive heart attack. I miss him and wish he was still with us.

I grew up in the coal region of Pennsylvania.  My father was a coal miner and my mother worked in a factory. We were relatively poor although I never thought about it that way. I had a loving family and friends who were my strength.

My father moved us to a town north of Philadelphia called Levittown. I still remember the feeling of living in a new home and having new clothes. I grew up with American Bandstand, going to dances in the fire halls and having close friends with whom I still retain a close relationship. We all went to a private Catholic school where the Jesuit priests and Sister’s of Mercy made sure you were well behaved. I must attribute most of my success to the wonderful education I received from them.

At that time, if a woman was not married by twenty years old, she was considered passed over.  So, I got married at 18 years of age. I basically knew very little about the world, yet I found myself thrown into it.  We had seventeen addresses in fourteen years!  The great part about it was you never had to house clean because we moved before anything got dirty!

My two sons were born by the time I was twenty-one. They are twelve months apart! It was fun growing up with them.  I’m sure if you asked them, they wouldn’t say the same.

My family is very important to me and I enjoy each and every one of them. My sons each have two children and one of my grandsons has two children!  Seems as if we like the number two!

I was married to my husband for fifty years. Yes, I was a child bride! He was in the Navy and retired after 20 years. Then we both worked and retired from IBM.  When IBM reorganized, I continued on with my education and went on to receive a Ph.D. Then it was off to work for a college. I became the Academic Dean and then the College President.

During that time my husband became ill and was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. I left my job to take care of him. He survived three years. It was then that I discovered the terrible words, Agent Orange. I began my quest to investigate if his ship was exposed to Agent Orange. Seven years later, I won my case with the VA and the entire ship was granted benefits for that period of time. I interviewed many sailors in order to gain the information I needed. It was then that PTSD became another familiar illness. As I spoke to these sailors, who were 18 years old when they entered the U.S. Navy, they all started out with this phrase, “I’ve never told anyone this”.  I wrote the book because I was compelled to tell the story they told me. I had to “pay it forward” and so I began writing.

My passion is traveling around the world. This year I will have stepped foot on the last of the seven continents. What an awesome world we live in! I also am an amateur photographer. Wildlife and scenery are my favorites. We just got back from Africa on Safari and I will post some of my pictures on this website. I am lucky to have met a man who loves to travel also. He has become very important to me and my family.

I am sadly retiring from teaching at a college. I will miss my students terribly. But again, it is a form of passing on some of the knowledge I’ve acquired in my lifetime. Now it is time for me to retire from teaching and write! I have been very fortunate throughout my life. My mentors showed me the way to succeed and it is for that reason that I am so grateful and feel the need to pay it forward.

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