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At age twelve, he hunted with his father to put food on the table, and as a teenager, he saved enough money to open his own sporting goods store. While he was in college in Los Angeles, Pearl ...
At age twelve, he hunted with his father to put food on the table, and as a teenager, he saved enough money to open his own sporting goods store. While he was in college in Los Angeles, Pearl Harbor was attacked, and Knudsen was inspired to work for the war effort, taking the night shift at Lockheed Aircraft.
After being turned down by the navy for health reasons, he volunteered to be drafted immediately, and after basic training, he passed the flight physical for the Air Corps cadets. He was among twenty-five graduates sent to Randolph Field, Texas, for Instructors' School, and then instructed in twin-engine aircraft before going to Columbus, Ohio, for B-17 Transition School, where he was told he was in line to be a B-29 Super Fortress first pilot. However, he needed to clock 250 hours of four-engine time first. By the time he accrued these hours, the Japanese had surrendered.
Knudsen's sharp sense of detail and his hilarious retelling of anecdotes make for a thoroughly enjoyable and always surprising read. From his tales of the mean girl in Great Falls who bit her own dog to his decision during pilot training to paint murals in the latrine to get out of close order drill practice to the time he flew in the face of an approaching hurricane with a drunk copilot and an oxygen hose in his mouth, Knudsen's keen eye for the absurd and his knack for frankness make this book a wonderful document of a bygone time. His behind-the-scenes retelling of pilot training and instruction offers insight into the army of yesteryear and demonstrates the still-relevant courage and commitment of American men and women in uniform.
John James Knudsen has won twenty-three national awards from Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, "America's School for Citizenship Education," and he is a member of his local chapter of Silver Wings Fraternity, a group of pilots who have soloed more than twenty-five years. A five-decade-long member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Knudsen was selected over twenty times for inclusion in Pelican's Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year Series. This is his first book.
Mr. Knudsen and his wife live in San Diego, California.