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FOREVER REMEMBERED: A Tribute to America's Aviators of World War II

— feeling amazing
Forever Remembered: The Fliers Of World War II: Interviews - Irv Broughton

"Forever Remembered: The Fliers of World War II - Interviews" is a treasure trove, as far as aviation books are concerned. It is all the more previous now almost 20 years after its initial publication because many of its interviewees -- all of whom served in various aviation-related capacities in the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF), Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard during World War II -- are now deceased. As the World War II generation is leaving us in ever greater numbers, there are now correspondingly few eyewitness stories that we can draw upon in the present time. 

Irv Broughton is a gifted interviewer. In each interview, he acts more as a facilitator, allowing the interviewee to speak freely and expansively about his/her wartime experiences. I very much enjoyed reading these interviews and being given entree to stories from World War II that had either been forgotten or little remarked upon. For example, there was the story of Teresa James, who, prior to joining the U.S. Army's Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) in 1942, had earned her private pilot's license in 1934 and went on to be a barnstorming pilot in Pennsylvania and a flight instructor. She was one of 25 women to form the WAFS, whose purpose was twofold: "1) To see if women could serve as military pilots, and if so, to develop the nucleus of an organization that could be quickly expanded. [and] "2) To release male pilots for combat." The WAFS proved to be so successful that a year later (August 1943), WAFS was merged with a group of women pilot trainees to form the WASPs (Women Air Force Service Pilots). 

Many of the people interviewed in this book led truly remarkable lives, both during the War and afterward. Stewart Ross Graham, for instance, had joined the Coast Guard prewar and later learned to fly, taking part in numerous long-range patrol and search & rescue missions in World War II. He later became one of the first helicopter pilots world wide and helped pioneer various search & rescue techniques that became standard for all helicopters engaged in such roles. There were also a couple of interviews with 2 of the Tuskegee Airmen who saw combat with the 332nd Fighter Group in the war, one of the U.S. Navy's top fighter aces, former aircrew who became prisoners of war (POWs) of either the Germans or the Japanese, a test pilot who emerged from the war as the only survivor of a core group of 12 test pilots tasked with flying the latest USAAF aircraft to the limits of their flight capacities, and one of the few American night fighter aces of World War II.