‘A Doctor’s War’ explores the amazing WWII journey of Wenatchee physician Dr. Art Ludwick
There are surprising, inspiring and enlightening stories in each of our families and we would be wise to take the time to ferret those out while our aging loved ones are able to help us understand that history.
Peggy Ludwick, the daughter of the late Wenatchee family physician Dr. Arthur “Lud” Ludwick and former Chelan County Public Utility District Commissioner Jean Ludwick, has written a book based on the exploits of her father when he was a combat surgeon and medical officer in North Africa and Italy during World War II.
“A Doctor’s War:: Letters and Reflections from the Frontlines of World War II” is a fascinating read that draws upon the letters between Lud and Jean Ludwick during their 28-month separation, bolstered by research Peggy has done to set the historical context for those letters.
Dr. Ludwick earned the Silver Star for “gallantry-in-action” for treating and evacuating wounded soldiers from a battle in Italy while under intense enemy fire, and received the Purple Heart in Tunisia, both unusual combat commendations for an unarmed medical officer. Lud was a medical officer in the 34th Infantry Division and treated wounded soldiers through some of the bloodiest battles of the war, including Kasserine and Fondouk Passes, Hill 609, Monte Pantano, Cassino, and Anzio.
Prior to his death in 2008, Peggy had taken the time to learn some facts about her father’s wartime exploits through interviews with him. She had given him a book detailing the battles in North Africa and Italy and later found that he had made notations in the books to indicate where he had been during the war.
And after her mother’s death in 2013, Peggy gave herself permission to read the treasure trove of letters between her parents during those war years that opened up a whole new understanding of her father — as a romantic who passionately expressed his love and care for his wife Jean, and, as an astute observer of the horrors of war and what it was doing psychologically and physically to those who were fighting it.
As a novice author, Peggy struggled to find the best way to tell her father’s story through his letters home. She ultimately decided to sign a book contract with a scholarly publishing company rather than go to the trouble of publishing it herself. The downside of choosing an academic/nonfiction publisher has been that they expect their authors to do the majority of the book’s marketing themselves. As a result, Peggy set up the book’s own Facebook page (“A Doctor’s War”), Instagram account (@adoctorswar), and website, with photos and excerpts from the book.
During the decade-long process of writing the book, Peggy, who moved back to the Wenatchee Valley several years ago, has connected with other WWII authors, some families of veterans who served with her father, and a man in Italy who maintains a memorial museum near Monte Pantano, honoring the Allied soldiers who paid such a hefty price in life and limb to liberate Italy.
Her son Ben Henretig, a documentary filmmaker, produced a trailer for the book that can be accessed via YouTube. (“A Doctor’s War book trailer”)
Peggy is a master connector of human beings and her journey to follow her father’s footsteps during World War II has opened up relationships and connections that have deepened her appreciation for remembering and honoring the past.The Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, the Wenatchee Valley College Foundation, and the NCW Library are all collaborating on an evening event featuring Peggy on Thursday, May 25 at the Museum to share her work and sign books. Peggy hopes other people will follow her footsteps and discover treasured stories from their own families. You can read more about the book at adoctorswar.com. The book is available at the Wenatchee Valley Museum or on Amazon.