"I have often wondered how many I killed – kind of an unsettling feeling, but an impossible situation."

Like many young boys, Howard Miner grew up fascinated with machinery, particularly locomotives, ships, and planes. When the U.S. joined the Allies after Pearl Harbor, it seemed only natural that he would put his fascination with flight to good use by becoming an airman for the Navy. Howard's excitement at the prospect of finally becoming an airman did not blind him to the very real dangers of war. Howard left for training early in 1942 and just eight months later shipped out to the Pacific theater. Howard flew with the Black Cats squadron, which had earned its moniker because its planes were completely blacked out—both in appearance and in operation.

As the narrative proceeds, readers who are familiar with WWII battles will recognize many of the names, including Guadalcanal. From that storied location, Howard and his crew fly patrols, strafe enemy barges, and survive air raids. Along the way, Howard shares his insights regarding military customs, the daily rigors of being at war, and interactions with the native peoples of the Pacific. Unlike many U.S. airmen, Howard is fortunate enough to return home and live a long and fruitful life.

The majority of this narrative is written in the first-person from Howard's perspective, which was surely a challenging feat for the writer, Howard's son, to accomplish. Miner is a gifted writer and a talented family historian. As veterans of long-ago wars dwindle in numbers, their descendants increasingly long to feel more of a connection to a bygone era. For other children of veterans who were less forthcoming with their stories, this book is sure to prove to be an invaluable glimpse into a pilot's daily life. Brilliant in its composition and heart-wrenching in its forthrightness, Miner's compilation is sure to stand the test of time.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home