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We Bought a WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of A Michigan High School a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway! Paperback – July 30, 2015
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"A fascinating, little known story about the home front in World War 2. All students of History should take note about what can be done when one puts their mind to it." - Donald M. Goldstein, Ph.D., Co-author of At Dawn We Slept and Miracle At Midway
"I read Sandra's book. It is well written and researched. I recommend it for the history, the human faces and stories, and the superb writing." - Julie Murphy, Ph.D. Licensed Professional Counselor
"Can a group of high school students change the course of history? They could-and did-during World War II when they persuaded their school and town to help them raise money to buy two planes and several landing craft. This exciting story, in a time when we all helped each other and when brave young men fought to preserve freedom, tells of a harrowing final flight of the bomber that they bought." - James T. Webb, Ph.D., President of GreatPotential Press, anamateur historian, and a civilian pilot with 4,000+ hours of flight time.
"...You have published this book at a time in life when our national spirit is low...Maybe this book will help ignite 'I'm proud to be an American!'" - Sallee Wiltrakis Ballard, SHS Class of 1962
"Thank you for writing We Bought A WWII Bomber. I gave it to my 95-year old father for his birthday. The book prompted him to speak of his WWII experiences for the first time. My brother and I sat mesmerized for over two hours amazed to learn all he had lived through." - Bruce Fisher, Son of a WWII Veteran
"Sandra Warren's account of one 'special' B-17 bomber that crashed in the tiny mountain community of Meadows of Dan near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southern Virginia is nothing short of remarkable. Her dedication to uncovering the full story of along neglected piece of local history here is praiseworthy, but her extensiveresearch highlights the overall story of national unity in support of World War II on the home front as well." - John Reynolds, Patrick County Historical Society, VA
"I was a nine year old child in London in 1944 and my family and friends all thought Americans had lots of extra food because they sent it to us. We, the English, were starving because of the German U-boat raids. I'm shocked to learn that Americans sacrificed so that we could eat!" - Frederick Hardy, Charlotte, NC
"When I was seven years old, I attended the dedication of 'The Spirit of South High.' Following graduation, I became a Naval Aviator logging over 15,000 hours of flight time. I can well empathize with the B-17 crew having myself survived a night ditching in a large,underpowered aircraft similar to the B-17.The final chapter of 'The Spirit of South High' has been written. It is a great story of community commitment and the story of those crew members that have to fly these aircraft." - Richard J. Van Gemert, South High School Class of 1954, Governor, International Flight Safety Association, Recipient, John Doswell Award from the National Business Aircraft Association for lifetime achievement in aviation.
From the Author
This book was a labor of love. From the very beginning through the entire process, facts, sometimes hard to believe, unfolded before me in a timely fashion. When I needed a bit of information, the telephone would ring and the person on the other end would have what I was looking for or would direct me where to look. The people in Michigan and Virginia were all so willing to give up their time to answer questions and give their side of the story. I felt honored to meet folks eager to share their story, who were children during World War II, and speak to "The Spirit of South High's" pilot and one of the co-pilots, both 99-years young. I feel privileged to have been able to preserve this little known story from home front America during World War II.
If ever a book was charmed, it's this one. I do hope you enjoy it.
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1. Sandra did a great deal of research. The amount of details in this book for adults and teens is reflected in the extensive bibliography.
2. Today's teenagers are different than the patriotic, self-sacrificing teenagers who lived seventy years ago. Those students learned how to live with shortages of food, how to collect materials that could be re-purposed for the war effort, and willingly participated in scrap metal drives and rationing. Would we see that type of commitment and patriotism today?
3. I knew that Kate and Lillie, the protagonists in my book, Half-Truths, would have been in elementary school during World War II. Reading this book made the time period come alive for me and helped me think more deeply about how those shortages affected them.
WE BOUGHT A WWII BOMBER is the story of a dedicated group of junior and senior high students who raised more than $375,000 by selling War Bonds and War Stamps to purchase a B-17 bomber. The story begun in 1942 by a quiet student, Arthur Blackport, when he suggested that his fellow students at South High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan work together to purchase a Flying Fortress.
Not only did the students raise enough money to purchase the bomber, but they also successfully raised money to buy an advanced trainer plane,as well as two disaster vehicles (which were a combination canteen, ambulance, and hospital car), and sixty-three fully equipped landing barges.
After the bomber was officially christened and flown off, the students wondered what happened to it. "How many battles had it won? How many German or Japanese planes had it destroyed?" (p. 49)
For seventy years no one knew what happened to the plane. The students heard rumors, but no facts. But in 2012, at her Class of 1962 fiftieth South High reunion, a remark which Sandra Warren made about "Searching for the Spirit" prompted a fellow classmate, Joe Rogers, to start digging for the truth.
Joe uncovered the fate of "The Spirit of South High" which enabled Sandra to write this story.
Sandra's attention to detail made this period come alive for me and I hope the book will inspire you. I am happy to give away my autographed copy of WE BOUGHT A WWII BOMBER. Please leave me a comment by 6 PM on Thursday, January 21 and your email address if you are new to this blog.
It happened thanks to the leadership of a bunch of schoolkids and teachers.
Over a remarkably short time, enough money was raised to fund two airplanes (one a $300,000 bomber), two rescue vehicles and several landing barges.
Sandra Warren has done impeccable historical research, with references for each fact cited, and interesting photographs, but this is not a scholarly work. Rather, it is a very readable, inspiring account of the power of cooperation and the nobleness of the human spirit.
In 1942/43, America was at war. Sandra has described how people gave and gave and sacrificed with joy, because they had meaning and purpose. Today, although there are many wars, we face a far worse enemy. We are officially in the sixth extinction event of this planet, and all complex life is endangered. And when we unravel the web of life, we also fall through the hole.
I wish all of us, of whatever political persuasion, could do what the people in Sandra’s story did, and combine into a generous collective in an effort to save a future.