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. Inexperienced crews are pressed into combat with navigational training inadequate for the great distances flown over Pacific routes, and losses mount. Finish Forty and Home takes the listener into combat with B-24 Liberator bomber crews facing the perils of long missions against tiny Japanese-held island targets. After new crews assembled into a squadron on Hawaii, they are sent on a mission to bomb Nauru. Soon 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.
©2011 Phil Scearce (P)2011 Tantor
"Finish Forty and Home is a treasure: poignant, thrilling, and illuminating." (Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit)
I loved the many human stories within the over-arching history of the Pacific Air War. My father was a left-waist gunner, radar bomber and flew with the 30th. He completed 40 missions in December of 1944, on the Bird of Paradise. I believe it was the same plane that crashed off Saipan in January 1945. I loved the detailed research and the obvious passion Phil Scearce had for this story.
Herman Scearce was a wonderfully drawn character: complex, intelligent and mischievous. He's a guy I'd love to sit down and have a beer with.
There were many poignant moments in the book. I was very moved by the loss of some of Herman Scearce's original crew and the loss of the Bird of Paradise.
No. I didn't want to rush it. Danny Campbell is an excellent narrator. He brought an easy comfortable tone to the characters and the story.
I'm indebted to the author for finally telling this story -- and telling it with respect and compassion.
I enjoyed this book; it has historical importance; but it wasn't as well done as I would have liked. What made this book especially compelling was that there was a tie in with another really excellent book: Unbroken. There is a reference fleeting reference to the day, and the plane that is the focus of "Unbroken". If for some reason you can only get one book on the subject of B-24's "Unbroken would be the one to go with; it's an amazing story well told. All that being said this book is good. There's a lot of information on B-24's and the men who flew them. The performance by the reader was good as well. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the air war in the Pacific during World War II.
The journey is an interesting one for history enthusiasts that want more of a personal view, for a change.
Sort of reminded me of "Unbroken," which was probably intentional.
Somebody else's voice.
Married (1975), Vietnam-era (not in-country) vet (USN Retired), 4 sons, 11 grandkids, love riding my Harley.
It is amazing that these boys kept their sanity. Unlike the bomber crews in the European theater where it was a short jump across the channel before they were in combat, these crews flew for HOURS to get to their targets and then hours back. The wounded often didn't survive the wait and unlike Europe, it's not like they could be tossed out to the waiting arms of an enemy hospital and then spend the rest of the war as a prisoner. Nothing down there but water and the enemy had no qualms of executing captives. Yet the Pacific crews were tasked with 40 missions before rotating stateside while European crews did 25. Never did quite understand that.
After reading Laura Hillenbrand's masterful "Unbroken" I was pleasantly surprised to find this book written about the same B-24 squadron during WWII. But any similarity between the two books ends there. In the preface the author speaks of this book wanting to honor his father and that Phil Scearce does. But this book is not masterful, compelling nor particularly well written. Unfortunately, the book is clearly based on squadron records and it continually reads that way, with dialog added to disjointed stories attempting to add to the dry action reports and squadron logs of those official records. What this book is thoroughly lacking is an interesting narrative. There's no captivating central character, and this is made very clear when by 1944, the author's father has logged six combat missions while others in the squadron are going home having completed the (then) 30 required missions.
The author has created a beginning to end account of this B-24 squadron, but unfortunately it reads like a Wikipedia article rather than an action-packed account of the brave men who flew, fought and died in this squadron.
You are there!
He is a good story teller.
A couple of chuckles, and some empty heart losses.
I wish there was a movie.
I loved hearing about Herman Scearces' thoughts and feelings about his experiences during his tour of duty in the Pacific. This book was well read and written.
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