On the morning of December 7, 1941, Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John W. Finn, though suffering multiple wounds, continued to man his machine gun against waves of Japanese aircraft attacking the Kaneohe Bay Naval Station during the infamous Pearl Harbor raid. Just over three years later, as World War II struggled into its final months, a B-29 radioman named Red Erwin lingered near death after suffering horrific burns to save his air crew in the skies off Japan. They were the first and last of thirty U.S. Navy, Army, and Marine Corps aviation personnel awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions against the Japanese during World War II. They included pilots and crewmen manning fighters and dive bombers and flying boats and bombers. One was a general. Another was a sergeant. Some shot down large numbers of enemy aircraft in aerial combat. Others sacrificed themselves for their friends or risked everything for complete strangers.
Who were these now largely forgotten men? Where did they come from? What inspired them to rise “above and beyond”? What, if anything, made them different? Virtually all had one thing in common: they always wanted to fly. They came from a generation that revered the aces of World War I, like Eddie Rickenbacker, the civilian flyer Charles Lindbergh, and the lost aviator Amelia Earhart—and then they blazed their own trail during World War II.
James H. Hallas is a graduate of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and was in the newspaper business for nearly forty years as reporter, editor, and publisher. He is the author of Saipan: The Battle that Doomed Japan in World War II, which won the 2020 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award for Nonfiction; Uncommon Valor on Iwo Jima:The Stories of the Medal of Honor Recipients in the Marine Corps' Bloodiest Battle of World War II; Killing Ground on Okinawa: The Battle for Sugar Loaf Hill; Doughboy War: The American Expeditionary Force in World War I; Squandered Victory: The Battle of St. Mihiel,; and The Devil’s Anvil: The Assault on Peleliu. He lives in Portland, Connecticut.
NetGalley Review: 5 stars
Last updated on 07 Jan 2022
"A truly interesting novel on the pilots who received the Medal of Honor in the Pacific during WW2. The stories are personal looks into the life of each recipient and the stories on why they were nominated for the award. Their heroism should be an inspiration to us all. A great read!"—Ron Baumer, reviewer at Nawah Energy
NetGalley review: 5 stars
Last updated on 29 Jan 2022
"This is a well researched and written book on the title subject. Each chapter is devoted to a each Medal of Honor winner and what they did to deserve the medal. These men, many who gave their lives to save others, need to be remembered and this book accomplishes that task. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in World War II, veterans and/or Medal of Honor recipients.
I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook and my nonfiction book review blog."—Casey Wheeler, reviewer at caseywheeler.wordpress.com