A Wing and a Prayer by Harry Crosby
This is a story of World War II in Europe. Mr. Crosby was a navigator on B-17s in the European theater, flying out of London. He had gone to West Point and then to pre-flight school; unfortunately, he was not a very good student. Despite any shortcomings, he went to England as a Lieutenant and came home a Colonel. His unit was known as the “Bloody 59,” so named because of the penchant for crash landings. As a navigator, he plotted flight plans to the day’s target. The B-17s flew with a 9-member crew – 2 pilots, a navigator, a bombardier, radio man, and three turret gunners. During every trip, all crew members knew there was a chance they would not come back from their mission. There was often heavy fire and extremely capable German pilots. Each flight they saw their comrades shot or hit by surface-to-air fire and explode into a ball of fire. They kept flying and fighting no matter the risks. I lived during the time and remember seeing similar stories told during the news reels show at the movie theater between movie showings. It appeared to be terrifying and that was confirmed by Mr. Crosby in his book. I highly recommend it!