Never Call Me a Hero: A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway
- Publish Date: 2017-05-23
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: N. Jack "Dusty" Kleiss;Timothy Orr;Laura Orr
National Bestseller â¢ An instant classic. âDallas Morning News â¢ 75 YEARS AGO, ONE DARING AMERICAN PILOT MAY HAVE CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORYÂ WHEN HE STRUCK AND SANKÂ TWO JAPANESEÂ CARRIERSÂ AT THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY
On the morning of June 4, 1942, high above the tiny Pacific atoll of Midway, Lt. (j.g.) Dusty Kleiss burst out of the clouds and piloted his SBD Dauntless into a near-vertical dive aimed at the heart of Japanâs Imperial Navy, which six months earlier had ruthlessly struck Pearl Harbor. The greatest naval battle in history raged around him, its outcome hanging in the balance as the U.S. desperately searched for its first major victory of the Second World War. Then, in a matter of seconds, Dusty Kleissâs daring 20,000-foot dive helped forever alter the warâs trajectory.
Plummeting through the air at 240 knots amid blistering anti-aircraft fire, the twenty-six-year-old pilot from USS Enterpriseâs elite Scouting Squadron Six fixed on an invaluable targetâthe aircraft carrier Kaga, one of Japanâs most important capital ships. He released three bombs at the last possible instant, then desperately pulled out of his gut-wrenching 9-g dive. As his plane leveled out just above the roiling Pacific Ocean, Dustyâs perfectly placed bombs struck the carrierâs deck, and Kaga erupted into an inferno from which it would never recover.
Arriving safely back at Enterprise, Dusty was met with heartbreaking news: his best friend was missing and presumed dead along with two dozen of their fellow naval aviators. Unbowed, Dusty returned to the air that same afternoon and, remarkably, would fatally strike another enemy carrier, Hiryu. Two days later, his deadeye aim contributed to the destruction of a third Japanese warship, the cruiser Mikuma, thereby making Dusty the only pilot from either side to land hits on three different ships, all of which sankâlosses that crippled the once-fearsome Japanese fleet.
By battleâs end, the humble young sailor from Kansas had earned his place in historyâand yet he stayed silent for decades, living quietly with his children and his wife, Jean, whom he married less than a month after Midway. Now his extraordinary and long-awaited memoir, Never Call Me a Hero, tells the Navy Cross recipientâs full story for the first time, offering an unprecedentedly intimate look at the the decisive contest for control of the Pacific in World War II (New York Times)âand one manâs essential role in helping secure its outcome.
Dusty worked on this book for years with naval historians Timothy and Laura Orr, aiming to publish Never Call Me a Hero for Midwayâs seventy-fifth anniversary in June 2017. Sadly, as the book neared completion in 2016, Dusty Kleiss passed away at age 100, the last surviving dive-bomber pilot to have fought at Midway. And yet the publication of Never Call Me a Hero is a cause for celebration: these pages are Dustyâs remarkable legacy, providing a riveting eyewitness account of the Battle of Midway, and an inspiring testimony to the brave men who fought, died, and shaped history during those four extraordinary days in June, seventy-five years ago.