Throw a Nickel on the Grass—And You'll be Saved
by Norman Phillips
Trafford Publishing

"Rick always said, 'Combat flying separates the men from the boys. There's no getting around it. Some can do it, so can't. It takes all kinds.'"

Norman Phillips, a decorated American fighter pilot, has recorded his memories in a fictional account, using an alter ego, Rick North: "Choosing a fictitious name made it easier for me to describe the events that actually happened." From a Polish immigrant heritage, Rick was just beginning to enjoy his young manhood when the US declared war in 1941. Despite indifferent grades in high school, he scored high on the military tests and became an officer and a pilot in the Air Corps; shipped out, he fought numerous missions in Italy and France. He found his future wife Ella on a Christmas furlough. After VE Day, she joined him in Germany. On active duty during the Viet Nam conflict, Colonel Rick North was saved by a daring rescue mission. The book begins and ends in Laos, as he lies in a hospital remembering his experiences. After he resigned from the Air Force, he went on to become a teacher and sculptor.

This lengthy fictionalized biography is competently written, giving a gritty portrait of an ordinary serviceman coping in the midst of war; not just the fighting, which is vividly described, but also the camaraderie and youthful escapades in the face of death. Too, when North is home on furlough, he describes the sense of unreality perhaps common to many soldiers; his family's stolid routines and reluctance to speak of his military service give him an eerie feeling that back home, everything is the same, while he has changed radically. Those interested in American warfare and the life of servicemen in the by-gone World War II era especially will find Phillips' book fascinating.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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