Books by Tom Willard

WINGS OF HONOR by Tom Willard
Released: Jan. 1, 1999

Book Three of the Black Sabre Chronicles, Vietnam vet Willard's 19th novel, carries on an engrossing generational saga about blacks in the military. Buffalo Soldiers (1995) told of black trooper Augustus Sharps (a crack shot named after the long rifle), who's fighting Native Americans and white marauders with the post—Civil War Tenth Cavalry, earns a sergeant major's stripes, and marries the scalped Selona. Augustus's two sons, Adrian and David, go off to OCS; in The Sable Doughboys (1997), they—re holed up in segregated training camps before being posted as lieutenants to the 93rd Division's 372nd Infantry and shipped to France. David dies, while Adrian's son Samuel, in Wings of Honor, endures the famous Tuskegee Experiment of WWII, becomes a pilot, and is sent to fight the Luftwaffe. The story ferries Samuel and his squadron through campaigns in Africa, Sicily, and France as they fly their devil-throated P-40 Warhawks and P-51 Mustangs. These Tuskegee Airmen are also the vanguard who tear down the walls of segregation in the military. Meantime, the wonderfully exciting air battles bear comparison with James Wylie's 1977 Faulknerian classic, The Homestead Grays, about African-Americans of the 1930s who are lighted up by the thunderclap of war to man the secret machines of wizards (prop-driven Mustangs) and at last face Messerschmidt jets over burning Berlin. The first half of the story, however, concerns black life in the States, since the war doesn't come until mid-novel, with Augustus and Selona strongly present. No dimming of the solid style Willard favors. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 28, 1997

An engrossing follow-up to Buffalo Soldiers (1996), the first in a series documenting the black experience in America's postCivil War military. Despite their age, Adrian and David Sharps (who served as youngsters with their sergeant major father in the Army's fin-de- siäcle campaigns throughout Cuba) are allowed to reenlist as officer candidates when the US enters WW I. Along with other young black men, the sons of Augustus (a proud veteran of the 10th Cavalry) and Selona (his strong-willed wife) encounter a discouraging amount of prejudice. Selona and Augustus temporarily leave the family home in Arizona to help their lads over the jumps at a segregated training camp in Des Moines. Posted as lieutenants to the 93rd Division's 372nd Infantry Regiment, the boys ship out for France in the spring of 1918. Upon landing in St. Nazaire, however, the combat-ready troops are lumbered with stevedoring duties on the local docks. Risking courts-martial, Adrian and David besiege the chain of command to secure a battlefield assignment for their men. Fighting Germans alongside a Foreign Legion unit, the Sharps brothers survive the quotidian shocks of trench warfare on the Western Front until the Meuse-Argonne offensive. During this bloody but decisive engagement, David loses his life and Adrian is gravely wounded (albeit not before winning a Croix de Guerre and DSC). Invalided back to the States minus his left arm, Adrian still has the battered sword Augustus presented to him. At the close, in 1943, Adrian passes the weapon on to his own son, who's home on leave after qualifying as an Army Air Corps pilot at Tuskegee Institute. A fine addition to the author's generation-spanning saga, which, without undue fanfare, offers object lessons in such virtues as fidelity, honor, and tradition as well as a full measure of pulse-pounding action. (Radio satellite tour) Read full book review >
Released: June 6, 1996

A veteran paperback author debuts in hardcover with this more- than-promising first in a series on the African-American experience in the US military. Here, Willard tracks the long and eventful life of Augustus Sharps, who rose through the ranks of the Tenth Cavalry during the later half of the 19th century. Saved by black troopers from death in a Great Plains stampede and indentured servitude at the hands of a white hunter who had bought him from his erstwhile captors, the Kiowa, Augustus signs on with the Army as a teenager in 1869. He and his fellow buffalo soldiers (so called by the Cheyenne for their wiry hair) played an important role in America's drive to fulfill its ``manifest destiny.'' Assigned to remote hardship posts on the westering frontier, they protected settlers against marauding whites (known as comancheros) and Indians vainly attempting to defend themselves and their way of life from extinction. Along his upwardly mobile way, Augustus (a crack shot with the long rifle from which he took his surname) survives frequent clashes with red men on battlefields from Kansas to New Mexico, earns a sergeant major's stripes, endures the opprobrium of homesteaders not overly fond of black troops, and marries a good woman who was scalped by renegade Texas Rangers. Augustus also meets the legendary likes of Wild Bill Hickok and George Armstrong Custer. Toward the close of his career, Augustus is in the vanguard of Teddy Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill; then, after retirement, he tours with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. On the eve of the US entry into WW I, the old soldier sees one of his two sons off to OCS in possession of the battered sword with which he campaigned so honorably for nearly four decades. An ever involving, painstakingly researched narrative that, among other great themes, documents the force-of-arms efforts of one oppressed race to subjugate another. Read full book review >