Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day-Reflections and Recommended Reading

One of George Rarey's cartoons, drawn while he was a P-47 fighter pilot in France in WWII. Rarey was killed in action, leaving behind a son, Damon, whom he never met. Years later, Damon put together his father's art in a book. Today's post deals with fathers everywhere.

On Fathers' Day, it's good to remember and be thankful for fathers everywhere. It's also good to remember the many fathers of all wars who never came home and left behind wives and children who had to go it alone. There are several excellent books on this subject about the sons of World War Two airmen who never returned, written by sons or, in one case, a nephew.

I know two of the three authors below, Damon Rarey and William Maguire, as friends. But I knew them first through their books about their dads.

After the Liberators, by William Maguire

William Maguire wrote a heart-wrenching but ultimately triumphant memoir of his father's final time as a B-24 pilot entitled After the Liberators: A Father's Last Mission, a Son's Lifelong Journey . The book is easily available on Amazon or online.

Here are some editorial reviews of this fine book:

Susan Johnson Hadler, co-author of Lost in Victory: Reflections of American War Orphans of WWII writes: This book shatters the silence that fell like a curtain upon many of us whose fathers were killed in WWII. It documents and transcends the long-term effects of war within a family. At times heart stopping, at times lyrical, it is above all a story of love and self-healing."

Laughter and Tears: The Art of Captain George Rarey

Captain George Rarey, shortly before his death. He named his P-47 fighter, 'Rarey-Bird', after his son Damon, whom he'd never see.

Damon Rarey's father was a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot who crashed over Europe. Damon's dad was a talented cartoonist and artist. The great Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schultz later wrote that Rarey would have become a famous artist had he lived. Damon Rarey, also an artist, put together a book of his dad's artwork to honor the father he never met. The book is entitled Laughter and Tears: The Art of Captain George Rarey. Sadly, Damon also passed away several years ago from cancer at a relatively young age. The book, Laughter and Tears, can be purchased used from Amazon and alibris, and is a must for any art-lover. I treasure my copy Damon sent me some years ago. This rare book is also available NEW on the EAA site, for only $40. Only 2,000 leather-bound editions were printed.

Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany in World War II, by Thomas Childress.

Finally, Thomas Childress wrote a book called Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany in World War II. The book is about Childress's uncle's B-24 crew, who had the sad distinction of being the last crew to be shot down in World War Two. This excellent book is readily available online and in some bookstores. Find it on Amazon at

One reviewer writes of this book: "Childers, a nephew of one of the 12-member crew of the Black Cat, the last American bomber shot down in World War II, tells the painful story of the two survivors and the ten (including his uncle) who never returned. Childers (history, Univ. of Pennsylvania) pieces together the bewildering puzzle by way of letters and interviews, including those with German villagers near the crash site. Some of the evidence is painful to read. The bomber was directed off course into unnecessary ground flak. Two men may or may not have been tortured by the German civilians. A parachute opened too close to the ground. An airman could have been trapped inside the plane as it crashed. Childers knows his subject well, having written three other books about German politics, culture, and resistance. This work, a poignant tale of the airmen who almost made it home and those who waited for and loved them, is a heartfelt story. Although it has been done before, it captures the intense feelings of wartime and, as such, deserves to be read."

Then, of course, thanks to the Father of us all.
Our Heavenly Father, as painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

1 comment:

Le Viking said...

Thanks for the journey... George's drawings are immortal.