I first heard about this book several years ago from my brother in law.

This book is about a good Mormon kid (Joe Banks) who served in World War II as part of the flying complement for a B-17 Flying Fortress.

It is one of the most gripping stories I have read about personal experiences in wartime and as a prisoner of war.  It reads like a person just telling their story with no effort at embellishment or exaggeration.  The story stands on its own.

Most of all it explains why so many people who have served in combat situations do no talk about it.  They just don’t.  Without any kind of common frame of reference or experience it is hard to talk about what happened.

I understand that this book has touched many lives and reached out to Latter Day Saints coping with war guilt all these years later.  That under combat situations some extreme actions are called for and necessary.

Joe Banks explained that during his first bombing run he was a little sick because he had never shot at someone with the intent of killing them but when the bullets started flying your gut survival instinct took over and you shot back.  He did not feel bad about it.

The crews were required to fly 50 bombing runs before the crew could be re-assigned to less dangerous roles in logistics, training, or otherwise.  The crew he was with had mostly very few mishaps on many of the flights but toward the end of the 50 flight requirement their plane got into serious mechanical trouble with injuries and damage to the plane.  Joe Banks had to use cut up parachutes to dress all of the wounds to save the lives of his crew members and help the co-pilot land the plane with the help of the one engine that was still running when they landed.

During their last flight before re-assignment they were blown out of the air by a friendly fire incident.  Joe Banks survived and was taken as a prisoner of war.  His experiences were interesting, gruesome, and disheartening.  Through it all he managed to make inspired decisions at the right times and make it back to Allied Lines.  This was toward the end of the war when it was becoming evident that Germany was going to lose the war.

Joe Banks was scarred by his experience and had lingering health problems for the rest of his life due to malnutrition.

I highly recommend this book.  It is a well written story and worth reading.

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