the gist

THE goods

How the book took flight

When Kenny Kemp dug into his deceased father’s footlocker, he figured the contents would end up in a shadow box and that would be it. But as he spread the orders, letters, manuals, photo albums, and his father’s flight gear out on a table, something began to emerge: a story not only about O.C. Kemp, but about tens of thousands of young men who heard their country’s call and joined the service after Pearl Harbor.

​Slowly Kenny was able to piece together his father’s journey from working in a factory in San Diego building the famous B-24 Liberator bomber—a ship her pilots called the “flying boxcar” for her inelegant design—through basic training in the Army, transfer to aviation cadet school in Texas, then on to the prairies of Kansas and the deserts of California for flight training, and finally to a tiny island in the South Pacific from which he staged bombing runs over the Philippines, the Palaus, the Carolines, and finally China and Japan itself.


His adventure, like that of so many others, earned him a place in history. Not as hero, he would say; the heroes were the men who died in those far away places. But he was a proud participant in what can rightly be said to be the greatest campaign for liberty the world has ever known.


This is his -- and their -- story.