Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Steady Nerves & Stout Hearts

Names like Francis Hebal, Herbert Menges and Eric Allen JR may not automatically be easily recognized but you might already know their story. They were some of the US Navy Airmen from the USS Enterprise who flew into Pearl Harbor throughout the day on December 7th 1941. Flying SBD Dauntless and F4F-3 Wildcats they were unfortunate to fly through American and Japanese crossfire and many were shot down by friendly fire.

Steady Nerves and Stout Hearts by Robert Cressman & J Michael Wenger is their story. This 79 page black and white book documents their story on that fateful day in December. What is most valuable about this book is the the plane numbers, their pilots and crew and the fate of each aircraft are documented. Also there are many pictures of the actual aircraft that participated in the action with some aircraft photos taken within weeks of the attack.

The fate of each aircraft, pilot and crew is retold, some stories are humorous, like ENS Jim Daniels III landing Wildcat 6-F-5 at Ford Island but many more stories are painfully sad to read. The last chapter is also devoted to the Navy Airman who survived the ordeal and their later fate in WWII and after.

What is unique about Steady Nerves, Stout Hearts is that it isn't a broad brushed history of Pearl Harbor but a specific story about a handful of Navy Airmen who flew into history and beyond.

A must read if you are a Pearl Harbor modeler or a WWII historian.

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