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WINGS OF MORNING: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down Over Germany in World War II
(Perseus Books) by Thomas Childers. Nonfiction 1995. 276 pages. At the age of 18, Howard Goodner was drafted by the United States Air Force to fight in World War II. On March 23, 1943, he packed his bags and left his small hometown in Tennessee with 120 other young men to train and prepare for war. After months of training, Howard finished radio operator’s school at the top of his class and was offered the safe job of being an instructor for the USAF. However, instead of “sitting out the war,” Howard does the very ballsy act of accepting combat duty and is sent off to train with a flight crew. Before long, and after some intensive training, Howard finds himself in England waiting for his first bombing mission. Along with flying, Howard also spends his time hanging out with his flight crew, touring England, dealing with the loss of fellow military mates, and writing endless letters to home. After successfully completing a number of bombing runs, Howard’s flight crew is promoted to squadron leader, a highly honored and very high-risk position. On April 21, 1945, Howard and his crew led the squadron on an ill-advised bombing mission over Germany and ran head first into enemy flak and crashed. 
      Almost fifty years later, Howard Goodner’s nephew, Thomas Childers, sets out to find out what exactly happened to Howard and the crew. Using hundreds of letters written by Howard and his crewmembers, other squadron member’s accounts, government documents, eyewitnesses in Germany who saw the plane crash, and the only surviving member of the Bomber crash, Childers beautifully recreates Howard’s life for those few years and finds out the truth about what really happened with the crash.
      There is no way I can sit here and write anything that will give this book the praise and justice it deserves. Although Howard is the main focus of this book, Childers also goes into great depth of the entire crew’s personal lives. Childers does a great job of getting you personally involved with Howard and each of his crewmembers by reprinting some of the stuff written to their families by the respective crewmembers. There are also eight pages of pictures that tie you even closer with the crew. I was honestly heart broken as I read about the crash and rumors of the crew’s fate after the crash. You’ll understand better if you read this book. Trust me, you will be glued to the last 75 or so pages of this book as they are so intense due to the bond Childers makes between you and the crew, most notably Howard.
      Childers also writes about how awful the conditions were for the crew inside the Bomber. Below freezing temperatures, insanely claustrophobic space, and the feeling of pure helplessness as the crew counts parachutes after seeing a fellow plane get hit and crash to earth are just a few agonizing things on top of the fear of being shot down by enemy fire.
      This book is not a story about World War II. This book is about a few men who fought this war. 
      Absolutely amazing book. –Denis Sheehan



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