Bloom Hamner

Thu, 03/28/2019 - 7:12pm

'Jersey Brothers' Author Visits Christ School

'Jersey Brothers' Author Visits Christ School

Sally Mott Freeman has sat silently in St. Joseph's Chapel and wandered the grounds of Christ School, lost in her thoughts. The author likes to imagine what her uncle must have felt here 85 years ago.

Freeman said Thursday that being a Greenie forever changed Barton Cross '34 for the better. He is one of the protagonists of Freeman's true World War II story, "The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family's Quest to Bring Him Home."

Freeman put a decade worth of research into her first book and said she is indebted to Christ School for its help since her initial visit to campus in 2011.

"I have followed the school with great enthusiasm since then," Freeman said. "It is a real privilege to be here with you. This may be 2019, but the same ideals that are in place now are what Barton took with him."

"The Jersey Brothers" was released by publisher Simon & Schuster in 2016. Freeman's 608-page book chronicles the 1941 capture of Cross, who was at the time a Navy Supply Corps officer stationed in the Philippines. Two older brothers, Bill and Benny Mott (who were also in the Navy), carried out a frantic search upon learning his fate.

Former Senator John McCain once said "The Jersey Brothers captures the real-life story of three brothers whose bond to family and love for country take them to extraordinary lengths at one of the most pivotal points in American history. From the decks of the USS Enterprise to the depths of the Japanese prison camps, Sally Mott Freeman takes readers on an epic journey in this remarkable tribute to the Greatest Generation."

A black and white photo from Christ School's 1934 Commencement is the only picture known to exist of the three brothers together, Freeman said.

Freeman will spend Thursday and Friday on campus, interacting with the boys both informally and through forums moderated by Evan Hoyle '19, Miles Gardner '20, Jackson Bewley '20, Mac Gortney '19, Connor Booher '20, Coles Manning '19, Sawyer Breiter '22, and History Department chair Ben Dowling.

She was introduced during Thursday's Chapel service by Ross Oakley '19. "Mrs. Freeman knew there was something special about her family (when she decided to become an author)," Ross said. "And she knew she could do what she does best – communicate."

Freeman was a speechwriter and media and public-relations executive for 25 years. She resides in Bethesda, Md., and is Board Chair Emerita of The Writer's Center, an independent literary center which serves the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.