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On the morning of October 24, 1944, in the Sibuyan Sea amidst the Philippine Islands, VT-18, a close-knit squadron of six young American torpedo bomber pilots, departed the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid on a search and destroy mission. Their target: the super-battleship Musashi, the pride of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The pilots were tasked with preventing the immense enemy warship and the huge naval armada of which she was a part from inflicting unspeakable damage on the transports and supply ships that were supporting the American amphibious landings within nearby Leyte Gulf. Little did these young men know that they had embarkedÂ on the opening rounds of history’s greatestâ and lastâ epic naval battle.
Two bomber crews launched in the first wave of attackers were shot out of the sky. Only pilot Will Fletcher survived the crash landing. Adrift at sea, Will made his way to land andÂ escaped into the jungles of the Philippines, where he eluded capture by the Japanese with the help of Filipino guerrillas and joined their ranks against their common enemy.
Intrepid AviatorsÂ is the thrilling true story of the brave bomber pilots, their daring duel with the Musashi, and Will Fletcher’s struggle to survive as a guerrilla soldier. The sinking of Musashi inflicted a crucial blow in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and would mark the first time in history that aviators had sunk a Japanese battleship on the high seas.
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Gregory G. Fletcher served as a naval aviator from 1969 to 1974, and is now a practicing attorney. He is the son of USS Intrepid pilot Will Fletcher, who was awarded a Navy Cross of heroism for his actions in World War II.Review:
“Intrepid Aviators provides a rare look at a successful but little-appreciated unit in the Pacific War. Torpedo Squadron 18 within USS Intrepid's Air Group 18 flew attack missions against the Japanese Empire's far-flung bases in the Western Pacific during 1944, and contributed to sinking the battleship Musashi, one of the two largest ships built to that time. Fletcher portrays the men of Torpedo 18 as recognizable individuals whom the reader comes to know, to admire—and too often, to mourn.”
— Barrett Tillman, Author of Whirlwind and Enterprise
“Gregory Fletcher's enthralling Intrepid Aviators beautifully recreates the epic clash between the USS Intrepid's Torpedo Squadron 18 and the Japanese battleship Musashi, one of the most important engagements of World War II. A thrilling, deeply moving literary memorial to the American flyboys whose immense sacrifice and courage really did change the world.”
— Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of The Longest Winter
“Intrepid Aviators is an incredibly well-researched story. Its scope is awesome and the writing superb...One easily can feel the intensity in the cockpit of an Avenger as it makes its torpedo run at 300 feet...against a twisting and turning battleship with all guns blazing...the book is as exciting as any novel.”— Washington Times
"Intepid Aviators stands out from more standard historical treatments of World War II...this book is an impressive production."--Knoxville News Sentinel
"The author is to be congratulated for his effective introduction to naval warfare and the men who were doing the fighting. For anyone who wonders why Navy pilots were so good in the last half of the war, this book provides a detailed answer...this book is a must read."--St. Joseph News-Press
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