Hey, Since I took such a long break from posting, I need to do a bit of back-writing. It’s been a while since I recommended a book, and I read some humdingers in the last year. One sticks out particularly in my mind: A Higher Call by Adam Makos.
2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown and his crew were aboard their B-17 bomber (“Ye Olde Pub”) in their first bomb run to destroy an aircraft production facility in Bremen on December 20th, 1943. Before the plane could release its payload, flak from anti-aircraft fire hit the plane and took out two of its engines, forcing it to throttle down and drop behind the formation of B-17s, making it a target for the enemy fighters which were mobilizing to repel the attack.
Those enemy fighters, over a dozen German 109 fighter jets, swarmed the crippled B-17 and attacked in a series of manuevers for about ten minutes before disengaging, during which a third engine was lost, the tail gunner was killed, the planes systems thrown into complete disarray, and Charlie passed out. He awoke to find the plane in a dive and managed to right it at 100o ft.
Charlie now had a choice to make: he could try to make it back to base by flying over the northern coast of Germany out over the sea and toward England, or he and his remaining men could parachute out of their severely damaged plane and hope that the Luftwaffe would find them, rather than the SS. Given that some of his men were too badly wounded to survive a parachute drop, he decided on the much more risky flight home, knowing the odds of their survival were slim flying over Germany’s coast with its anti-aircraft defenses.
Shortly before reaching the heavily fortified coast, another German 109 came upon the limping bomber. With 8 of her 11 guns taken out, the crew of Ye Olde Pub were defenseless against the smaller craft, and could not even perform evasive maneuvers. Charlie Brown was desperate, and sure that death had come to them at last. Strangely, then, the German pilot did not fire. He instead flew in formation with the American vessel, ensuring safe passage past the ground defenses who saw the outline of the German plane and did not fire on either aircraft. The German pilot flew wingtip to wingtip with the B-17 until they were safely out over the sea before saluting a mystified Charlie Brown and peeling away back toward Germany.
Well-written and compelling from start to finish, this book may be one of the best I’ve ever read. The events I’ve just described form the crux of the book (It’s all on the back cover, so I haven’t given anything away), but the backgrounds of both the German and the American pilot are what make this story so engaging. A friend complained to me not long ago that we’re now being inundated with WW2 stories, but if they’re all as heroic and selfless as this one, then there is a reason for the wealth of novels, biographies, and movies coming to us from that era. I highly recommend this book to anyone. It’ll inspire you and even encourage your faith, if you’ve eyes to see it.
A Higher Call is definitely a must-read. Let me know what you think.