Rocky Boyer's War

An Unvarnished History of the Air Blitz that Won the War in the Southwest Pacific
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Published:May 15, 2017
By Allen D. Boyer (Author)

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In Rocky Boyer’s War, Allen Boyer offers a wry, keen-eyed, and occasionally disgruntled counterpoint history of the hard-fought, brilliant campaign that won World War II in the Southwest Pacific. Based in part on an unauthorized diary kept by the author's father, 1st Lt. Roscoe “Rocky” Boyer, this narrative history offers the reader an account of Allied air commander Gen. George Kenney's "air blitz" offensive as it was lived both in the cockpit and on the ground.

During 1944, as Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s forces fought their way from New Guinea to the Philippines, Kenney, discarding pre-war doctrine, planned and ran an “air blitz” offensive. His 5th Air Force drove forward like a tank army, crash-landing in open country, seizing terrain, bulldozing new airfields, winning air control, and moving forward. At airfields on the front line, Rocky kept the radios working for the 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, a fighter-bomber unit.

Diaries were forbidden, but Rocky kept one—full of casualties, accidents, off-duty shenanigans, and rear-area snafus. He had friends killed when they shot it out with Japanese anti-aircraft gunners, or when their bombers vanished in bad weather. He wrote about wartime camp life at Nadzab, New Guinea, the largest air base in the world, part Scout camp and part frontier boomtown. He knew characters worthy of Catch-22: combat flyers who played contract bridge, military brass who played office politics, black quartermasters, and chaplains who stood up to colonels when a promotion party ended with drunken gunplay and dynamite.

This is a narrative of the war as airmen lived it. Rocky’s experience of life on the front line gives from-the-bottom-up detail to the framework of Kenney’s air blitz. The author uses Rocky’s story as a jumping-off point from which to understand the daily life, pranks, mishaps, and casualties, of the men who in 1944 fought their way over the two thousand miles from New Guinea to the Philippines.

List Price: $29.95
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Product Details
  • Subject: World War II
  • Hardback : 352 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (May 15, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 1682470962
  • ISBN-13: 9781682470961
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 28.8 oz
  • “Put a copy of Rocky Boyer’s War on the shelf next to your copy of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. The movement of the 5th Air Force from Australia to New Guinea and then to the Philippines and Okinawa in World War II was an extraordinary operational maneuver. But what was it like day-to-day? Read Rocky Boyer’s War to find out. You will find it hard to put down.” —TOM HONE, editor of The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute Guide to the U.S. Navy’s Greatest Victory
  • Rocky Boyer's War tells the extraordinary story of the 5th Air Force in the Pacific and how it blazed a trail to victory, over two thousand miles, from New Guinea to the Philippines. Based in part on the diaries of Lt. Roscoe ‘Rocky’ Boyer, it's a wonderfully moving and entertaining account of the Air Blitz that sped the end of World War II in the Southwest Pacific.” —ALEX KERSHAW, author of The Few: The American “Knights of the Air” Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain
  • “Supplemented by postwar research, the diary of Lt. Roscoe (‘Rocky’) Boyer, an Army Air Forces communications officer, offers penetrating insight into precisely how one air group functioned on New Guinea and in the Philippines during World War II. Among Boyer's compatriots were true heroes and a few outright scoundrels, but mostly they were ordinary men living in extraordinary times. Rocky Boyer's War is a warm, honest tribute to their service and their sacrifice.” —JOHN B. LUNDSTROM, author of Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal
  • “New Guinea in World War II is far removed from the New York Stock Exchange seventy years later, but Allen D. Boyer makes the transition with aplomb as he expands upon his father's wartime diary. The resulting true-life Rocky Boyer's War will draw inevitable comparisons with Joseph Heller's fictional Catch-22. World War II students will appreciate Rocky Boyer's War for its uncompromising honesty and downright enjoyable narrative.” —BARRETT TILLMAN, author of Whirlwind: The Air War against Japan, 1942–1945
  • “In his father’s wartime diary, Allen Boyer finds an insightful, sometimes sardonic, account of the monotony, demoralization, and absurdity that characterized military service in the Pacific. Rocky Boyer’s War provides an astute insider’s view of Army life and attitudes, along with some unforgettable stories. —ANN ELIZABETH PFAU, author of Miss Yourlovin: GIs, Gender, and Domesticity during World War II
  • “It is a great read for everyone who wants to get a non-history book feel for what it’s really like to be a military pilot in wartime… I give Rocky Boyer’s War my highest 4-5 star rating.” — Hot
  • “Allen Boyer has done a wonderful job bringing both his father’s story and the oft-neglected history of the Southern Pacific Theatre to life. His prose is beautiful, and his father’s diary is interesting, witty and heartfelt. “Rocky Boyer’s War” is worth a read.” – Yakima Herald
  • “…An outstanding new work, Rocky Boyer’s War…will find its place among the great eye-level accounts of the Second World War.” – The Clarion Ledger
  • “...[R]eaders will find this volume, once begun, hard to put down." – Indiana Magazine of History
  • The author used his father’s diary as the foundation for this book, and it lives up to its title’s billing as an unvarnished history—hard drinking escapades, chasing Australian women, bad mouthing West Point graduates, and so forth. While the younger Boyer largely succeeds in not obscuring his father’s voice, his own research and contextualization of Rocky’s diary entries give the book a blended voice of both historical analysis and first-hand accounting. The book begins with Rocky Boyer’s June 1941 graduation from Franklin College and induction into the Army Air Corps, but the bulk of the narrative covers just one year, from late 1943 to late 1944 during his southwest Pacific service. There are much better histories of this critical aspect of the Pacific war. But if you find yourself thinking “I know what happened, but what was it really like to be there?” this book is for you." - Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute
  • “…If you find yourself thinking ‘I know what happened, but what was it really like to be there?’ this book is for you.” - Proceedings
  • Military Review book review. “Readers will gain an appreciation of the full extent of Army Air Corps operations in the Southwest Pacific with Rocky Boyer’s War.” (11/24)
  • Strategic Studies Quarterly book review. “This is an easily readable account of the Southwest Pacific air war woven together with the diary entries of a support officer who experienced that war. I recommend this to anyone interested in World War II USAAF history in general and to those who are interested in the Pacific air war in particular.” (11/28)

This is ALLEN D. BOYER's fifth book. His longtime day job was senior appellate counsel at the New York Stock Exchange Enforcement Division. He lives on the North Shore of Staten Island.

ROCKY BOYER, on whose diary this book draws, was born in 1919 on a farm in Indiana. He kept the diary while serving with the 5th Air Force in New Guinea and the Philippines. He taught at the University of Mississippi, training a generation of teachers and tirelessly supporting the public schools. He died in 2008.

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