Journalist Rodrick's powerful debut chronicles the long, difficult process of coming to terms with the untimely death of his father, a Navy pilot.
Black Ravens squadron commander Peter Rodrick was just 36 in 1979, when his airplane went down in the Indian Ocean. After his son turned the same age in 2002, Stephen's then-wife told him that he wouldn’t be “a proper father" until he "made peace" with his dad. The younger Rodrick tried, writing an article about Navy pilots on the Kitty Hawk, his father’s last ship, but Pete remained the enigmatic “magical stranger” of his childhood. The peacemaking task didn't begin in earnest until Stephen received an invitation to a ceremony involving Pete’s old squadron in 2009. Getting to know the Black Ravens’ newly commissioned commander, James Hunter Ware III, he realized, would help him better understand his father. The resulting narrative weaves between Rodrick’s memories of a brilliant, mysterious father and his account of Ware’s personal and professional trials in the same job. Peter Rodrick was a dedicated officer and fearless “cowboy” pilot, but he left the task of guiding his wayward son to a beleaguered wife against whom Stephen battled throughout his childhood and adolescence. By contrast, Ware struggled with his competing allegiances to the Navy and a wife who had sacrificed everything for him. Through his examination of both men’s lives, the author came to accept his father and understand that the accident was not the result of Pete's “sin” of reckless bravado. Finding closure with his father’s death, he could finally acknowledge the quietly heroic role of his mother. It was ultimately she, he concludes, who made him “worthy” of the Rodrick name.
Candid and affecting.