Seven at Santa Cruz

The Life of Fighter Ace Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa
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Published:June 15, 2018

Press Release: Seven at Santa Cruz

“It was just like flying into the void.” —Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa

This riveting biography details how Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa became a World War II naval hero. During the Battle of the Coral Sea, Swede flew an SBD Dauntless dive-bomber and helped sink Shoho, the first aircraft carrier lost by Japan in World War II. The next day, in that same Dauntless, he took off from USS Yorktown and out-flew and out-gunned three Japanese Zeros, making him the only dive bomber pilot to be awarded Navy Crosses for both bombing and aerial combat.

Months later, the day before the Battle of Santa Cruz, Swede was flying an F4F Wildcat fighter off USS Enterprise and had no recourse but to follow orders he knew to be insane. He and his squadron mates flew their predictably empty search legs and beyond, only to discover upon their return to Point Option in the dark, that Enterprise was nowhere to be found. Incredibly, Swede located the oil slick he had noticed seeping from Enterprise during a morning combat air patrol and was able to track it back to the carrier.

After their harrowing return, during the Battle of Santa Cruz, the fate of Enterprise, and by extension Guadalcanal, lay in the hands of that same Swede Vejtasa. He responded by single-handedly downing an unprecedented two Japanese dive bombers and five torpedo bombers attacking the carrier. Skipper Jimmy Flatley recognized that in all likelihood, Swede had saved Enterprise from destruction, and he recommended Swede for the Medal of Honor.

List Price: $29.95
Member Price: $23.96
Product Details
  • Subject: World War II
  • Hardback : 304 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1682472876
  • ISBN-13: 9781682472873
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 21.92 oz
  • WarScholar Podcast Interview
  • Seven at Santa Cruz provides an intimate look at a man who played a small yet critical role in the Pacific War.” —The Daily News
  • Seven at Santa Cruz is an exciting tale told well. While some readers may question whether Vejtasa alone saved ‘Enterprise’ and, by extension, Guadalcanal through his magnificent defence of the ship his record is exceptional and valorous. We owe a great debt to him and his comrades.” —The Australian Naval Institute
  • “Vejtasa was the right man in the right place at the right time. He grasped his opportunities and utilised his particular talents to achieve great things piloting both bombers and fighters. That story is very well told here.” —Baird Maritime
  • "You have some great photos people would like to see... It's really good work and a great read. I highly recommend it." —History with Mark Bielski Podcast
  • “Edwards’s book is a well-paced and readable account.” —The Journal of America's Literary Past
  • “The author has produced an absorbing biography of WWII naval hero Stanley ‘Swede’ Vejtasa. ‘Swede’ flew the SBD Dauntless dive-bomber and the F4F Wildcat fighter during the start of the Pacific War – Most Highly Recommended.” —FIRE Reviews
  • “Vejtasa was the right man in the right place at the right time. He grasped his opportunities and utilised his particular talents to achieve great things piloting both bombers and fighters. That story is very well told here.” —Workboat World
  • “A great biography that is well told.” —Air Power History
  • “This exhaustive account of the life and professional career of one of the most prolific naval aviators of World War II proved both enjoyable and humbling. As our ‘Greatest Generation’ becomes increasingly scarce, author Ted Edwards, a historian who specializes in oral histories, presents the invaluable perspectives of the men who helped fight and win the Pacific war.” —Proceedings Magazine
  • “This is a good read – it is an important reminder of the need to keep ... men joining our navies in peacetime, and retaining them so they can ‘think, fight, lead and win at war’.... A good read – worth adding to the summer list.” —The NAVY Magazine
  • “In the pages of Seven at Santa Cruz: The Life of Fighter Ace Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa, Ted Edwards has written yet another riveting military biography that details how Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa became a World War II naval hero…. A deftly crafted and simply riveting read from first page to last, Seven at Santa Cruz will prove to be a welcome and valued addition to the growing body of World War II historical biographies and memoirs for personal, community, and academic library collections.” —Midwest Book Review
  • “Swede Vejtasa is one of the “forgotten” Navy aces of World War II. He is occasionally mentioned in footnotes, and was once featured in a “Where Are They Now” column in The Hook magazine, but he has never been the subject of a full-length biography, which he definitely deserves. Ted Edwards has rectified that glaring omission. Swede’s courage and skill are now portrayed in this in-depth description of one of the U.S. Navy’s most important World War II aces and combat leaders. Whether he was flying an SBD Dauntless dive bomber or a Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter, this daring aviator from Montana owned the sky he flew in at any one moment. With a strong personality that often goes with a successful fighter ace, however, Swede was sometimes at odds with superiors, and this tendency to clash with authority kept him from receiving higher recognition such as the Medal of Honor his skipper Jimmy Flatley rightly nominated him for as well as for higher rank, which he also deserved. It’s all here, finally." —Cdr. Peter B. Mersky, USNR (Ret), author of Whitey, the Story of Rear Admiral E. L. Feightner, A Navy Fighter Ace (Naval Institute Press, 2014)
  • "Swede Vejtasa was a great combat leader. I flew my first combat mission with him as his wingman during the Battle of Santa Cruz. He had great situational awareness in a fight, something that is required in any aerial engagement. He has not received the recognition he so richly deserves, until now." —Rear Admiral E.L. "Whitey" Feightner, USN (ret)
  • "America was looking for heroes in 1942 from the charred ruins of the Pacific Fleet left smoldering at Pearl Harbor, and Swede Vejtasa was nothing short of a blowtorch. His full biography is long overdue but we are fortunate that Ted Edwards was able to capture time with Medal of Honor nominee Vejtasa in his final months to put his emotions to paper. Seven at Santa Cruz brings forth not only Swede's accomplishments as both a dive bomber pilot and an ace fighter pilot but also the grit and fiery personality that was Vejtasa. In that the book is told often through the veteran's own perspective, we gain valuable insight into his passionate character and the traits that often had him pushing the envelope in ways that equally jeopardized his career and ensured his victories in combat." —Stephen L. Moore, author of As Good as Dead: The Daring Escape of American POWs From a Japanese Death Camp

Ted Edwards is an historian whose oral history work with World War II aviators and other veterans of twentieth-century war is driven by a desire to understand the events via firsthand accounts. Edwards has written on World War II aviators for Naval Aviation News. 

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