Second lieutenant Dick Curtis arrived in Italy in May 1944–twenty years old and part of a shipment of P-51 Mustang fighter pilots so desperately needed that they were rushed into combat with less than thirty hours of flight time in their new high-performance aircraft.
Six of the twelve pilots assigned to the 52nd Fighter Group were shot down in the first two weeks. By his ninth mission, Curtis was the only one still flying. A maverick, he barely escaped court-martial with his high-flying antics. Escorting bombers sent to pound heavily defended oil fields was risky enough, but strafing the enemy supply lines, ports, and airfields was even more dangerous. Curtis may chalk up his success to dumb luck, but these missions took exceptional skill and courage. This hair-raising account captures the air war in all its split-second terror and adrenaline-pumping action.
“The strength of our democracy lies in the wide variety of leaders and heroes we produce at all levels. This story is a wonderful example!”
–Joseph S. Nye, Jr., dean of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and author of The Paradox of American Power