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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dick Cole's War by Dennis R. Okerstrom

Dick Cole's War by Dennis R. Okerstrom was a gift from my son-in-law and personally inscribed by Dick Cole, the last of the famous Doolittle Raiders, who was at Barksdale Air Force Base recently.  Even at 102, Cole was signing copies of Okerstrom's book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned a great deal, not only about the famous Tokyo Raid with pilot Jimmy Doolittle and co-pilot Dick Cole, but about Hump Pilots, the CBI (China, Burma, India theater), the Air Commandos--and much more.

One poignant moment occurs when on Dec. 7, Cole writes his mother to say that he won't be home for Christmas after all.   No need to say why leave has been canceled.
The problem with letters was a consistent one throughout the war.  Longed for and appreciated and re-read, but not timely.  Even today, it takes about 3 weeks for my letters to Melody to arrive in Singapore.  As much as servicemen longed for word from home, letters took a long time and sometimes arrived out of order.  Nevertheless, the letters to and from home are an important documentation of the war.

As we often note when reading history, authors can take a fascinating event or period and suck the life out of it, or as Okerstrom does, pull you in and make you feel a part of the historical drama.  

You can't see all of the pages I marked, but you can probably tell that I'd have trouble trying to include all of the information that gripped my interest in the pic I took of my copy--before I quit even trying to flag all the parts that intrigued me.  

Following Dick Cole is an ideal way to look at the war in the Pacific and Asia because he was involved in so many important missions during the war--his first was the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo, but his time as a hump pilot and as an air commando part of Project 9 were also critically important roles.  The information about the gliders was just one amazing element.

I knew very little about this portion of WWII, and so I would frequently be stunned at the difficulties and complications involved.  

My admiration for the men involved and for Dennis R. Okerstrom for making the book such an informative and engrossing read is immense.

Dick Cole's War should be on the list for anyone interested in WWII and the Pacific arena.  

Nonfiction.  2015.  336 pages.

Below is the front of the postcard I made for Chris as a thank you note--the message and correct postage are on the other side.  I was pleased to have a few stamps that featured planes even if they were only for air mail.


  1. I love good non-fiction that, as you said, pulls you in and makes you feel like you're right there, experiencing it, too. I will definitely be putting this book on my Must-Read list! Have you ever read The Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides? That's another really good WWII book that's set in the Pacific front. It even made me cry.

    1. No, but I just added it to my list! Thanks, Lark. :)

  2. Although I rarely read nonfiction, I love it that some of them really pull you in and read like a fiction; even more so if there're some things for us to learn along the way.

    And, I love that postcard! I think it's a lovely creation. :)

    1. This really was a book that proved fascinating. I surprised and impressed with how readable it was. Thanks for the kind words about the postcard, Melody, I enjoyed trying to give it an association with the air force and planes.

  3. This sounds like a real treasure of history! The letter reminded me of the letter my grandfather was writing to my grandmother when he learned about the bombing on Pearl Harbor. One minute he was talking about how much he was looking forward to seeing her on his leave, and the next he was telling her he wouldn't be able to take his leave after all.

    I will have to look for this one. Love the postcard you made, by the way! What a great idea!