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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Though Navy torpedo bomber squadrons played a major role in the Allied victory in the Pacific, such units haven't received their due in print, histories of VT squadrons being few and far in between. Gregory Fletcher's newly-published INTREPID AVIATORS, however, presents readers with a rare, detailed portrait of one such squadron - VT-18 - as it waged war across the Pacific in 1944.

In INTREPID AVIATORS, Fletcher, a gifted writer, skillfully weaves three storylines to produce a compelling account of carrier combat in the Pacific. Most prominently, INTREPID AVIATORS is the story of Fletcher's father, Willard M. Fletcher, a VT-18 Grumman Avenger pilot assigned to Air Group 18 on board CV-11 in 1944. Along with describing his father's service with VT-18, Gregory Fletcher details Air Group 18's combat record while on board USS Intrepid. Interwoven with those story elements is Fletcher's account of the ever-evolving American and Japanese strategies that shaped combat in the Pacific, strategies that eventually resulted in Will Fletcher and other Air Group 18 aircrew attacking the Japanese super-battleship Musashi on 24 October 1944 in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea.

Aside from being an exciting account of young men at war, INTREPID AVIATORS furnishes a wealth of information on carrier ops circa 1944, shipboard life, etc. The book shifts back and forth between American and Japanese participants to give an informed and well-rounded picture of unfolding events.

Bottom line: INTREPID AVIATORS is a great read. The reader gets to know Will Fletcher and his squadronmates as living, breathing human beings, young men barely out of their teens who found themselves waging a pitiless war over the vast Pacific distances. INTREPID AVIATORS is a fine tribute to the squadron, air group and the carrier they flew from. Highly recommended.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have a long standing interest in World War Two military aviation and regard this as one of the very best books I've ever read about the subject.The descriptions of carrier flight operations couldn't be more vivid and realistic, and do an excellent job of conveying the stress and tension of the daily lives of the pilots and aircrewmen.
The squadron chronicled in this book richly deserved to have it's story told. Of twenty eight pilots embarked, fifteen won the Navy Cross. One of them was the author's own father, and he deserves great credit for relating his father's exploits with such matter of fact objectivity.The story of the elder Mr. Fletcher's shoot down and eventual rescue practically merits a book of it's own.
I do note a couple of errors that World War Two naval aviators would have caught. Student pilots flew their trainers from the cockpit where they would fly when soloing. In the case of the Stearman, this places the student in the rear cockpit with the instructor up front, not the other way around. Also, the outstanding SNJ trainers flown by the Navy in WW II were built by North American, not Boeing.The two companies were eventually combined in a corporate merger in the 1990s but this was fifty years after the wartime aircraft were built. These minor mistakes are easily corrected in a second printing and would raise an outstanding book almost to the level of perfection.
I wish the author's father could have lived to see the book in print - highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I've seen many movies and read many stories about operations in the Pacific, but I have never read anything quite like this. The author brought the pilots to life and treated them with such respect. I have always know it is difficult to fly from an aircraft carrier, but this book does a great job of explaining the technical side of flying from a ship without boring the reader to tears. There is a great combination of technical detail, individual story lines and overall historical context. Well worth the time to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this work. It is a tribute to all the sailors and naval aviators that served in the Pacific in WWII. The story line delves into the exploits of Torpedo Squadron 18, and into the lives of several of the members of that squadron assigned to the USS Intrepid during the height of the Philippines Campaign of WWII, and in particular the author's father, Willard M. Fletcher. It follows the squadron from inception through the air strikes on the Musashi in the Sibuyan Sea and the battle's aftermath. It gives the reader a picture on a personal level and almost daily basis what these brave young men faced in training, work up, and deployment to combat operations. I recommended this book if you like squadron histories written with a personal flavor by those that were there. It is obviously a product of extensive research and interview with the few surviving members of the squadron.

On the down side, there are a few technical errors that a good military editor should have caught, they are not fatal, but do make you pause to think: did I just read that? One that I remember clearly refers to a 12.7 cm AAA as a 4" gun. It's 5", distracting to the knowledgeable reader none the less. There were several more I noted, but I digress.

If you're interested in naval aviation of WWII, and especially the often obscure exploits of the torpedo bomber squadrons, I think you'll want to read this book. Greg, a nice tribute, I'm sure your father is proud.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Intrepid Aviators takes the reader deep inside the Intrepid's air combat missions with a highly detailed focus on the brave torpedo bombers. Mr. Fletcher practically gives the reader flying lessons with his macro and (more frequently) microscopic descriptions of how the Avenger flew and fought. One quickly comes to identify with and root for the pilots and their crews, whose assignments ranged from challenging to close to impossible. It is easy to feel each casualty personally and to wish it were possible to rewrite history and allow more of these incredible men to return to their families after the war. My one lingering question mark surrounded how the author was able to accumulate the massive amount of mission details and the minute by minute circumstances of his father's crash, rescue, and service with the Filipinos. I saw no mention of a diary or the multiple recountings of his experiences that would seem necessary to capture his experiences so vividly. In any case, the book reads very well and lays out a fascinating piece of U.S. naval history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book is a page turner. One of, if not the best, story of the day to day life of naval aviators fighting the war in the pacific against a determined enemy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
In the fall of 1944, the American Pacific Fleet was poised to do battle with the remnants of the Japanese Navy in Leyte Gulf. The Japanese had divided its fleet into three sections. One of these sections contained the super battleships Musashi and Yamato. In this book, author Gregory G. Fletcher describes how his father Will Fletcher and the other pilots of VT-18 attacked this mighty fleet.

The Japanese fleet had no air cover. Thus, Intrepid's pilots didn't have to face enemy fighters. However, the anti-aircraft fire coming from the enemy ships was thick and accurate. Will Fletcher managed to drop his torpedo on the Musashi, but he was shot down. Will's crew members didn't survive. Will eventually made his way into the hands of the Philippine guerrillas and fought with them until he was rescued along with twenty-nine other American fliers by an American submarine. Over the course of several days, the Japanese lost several ships, including Musashi, to American aircraft. Had this fleet not been stopped, the Leyte invasion beaches would have been wide-open to attack.

This book not only describes VT-18's action against Musashi, but also describes the pilot training Will and the other pilots went through. Other battles that Intrepid fought in are discussed, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the invasion of the Palaus.

I found "Intrepid Aviators" to be an interesting and informative read. Greg Fletcher does a good job of describing VT-18's attack on Musashi as well as his father's downing and subsequent rescue. There are some inaccuracies in the book, however. Overall, though, this is a good book and I enjoyed reading it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This story was about a friend of mine who grew up in the same town as I did and he married my very good friend. Greg did a wonderful writing a book about his father. I thoroughly enjoyed it. and share it with my friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This historically fact-based book was written by a former US Navy pilot who's father, Ensign Will Fletcher, is detailed in the book. The story line, in part, is geared towards the naval aviator -- and history buffs of WWII; Pacific Theater. The first 200 pages were filled with a lot of minutia and jargon used by the Navy flyboys, but don't let that thwart you, as the last 100 pages definitely make up for it. The harrowing exploits and the ability to survive against all odds were amazingly documented. The storyline delves into some islands that I've had the pleasure of visiting while stationed at Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines, ie. Mindoro, Cebu and Mactan to name a few. The Visayan Islands, particularly Panay, Samar, Leyte, and the Tablas Strait made for some great reading. Thanks to you Greg, (and your father), for aggregating such a great literary snapshot of this time in history. Truly a must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I really enjoyed the book. The author's father was a naval aviator and flew many missions in the Avenger torpedo bomber during WWII. The author himself is a former naval aviator, and explains well aviation terms and the life of what these pilots went through in a very coherent manner. He really conveys to the reader the extreme danger and horror these crews endured during combat against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater in WWII. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading non-fiction books of this genre. It was very entertaining and a good lesson in history from that important time period.
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