Darrell R. Fleming grew up in Clintwood, Dickenson County, Virginia. He graduated from Union College with majors in English and History/Political Science and from The University of Virginia with a Master of Education degree.
After serving two years in the United States Army as a cryptographer with the Seventh Army in Germany, he began teaching in Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax, Virginia. Mr. Fleming taught nine years at the secondary level and then became an administrator at the high school level before moving to Coordinator of Human Resources for Fairfax County, retiring in 1988.
He now lives with his wife, Kathy, in Blountville, Tennessee and enjoys writing, reading, traveling, golfing, fishing and is an active member and supporter of the Appalachian Authors Guild.
Family, Friends and War Heroes
The story of a seaman who willingly served his country in both the treacherous waters of the Atlantic and raging typhoons of the vast Pacific all the while being concerned about his family back home.
Pioneer Lady of Southern Appalachia
Well-researched historical fiction detailing the life and travels of Mary Jane Mullins including the trials and challenges of pioneer life and her family’s trek west to finally settle in Southwest Virginia.
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“Started reading this book and couldn’t put it down until I finished. A fascinating account of a thirty-one year old Virginia farmer/coal miner told by one of his seven children. A saga about Truman and Violet Fleming during World War II, of his service aboard the destroyer escort, USS HOPPING, and the struggle for his family to run the farm during his absence. It thoroughly catches the spirit of the men, their trials and tribulations aboard ship. The Fleming family will get to know, love and honor Truman for many generations to come due to this story.”
William H. Wenzel, served as a Lieutenant, USNR, Assistant Gunnery Officer and Communications Officer aboard the USS HOPPING, DE 155/APD 51, July 20, 1943 to October 30, 1945; President of Wenzel Tent Company, a nationwide camping business (retired); Owner and operator of a cattle farm for the past twenty years.
“This book documents some of the important events of World War II which were experienced by the author’s family, especially his father who served as a sailor aboard the USS HOPPING. Fleming’s in-depth research of this ship and other men aboard the Hopping, along with his personal notes throughout, make this a very interesting and accurate account of an important period of our country’s history. A number of dramatic personal stories of these sailors' experiences make it even more compelling. I believe this book would make a solid contribution to our understanding of the American people and our men in service during this period of our history.”
Helen E. Grenga, Ph. D., author, Movies on the Fantail, (Yeoman Press, 2001); Associate Vice President and Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, Georgia Tech (retired).
“Commenced reading the book, read until 01:00 AM, went to bed and had a difficult time falling asleep as so many instances experienced by the men aboard this ship just kept coming to mind. The old saying, “Been there.....Done that.”, was so very real. It is an interesting story of the impact World War II had on this nation, the family of Truman and Violet Fleming as well as the officers and men who served aboard a destroyer escort. The use of personal and family information as well as the ship’s log with dates, events and actual stories about the men who were there is commendable and provides the continuity which kept the entire story flowing from page to page.”
Thomas L. Kidd, served as a radarman and Petty Officer aboard the USS K. M. WILLETT, DE 354 from 1944 to 1946; Past President, Destroyer Escort Sailors Association (DESA); Manager, General Electric Metal Fabrication, Drive Systems Department (retired).
“In Pioneer Lady, the author skillfully intertwines travel in the early 1800’s through treacherous Appalachian mountains with a family’s strong desire to seek their hopes and dreams in a wilderness frontier. He creates an interesting story of the Mullins family and particularly about a fourteen year old daughter, Mary Jane, who was the first lady settler in what is now Clintwood, Virginia. This book, which is an important part of Clintwood’s history, will be valued, collected, and shared by historians and genealogists alike. It will delight the numerous descendants of John Wesley “Revolutionary John” Mullins who literally carpet the region.”
Brenda Salyers, officer of the Historical Society of Pound, VA and owner of Heritage Nook Books at www.heritagenook.com
“The story of Mary Jane Mullins has always fascinated me. The author brought her story to life in this book along with the way it was for a pioneer family on the move in 1829. She made the difficult trip from North Carolina to Holly Creek in Southwest Virginia as a fourteen year old with her father and two brothers to establish a homestead on the fringe of America’s frontier. She chose to stay alone in this wilderness while her father returned to North Carolina for his family and her brothers visited relatives a day’s journey away. She raised her own large family in this environment and lived to see it grow into a village and eventually the county’s seat of government. Pioneer Lady is a treasure. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I have.”
Betty Mullins Belcher, officer of the Historical Society of Pound, VA
“Pioneer Lady gives the reader insight into how difficult life was for the pioneer homesteaders who settled this country. We can only construct a mental picture of the conditions that then existed. The hardships and challenges Mary Jane Mullins endured are difficult to imagine in today’s world of modern conveniences. She had to take on adult responsibilities at an early age and much of her life was spent in ceaseless toil providing her family with the necessities of life. The author has successfully and accurately presented a “peek” into the life of the first family of Clintwood and its first Pioneer Lady.”
Mary Hylton, President of the Dickenson County Historical Society and retired educator of Dickenson County
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