Sinking the Rising Sum Dog Fighting & Dive Bombing in World War II: A Navy Fighter Pilot's Story. By William E. Davis. St. Paul, Minn.: Zenith Press, 2007. Illustrations. Photographs. Pp. 304. $25.95 ISBN: 0-7603-2946-X
Imagine how one must have felt upon hearing the news of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. For those looking forward to the festivities of the holiday season, it was instead a somber time. For those young men about to graduate from school, it was a time of uncertainty and foreboding. America was now at war. "Bill" Davis was one such young man. A senior engineering student at the University of Pennsylvania, he had just interviewed with Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and been offered a job earning $190 per month. His future was set. But the Japanese attack had been a "shock of unbelievable proportions." Navy recruiters showed up at the university three days after the attack with offers of immediate service for all engineers. They all signed up--except for Davis.
The flagrant attack on Pearl Harbor had greatly incensed the highly competitive Davis. He took the attack personally. Turning down his once-in-a-lifetime job offer, he also declined joining the Navy to become simply a naval engineer. He had no desire to sit back in some backwater engineering shop designing ships, aircraft, or other weapons of war for others to fight with. Instead, Davis volunteered to fight. More specifically, he wanted to fight the Japanese; and he wanted to do so in the air. Joining the Naval Air Corps would make sure his odds were good at getting back at the Japanese.
This book is Davis' firsthand account of his wartime military and flying experiences, from the day he volunteered for military service until just after the war ended. Set to a brisk pace, his story is both easily readable and generously speckled with rollicking funny wartime humor that includes a good dose of fighter-pilot antics. Whether its describing how his squadron smuggled crates of liquor onto their aircraft carrier Intrepid right under the nose...