By Jerry W. Whiting
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Veterans in the Mist

World War II Memoirs of the Third Thursday Lunch Bunch

This is a book of WWII stories about a proud group of Americans.  They all live in the San Francisco Bay Area today, but they’re from all over our country and beyond, and from all walks of life.  They served in every theater during the war and in all branches of service.  Unless we look closely and engage them, we won’t understand what they’ve done for our country and for the world at a critical time…when we needed them most.  They represent the best of what America has to offer. 

The men in this book participated in most WWII battles, beginning with the Pearl Harbor attack, and ending with the occupation of postwar Europe and Japan. The book describes the touching story of how this group formed, initially with five men, and how it has now grown to more than 60 veterans.  This book is also about a promise kept by the author and what the group did for him. 

Partial list firsthand accounts

Pearl Harbor attack
A child POW in the Philippines
One of the first airmen shot down over Europe
An infantryman in New Guinea and a chance meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt
The first attack on Japan after the Doolittle Raid
A tanker’s experience during and after the Normandy invasion
The invasion of a forgotten island in the Pacific
Capture of American soldiers by Germans
A German fighter attack on a B-26 bomber
A night attack by an SS Division during the Battle of the Bulge
An infantryman’s efforts to come to grips with the horror of war
A soldier’s feelings during the liberation of Nazi death camps
A POW’s defining moment and a decision not to hate
A pilot’s mercy mission to Holland
A soldier’s description of the end of the European War
A P-51 fighter pilot’s witnessing of the dropping of the bomb on Nagasaki

And these are just some of the stories!  This hardcover, 210+ page limited edition book, complete with 70 photos, was published in June, 2010.

Bookstore price $21.95
Website price $20.00




In the Shadow of Mt. Vulture
Venosa, Then and Now

In 1944 and 1945 there were 21 heavy bomber groups in southern Italy.  Most were at temporary bases, cut from wheat fields. They came not as conquerors or as occupiers, asmany who arrived before them, but as liberators.  Many were there for barely a year. Then they were gone, along with their planes and equipment.  Is there anything left, so many years later?  Does anyone remember we were there?  Author Jerry Whiting was asked these questions by several of the former airmen about whom he was writing after his return from a research trip to Italy.

Although not a film maker, Jerry felt this question must be answered.  He had photos and amateur film, shot in Venosa and the surrounding area, the former home of the 485th Bomb Group, a B-24 group.  He juxtaposes the photos and video with wartime photos taken by the American airmen to produce this 24-minute DVD, which answers these questions.  The answers may surprise you, but be prepared for an emotional ending that will make you feel proud.  This video also contains many wartime photos, taken by the men of the 485th Bomb Group.  Released December 2010.

Website Price  $10




I’m Off To War, Mother, But I’ll Be Back
Reflections of a WWII Tail Gunner

This is the true story of a 15th Air Force, B-24 tail gunner in WWII and his struggle to survive combat missions over the flak-filled skies of Europe…and to keep the promise to his family to return home safely.  Through excerpts from his letters home you’ll see the changes in the young warrior as his war continues and you’ll read about his buddies.  Included are the following stories:

  • The saga of one of the last American bomber crews shot down over Europe and their “capture” by our Russian allies
  • An airman’s miraculous survival after being blown from his plane without a parachute;
  • An airman’s evasion and safe return 40 days later after being shot down over Yugoslavia;
  • The capture of a Messerschmitt fighter and pilot by a bomber crew;
  • The unique relationship this airman and some members of his group had with the 332nd Fighter Group, the famed Tuskegee Airmen;
  • The continuing search today for a bomber crew shot down over Poland in 1944.

The author made two trips to Europe to research information, locate witnesses and verify facts for the stories in this book.  The stories are incredible, but true.  This second edition, 250+ page hard cover book, published in 2007, will be enjoyed by the entire family.  It includes 90+ rare photos

Bookstore price $26.95
Website price $20.00



Don’t Let the Blue Star Turn Gold
Downed Airmen in Europe in WWII

This 240+ page hardcover book is one that you won’t put down.  The book is a series of chapters about 15th Air Force bomber crews shot down over Occupied Europe during WWII.  It is about their struggle to survive, so that blue star proudly displayed at home wouldn’t be replaced by a gold one.  These are stories of love, duty and courage.  Some of the stories are tragic; all are inspirational.

Each chapter is placed in the context of what was happening elsewhere in the world at the time and the author describes background on how each story came to be, often with surprising revelations.  This book was painstakingly researched.  The author traveled to Europe to locate witnesses to some of the events, so that the European side of the stories could be told.  Some of the included stories are:

  • The story of a bomber crew shot down while bombing Auschwitz and the surprising tribute paid to them 50 years later;
  • The saga of 300+ Allied airmen imprisoned in Bulgaria, most from the famous raids to the Ploesti oil fields and surrounding areas;
  • The capture and escape of an American airman who hid out for 9 ½ months before he made it back to safety;
  • A young wife’s struggle to continue with her life while her husband was Missing in Action and their first meeting upon his return home;
  • The rescue of a downed airman by two teenage Yugoslavian girls.

This is a first edition book, published in 2004 and is suitable for the entire family.

Bookstore price  $24.95
Website price  $20.00


Missions by the Numbers

This book contains mission summaries of the 187 combat missions flown by the 485th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force, during WWII.  The information was obtained from the combat mission reports in the National Archives. 

It is more than just a unit history.  Included are stories written by several members of the group that tell the complete story of a mission, from the minute the coded message was received at group headquarters until the mission was completed.  Also included are stories of a gunner shot down over Poland and the story of a crew with severe battle damage that struggled to make it safely through the Brenner Valley, also known as “flak alley”.

There are 20+ photos in this 190-page quality paperback book, including bomb strike and reconnaissance photos, photos of damaged B-24’s, and escort fighters.  Also included are maps and charts, as well as information on group losses, bomb types, a sample of a pilot’s “flimsy” (secret plan for the mission) and much more.  This second edition was published in 2008.  It’s a very limited edition, with only 300 copies printed. 

Bookstore price  $24.95
Website price  $20.00