Valor, Guts, and Luck

Valor, Guts, and Luck

A B-17 Tailgunner's Survival Story during World War II

William L. Smallwood

208 pages
12 photographs

Hardcover

June 2014

978-1-61234-692-2

$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

During the Second World War, a b-17 tailgunner had a one-in-four chance of survival during his standard twenty-five-mission tour. Valor, Guts, and Luck is the story of Staff Sergeant Lowell "Slats" Slayton (1923–2013), who beat those odds.

An underprivileged kid from Fargo, North Dakota, Slayton was a high school senior the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Drawn to the glamour of the "wild blue yonder" made famous by newsreels, he joined the Army Air Force. Eventually he found himself on an unlucky thirteenth mission to the main fw-190 fighter-aircraft plant in Oschersleben, Germany. After being hit by a rocket, his plane left the protection of the formation and was immediately attacked by a swarm of fighter-aircraft, resulting in damage that forced a crash landing in Germany.

Slayton, though wounded, survived the crash landing and spent time in three hospitals and two pow camps and then endured a 300-plus mile trek from Poland to western Germany during one of the coldest winters on record. Through Slayton’s recollections, William L. Smallwood conveys the riveting tales of life in the Air Corps, aerial combat, and the horrific experiences of a prisoner of war. Through it all, Slayton’s valor, guts, and luck made it possible for him to enjoy a homecoming after the war.

Author Bio

WILLIAM L. SMALLWOOD is the author of numerous books, including McClure of Idaho and two military book club selections, Warthog: Flying the A-10 in the Gulf War and Strike Eagle: Flying the F15E in the Gulf War, both available from Potomac Books.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Chapter One: Mission Number Thirteen
Chapter Two: Little Slats
Chapter Three: I Want You!
Chapter Four: The New Crew
Chapter Five: Off To Ridgewell
Chapter Six: Into the Deadly Skies
Chapter Seven: Brutal Skies
Chapter Eight: The Final Mission
Chapter Nine: Prisoner Patient
Chapter Ten: Stalag Luft VI
Chapter Eleven: Deeper into the Inferno
Chapter Twelve: Stalag Luft IV
Chapter Thirteen: Goons, Ferrets, and Some Good Guy Stories
Chapter Fourteen: Winter Descends
Chapter Fifteen: Descent into the Fifth Circle
Chapter Sixteen: Man as Animal
Chapter Seventeen: The Decision
Chapter Eighteen: Escape and Ecstasy
Chapter Nineteen: The Doctors Take Over
Chapter Twenty: Going Home
Chapter Twenty-One: The Rest of the Story

Also of Interest