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Combat Crew: The Story of 25 Combat Missions Over Europe From the Daily Journal of a B-17 Gunner

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author served as flight engineer and gunner in a B-17 crew during World War II, flying from bases in England and Italy. In this memoir he confines himself to describing the 25 missions he took part in that were launched from Ridgewell Airdrome outside of London. Although the problems and terrors from flight to flight were often similarGerman fighters and flak barrages, engine troubles and oxygen failureseach mission, as he describes it, takes on a quality of its own. Much of the drama is conveyed through Comer's reconstruction of intercom dialogue, and though some of the characters seem stereotypical (the con artist, the clown, the Brooklynite, etc.) they nevertheless come across as real people. Comer casually mentions the development of his psychic ability to discern which of his comrades were doomed. He also discusses the phenomenon of combat burnout, using his own case as an example. Despite his fatigue, he volunteered to return to combat after an interim tour of duty in the States and flew 50 more missions. Comer, now a retired sales manager, lives in Texas. (February 16)
Library Journal
Former B-17 crewman Comer kept diaries of his 25 missions over Europe from 1943 to 1944, and has finally assembled them into an authentic, vivid picture of the day-to-day life of the bomber crews of the Eighth Air Force. He was on both the August 17, 1943 raid to Schweinfurt and the Stuttgart raid of September 6 in which 45 planes, one aircraft in seven, did not return. Here are flak and humdrum duties, near misses, and the bitter cold at altitude, the anguish of losing friends, the transformation from anxious newcomer to cautious veteran, and the awe at watching one of the greatest air battles of history from a Flying Fortress. Valuable perspectives here on some pivotal events in the war, and something on the toughness of the human spirit.Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671676131
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 11/15/1989
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(5)

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Absolutely compelling...couldn't put it down.  With the passage

    Absolutely compelling...couldn't put it down.  With the passage of time, those who lived through these dramatic and desperate air battles are reaching the end of their lives.  Only they could tell the real story.  Not stylized or embellished historical fiction, but the true picture. Reading a book like this is both inspiring and a bit horrifying at the same time.  We should never forget what these "citizen soldiers" did for us, and Mr. Comer has done a great job getting it down on paper for us all. 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    Worth your time

    A story about how young men dealt with their emotions and the
    politics of war.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Recommended.

    I found the book to be interesting and informative. The author was a flight engineer and gunner on a B17. He provides a very raw view of what it was like to the fly the skies of Europe in a B17 during World War II. His depiction of his crew mates, and the bombing mission he flew in the early days of the 8th Air Force were enlightening. These were the days well before long distance fighters provided cover protection for the bombers. His description of the bombing missions are gripping. He gives one a good idea of the hopes and fears of a crew member.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2014

    The most dangerous job in the Allied forces

    About two days after I found out my girlfriend's dad was a belly gunner on an American heavy bomber in WWII, B&N brought this book to my attention. Needless to say, it was a must-read for me. Because of my profession (history teacher), I already knew a fair amount about the American bombers of WWII. However, this book gave those heroes, and I do mean heroes, faces. The only short-coming was the fore-knowledge that the author survived the war in order to write this fantastic book. Other than that, you were right there in the planes and the hut and the town with these guys, and you never knew who was going to die the next day and who was not. In that way, it was riveting. I highly recommend this book, especially to those who think football players and movie stars are heroes. THESE people were heroes!

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  • Posted September 12, 2013

    Really a great  book that tells you the ¿inside¿ story of was it

    Really a great  book that tells you the ‘inside’ story of was it was like to fly a B-17 over Germany ..    felt 
    like I was flying with them.  Very enjoyable to read if you’re a WWII history   buff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013

    I've read a great deal of second hand accounts about the 8th AF

    I've read a great deal of second hand accounts about the 8th AF in WWII, so when I found
    a book based on first hand experiences, I was bought it.
    You see everything John Comer saw from training, to the 25th mission.
    His detail and graphic descriptions of combat took any glamor out of war.
    The boredom and loneliness between missions is captured so well, I empathized
    with him.
    Well worth reading and sharing with the youth of America.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    Outstanding

    An unvarnished story of the young men on a B17in WW2.
    Told from a first person perspective about the terror and humor
    these young men felt while literally saving the world.
    A great book that is hard to put down.

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    Great Read

    I am a History Buff, and this gets right to the heart of the matter. No Fluff just the details. Well written and such an engrossing read to see what they went through on those missions. I don't think the current generation would be able to hack this. As someone said "The Greatest Generation" and they were right.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013

    Great Book

    Extroidinary perspectve of what teorror over Germany was like in a 10 man, B-17 crew; remarkable read!






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    Posted December 16, 2012

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    Posted February 1, 2013

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    Posted August 17, 2013

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    Posted September 16, 2013

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