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This great book brings the reader into the mind of a young, green pilot who had nothing going for him but guts, a desire to serve his country, and an uncanny instinct for making death-defying, split-second decisions when defeat seemed imminent. Ford's was the first American squadron to land on the island of Papua New Guinea. Only nineteen years old and having never flown in battle, he was soon (within hours) thoroughly initiated into a world where daily, he and his crew would be the recipients of enemy fire on the ground and in the air, where they were outnumbered by Japanese Zeros by up to 10 to 1. They were there to supply and reinforce Allied infantry and to evacuate wounded and dead Australian ground troops who were tragically, often outnumbered 200 to 1 on the Kokoda Trail. Within the first year, Ford's squadron suffered a 35% casualty rate—the highest in World War II.

None of the 6th Troop Carrier Squadron (6th TCS) pilots knew where they were when they landed in New Guinea on 13 October 1942, with their thirteen, unarmed C-47 aircraft. After parking their planes, the pilots were told, "If you survive after getting shot down, look out for sharks, be aware of alligators when crossing rivers, and yes, there are still many cannibals in New Guinea—if they catch you, they'll eat you. Don't forget the headhunters. If the Japs don't find you, the mosquitos certainly will. You'll have no radio or map—you'll be on your own. Good luck. Now get your trenches dug quickly. The enemy knows you've arrived, we'll be under a full-scale bombing attack in less than two hours."

This "Diary" is a first-hand testimony from the man who was awarded six Distinguished Flying Crosses and flew 385 combat missions in two wars—the most in any U.S. military career prior to the Vietnam Conflict. Major Ernest C. Ford writes this firsthand, blow-by-blow account delivers an overdose of adrenalin-laced battle scenes along with insightful reflections on war, Army-brass, enemies, survival strategy, flying, and faith.


ISBN: 978-097925839-8

394 pages, paperback

Includes 81 rare photos taken by the author, five maps, and eight charts, tables, and documents.

Copies available at book stores and

More publicity materials, images, and documents available at the publisher's web site,

or by calling 916.784.0500.

Suggested retail price: $17.95



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This page first produced 19 December 2010

This page last updated 27 February 2020