As a young boy living a sheltered life in a predominately Sephardic Jewish enclave in pre-WWII North Africa, Gino Narboni dreamed of a military life in service to his country.
But life has a way of intruding . . . even in the dreams of 13-year-old French youngsters. The opening salvos of WWII could be heard in French North Africa. Germany occupied a defeated France with troops and a compliant Vichy government. Narboni, now 18 and part way through his pre-college exams, was drafted and sent to Algiers as a chauffeur at an army post far from most military action. Answering exiled General Charles de Gaulle’s call for volunteers to join the Free French Forces, Narboni deserted his Vichy unit under the cover of darkness and began an adventure across North Africa by truck, ship and train, ultimately arriving at an unused air base in the mountains of Lebanon. When asked to choose his arms, a choice given to volunteers, Narboni requested pilot training. From those events shaping the start of his aviation career, he went on to serve as a pilot in the U.S., the French and the Israel Air Forces. In 1948-49, he flew as an Overseas Volunteer pilot ferrying planes and parts to help the fledgling state of Israel during the War for Independence.
In 1958, Gino Narboni embarked on a new career path, and after several interruptions completed medical school at the University of Paris. Although his life was shaped by the events of WWII, he never gave up his dream of combining his two loves, aviation and medicine, which he accomplished with a 24-year career in the USAF as a medical corps officer, a chief flight surgeon, and a medical oncologist.
There's much more to his journey . . . at age 90, with the help of his wife, Charlotte, Gino finally told his remarkable story in this memoir.
The newly written third edition includes details of his final years. Gino Narboni passed away July 16, 2016, in San Antonio, Texas, at the age of 92.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A former registered nurse, Charlotte Narboni traveled the world with her husband and two daughters, Nicole and Cecile. She has taught French cooking classes, written weekly newspaper columns on food and travel, worked as a fundraiser for Texas Public Radio and volunteered for numerous civic organizations. This is her first full-length book.