Tempered Steel: The Three Wars of Triple Air Force Cross Winner Jim Kasler


Perry Luckett and Charles Byler have written the first biography of Col. James Kasler, who is the only three-time recipient of the Air Force Cross, the second highest medal for wartime valor. Kasler served as an eighteen-year-old B-29 tail gunner in World War II, became a legendary jet ace in Korea, and was so famous in Vietnam that he was known by name in the White House. Major General Hoyt Vandenberg put Kasler, along with Chuck Yeager and Robbie Risner, as "head and shoulders...

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Perry Luckett and Charles Byler have written the first biography of Col. James Kasler, who is the only three-time recipient of the Air Force Cross, the second highest medal for wartime valor. Kasler served as an eighteen-year-old B-29 tail gunner in World War II, became a legendary jet ace in Korea, and was so famous in Vietnam that he was known by name in the White House. Major General Hoyt Vandenberg put Kasler, along with Chuck Yeager and Robbie Risner, as "head and shoulders above the rest as stick-and-rudder pilots."

Kasler planned and led the most effective bombing mission of the Vietnam War. He was shot down and had to endure six and a half years of torture in a POW camp. His courage under those brutal conditions earned him the respect of such men as John McCain and James Stockdale. This book captures the essence of a genuine American hero who fought in three wars and traces the history of the U.S. Air Force during its formative period.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“I was privileged to serve in the company of heroes . . . like Jim Kasler. They were the ones who sustained me.”

“Jim Kasler is an indestructible man who persevered over death.”

“Experience the deeds and thoughts of a remarkable hero.”

"James Helms Kasler won three Air Force Crosses, the only man in history to do so, and is thus a hero to the third power. His life is told in powerful terms in this excellent biography, which benefits greatly from having two highly qualified writers and researchers as authors."

“This is not your usual run of the mill biography. This is the story of a warrior. There are many types in the military: diplomats, politicians, sycophants, citizen soldiers, patriots, war lovers, otherwise unemployable, etc. They are all needed and, with good leadership, most perform well under stress. But, surprising as it may seem, the warriors are marked by their rarity. Jim Kasler is a WARRIOR.

Having been a POW with Jim and being an aviator (Navy), I can verify that this account is reliable, factual, and even-handed. It doesn't try to tell any one else's story but Jim's own. It is not a revisionist history. It pulls no punches. It tells it like it is (was). It makes you proud to be an American. Thank God Jim Kasler was on our side.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574888348
  • Publisher: Potomac Books
  • Publication date: 3/31/2005
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 793,495
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Perry D. Luckett, Ph.D. is a retired Air Force officer and professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is the author or editor of many articles and fourteen other books, including Charles A. Lindbergh: A Bio-Bibliography. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Charles L. Byler is the author of After Nam: A Police Story. He lives in Boyertown, Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
Acknowledgments ix
Prelude xiii
1 The Child Is Father of the Man 1
2 Two Loves: Martha and Aviation 17
3 Korean War Ace 27
4 Testing, Training, and Danger 39
5 From Canada to Cuba 55
6 Cold War Duty in Europe 71
7 New War, New Rules 85
8 Shoot-Down and Capture 103
9 Tempering in Hanoi's Fiery Furnace 123
10 The Light of Freedom 173
11 Home 193
12 Businessman and Citizen 219
Afterword 235
Appendix A Personal Reflections 237
Appendix B Military Decorations 257
Selected Bibliography 259
Index 263
About the Authors 271
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2005

    Fine Biography Tells a Warrior's Story

    The telling of Col (ret) James H. Kasler's story is long overdue. Perry Luckett and Charles Byler have crafted an excellent biography that recounts the military career of this highly decorated warrior and conveys the strength of his character, exemplified by 'tempered steel.' Tempered Steel is a documentary of one of the key figures of the U.S. Air Force's early years who spent more than six years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Its third-person style is comfortable and reminiscent of a group of warriors sitting around the Officers Club, telling stories. Luckett and Byler focus on Kasler's POW experiences and detail his torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese, such that the reader gains renewed respect for Kasler and his fellow POWs. The pages devoted to Kasler's post-Vietnam life concentrate more on his personality and character, and how the POW experience changed the man emotionally and physically. An added bonus is the Appendix, where Col Kasler gives his personal views on a myriad of subjects, from Vietnam to the present-day conflict in Southwest Asia, from family to character. These reflections of a battle-tested warrior are fascinating. His comments on 'Honesty and Integrity' and 'Honor and Dignity' should be mandatory reading for every leader. Kasler's words reflect what should be the central tenets of all leadership and character training. The only critical observation I have about this biography is that the reader may sometimes want more information and detail. Photographs and illustrations are used sparingly. Maps would greatly benefit the reader during discussions of missions in Korean and Vietnam. Also, the story is told with a certain amount of restraint appropriate for a man who believes that he did nothing extraordinary -- that he was only doing his duty. Consequently, some of the most intriguing details of Kasler's personal experiences are gracefully omitted. This approach doesn't weaken the story it just leaves the reader wanting more. In the 'Afterword' Admiral James Stockdale calls Jim Kasler 'an indestructible man' who survived because of his 'tremendously strong character.' This book's lessons are timeless and extremely applicable to today's military and political environment. This incredible story is a must-read for everyone interested in leadership, military history, and the strength of human character.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2005


    Just finished reading about Col: James H. Kasler's USAF career, serving in three wars and recieving the following: Three USAF Crosses, Two Silver Stars, Legion Of Merit, 9 Distinguished Flying Crosses, Two Bronze Stars, one with 'V' for Valor, Two Purple Hearts, Eleven Air Medals, and a total of seventy-six military awards,and a Korean, 'ACE'. This total places him high among the one hundred most decorated soldiers or airmen in U.S history: A heroic American who also spent six years, and eight months as a POW, in Vietnam. I need not say anything further....A must read for all........ Americans

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