Posted:  July 21, 2014

US Marine Corps Fighter Squadrons of World War IIThe classic 1951 movie Flying Leathernecks starring John Wayne immortalized the USMC pilots who had fought in the skies over Guadalcanal and the Solomons. 

The US Marine Corps has a long and proud heritage of aviation excellence, celebrating its centenary in 2012. While "flying leathernecks" made their mark in both world wars, Korea, Vietnam and more recently throughout the global war on terrorism, it was during World War II that they captured the hearts and minds of the public with their daring exploits. This is the first book to detail the legendary actions of famous fighter aces such as Medal of Honor winner John L Smith, Greg "Pappy" Boyinton, Marion Carl, Joe Foss, and many more. Barrett Tillman combines expert research into the history and organization of the Marine Fighter Squadrons with dramatic accounts of deadly dogfights.

This book is just like what the title says, the author goes through every Marine fighter squadron from the beginning of WWII to the end. He goes into detail were each were station on what islands and how some squadrons were very successful but were broken up because they needed more fighter pilots and the newer squadrons needed to be run by experienced men. But as men were transferred out some of the pervious numbers were not as high. He also goes into they were formed and he goes into some of the pilots time in the Pacific and the ones who stayed in after the war and flew in Korea and Vietnam. He also goes into the way some of the records were kept as far as kills went. He said that Pappy Boyington who was shot down had one number and when he came out of prison camp he had a different number. The Marine Corps has just stuck with his number not to rock the boat. Most flyers went with Joe Foss, as the one with the most kills because all of his were witnessed by fellow flyers. Another ace was Major Marion E CARL who was at 18.5 but was with Boyington the he got shot down and so they sent him home not wanting to the chance to lose another ace so soon, even though he did not want to come back to the states. They say he was in the same league as Joe Bauer, Major Carl would go on to set a postwar speed record in 47, in 53 he set an altitude record in the D-558-2 rocket, he was first Marine to make a solo flight in a helicopter, first to land a jet aboard a carrier and first to command a Marine jet squadron. Wanted to be an astronaut but was too tall at 6ft 2in. that went to Major John Glenn. In 65 he was now Brig General with the 1st Marine brigade in Vietnam, flying both helicopter and tactical jets. He was killed on the night of June 28, 1998 while defending his wife Edna, of 55 years from a teenage criminal. The murder was sentence to life in prison. General Carl had receive in his career two Navy Crosses, five DFCs, 14 air medals and 4 Legions of Merit. The other story I thought was interesting was Joe Foss, He was twice elected as Governor to the state of South Dakota, and he headed the Easter seals campaign and was the first commissioner of the American Football League. For his 26 victories he received the Medal of Honor. He was recommend for the Navy Cross for his actions at Guadalcanal but did not receive anything because the paperwork was lost. These were only two stories of many that are in the book, many that were never told about or written about. Most of these men did not care about numbers they carried about each other in the sky, the men on the ships and most importantly they all said the hardest part was the boys landing on the beach trying to help them as much as they could. This was a very through and well written book. I got this book from net galley. 

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