Eagle Scout Adam Makos was featured in an article in the Summer 2014 issue of Eagles’ Call magazine.
The following article appeared in the Williamsport Sun Gazette on December 20, 2012. Adam Makos earned Eagle Scout from Troop 172 in 1999.
When Adam Makos moved to Colorado two years ago, he and his family were looking to expand the West Coast presence of the Valor military magazine they started here in 1999.
While there, Makos finally had the time to expand upon a story that was featured in the magazine, one that he and many others thought was a tall tale: the story of a German bomber who spared the life of an American fighter pilot.
After eight years of research, Makos wrote “A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II,” which was released today, on the anniversary of the story, which took place on Dec. 20, 1943, when American pilot Charlie Brown and German Franz Stigler met in the skies over Germany.
“A Higher Call” is the first of a three-book deal he secured with Penguin Publishing and the book already has garnered national attention through an NPR interview from 11 a.m. to noon today on the Diane Rehm show, a two-page spread in the New York Post and a review from Publishers Weekly.
He will launch his national book tour with a book signing at 5 p.m. Friday at Otto Book Store, 107 W. Fourth St.
Makos graduated from Lycoming College in 2003 and Montoursville Area High School in 1999. He and his family – father, Bob; mother, Karen; brother, Bryan; and sister, Erica – are the owners of Valor Studios, one of the top producers of military art, Valor magazine and now books.
Makos’s second book, “Voices of the Pacific,” is due in April and his third book is about the Korean War and is due in 2014.
Makos said the message of the book is one that is extremely relevant in today’s times.
“These were enemies who became brothers, men who chose not to kill each other in war,” he said. “This is a story we need today … we should look at the example they gave us.”
Makos said the book is a way to tell a story from another perspective of World War II.
“I spent a week with Franz, he was a generous, kind, gentle man,” Makos said. “He was just on the wrong side of WW II. He would have been a great hero if he had been on another side.”
Makos said he interviewed the men off and on for four years, from 2004 until they both died in 2008. Although both men passed away before they could see their story told, Makos said they knew he would care for the story.
He said the book signing at Otto’s is another reunion because store owner Betsy Rider sold their magazine – then known as Ghostwings – in 1999.
“Williamsport is still home to me. We may be back once our mission is accomplished, but for now, the mission comes first,” he said.
That mission, of course, is telling the WW II veterans’ stories. Makos said he is working against the clock because he figures he has only about two more years or so to work with the remaining WW II veterans.
In the future, he hopes to expand Valor’s focus, but for now, he wants to make sure he and his family reach out to any veterans they can find. Bryan, Bob and Adam spend time on the road each month going to interview veterans while Erica runs the day-to-day operations of the company.
The next Valor magazine will come out in January after a brief hiatus while Makos worked on the books. Makos said he has received interest from producers who want to secure the film rights and an Oscar-winning screenwriter who wants to collaborate, but he wants the book to “be a good book first.”
“I’m very proud of this story and I hope it changes the way people look at WW II,” he said. “There were good men on both sides … that’s what will change you and you will never look at WW II the same way again.”
The 400-page book is $26.95 and is available at Otto’s and at Barnes and Noble.
For more information about the story, check outwww.valorstudios.com/franz-stigler-photos-and-video.htm, a video created by Bryan, who also designed the book cover.
Back to business
Work ethic serves man well in recovery
December 7, 2010 – By MIKE REUTHER
Chuck Mertes, of Cogan Station, is used to the aches and pains of his job.
As owner and partner in a plumbing, mechanical and electrical appliance installation business, he uses his body to get things done.
So in June, when he felt what he thought was nothing more than a problem with his back, he didn’t become too concerned.
At least not at first.
“I just thought it was muscle spasms,” he said.
But a trip to a chiropractor didn’t do much for him.
Days later he was unable to get out of bed.
In fact, things became so bad, that he became paralyzed from the chest down.
Tests were done. Initially, it was thought Mertes was suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome.
“They later said it was transverse myelitis,” he said. “They told me they didn’t know if I could walk again.”
Described as a neurological disorder caused by inflammation across both sides of the spinal cord, researchers are uncertain of the exact causes of transverse myelitis.
The onset of lower back pain progressing to paralysis, as experienced by Mertes, are common symptoms for many of those stricken with the disorder.
Transverse myelitis often develops over a period of a few days to a couple of weeks, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Its onset can follow viral infections or as a complication of syphilis, measles, Lyme disease and some vaccinations such as for rabies.
Just 1,400 new cases of transverse myelitis are diagnosed in the U.S. annually.
No cause could be identified in Mertes’ case.
Understandably, he was afraid of what his future held.
Fortunately, rehabilitation, in the form of recovering limb control, strength, coordination and range of motion, can help patients recover from the disorder.
With the help of therapists at Williamsport Regional Medical Center, Mertes set about regaining his life.
“He had pretty good upper body strength,” said Mary Ann Bellfy, a recreational therapist inpatient supervisor.
That helped him with rehabilitation, she said, which amounted to getting him to reprocess his brain to work his lower body movements.
He was really focused, she recalled, on walking again.
Eventually, he began moving his limbs, even walking. His rehabilitation included aquatic therapy, allowing him to remain buoyant and giving him freer use of joint movement.
That he was determined to get better and kept a good attitude about his recovery made a big difference.
“He took as much therapy as he could get,” Bellfy said.
Steroids helped with inflammation.
He credits his wife, Christine, with supporting him.
Interestingly enough, therapists noted how Mertes often was more interested in the progress of other rehabilitation patients.
Falling back on his plumbing skills, he was forever “fixing stuff” around the rehabilitation center, Bellfy laughed.
Now back to work, he is able to get around with a cane, which he claims he really doesn’t need that much.
Sitting on the back of his truck at his Montoursville business, which he runs with his son, Mertes said he’s feeling pretty good these days. He conceded he doesn’t have his former stamina and, while he can get around on his feet, he remains numb from the chest down.
But that doesn’t stop him from trying to do the things he always did.
A Boy Scout leader, Mertes most recently went on a camping trip with his local troop.
“He is able to go up and downstairs,” said physical therapist Margaret Kelly. “He’s so independent, so self-directed. He basically does his own therapy.”
These days, he is working harder on regaining his balance, gait, strength and endurance.
“Every day something is getting better,” he said.
Article and picture appeared in the December 7, 2010 Williamsport Sun-Gazette