This book is a long-awaited biography of one of the Navy's last
surviving World War II aces, and one of the Navy's most respected
officers of any period. Following a typical American mid-western
boyhood, Whitey Feightner, like so many of his generation, was in
the van of the huge group of young men thrust into World War II.
Like some of his generation, Whitey had logged flight time in
civilian aircraft before signing up to fly for the Navy. Upon
receiving his commission and his wings of gold, he was signed to a
fighter squadron and soon found himself in combat with the likes of
Jimmy Flatley and Butch O'Hare, two leaders who imparted their own
brand of flying skill and leadership on the young ensign. Whitey
flew through many of the war's most hectic and dangerous campaigns,
such as Guadalcanal and the Marianas, gaining nine official kills.
There were times he should not have returned, but his own skill and
positive outlook helped him make it through all the dangers.
After the war, and now a member of the regular Navy, Whitey was
assigned to several of the Navy's most secret and action-filled
projects down at Patuxent River, Maryland. He flew planes like the
F7U Cutlass, AD Skyraider, F9F Banshee and Cougar, helping to
develop these legendary fighters as they joined the fleet. Whitey
also was assigned to the early teams of the Blue Angels
demonstration unit. He is one of only two men who flew the radical
F7U Cutlass in Blue Angels colors.
Returning to the fleet in command of a squadron, and later of an
air group, Feightner continued to develop fighter tactics while
patrolling the oceans in defense of America and its allies. In
between tours at sea, Feightner served in the Pentagon dealing with
all the personalities and political turmoil of the time while
trying to bring Naval Aviation into the future. It wasn't easy.
Working with such luminaries as Hyman Rickover and Elmo Zumwalt was
not for the feint-hearted, and even Whitey did not come away
unscathed. Yet, through it all, he kept the smile and affable
demeanor that characterized this rare and highly skilled naval
aviator. His life story could serve as a model for any young
aviator to follow.
US Naval Institute Press
Peter B. Mersky
• Kendall Banning
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