Sunday, March 02, 2014

Three military pilots, one from Paradise


Paradise author B.J. Bryan tells the story of World War II with a personal touch in “Escape With A Silent Roar: A Trilogy of Three World War II Pilots Including A P-38 Fighter In Combat Missions Over Europe” ($19.99 in paperback from Xlibris; also Amazon Kindle format).

The first chapter, “Thunder From The South,” is the story of Col. Richard E. Clark whom the author met in Paradise. “He brought with him a cassette tape of something he wanted me to hear. He requested that I not listen to it or write his story until he had passed on. I agreed.”

Bryan writes that “the tape was about his experiences flying his plane over Northern Italy.” It was late in 1944; “I was in the 20th Bomb Squadron of the 2nd Battle Group, 15th Air Force,” Clark’s voice says. He made it out in one piece, but loud noises still made him shake. “He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Silver Star.”

“My Adventures In Greece” is a first-person account by Edward W. Smythe which makes up most of the book. His target was an installation about 20 miles north of Athens, “well protected by concentrations of both mobile and stationary anti-aircraft batteries.”

What’s it like to be hit? “There was a shattering explosion just below my feet. I was afraid to look down at them. When I did, I saw the rudder pedals twisted at an odd angle. … ‘Navigator-to-pilot! Bombardier hit bad. He’s—he’s—Flak! Big hole in— … Pilot-to-crew! Abandon ship. Bail out! We are afire!” And that’s only the start of the story, which involves escape and, on January 30, 1944, rescue.

Finally, William “Bill” Burns tells the story of “A P-38 Fighter Combat Mission Over Europe,” a gripping first-hand account. We must not forget, Bryan writes: “History does repeat itself.”

The author will be signing copies of the book at the VFW Craft Fair this Saturday, March 8 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the Paradise Veterans Hall. A book event will also be held at Lyon Books in Chico March 31 at 7:30 p.m.

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