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Fighter Pilot goodFighter Pilot: The World War II Career of Alex Vraciu
Ray E. Boomhower

On the morning of June 19, 1944, as U.S. troops were battling Japanese forces on Saipan in the Mariana Islands in the Pacific, American pilots based on aircraft carriers offshore rushed to their planes to protect their fleet from an enemy attack from the air. Calling the mission a “once-in- a-lifetime fighter pilot’s dream,” one Navy pilot from Indiana, Alex Vraciu, flying a Hellcat fighter from the USS Lexington, pounced on the Japanese and shot down six dive bombers in just eight minutes.

This youth biography examines the daring exploits of the Hoosier flier during his wartime service. A graduate of DePauw University, Vraciu learned to fly during his college years through a government program and joined the Navy before America was thrust into the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Possessed with keen eyesight, quick reflexes, excellent shooting instincts and a knack for finding his opponent’s weak spot, Vraciu became skilled in the deadly game of destroying the enemy in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. For four months in 1944, Vraciu was the leading ace in the U.S. Navy. He shot down 19 enemy airplanes in the air and destroyed an additional 21 on the ground.

Ray E. Boomhower is senior editor at the Indiana Historical Society Press. He is also the author of youth biographies on such Hoosier legends as Lew Wallace, Ernie Pyle and May Wright Sewall.

$17.95, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-87195-282-0