Indianapolis-The Indiana Historical Society Press is proud to announce the release of “Fighter Pilot: The World War II Career of Alex Vraciu.” Written by award-winning author and historian Ray E. Boomhower, this biography suitable for young readers examines the daring exploits of the Hoosier flier during his wartime service.
A graduate of DePauw University, Vraciu learned to fly during his college years through a government program and joined the navy prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Possessed with keen eyesight, quick reflexes, excellent shooting instincts and a knack for finding his opponent’s weak spot, Vraciu became skilled in the deadly game of destroying the enemy in the skies over the Pacific Ocean.
For a period of four months in 1944, Vraciu stood as the leading ace in the U.S. Navy, shooting down 19 enemy airplanes in the air and an additional 21 on the ground as well as sinking a large Japanese merchant ship. One particularly shining moment came in the Mariana Islands on June 19, 1944, when Vraciu pounced on the Japanese and shot down six dive-bombers in just eight minutes while protecting the U.S. fleet.
Vraciu’s luck, however, finally ran out on Dec. 14, 1944, during a strafing run against a Japanese airfield before the American invasion to retake the Philippines. Luckily he was almost immediately rushed to safety by a small group of U.S. Army in the Far East guerrillas, who had been battling the Japanese in the area for the past few years. The navy pilot spent the next five weeks with the guerrillas, receiving the honorary rank of brevet major while with them.
About the Author
Ray E. Boomhower is senior editor with the Indiana Historical Society Press and edits the quarterly popular history magazine Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. His previous books have included biographies of author and Civil War general Lew Wallace, famed Hoosier war correspondent Ernie Pyle, suffragette and peace activist May Wright Sewall, World War II photographer John A. Bushemi, and astronaut Gus Grissom. In 1998, Boomhower received the IHS’s Hoosier Historian honor.
Title: Fighter Pilot: The World War II Career of Alex Vraciu
Illustrations: black-and-white illustrations
Size: 7 x 9
Publication Date: March 2010
To receive a review copy, please contact Amy Lamb, Media Relations Manager, at (317) 232-1878 or firstname.lastname@example.org.