Before They Were the Black Sheep:
Marine Fighting Squadron VMF-214 and the Battle for the Solomon Islands

Carl O. Dunbar, edited by Peter M. Dunbar

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"A must-read for young Navy and Marine Corps officers as they enter aviation training."--
Lt. Gen. Robert F. Milligan, U.S. Marine Corps (retired)

"An intriguing look at Marine aviation in World War II by a sensitive and intelligent pilot; few narratives provide as much insight into the intensely personal feelings of a pilot in combat."--Walter Boyne, author of The Influence of Air Power upon History

"Offers a compelling look into the world of a young man who left the comfort of civilian life to become a pilot in one of the best known combat fighter squadrons of the Pacific War. Lt. Carl O. Dunbar Jr.'s letters home remind us of the personal side of the Second World War."--Michael H. Creswell, author of A Question of Balance

Before the Marine Fighting Squadron VMF-214 became known as the Black Sheep squadron led by "Pappy" Boyington, this air group was already flying missions from Guadalcanal. Commissioned in 1942, the squadron was originally known as "The Swashbucklers."
 
Lt. Carl Dunbar was one of the squadron's original pilots, and his letters home describe the training and living conditions he faced as a Marine in the Pacific theater during the early years of World War II. Dunbar ultimately flew eighty-two missions during the Solomon campaign, and this volume includes his private logbook.
Like many veterans, after returning to the United States Dunbar rarely spoke about his wartime service. Only after his death did his son Peter discover this trove of material, and his commentary provides context for each of his father's letters. Both personal and universal, this volume offers a glimpse of what life was like for a man with a great sense of loyalty and compassion caught up in the war of his generation.

Peter M. Dunbar is a lawyer and partner with the Tallahassee-based firm of Pennington, Moore, Wilkinson, Bell and Dunbar and serves as an adjunct professor of law at Florida State University.

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"The book speaks highly of the human spirit and the quiet dignity of a man who would go on to build a humble law practice in Dunedin, raise a family, and like so many of the Greatest Generation, speak no more of his part in the war. Whether you are a student of history, or simply like to read a great story, I am, certain that if you read this book you will have but one regret -- that you can no longer talk to this unsung hero today." The Florida Bar Journal

"Stands out as a simple glimpse into the effectiveness and scope of American pilot training programs and provides insight into the subtle loving bonds between family members in war. The reader is also treated to a very thoughtful and quietly revealing journey that would have been lovely had the world not been trying to destroying itself. An enjoyable read." H-Net Reviews: H-War

"For readers who want to comprehend the whole experience of a pilot's tour of duty, Dunbar's letters add detail not found in many other books." Aviation History

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