The Marines’ Lost Squadron
By Mark Carlson
(Sunbury Press, 400 pages, $19.95)
It is bad enough that a fighter pilot is constantly checking his six, knowing full well that just as he is seeking out a target, there are others out there for whom he could easily be their target. Death is a constant companion. In Mark Carlson’s well-detailed book,
The Marines’ Lost Squadron, it becomes painstakingly obvious, however, that all enemies don’t bear meatballs on their wings or swastikas on their tails. Nature can be a persistent enemy that is often aided and abetted by an enemy from within: faulty leadership and lackluster planning.
VMF-422 and Operation Flintlock in the South Pacific combined to became one of the Marine Corps’ biggest aviation disasters and not a single Japanese aircraft was involved. Twenty-four aircraft took off on a routine ferry flight. Twenty-two aircraft and six young Marine aviators didn’t make it. Some simply disappeared, never to be seen again; they were swallowed up by a cyclone and the endless ocean. One died within sight of shore, struggling in his parachute harness after ditching.
Carlson does an excellent job of following the drama experienced by individual pilots in the group as well as delving into the question of what actually happened. Why did they take off with such a dated weather forecast? Who made the decisions, and why?
The desperation experienced by the pilots in this hopeless situation is fully felt by the reader. Among the emotions you’ll feel when you finish reading will be anger. This didn’t have to happen. But it did, and it’s one of the littleknown secrets of the Pacific Theater of Operation—until now. The Marines’ Lost Squad
fills in some historical blanks and is worth reading.—