Shattered Sword by Jonathan Parshall & Anthony Tully THE most comprehensive and modern book about Midway. Detailed research and a modern interpretation put to bed many myths and un-truths about this turning point in the Pacific. May be too detail-oriented for some, but a masterpiece.
Japanese Destroyer Captain by Tameichi Hara Original view of the Pacific War from the Japanese perspective. Hara took part in ALL the major battles of WW2 in the Pacific, and his comments about Americans – their strengths and their weaknesses - will surprise you.
Neptune’s Inferno by James Hornfischer THE definitive account of the US Navy at Guadalcanal. How they went in a short time from a peacetime, tea-drinking social club to defeat the toughest enemy the USN has ever faced. Easy read and real page-turner.
Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James Hornfischer Perhaps the most heroic story of WW2 for the US Navy in the Pacific. I believe every American should read this book and know the name Ernest Evans.
With the Old Breed at Peleliu & Okinawa by Eugene Sledge What it was like to be a Marine combat soldier in two of the most vicious battles of WW2. A humanistic tale told by an unlikely and modest survivor. Sledge wrote this for his family and never sought publication. It remains the finest account of infantry combat and the horrors of war ever written.
Tennozan, by George Feifer The Story of Okinawa and the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. One of the most powerful accounts of this greatest battle of the Pacific. Told with a human interest point of view, it is gut-wrenching and emotional. Not for the squeamish.
Goodbye, Darkness, by William Manchester Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s personal account as a young Marine in various island battles across the Pacific, including Saipan
Pacific Crucible – War at Sea in the Pacific 1941-1942, by Ian Toll Part I of a three-part Pacific War Trilogy covering the entire Pacific war. Comprehensive, readable, and modern – in the sense that it uses sources newly available. Covers the lead up to Pearl Harbor and Japan’s stunning drive across the Pacific.
The Conquering Tide – War in the Pacific Islands 1942-1944, by Ian Toll Part II of Toll’s Pacific War Trilogy. Includes terrific coverage of Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal & the Solomons campaign.
Twilight of the Gods – War in the Western Pacific 1944-1945, by Ian Toll Part III of Toll’s Pacific War Trilogy¬¬¬. The conquest of the Marianas, Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Japan’s final surrender.
Tower of Skulls, by Richard Frank First of a three volume History of the Asia-Pacific War. Starts in 1937 with the Japanese invasion of China, with extensive coverage of Japan’s grasp for world power that led to national destruction. Best treatment of Japan’s reasons for war and decision to attack the US and Great Britain. Also sheds new light on China’s contribution to Japan’s defeat. Look forward to the next two volumes in this series, not yet published.
Guadalcanal, by Richard Frank THE book on Guadalcanal. Much ink has been spent on Guadalcanal, but Frank’s work is the most readable, comprehensive, detailed study of a land, sea, and air campaign that started the long road back to Tokyo Bay. If you read ONE book on Guadalcanal, this is it.
The Battle of Midway, by Craig Symonds Best single volume, most accessible study of the battle that changed everything. Symonds is a professor at the US Navy War College and is one of the best military historians writing about WW2 today.
A Dawn like Thunder by Robert Mzarek Here is the story of Torpedo Squadron Eight, the torpedo bombers that sacrificed themselves at Midway. He follows the squadron, their incredible courage against overwhelming odds, and its survivors who fought gallantly in the Guadalcanal Campaign. This book will make you cry.
Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley A book written in homage to his father on Iwo Jima, it carries a flawed premise – that John Bradley was one of the men shown in the greatest combat photo of all time. New information has denied this premise, but this in no way takes from Bradley’s stirring account of the fight the enshrined our Marine Corps in the hearts of Americans forever.
I have read every book on this list and can therefore highly recommend any one of them. There are of course, many others that are valuable and would be welcome additions to my list.
PODCAST “Supernova in the East” by Dan Carlin This is a six-part Podcast by noted military history expert Dan Carlin. Emotional, intellectual, comprehensive, and spellbinding, this narrative is long, but you would not wish it to be a second shorter. Great for long car trips. See also Dan’s website: www.dancarlin.com for outstanding podcasts on a variety of historical subjects. Get them from wherever you get podcasts.
FILMS Remember that the purpose of film/video streams is to entertain, not educate. Nevertheless, a few are historically accurate enough to entertain AND educate.
MIDWAY two versions of this, one older and one modern. The new one has better CGI and is more accurate.
Letters from Iwo Jima Clint Eastwood’s masterful telling the story of Iwo Jima from the Japanese side. Filmed in black and white, it captures the futility and sacrifice that Japan expected from its soldiers, and the terrible duty they carried out.
Flags of Our Fathers The companion to Letters from Iwo Jima, this full-length feature tells the story of Iwo Jima from the American point of view with Clint’s famous attention to factual historical detail.
The Pacific HBO series that follows the Marines of the First Marine Division in the campaign across the wide Pacific. This is a companion series to the famous “Band of Brothers”. It is equally virtuoso telling of this achingly poignant story.
Arriving completely by surprise, friends from Ohio delivered this stunning shadow box of memorabilia from Bill's career in the Navy as a an officer of the JAG Corp.
Our own Greg Bean and Vernon Robinson were among the honored on this flight..
Other members who attended the return were moved almost beyond words by the warmth and energy of the crowd welcoming these warriors back from their day in Washington, DC. Family members, but many others simply wanting to attend in recognition and thanks for the service given to the citizens of the US.
Chapter Assistant Jacqueline Kohler has recently completed the necessary training from MOAA national to be a surviving spouse liaison.
Furthermore, she was also one of six female veterans recently honored during the fifth annual Outstanding Combat Female Veterans of North Carolina Ceremony Program.
Jacqueline Kohler, Army, served in the Afghanistan war and now volunteers with Triad Honor Flight group that takes area veterans to Washington, D.C.
State Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Secretary Walter Gaskin said that female veterans “have stood shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts.”
Women have served in or near combat settings dating back to the American Revolution, according to Combat Female Veterans Families United. But the involvement escalated from the middle of the 20th century during World War II to the present day. Approximately 7,000 women were deployed to serve in the Vietnam War, more than 40,000 served in combat zones during the Persian Gulf War and an estimated 150,000 women were deployed to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars from 2001-12, Combat Female Veterans Families United reports.
Women now account for 15% of active service members in the U.S. military.
At age 95, Captain Ira N. Schwarz, US Navy Retired, left the bridge and passed away September 22, 2023. Ira was not alone; members of the Tarheel Central Chapter of MOAA were present during his last moments. He will be interned in The Arlington National Cemetery.
After high school, Ira spent three years in Aeronautical Engineering at Virginia Tech, but his education was cut short by the death of his father. In 1949, Ira joined the Navy where he completed heavier-than-air flight training and was assigned to lighter-than-air dirigibles and served a post-WWII tour defending the east coast from submarines.
He briefly flew amphibious aircraft like the PBY-5 with his next tour as an instrument flight instructor in SNJ & SNB aircraft, followed by General Line School at Monterey where Ira learned about ships and ship handling. He went on to Hawaii for a tour in VU-1, during which he completed jet transitional training. In 1960, Ira reported to the Naval Post Graduate School (NPGS) in Monterey, CA for further studies in Aeronautical Engineering.
Upon graduation, and switching to Aeronautical Engineering duty, Ira reported to the Senior Program Office (SPO) as Head, Inertial Navigation Section, and a part of the Navigation Branch. His group was responsible for the Ships Inertial Navigators (SINS), the heart of successful navigation at sea. To feed these systems they developed a satellite navigation system (later introduced for civilian use as GPS). They simultaneously perfected a periscope capable of exposure for only 30 seconds that recorded a 17-star fix. As he explained, “If you can know exactly where you are, you can accurately predict where your missiles will land!”
He next commanded the Navy Aero Structures Laboratory at Naval Station, Philadelphia, PA. (1966-1968). In Viet Nam with the Marines, he determined the cause of and solution for the catastrophic losses of H-46 and H-53 helicopters. Ira and his team determined what the structural life of the blades was and how long they could be over stressed before failure would occur. Thereafter, blades could be replaced on a timed basis before catastrophic failure occurred, a new standard that saved hundreds of crews and troops!
His next tour (1968-1971) was as the Officer Assignment Officer for all AED Officers, followed by Air Systems Command (1971-1973) as Head, Structures Branch. In this position Ira was privileged to serve on the initial design team for the F-14 aircraft. Part of his responsibility was the Airborne Mine Countermeasures Equipment and support and Ira again returned to Viet Nam when it came time to remove the mines from harbors there.
His next assignment (1973-1975) was as Commanding Officer, Naval Missile Center at Point Mugu, CA. Ira became Commander, Pacific Missile Test Center from 1975-1976. This command comprised over 7,800 square miles of sea test range with three airfields; Point Mugu, San Nicholas Island and Barking Sands (in Hawaii). His responsibilities included testing each airborne missile against every navy aircraft platform.
Following that tour Ira returned to Washington as Deputy Director, Navy Space Program. In 1977 Ira retired from the Navy. As an aviator he logged over 8,000 flight hours in multiple types of military aircraft.
After retirement Ira became a major player with results in 1998 after nine years of North Carolina litigation that had the North Carolina Supreme Court uphold a decision that a breach of contract had occured and that State and Local government retirees were due a refund of taxes paid during years 1989 – 1997. The State agreed to put up a fund of $799 Million, under control of the Court, to refund the contested taxes paid by all North Carolina government retirees, Federal (military & Civil Service) and State and Local retirees. The Court was to administer the refunds, and Ira was appointed by the Court as Director, Settlement Administration.
The refunds were paid to all claimants by 2002. The final result was that every claimant, over 183,000, received a refund of all taxes paid to the State for the years 1989-1997 on government retirement benefits, PLUS an average interest of 19%.
A truly remarkable life of great accomplishments. RIP