Pacific Payback: The Carrier Aviators Who Avenged Pearl Harbor at the Battle of Midway

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Sunday, December 7, 1941, dawned clear and bright over the Pacific....

But for the Dauntless dive-bomber crews of the USS Enterprise returning to their home base on Oahu, it was a morning from hell. Flying directly into the Japanese ambush at Pearl Harbor, they lost a third of their squadron and witnessed the heart of America’s Navy broken and smoldering on the oil-slicked waters below.

The next six months, from Pearl Harbor to the Battle of Midway—a dark time during which the Japanese scored victory after victory—this small band of aviators saw almost constant deployment, intense carrier combat, and fearsome casualties. Many were killed by enemy Zero fighters, antiaircraft fire, or deadly crash landings in the Pacific, while others were captured and spent years in POW camps. Yet the Enterprise’s Dauntless crews would be the first to strike an offensive blow against Japanese installations in the Marshall Islands, would be the first to sink a Japanese warship, and would shepherd the Doolittle Raiders’ bombing of Tokyo.

Not until Midway, though, would Dauntless crews get the chance to settle the score. In June 1942, Japan mobilized the best of its Navy to draw out the smaller American carrier fleet for a final showdown designed to destroy the U.S. Navy once and for all. What they didn’t anticipate was the gutsy dive-bombing pilots and gunners whose courage and skill would change the course of World War II.

Drawing on dozens of new interviews and oral histories, author Stephen L. Moore brings to life inspiring stories of individual sacrifice and bravery—and the sweeping saga of one of America’s greatest triumphs.

INCLUDES PHOTOS
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About the author

Stephen L. Moore, a sixth-generation Texan, graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he studied advertising, marketing, and journalism. He is the author of multiple books on World War II and Texas history, including Taming Texas, a biography of his great-great-great grandfather William T. Sadler, who was one of the first Texas Ranger captains in the 1830s. Steve lives north of Dallas in Lantana, Texas, with his wife, Cindy, and their three children.
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Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Jun 3, 2014
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9781101633359
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Aviation
History / Military / Naval
History / Military / World War II
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“Stephen L. Moore offers what will soon be ranked a major military classic... A major, first-rate, authoritative contribution to the literature of WWII.”—Leatherneck 

From the author of Pacific Payback comes the gripping true story of the Cactus Air Force and how this rugged crew of Dive-Bombers helped save Guadalcanal and won the war.

November 1942: Japanese and American forces have been fighting for control of Guadalcanal, a small but pivotal island in Japan’s expansion through the South Pacific. Both sides have endured months of grueling battle under the worst circumstances: hellish jungles, meager rations, and tropical diseases, which have taken a severe mental and physical toll on the combatants. The Japanese call Guadalcanal Jigoku no Jima—Hell's Island.

Amid a seeming stalemate, a small group of U.S. Navy dive bombers are called upon to help determine the island's fate. The men have until recently been serving in their respective squadrons aboard the USS Lexington and the USS Yorktown, fighting in the thick of the Pacific War's aerial battles. Their skills have been honed to a fine edge, even as injury and death inexorably have depleted their ranks. When their carriers are lost, many of the men end up on the USS Enterprise. Battle damage to that carrier then forces them from their home at sea to operating from Henderson Field, a small dirt-and-gravel airstrip on Guadalcanal.

With some Marine and Army Air Force planes, they help form the Cactus Air Force, a motley assemblage of fliers tasked with holding the line while making dangerous flights from their jungle airfield. Pounded by daily Japanese air assaults, nightly warship bombardments, and sniper attacks from the jungle, pilots and gunners rarely last more than a few weeks before succumbing to tropical ailments, injury, exhaustion, and death. But when the Japanese launch a final offensive to take the island once and for all, these dive-bomber jocks answer the call of duty—and try to perform miracles in turning back an enemy warship armada, a host of fighter planes, and a convoy of troop transports.

A remarkable story of grit, guts, and heroism, The Battle for Hell's Island reveals how command of the South Pacific, and the outcome of the Pacific War, depended on control of a single dirt airstrip—and the small group of battle-weary aviators sent to protect it with their lives.


From the Hardcover edition.
A white-knuckle account of the 1st Infantry Division’s harrowing D-Day assault on the eastern sector of Omaha Beach—acclaimed historian John C. McManus has written a gripping history that will stand as the last word on this titanic battle.

Nicknamed the Big Red One, 1st Division had fought from North Africa to Sicily, earning a reputation as stalwart warriors on the front lines and rabble-rousers in the rear. Yet on D-Day, these jaded combat veterans melded with fresh-faced replacements to accomplish one of the most challenging and deadly missions ever. As the men hit the beach, their equipment destroyed or washed away, soldiers cut down by the dozens, courageous heroes emerged: men such as Sergeant Raymond Strojny, who grabbed a bazooka and engaged in a death duel with a fortified German antitank gun; T/5 Joe Pinder, a former minor-league pitcher who braved enemy fire to save a vital radio; Lieutenant John Spalding, a former sportswriter, and Sergeant Phil Streczyk, a truck driver, who together demolished a German strong point overlooking Easy Red, where hundreds of Americans had landed.

Along the way, McManus explores the Gap Assault Team engineers who dealt with the extensive mines and obstacles, suffering nearly a fifty percent casualty rate; highlights officers such as Brigadier General Willard Wyman and Colonel George Taylor, who led the way to victory; and punctures scores of myths surrounding this long-misunderstood battle.

The Dead and Those About to Die draws on a rich array of new or recently unearthed sources, including interviews with veterans. The result is history at its finest, the unforgettable story of the Big Red One’s nineteen hours of hell—and their ultimate triumph—on June 6, 1944.

INCLUDES PHOTOGRAPHS
“[A] truly uplifting tale of deliverance from certain death… a deeply personal read, in which the reader is drawn into the highs and lows of the action, the tragedy and the salvation, because Moore has so successfully drawn out the characters…. Compelling reading and hard to put down.”—Naval History

The heroic story of eleven American POWs who defied certain death in World War II—As Good as Dead is an unforgettable account of the Palawan Massacre survivors and their daring escape.  

In late 1944, the Allies invaded the Japanese-held Philippines, and soon the end of the Pacific War was within reach. But for the last 150 American prisoners of war still held on the island of Palawan, there would be no salvation. After years of slave labor, starvation, disease, and torture, their worst fears were about to be realized. On December 14, with machine guns trained on them, they were herded underground into shallow air raid shelters—death pits dug with their own hands. 

Japanese soldiers doused the shelters with gasoline and set them on fire. Some thirty prisoners managed to bolt from the fiery carnage, running a lethal gauntlet of machine gun fire and bayonets to jump from the cliffs to the rocky Palawan coast. By the next morning, only eleven men were left alive—but their desperate journey to freedom had just begun. 

As Good as Dead is one of the greatest escape stories of World War II, and one that few Americans know. The eleven survivors of the Palawan Massacre—some badly wounded and burned—spent weeks evading Japanese patrols. They scrounged for food and water, swam shark-infested bays, and wandered through treacherous jungle terrain, hoping to find friendly Filipino guerrillas. Their endurance, determination, and courage in the face of death make this a gripping and inspiring saga of survival.
The official nonfiction companion to HISTORY’s dramatic series Texas Rising (created by the same team that made the ratings record-breaker Hatfields & McCoys): a thrilling new narrative history of the Texas Revolution and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers who patrolled the violent western frontier

March 1836: The Republic of Texas, just weeks old, is already near collapse. William Barret Travis and his brave defenders of the Alamo in San Antonio have been slaughtered. Hundreds more Texan soldiers have surrendered at Goliad, only to be marched outside the fortress and executed by order of the ruthless Mexican general Santa Anna, a dictator denying Texans their freedom and liberty.

General Sam Houston—a hard-drinking, hot-tempered opportunist—remains in command of a small band of volunteer colonists, mercenaries, and the newly organized Texas Rangers. They are the last hope for Texas to challenge the relentless advance of Santa Anna’s much larger Mexican Army—yet many of them curse Houston, enraged by his decision to retreat across Texas before the advancing enemy.

The exhausted, outnumbered rebels will meet their destiny on an empty plain near the Gulf Coast next to the San Jacinto River—and make a stand that determines the fate of the young nation. “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!” will be the battle cries, and the order of the day will echo Travis’s at the Alamo: Victory or death.

Acclaimed Texas historian Stephen L. Moore’s new narrative history tells the full, thrilling story of the Texas Revolution from its humble beginnings to its dramatic conclusion, and reveals the contributions of the fabled Texas Rangers—both during the revolution and in the frontier Indian wars that followed.

“[A] truly uplifting tale of deliverance from certain death… a deeply personal read, in which the reader is drawn into the highs and lows of the action, the tragedy and the salvation, because Moore has so successfully drawn out the characters…. Compelling reading and hard to put down.”—Naval History

The heroic story of eleven American POWs who defied certain death in World War II—As Good as Dead is an unforgettable account of the Palawan Massacre survivors and their daring escape.  

In late 1944, the Allies invaded the Japanese-held Philippines, and soon the end of the Pacific War was within reach. But for the last 150 American prisoners of war still held on the island of Palawan, there would be no salvation. After years of slave labor, starvation, disease, and torture, their worst fears were about to be realized. On December 14, with machine guns trained on them, they were herded underground into shallow air raid shelters—death pits dug with their own hands. 

Japanese soldiers doused the shelters with gasoline and set them on fire. Some thirty prisoners managed to bolt from the fiery carnage, running a lethal gauntlet of machine gun fire and bayonets to jump from the cliffs to the rocky Palawan coast. By the next morning, only eleven men were left alive—but their desperate journey to freedom had just begun. 

As Good as Dead is one of the greatest escape stories of World War II, and one that few Americans know. The eleven survivors of the Palawan Massacre—some badly wounded and burned—spent weeks evading Japanese patrols. They scrounged for food and water, swam shark-infested bays, and wandered through treacherous jungle terrain, hoping to find friendly Filipino guerrillas. Their endurance, determination, and courage in the face of death make this a gripping and inspiring saga of survival.
This fourth and final volume of the Savage Frontier series completes the history of the Texas Rangers and frontier warfare in the Republic of Texas era. During this period of time, fabled Captain John Coffee Hays and his small band of Rangers were often the only government-authorized frontier fighters employed to keep the peace.

Author Stephen L. Moore covers the assembly of Texan forces to repel two Mexican incursions during 1842, the Vasquez and Woll invasions. This volume covers the resulting battle at Salado Creek, the defeat of Dawson's men, and a skirmish at Hondo Creek near San Antonio. Texas Rangers also played a role in the ill-fated Somervell and Mier expeditions.

By 1844, Captain Hays' Rangers had forever changed the nature of frontier warfare with the use of the Colt five-shooter repeating pistol. This new weapon allowed his men to remain on horseback and keep up a continuous and deadly fire in the face of overwhelming odds, especially at Walker's Creek. Through extensive use of primary military documents and first-person accounts, Moore sets the record straight on some of Jack Hays' lesser-known Comanche encounters.

For the exacting historian or genealogist of early Texas, the Savage Frontier series is an indispensable resource on early nineteenth-century Texas frontier warfare.

PRAISE FOR SAVAGE FRONTIER VOL IV

"Moore's fourth and final volume of the Savage Frontier series contains many compelling battle narratives, but there is a wealth of social as well as military history lurking in these chapters. No one who is interested in the people and the problems of the Texas Republic can afford to leave these pages unread."--James E. Crisp, author of How Did Davy Die? And Why Do We Care So Much?

"The early 1840s was one of the most turbulent chapters in the history of the lower Rio Grande valley. Readers familiar with earlier volumes in the Savage Frontier series will find much to admire in Steven Moore's eminently readable account."--Sam W. Haynes, author of Soldiers of Misfortune: The Somervell and Mier Expeditions

PRAISE FOR THE SAVAGE FRONTIER SERIES

"An exhaustively researched study of the pervasive violence that confronted the newborn Texas Rangers even in colonial days."--Kent Biffle, Dallas Morning News

"The volumes of Savage Frontier provide exciting action and accurate history. In addition, important genealogical material is given for anyone seeking the role of his or her ancestors in early Texas history."--Chuck Parsons, Texas Ranger Dispatch

"Moore has done an extraordinary job of exhaustively researching his subject. I am not aware of any other book that investigates this period of Ranger history with such thoroughness as Savage Frontier."--Donaly Brice, author of The Great Comanche Raid

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