The stories left behind by my father, Horace Dade Ashton, form the basis of this work. They might not have been published had I not been kidnapped and promised my father that I would tell his story if I survived. I thank him for having the foresight to record his amazing escapades for future generations.
Most of all I would like to thank my family for their love, support, and encouragement when I needed it. I wholeheartedly thank my loving wife, Myriam; my beautiful daughters, Daska and Militsa; and my grandniece Kerry Ashton, who spent countless hours on the text.
Many others contributed to this work and deserve my gratitude:
My very dear friend for nearly sixty years, Dr. Glynne Couvillion, who knew my father in his later years and whose constant encouragement was of utmost importance to me.
My “big” brother, Burdette, who passed away unexpectedly on August 17, 2014 and did not get to see the finished product. He was most supportive of my effort and spent numerous hours laminating the scrapbook from which I was able to copy some of the random articles and photos included in this book. His untimely death greatly saddens me.
My wingman, Carlos, who has “got my six” and given me the freedom to maneuver.
I am and always will be indebted to my good friend Bob* for all his help and support immediately after the kidnapping. Bob spent a great deal of time with my father discussing religion, and he has continually encouraged me to tell this story. Sadly, his wife, Pat, passed away on February 17, 2015. Bob told me that my father appeared to him as he sat by Pat’s bedside during her final hours. (* Last name omitted for obvious reasons)
Most of all, my driving force, my seven wonderful grandchildren, Juan Carlos, Miya Rafaella, Natalia Lucia, Lara Sofia, and especially Naime, Anya, and Marc Anthony, who are of age to appreciate and better understand, have been my primary inspiration toward fulfilling my commitment to tell the story. I hope they will be motivated and inspired by their great-grandfather’s extraordinary life and one day will share this work with their respective grandchildren.
My thanks to my cousins and many friends who have constantly encouraged me to publish the story, too many to name, but you know who you are.
My coauthor Libby J. Atwater waited thirteen years to bring my father’s and my stories to life and created this final manuscript with me. Her persistence has inspired me.
Editor Margaret Ganton helped shape this work in its early stages, and it has grown from her input.
If “it takes a village to raise a child,” it takes a collaboration of dedicated individuals to write a book.
I am sincerely grateful for all the love, support, and help I received.
December 31, 2015