The Career of Fighter Ace and Test Pilot Marion Carl
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 A blunt, spare autobiography from a past president of the American Fighter Aces Association. Carl neither minces nor wastes words in recalling a distinguished career as a US Marine Corps aviator, which began immediately after his 1938 graduation from Oregon State and ended 35 years later when he retired with the rank of major general. Having earned his wings in 1939, the author (now 78) was an early- bird arrival in WW II's Pacific theater. Flying F4F Wildcats in the unfriendly skies above Midway and Guadalcanal, he downed 16 Japanese planes. Sent stateside to be showcased as the USMC's first ace, Carl wooed and won his wife (then a Powers model). He survived a second tour in the Solomons, adding two more kills to his victory total, and ended the war as a test pilot. Adapting easily to the jet age, the author set a variety of altitude and speed records that (though long since broken) attest to his willingness to push the envelope, i.e., take experimental aircraft (and, it would seem, his own convictions) to, even beyond, their theoretical limits. He led photoreconnaissance flights over Red China in the mid-1950s and logged more than 100 missions in Vietnam. In the course of his lengthy service, Carl met and took the measure of many notables. While he remembers Joe Foss, Melvin Laird, Charles Lindbergh, and a host of lesser lights with fondness, the author has precious little use for Greg (Pappy) Boyington (of Black Sheep Squadron fame), Jacqueline Cochrane, LBJ, Ted Kennedy, Robert McNamara, and John Wayne. In a series of parting shots, moreover, he offers considered, if politically incorrect, pronouncements on gun control, the handling of the Tailhook sex scandal, women in combat, and other touchy issues. The dead-honest memoir of an accomplished military professional. The forthright text has 13 contemporary photos.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-55750-116-5
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1994


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