Every so often I read a World War Two bomber crewman memoir that reaches out and grabs me. Such is John C. Walter's outstanding book MY WAR: The True Experiences of a U.S. Army Air Force Pilot in World War Two, published by Authorhouse in 2004. Not since I read the late Gene Carson's Wing Ding have I felt like I've gotten into the head and heart of a bomber crewman in such detail.
Walter flew as a pilot with the 95th Bomb Group (H) out of Horham, England in World War Two. The book begins with his enlistment and early training and follows Walter and his crew across the Atlantic to England, where they complete 35 harrowing missions in the early months of 1945 flying a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Not all of the crew survives their tour, and many fellow crews also go down. Walter tells his story alternating the stress and terror of flying missions with the high-spirited living of the crewmen between missions. He explains many things that I never fully understood despite having read literally over a hundred bomber crew memoirs. I guess one could say Mr. Walter has an eye for detail that enables him to describe the experience in new and introspective ways. Considering he spent much of his career honing his writing skills as a technical writer for General Dynamics, he's had a lot of practice. He also has a wonderful dry sense of humor, which I appreciated greatly while reading.
Other plusses to the book are the good photographs throughout and the appendix, which describes in detail how to read a Pilot Information Sheet used on a mission. The book has 247 pages. It can be ordered from Amazon at this link: http://www.amazon.com/MY-WAR-EXPERIENCES-FORCE-PILOT/dp/1418447250/ref=sr_1_1/104-1823667-6149529?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1191892112&sr=8-1.
I managed to get hold of Mr. Walter today and I hope to use his insight and expertise while writing the 95th BG history this coming year. It is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it.