Finish Forty and Home: The Untold World War II Story of B-24s in the Pacific

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University of North Texas Press, 2011 - History - 373 pages
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A Main Selection of the Military/History Book Club.   During the early years of World War II in the Pacific theatre, against overwhelming odds, young American airmen flew the longest and most perilous bombing missions of the war. They faced determined Japanese fighters without fighter escort, relentless anti-aircraft fire with no deviations from target, and thousands of miles of over-water flying with no alternative landing sites.
Finish Forty and Home, by Phil Scearce, is the true story of the men and missions of the 11th Bombardment Group as it fought alone and unheralded in the South Central Pacific, while America had its eyes on the war in Europe. The book opens with Sgt. Herman Scearce, the author's father, lying about his age to join the Army Air Corps at 16. The narrative follows Scearce through training and into combat with his new crewmates, including pilot Lt. Joe Deasy, whose last-minute transfer from training duty thrusts the new crew into the squadron commander's role.
After bombing Nauru, the squadron moves on to bomb Wake Island, Tarawa, and finally Iwo Jima. These missions bring American forces closer and closer to the Japanese home islands and precede the critical American invasions of Tarawa and Iwo Jima. The 42nd Squadron's losses through 1943 were staggering: 50 out of 110 airmen killed.
Phil Scearce explores the context of the war and sets the stage for these daring missions, revealing the motivations of the men who flew them: to finish forty combat missions and make it home again. He based his story upon substantial research at the Air Force Historical Research Agency and the National Archives, interviews with surviving airmen, and interviews and correspondence with the survivors of men who were lost. His is the first book to document America's bomber offensive in the early days of the Pacific War.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Sergeant at Seventeen
11
2 Hawaii
33
3 First Mission
43
4 Nauru
51
5 Air Raid
65
6 Chance
77
7 May 1943
85
14 Last Flights
189
15 Ask the Man Who Owns One
201
16 The Meaning of Boxes
221
17 Guam
235
18 Back in Business
253
19 Halfway to Forty
271
20 January 1945
291
21 Endings for Some
301

8 The Squadrons Objectives
97
9 The Pacific Preferred
115
10 Softening Tarawa
125
11 Forever Consequences
143
12 Losing Altitude Fast
151
13 Back to Hawaii
165
Epilogue
319
Endnotes
331
Bibliography
355
Index
361
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

PHIL SCEARCE is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a 2009 graduate of the Middle Tennessee State University Writer's Loft Program. He is a member of the Tennessee Writer's Alliance. Phil resides in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. COLONEL JESSE E. STAY commanded the 42nd Squadron in the Pacific.

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