From the authors of the New York Times best-selling The Heart of Everything That Is and Halsey's Typhoon comes the dramatic untold story of a daredevil bomber pilot and his misfit crew who fly their lone B-17 into the teeth of the Japanese Empire in 1943, engage in the longest dogfight in history, and change the momentum of the war in the Pacific - but not without making the ultimate sacrifice.
It is 1942, the Japanese war machine has rolled up nearly all of the Pacific Theater, and American forces are clinging to what little unconquered territory remains. While US Marines claw their way across Guadalcanal, small contingents of US Army airmen make their way to the lonely, embattled Allied airbase on Papua New Guinea. Their mission: to defend Australia from invasion, harass Japanese supply lines, fly perilous bombing missions over enemy-held strongholds, and make reconnaissance runs to provide intelligence for America's nascent island-hopping campaign.
Among these men are pilot Captain Jay Zeamer and bombardier Sergeant Joseph Raymond Sarnoski, whose swashbuckling reputations precede them. Zeamer, who cannot convince his superiors to give him his own plane, teams up with Sarnoski to recruit a crew of fellow misfits to rebuild a dilapidated B-17 bomber from spare parts in the base's junkyard. They christen the plane Old 666, naming it from its tail identification numbers. In June 1943, Zeamer and Sarnoski and their crew volunteer for a 1,200 mile suicide mission into the heart of the Japanese Empire that may well change the course of the war - but that only one of the two friends will survive.
In Lucky 666, Drury and Clavin bring to vivid life one of the last great untold stories of World War II. Featuring personal letters, diaries, US Army Air Force after-action reports, even the translated Japanese Imperial Air Force's official account of the longest dogfight in history, Lucky 666 is a tale of friendship, heroism, and sacrifice set against the horrific backdrop of vicious aerial warfare, wounded crewmates, and a white-knuckle emergency landing in the jungles of New Guinea - a must-listen for anyone who loves pulse-pounding narrative nonfiction.
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A WWII Pacific Tale
I will listen to this book again, mostly because it's narration of the aerial battles fought in the South Pacific is riveting. This is an excellent book to help understand what our underfunded and under equipped Pacific Forces faced during WWII.
Jay Zeamer, the pilot, was the most exciting character, although his bombardier was not far behind him. Learning his backstory made his accomplishments during WWII all the more heroic.
The narrator did a good job of capturing the excitement of the aerial gun battles as well as the pain of losing friends and fellow airmen.
The book both made me laugh and cry. There are moments when you realize that all that stood between the United States and tyranny were a few brave men willing to go up in broken-down bombers and take the fight to an enemy that was better equipped, better trained and motivated by a blind allegiance to a man they thought of as God. That we prevailed is a tribute to those fine airmen
If you have never worn the uniform, if you have never endured shared sacrifice, and experienced the espirit de corps that comes from military service, this is probably going to be an interesting yarn. But if you have lost friends, suffered at the hands of nature or this country's enemies, and otherwise experienced the life of a soldier, sailor, airman or marine, then you will find in this book the story of your brothers in arms, brave men who went up in cobbled-together aircraft, with barely enough training, and with little more than instinct to guide them, and defeated an enemy that demanded its soldiers fight to the death or be dishonored. You will feel a kinship with these men, and you will pass this book along to your sons and daughters so that they may know from whence this nation derived its statement that "freedom is not free."
- Ginger A. DeWitt
LOVED THIS BOOK!
- Greg Hansen