Middlebrook places readers inside the cockpit of a B-25 bomber as it races low across enemy skies. Taking excerpts from his war diary, he relives his days of war from the moment he departed the United States until his return. His combat tour began with 15 other pilots and planes on a harrowing trip over the Pacific Ocean, stopping in Hawaii, Christmas Island, Fiji Island and Australia among others. Neither he nor his navigator had over-the-water experience, and in those days there were no radio stations on most of the island airstrips, so it was “flying by the seat of your pants” in the truest sense, Middlebrook explains.
Within an hour of his arrival in New Guinea, Middlebrook flew a mission and would continue to attack airstrips, supply and troop bases, seaports and ships until returning home 18 months later. A few weeks after his initial mission, his plane was converted to a strafer bomber and outfitted with eight .50-caliber machine guns mounted in the nose. He flew 62 missions in all, attacking targets from just 20 feet off the deck, which left his plane exposed to deadly enemy ground fire. Middlebrook relives these missions – from dogfighting Japanese fighter planes to flying through the infernos left in the wake of bombing runs – in stark detail that enables readers to feel every twist, turn and gut-wrenching maneuver of air combat.
“Air Combat at 20 Feet” is a high-flying memoir that reminds people of the sacrifices made by thousands in the name of freedom.
Garrett Middlebrook left law school and joined the Air Force in 1941. He flew 62 missions, many of them from “tree-top height.” He returned home in 1943, became commanding officer of a navigational training squadron and remained on active reserve until 1955. He practiced law for a short period before switching his focus to investing, developing and financing real estate. He also operated a title insurance company for a number of years until retirement. “Air Combat at 20 Feet” is his first book. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Air Medals.
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