COUNTDOWN! 35 Missions Over Germany by Fred Koger

COUNTDOWN! 35 Missions Over Germany

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An aging American's low-key recollections of his service as a youthful airman during WW II. Barely 20 when, shortly after D-day, he reported for duty with the Eighth Air Force's 326th Bomber Squadron, stationed at Podington in the English Midlands, Koger flew the unfriendly skies of occupied Europe and Nazi Germany as a B-17 bombardier He Finished his tour in November of 1944 and returned to the States without (until later years) a backward glance. During the war, Koger recalls here, he reckoned time not in months or days but in combat missions completed. The magic number to qualify for a return to the States was 35, and the author focused on it while he and his fellow crew members endured early-morning briefings, dodged flak, rained explosives on faraway targets, nursed damaged aircraft back to base, watched superforts crash in flames, or learned the often strange ways of a foreign country. No Yossarian, Koger took his perilous trade largely in stride. By way of example, he offers a restrained account of his outfit's jolting encounter with Me-163 Komets, revolutionary interceptors whose rocket power gave them air speeds 150 mph greater than the fastest US fighters that flew cover for B-17s. Nor does the author flinch from admitting he preferred milk runs to strikes against priority objectives like Merseberg, a fiercely defended industrial center that produced much of the Reich's synthetic fuel. A dead-honest memoir, good of its kind. (Twelve pages of photographs and line drawings, including several by the author, who went on to become a publishing executive.)

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1990
Publisher: Algonquin