In the Hands of Fate
By Christmas Day in 1941, Patrol Wing Ten was forced to split into two groups, one fighting an air and sea campaign in Java, the other fighting as infantry on Bataan and Corregidor. Moving back and forth between the two groups, Messimer skillfully interweaves their experiences with the major events of the overall war. He uses material from the fifty survivors he managed to track down and deftly captures their ability to maintain a sense of humor in the face of overwhelming danger. The more than one hundred personal and official documents uncovered during years of research reveal new information relating to technical points about the planes, facts verified by the PBY crews that do not agree with popularly accepted ideas. To those who believe the wing accomplished nothing--and this group includes many pilots--Messimer argues that while attempts to bomb the Japanese fleet proved futile because the PBYs were unsuitable for such a task, the wing's rescue and evacuation missions saved many lives. The airdales themselves were not so lucky. When Corregidor fell, nearly half of them were captured and many died in captivity.