I have rather eclectic tastes in history books, drawn to singular events or individuals that I’ve had no prior knowledge of, rather than those of a broader historical scope. Oregon writer Bruning brings to life the story of P.I.” Pappy” Gunn, an aviator whose skills as a pilot/mechanic/engineer in the Pacific theater of WWII is the stuff of legends. Born in 1899 in rural Arkansas, Gunn had a hard scrabble life. He honed his aviator skills while in the Navy and afterward he retired to the Philippines (while still in his late 30’s) where he co-founded Philippine Airlines. Gunn was a man whose life was devoted to his country and to his family: his wife, two daughters and two sons.
Caught in Manilla at the outbreak of WWII, Gunn rejoined the military, this time in the Army Air Force. His skills as both a pilot and mechanic were already legendary, and they continued to grow as the war raged on. Separated from his family for three years (they were interred in a facility in Manilla), Gunn focused his rage at not being there for his family, the ineptitude of the military he worked for, and his hatred for the enemy, into working to build better, faster, more lethal fighter planes. His Naval experience gave him insights that he also used rethink/revolutionize HOW air battles would come to be fought. I was amazed at every turn at the genius of this man, his single-mindedness: make better planes, fight more strategically, win the war, rescue his family. The world may not have heard of “Pappy” Gunn, but hopefully this explosive book will rectify that. Gunn was a hero beyond measure and truly, nearly indestructible.
–Sue, Paulina Springs, Sisters, OR