The Navigation Case reveals the drama and sacrifice expended by America’s pioneering pilots’ first ever demonstration of air superiority, during the greatest campaign in U.S. Air Force history.
An aged and glossy leather briefcase was discovered when our family house was cleaned out and sold. We came to learn that my father had meticulously collected his military documents, private letters, and souvenirs, and packed them away in this—his pilot’s navigation case.
From randomly within, a newspaper article tumbled out. It described a massive typhoon in New Guinea causing “horror and tragedy” and resulting in incredible untold loss of men and aircraft. But larger questions remained unanswered: What was my father, or any American, doing in New Guinea, of all places? If America was fighting Japan, why were we fighting in New Guinea?
Aviation as an industry was in its infancy. The sagas of pioneering pilots detail fascinating but deadly cadet training and violent air missions. The narrative flourishes into an incredible story giving the context for all the Pacific war stories from Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Midway island, and Iwo Jima, up to the avoidable catastrophes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
John E. Happ is a contributing author to the Journal of the American Revolution, has written for the World War One website The 75th Artillery C.A.C., and the adventure magazine Atlantic Coastal Kayaker.
A native of the Chicago area but immersed in the contrasting narratives of foreign cultures since college in Spain, he speaks five languages. His varied assignments in Germany, Switzerland, the Philippines, and Japan contributed greatly to his research into the origins of the Pacific War resulting in this, his first book, The Navigation Case.