As a young boy growing up in Atlanta, playing with his model airplanes, Cecil Alexander dreamed of one day becoming an ace pilot. Fresh out of Yale University, he found himself stationed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean as third in command of the famous Ace of Spades Marine Air Corps squadron. There he flew 60 dive-bombing missions and was twice honored with the Distinguished Flying Cross. Days of heart-stopping aerial missions were separated by long stretches of doldrums, trying to find ways to stay motivated to carry on. In this book, Alexander describes in detail just what it was like for him, shooting in and out of towering clouds, aiming the nose of his plane straight down at the unforgiving sea, pulling out of the dive at precisely the right moment. He writes too of his personal life his marriage to his young bride, Hermi, just before shipping out overseas, the characters he met along the way. The volume ends with a poignant return to the Marshall Islands, four decades after having served there. The rest of his life, as an architect, civil rights advocate and civic leader of Atlanta, Georgia, his home town, has been no less fascinating than his war years. Alexander tells the whole story, including this one, The War Years , in Crossing The Line: The Awakening of a Good Ol' Boy, also available on Amazon.
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About the Author
Cecil A. Alexander, Jr. (b. 1918) aFellow with the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), a recipient of the AIA Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award and recipient of the Philip Trammel Schutze Award from Georgia Tech, is a prominent Atlanta architect.
Cecil is married to Helen Eisemann Alexander, mother of four children and grandmother of eight. His first wife, Hermione Weil, whom he married in 1943, was killed in a 1983 collision with a drunk driver. Cecil and Hermi had three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
He was a Marine Corps aviator, having flown the SBD Dauntless dive bomber (and later the Corsair) in the Marshall Islands during World War II. He studied architecture at Yale, and later received the The Yale Medal. At graduate school at Harvard, he studied under Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer,some of the founders of the Bauhaus Movement in modern architecture.
Cecil, a member of the Jewish community, was born and raised in Atlanta. His ancestors fought during the Revolutionary War and for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
After flying 60 dive bombing missions with the USMC,Cecil stood up in the Civil Rights movement, working with Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. to quell race riots which were threatening to break out, serving on the Mayor's Housing Resource Committee and the Committee to Mediate Racial Unrest. In 1982, he formed the Atlanta Black Jewish Coalition with U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). Cecil Alexander risked his life and livelihood to bring about positive change.