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First Blue: The Story of World War II Ace Butch Voris and the Creation of the Blue Angels Paperback – Bargain Price, April 4, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Opening with a graphic account of a mid-air collision, this bio of Voris, who founded the Navys famed aerial acrobatic team, gets the job done, but without the groups pluck and aplomb. Before the founding, Voris flew two combat tours as a fighter pilot in the South Pacific, from 1942 to 1944. Among the numerous descriptions of his wartime experiences, the book includes accounts of his first landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier, his first aerial combat and his participation in the aerial melee known as "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot"in which 300 hundred Japanese planes were shot down. Wilcox (Black Aces High) presents vivid interviews with Voris himself about this period ("This voice... came on the radio and said Shut up and die like a man. ...Thats the kind of attitude people had... Shut up. We got our own fight to deal with..."). In April 1946, Voris was tapped, as part of a Navy postwar public relations campaign, to form the Navys flight exhibition teamThe Blue Angels. A landing gear collapse upon landing, the use of a captured Japanese Zero fighter for simulated aerial dogfights, and the death of one of his wartime comrades who crashed into the ground during air show acrobatics are all covered, along with the recruitment and the development of acrobatic maneuvers. Relinquishing command of the Blue Angels in 1947, Voris did stints in Korea, with the re-formed Angels, and later worked for Grumman and NASA. His mid-century pilots life comes through loud and clear here, as does the Navys internal workingsand those marvelous planes.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Ray Marlin "Butch" Voris joined the U. S. Navy during preparations for World War II. He became a fighter pilot who fought in three campaigns and ended as an ace with eight kills. After the war, when Admiral Nimitz proposed the precision flying team that became the Blue Angels, Voris served twice as its leader. During the second stint, which followed a tour of duty in Korea, he survived a disastrous midair collision to retire as a captain. His service to his country wasn't over, however, for he went to work for Grumman aircraft on the development of the F-14 Tomcat and the lunar lander, and his career ended at NASA. Wilcox is a master of aviation history, research, and the declarative sentence. Employing those attainments, he has produced a solid, readable biography of an outstanding member of the group of junior officers who were on WWII's front lines and gave further service after the war without receiving the honors they deserved. In the case of Butch Voris, consider that lack remedied. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The Butch Voris story deserves 5 stars but the writing and construction of First Blue is a bit stilted. There are even some errors regarding technical information not to mention gratuitious foreshadowing of Voris' as founder of the Blue Angels. Both were unnecessary and unfortunate.
That said, if you want to learn about a truly great Naval Aviator and leader, read this book.
How did they start? How have they endured for 58 years since their founding in 1946? What basic tenets underpin their success?
This, and much more, is the subject of a new book, "First Blue: The Story of World War II Ace Butch Voris and the Creation of the Blue Angels" by Bob Wilcox. This Book should appeal to anyone who has felt the thrill of aviation in their veins while watching a Blue Angels air show. It should also appeal to a broader audience. With a great story to tell, Wilcox has crafted a stirring naval action narrative that often reads like an adventure novel-covering Voris' entire life. The story ranges from heroic, tragic, humorous to absurd, but is always spellbinding.
Today Butch Voris is one of approximately 70 inductees in the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor in Pensacola, Fl. When he was selected to start the Navy Flight Demonstration Team, he was only a 26 year old, Pacific veteran and ace, a fighter pilot passing along the hard lessons learned in WWII by teaching tactics at NAS Jacksonville. With the war over, the Navy, worried about recruitment, decided they needed something special to attract positive attention for recruiting purposes.
The years before the war had seen military flight demonstration teams come and go. There was trepidation about starting another because the nation was reaping a peace dividend and Congress might see an air show enterprise as superfluous. The Navy decided to go ahead anyway. Voris was told to take his startup practices out over the Everglades so that if there were any crashes, only the alligators would know. Resources were initially limited to those on hand in the training command.
What magic has carried the Blue Angels from these humble beginnings to world renown? How did a newly minted LCDR, a product of the NavCad Program, with only two years of college education, come to be selected as the first leader of the Blues.? "First Blue" succinctly covers the events that shaped Voris in the crucible of the Pacific War and prepared him, after little more than five years Navy service, to create the Blue Angels and the Blue Angel culture of success.
After seeing a naval aviation recruiting poster, he started his career in early 1941. By fall 1942, he was on the Enterprise in some of the darkest days of the Pacific War. He participated in several of the Naval Actions in the Battle for Guadalcanal. Voris also flew to Guadacanal, became part of the vaunted "Cactus Air Force," shot down his first Japanese Zero, was in turn shot down, nearly dying in the process.
But he survived and came back for a second cruise with Hornet and the fast carriers in 1944 as they hit Tarawa, Guam, Iwo Jima, Chi Chi Jima and other islands through the Central and North Pacific. He was involved in several key battles like the Battle of the Philipine Sea including key subplots the Marianas "Turkey Shoot" and the "Mission into Darkness." He is credited with eight air to air victories over Zeros during two tours along with some amazing flying feats like participating in the Navy's first night fighter squardron.
Through this intense combat, he got to work for and with some of the finest leaders the US Navy has ever produced. O'Hare, Flately, Dean, Clark, and Thatch to name a few. This on the job training, coupled with a solid family upbringing, provided a lifetime of leadership training. This proved to be invaluable, along with Voris' passion for perfection and amazing flying skills, in forming the Blues.
Applying these basic tenets of leadership and organizational development almost by instinct, Voris created an organization that is an extension of the Navy's finest WWII aviation leaders, with the excellence and momentum to sustain, adapt and improve over time. Teamwork; competitive spirit; demanding and accepting only the best from personnel and equipment; striving for perfection with true dedication and a real sense of urgency ; learning from every show, practice and team member; never being satisfied: and perhaps most important, leading by example from the front, but with a sense of confident, humbleness. The Blue Angels represent the best the Navy has to offer. Voris planned it that way. "First Blue" tells this definitive Blue Angel story well.
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Interesting read on one of the seminal figures of Naval Aviation.Read more