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by Donald E. Auten

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"Roger Ball! is a magnificent read about a great and distinguished life well lived. John Monroe Smith is a living legend in Naval aviation: an all-American boy living his dream, a dream of becoming the best fighter pilot and carrier aviator in the Navy. He succeeded in being the best in a way that only one with unbridled passion, fierce commitment, boundless…  See more details below


"Roger Ball! is a magnificent read about a great and distinguished life well lived. John Monroe Smith is a living legend in Naval aviation: an all-American boy living his dream, a dream of becoming the best fighter pilot and carrier aviator in the Navy. He succeeded in being the best in a way that only one with unbridled passion, fierce commitment, boundless energy, unconditional dedication and relentless resolve can experience."
-Ed Allen, Rear Admiral, USN (Retired)

In the wake of the hard lessons of the Vietnam War, a pantheon of committed naval aviators struggled valiantly to modernize fighter aircraft and overhaul tactics. It was a seemingly titanic task marked by political intrigue, doctrinal apoplexy, and sadly, petty politics.

This is the personal story of one of those naval aviators, Captain John Monroe "Hawk" Smith. It chronicles his growth as a naval officer, his seasoning as a fighter pilot, and his hardening as a commanding officer. It tells of the raw courage of naval aviators and captures the visceral loyalty, unswerving commitment, and the unsinkable camaraderie that is the brotherhood of naval aviation.

Roger Ball! is a seven-g, heart-in-the-throat story of the very unforgiving profession of naval aviation.

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iUniverse, Incorporated
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ROGER BALL! 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Full disclosure reveals that I have read and submit this review of Roger Ball! as a non-aviator and a civilian who has no military service history. My perspective is outside the box of subject familiarity, but inside the envelope of passionate interest in naval aviation over many decades. I lived and worked in Peru and South Africa for a number of years at NASA-funded satellite tracking facilities. During those years I began a project to build a large model of USS Enterprise CVAN-65. The model and eighty-five embarked aircraft ended up at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, donated and set-up in 1982 'and maintained continuously thereafter' by me. I was a one-man show engaged in the complexity of a modern aircraft carrier. It's been done, but not by many. It was John Monroe Smith and Capt. C.C. Smith Jr. who gave me my first look during a full week visit in late February 1975 aboard Enterprise during the turbulent cruise which endured the 'thump-bang' mystery of F-14 engine breakup, and the heartbreaking loss of South Vietnam in April 1975. It was Hawk who escorted me to the LSO platform for the view of a lifetime. It was Hawk who engaged in small talk with a non-flier. It was Hawk who responded in 1980 after I saw him on ABC's 20/20 discussing the Black Lions and the continuing challenges of coaxing the F-14 to become the best it was designed to be. It was Hawk who compelled me to join Tailhook Association, of which I've been an associate member for nearly 28 years. And, it was Hawk who just recently recalled who I was after our first meeting in the South China Sea in 1975, 32 years later. I have a concept of heroism. A hero is one who has everything to lose, everyone to expose the pain of his loss, and yet goes about a dangerous profession, year in and year out, STICKS to his mission in the face of possible and sudden evisceration, held by a thread to life by skill, cunning, luck and dedication. That's a hero. Not the rock star, nor a politician, rarely a multi-billionaire. Heros are found within the level and vertical battlefields of wars mostly, and also among those with the dedication to improve the humanity of man in places where hostility lurks in countries, boardrooms, firehouses, anywhere that character is essential and practiced, and bold actions are taken selflessly, persistently, at great personal risk. The world might have lost Hawk on many occasions, and we would have to subtract from our experiences all that he contributed during his fortunate long career and great influence as expressed by so many. Donald Auten faced the same level of risk across his own thousands of hours of Navy flying. We would lose the gripping story herein told had he not had the full benefit of a life longer lived. I enjoyed every line, every encapsulated story, the sum of which was a fabric of adventure and an honorable life well lived managing the incredible machinery, the fickle nature of human relations within the ranks, the meddling politicians -both the effective and the intrusive - with sticky noses, the humorous and the humorless, the endurance of Miss Jenny, all put together in a tale of high adventure and much about a very important survival component of our national security. I dare not critique specifics about navy flying, for after all, my aviation experience is limited to taking the stick of my brother's 85 hp Luscombe over the eastern Colorado range and some of the mountain terrain - with my pilot- brother alongside. And yes, perhaps I know a little bit about airplanes and ships. Just permit me to say that this non-flier knows as well as he can the story herein told, even without the Wings of Gold proudly worn by those who know the story all too well. Well done, Duck. Well done, Hawk. It is an honor bestowed on me to be given a chance to see the little I've seen, and rea
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading 'Roger Ball', I feel like I know 'Hawk' and 'Miss Jenny'. A surprisingly easy read on the history of modern Navy fighter tactics. ¿Roger Ball ¿ intertwines the excitement and sacrifices made by our servicemen. A must read for military service schools and war colleges that want a real life look at the finest qualities of leadership
Guest More than 1 year ago
'A SUPERB job capturing a large part of Naval Aviation and how things were done in the 1960's through the 90's. All the many aspects of life in the Navy are captured & explained in such a way that anyone - military or civilian - can understand it. What truly impressed Brenda and me was all the different view points Duck used and how well the storyline is woven together. We get to see things from the cockpit, back & front seat the briefing room, stateroom, homeplate with Ms. Jenny's views, Ass't Maintenance officers desk, LSO platform, Ready Room, XO/CO desk/office, a variety of Naval Air stations & aircraft carriers, liberty ports and operating areas in many parts of the world! WELL DONE!!!!!!! Duck has done a GREAT job of capturing Hawk's innermost thoughts and feelings and laying them out in such a way that you can't wait to get to the next chapter to find out what happens. Well written! 'Roger Ball!' lays it down with such clear, concise terms that everyone who reads it will have a much better appreciation of what Naval Aviation is all about and the contribution it has made to our Nation. Thanks much for doing that & bringing back MANY memories of my 30 years in the Navy - ashore and afloat!'