We catch up with Martha ahead of Super Tuesday on March 3rd and her documentary special previewing her new book Unknown Valor: A Story of Family, Courage & Sacrifice that will air this Sunday, Feb. 23 at 10PM/ET on FOX News.
Your first-ever published book, Unknown Valor, will hit stands February 25th. What is the book about and how did you get interested in that subject?
When I was growing up, my mother, Betty MacCallum shared the letters written to her father by her cousin Harry Gray. He was only 18 when he was on Iwo Jima, and I have always wanted to tell his story. The research led me to the other humble Marines with whom he served. It tells the story of the homefront during the war and traces the battles from the attack on Pearl Harbor to Iwo Jima. It is a rich story of men and their loved ones who are praying for them to come back. These mens lives intersect in surprising and heroic ways. I think we leave readers feeling that they’ve seen the scope of the Pacific, through their true stories.
You traveled to Guam and Iwo Jima to conduct primary research for the book. What did you learn there?
I could not have written this book without seeing the island with veterans who fought there, some of whom were returning for the first time. We walked the black beaches and climbed Mt. Suribachi. My co-author Ron Drez, a Marine and historian, took me to the part of the Island where the Japanese mortars went off on March 13, 1945. It was a very moving experience.
Iwo Jima is 8 square miles. It is barren, isolated and tiny. You can only visit one day a year in March when they conduct the “Reunion of Honor.” Americans and Japanese come together to remember the thousands of brothers and friends who were killed in one of the most brutal battles of WW2.
Why did you go to Guam?
Guam is the starting point for the only flight that goes to Iwo Jima. It is also one of the islands the Japanese took within days of Pearl Harbor. It has been won by the US in the Spanish American War, along with the Philippines.
The Japanese took the Chamorran natives and basically enslaved them. They were liberated when the Americans retook the island. They are forever grateful. It remains a US territory.
Does Guam offer anything for the luxury traveler?
It’s a beautiful island. Lovely beaches. Big military base. Lush forests and great WW2 history including, General Obata’s cave, where he hid when the Americans landed. He knew he was losing the island and sent his last message to Hirohito, in shame, before taking his own life.
What has been your most memorable election stop so far?
I love going to Des Moines. It’s a great town with one of my favorite retro restaurant/bars, the High Life and El Bait. Also, the State House in Des Moines is magnificent, with stunning murals of pioneer families pushing West and the most beautiful library anywhere. I also love New Hampshire, I love snow and anything New England. The Bedford Village Inn is great.
What are you looking forward to most in 2020 coverage?
Well, if the Democrats have a brokered convention, that’s probably what we’d all like to cover. Conventions have become so programmed, but that would be quite another story.
Do you have any “must have” travel items on the campaign trail?
Emergen-C! I came home from NH with a doozy of a sinus infection. Also, a good scarf that’s cozy and can double as a throw blanket for a quick nap. We work long days and nights!
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