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Local author, former police officer, details struggles in school, military life in debut memoir

By Natalie Hamren
NKyTribune reporter

Michael Autry, a Northern Kentucky author and former Newport Police Officer, understands the struggles of students during the pandemic. Autry writes about his own experience struggling in school with undiagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in his debut memoir, Left Behind!

Born and raised in Dayton, Autry dropped out of Dayton High School at age 16 and joined the military. He was stationed in France and the United Kingdom. He worked in retail management, as a police officer and as a skilled factory worker at General Electric Aircraft Engines in Evendale.

“During this pandemic, I’m hearing so much about children being left behind right now — held back a year of school because they haven’t received the opportunity to be in class, through no fault of their own,” Autry said. “This is all bringing back so many memories for me, as to how I was in school, and how to be left behind a grade in school, it’s not a good thing for a person. It really sets you back mentally.”

Autry describes his book as a “true story of a young boy who, through dogged determination, matured native intelligence, and a little bit of good fortune, overcomes the circumstances of his childhood in a struggling, rust-belt town.”

“As I was writing my memoir, I tried to give my readers a real sense of what it was like for me to be left behind as a child, young boy and into adulthood — including my military experience and the return home after my Army obligation,” Autry said.

When Autry was in school, he said he was never a disruptive student. In most cases, he said he was trying to learn the best he could. When he would try to take notes, he said it was difficult to focus on the class material at the same time.

“Toward the end of the year, when report cards would come out, that’s when I realized that other kids were being promoted to the higher grade and I was being left behind,” Autry said.

Autry said that being held back in school negatively affected his life, but he was still able to achieve success later on. Nowadays, he’s a strong advocate for social promotion and support in school.

Michael Autry

In his memoir, Autry also writes about his time serving in the military and as a Newport Police Officer. Autry enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966 and was stationed in France where he served in the 15th military police detachment as a serious incidents report clerk.

When Autry came home to civilian life, he worked at a grocery store where he would drive past the Newport Police Department every night. One day, he went in and asked if they were hiring. Autry wanted to use his experience from the military to serve as a police officer.

“It was a wonderful time to be a police officer in the United States,” Autry said. “We were able to help people in ways that they cannot do today.”

Autry said he wrote this book so that his grandchildren can learn more about his life when they’re old enough to read it.

“They can look back at some old photos of their grandpa; I won’t be here, of course,” Autry said. “But, hopefully, this book will still be there. They can read up and say ‘that was my grandpa. This is what he did, how he had to live.”

Left Behind!: Everyone Grew Up Somewhere is being sold at www.mikeautrybooks.com

Author Michael Autry will be selling his memoir in person on Oct. 9 at the Dayton High School all-inclusive reunion at 200 Greendevil Ln, Dayton.

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