Friday, March 25, 2011

Frank Van Dyke

I received the following message from Peter Van Dyke this morning:

"It's with a mix of joy and great sadness that I have to inform you that my Dad died on Wed 3/23.

"We loved him and we will miss him greatly, but his life had become a continual struggle. He was a man of great faith and the thing he wanted most was to be with my Mom again.

"I have every belief that they are together, happy and pain free.

"He was very proud of his service to his country with VPB118."

Frank was co-pilot of Crew 13/7, piloted by PPC Lt. Cmdr. Edward G. "Doc" Binning. Frank's genial personality was a great aspect of the reunions. I am glad to have known him briefly through the reunions and to have heard him talk about his experiences as a lieutenant (jg) in WWII. A comment about the photo: I suggested this rather goofy pose, which Frank undertook in good humor.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"China Ghost"

I just opened the box that came in the mail and took out my copy of China Ghost by Robert L. Perrenot, purchased on eBay last week. I haven't read this book yet, obviously, but it looks like a serious attempt to write a historical novel about what it was like to be an airman in a VPB squadron in WWII. I'll read it and give my opinion after I finish. It looks promising.

This book is copyright 2008, the year of Mr. Perrenot's death. On the last page, it says "LaVerne, TN USA 15 March 2011". I have a paperback version; it seems like maybe the hardback version came out in 2008.

[Update on 11/11/2011:]
I finished reading this a while ago. I liked the first part of the book quite a lot because it seemed like a pretty good tale of life in the U.S. Navy circa 1940's. It featured one fictitious guy's experiences getting into a patrol bomber squadron and flying off with his squadron into the theater of combat. This story squares pretty well with what I've read and stories that guys from VPB-118 have told. Without giving away the plot of the book, the second half (in my opinion) diverges from the typical experience of most PB4Y-2 crews and becomes a different kind of adventure yarn, as if flying missions in a PB4Y-2 was not interesting or exciting enough. So I have to say the last part of the book was a disappointment. That said, it WAS written by a PB4Y-2 veteran and is of interest as such. I guess if I was to rate it purely on literary/entertainment value, I would give it a two out of a scale of four while wishing it rated more.