The Wild Blue Book Report

1472 words - 6 pages

I recently read the book authored by renowned historian Stephen Ambrose titled The Wild Blue: The men and boys who flew the B-24’s over Germany, which encompassed the journey of these young men. From start to finish Ambrose gave a great overall view of the trials and tribulations one would go through being a pilot or a crew member on a B-24 during WWII. The book focused primarily on the 741st squadron 455th bomb group. But in particular it focused on one of its pilots, Lt. George McGovern. While at times this book almost felt like a war biography of McGovern, it did touch on various other crew members and gave a great overall view of these boys journey from their early life to time spent ...view middle of the document...

To me reading some of the early life and training portions of the book felt slow. In actuality what these boys went through in real life was quite the opposite. Training was very difficult and they faced many dangers, which unfortunately on occasion resulted in the death due to accidents during training flights. Just flying the B-24 was a task all in itself. It was considered the ugly duckling of the planes active in WWII because it was very bare boned when compared to other planes active at the time. The plane had no heat so the pilot was flying at high altitudes in cold weather bundled up in clothing to try and stay warm. These planes were bombers and not as easily maneuverable as fighter plans like the P-47, which over the years has garnished much more praise and publicity than the often forgot about B-24. B-24’s also had no power steering which meant the pilot had to use a significant amount of bodily strength to maneuver it, which during a long flight became exhausting. Because of this a large portion of the pilots training process consisted of calisthenics and other grueling physical fitness tests. But of all the physical requirements, the most prized was sight, especially if one wanted to be a pilot or navigator.
Becoming a pilot was most of these young men’s first choice when choosing a position. Those who washed out of the pilot training programs then went for another position on the plane such as co-pilot, radio operator, bombardier, navigator, or a gunnery position. While they viewed washing out of the program as somewhat of a disappointment all were still eager to pick a new position and get back into training. One individual after flushing out of the pilot program was asked what other position he would like to be. In response he asked which of his fallowing options had the shortest training program. That turned out to be the radio operator position. He was an intelligent individual and could have chosen a more challenging position than a radio operator. He didn’t because he was eager to graduate from a program and contribute to the war efforts. In more recent wars some people have ducked drafts or protested wars. So I admire these young men’s sense of pride for their. While I commend their patriotism and willingness to fight many also enlisted because they saw it as an opportunity to get out of the small towns they had spent their whole life in and see the world, which they did.
The main character of the book was George McGovern, who like most of the characters in this book came from small town America. McGovern and his crew flew the plane, “The Dakota Queen”, and while throughout the book their physical plane wasn’t always the exact same one it was still always given that name. This was done in honor of McGovern’s wife back home. Home was a place McGovern and his crew was now far away from. They were stationed in Cerignola Italy, at which point the book began to pick up.
I found the base life to be one of the most...

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