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WWII fliers' accounts enliven 'Fields of Fire' History

By Russ Long Published: February 24, 2008
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If you lived during the World War II invasion of Europe, you will be enthralled with the descriptions by Austin J. "Buck” Buchanan and W.L. George Collins in their book, "Into Fields of Fire” (Xlibris, $21.99).

It is the story of the 438th Troop Carrier Group, which spearheaded the invasion in Normandy by dropping the first stick of 24 paratroopers near the town of St. Mere Eglise, France. The story is taken from notes Buchanan wrote daily as he flew missions towing gliders and dropping paratroopers. Collins, who flew in the same group, edited and compiled the notes.

Collins has been awarded the George Washington Medal by Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.

Beginning with the creation of the 438th Troop Carrier Group, he describes their training and movement to Europe, then follows operations through perilous missions flying deep into enemy territory without fighter protection. They faced flak barrages and often received small arms fire from low levels. Near the war's end, they flew canisters of gasoline to Gen. George Patton's tanks, then returned to bases in France with wounded men.

High praise was also given by Dwight Eisenhower and Winston Churchill for the actions of the 438th Troop Carrier Group in shortening and winning the war.

Collins conveys the danger of riding with the C-47 glider tow planes at low levels into fields of fire. Those who remember the days of World War II will follow the actions of these pilots with grave interest and feel the excitement of their flights as described when each of the group's planes is counted on its return from a mission.

Collins makes this an exciting review of World War II history.

— Russ Long