Drinnon’s earnest account of serving in the Air Force during World War II.
Drinnon recounts his time with the tightknit crew of a Boeing B17G, nicknamed “Tru Love,” with whom he flew 34 combat missions in war-torn Europe. From his humble beginnings as a shy farmer’s son in Tennessee, Drinnon joins the Air Force against the wishes of his parents and is exposed to new people, new ways of thinking and new challenges. Through several twists of fate, he is assigned to the Tru Love crew, where he learns many valuable lessons in loyalty, bravery and trust. Drinnon serves as a gunner, and he presents an insider’s look at how it felt to spend so much time in a cramped, dangerous space. Especially interesting is his first experience of shooting down another plane: “Here I was, a barely twenty year-old man, yet still a twenty year-old kid faced with his first shooting gun battle who had never before fired on another human being. What should I do?...[W]hat would ‘they’ say if there is no ammunition used from my cans?” Unlike other Greatest Generation memoirs, Drinnon’s slim book is utterly without pretension, and he doesn’t glorify himself, his companions or the war. His humility and capacity for self-reflection make the book a compelling read, punctuated with admissions of battle fear and struggles to readjust to civilian life that are often absent from similar books. War as personal growth through exploration and emotion rather than aggression is a particularly intriguing theme, as Drinnon tells of small moments such as using a telephone and eating lobster for the first time. Prayers, luck and randomness also figure big, and the author chalks up many of his exploits to chance rather than patriotism or God. All of this makes for an original and heartwarming read. The book is augmented with numerous photographs, Army manuals and technical specs of the plane and its mechanics, which help the reader understand the occasional tech-heavy parts of the book. If Drinnon can be faulted for anything, it’s for sometimes skimming the surface, and the book could easily be a longer, more in-depth look at his experience. Though seemingly written primarily for the surviving members of the Tru Love crew, this book is sure to interest WWII and Air Force aficionados.
Sincere, compelling and well-intentioned.