Friday, May 21, 2010

Flyboys-a book review

By James Bradley

Mr. Bradley also authored Flags of Our Fathers. I have read both books. He is another author that does extensive research before writing. This included personal visits with Japanese soldiers who were involved with captive flyers on the Island of Chichi Jima. This was an outpost manned by 35,000 soldiers. It had two mountain peaks which had been used to install radio equipment for communication to Japan. It was located near to Iwo Jima. There were eight prisoners. Only one lived. He had been sent to Japan and survived the war. Another pilot shot down near the island was rescued by a submarine. His name was George H.W. Bush. The two crew members in his plane did not survive.
One by one the prisoners were executed after being stabbed with sharp sticks or bayonets. They were then beheaded and in a number of instances their livers and strips of flesh from their thighs were cut out and fed to officers. This all came to light during interrogation. The details were filled in by Mr. Bradley hunting down and persuading soldiers to tell their story.
The main story is about these men as young lads who eagerly signed up to be part of the Navy’s Air Arm, some as pilots, others as gunners or radio men. We get to know them and their families.
Woven into the book is a snapshot of how brutal the war was on both sides. The Japanese soldiers were treated harshly by their officers and non coms. They were taught to obey all orders without question. If they died it was for the Emperor and they would be rewarded. The slaughter of Chinese soldiers and civilians was carried out methodically and without any semblance of humanity.
One of the stories is about the B-24 Bombers taking off from an Aircraft Carrier to bomb Japan early in 1942. Psychologically it was effective both in America and Japan. We needed a lift from all the bad news. The Japanese were stunned that the war could come to their sacred lands. All of the planes crashed before reaching the Chinese Airfields due to the task force being discovered 200 miles short of the planned take off. To punish the Chinese over 200,000 were slaughtered in the area closest to Japan as they assumed the planes had used airfields in China.
We do not always come off as the good guys. The author traces our history leading to this latest conflict. I will let you discover the data when you read the book. Read it and get a refresher on how brutal war is.

Jack B. Walters
May 21, 2010

No comments: