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Book review: Pictorial account of WWII's Black Sheep Squadron of interest to history buffs

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 12:32 a.m. MDT

Bruce Gamble, author of Bruce Gamble, author of "Swashbucklers and Black Sheep: A Pictoral History of Marine Fighting Sqadron 214 in World War II." (Zenith Press)

"SWASHBUCKLERS AND BLACK SHEEP: A Pictorial History of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in World War II," by Bruce Gamble, Zenith Press, $40, 216 pages (nf)

World War II ended in 1945, but the legends and tales of the participants continue to reverberate, despite the years that have passed.

The Black Sheep Squadron, led by Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, was a unit that wreaked havoc on the Japanese in the islands of the Far East. Boyington and his fliers were recognized as one of the best and most successful units in war theaters.

Bruce Gamble, drawing on years of study and interest in Boyington and his men, has written a colorful tabletop book, "Swashbucklers and Black Sheep," which is filled with photos, art and descriptions that document many of the major battles the unit had with the Japanese.

A large portion of the pictures in "Swashbucklers and Black Sheep" is from the archives of the pilots who flew with Boyington and the squadron. The details seen in the photographs and from other included documents help flesh out many of the stories that have circulated for years about the unit.

Bruce Gamble is traveling the country in his '67 Mustang to promote his book, Bruce Gamble is traveling the country in his '67 Mustang to promote his book, "Swashbucklers and Black Sheep: A Pictorial History of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in World War II." (Zenith Press)

Originally called "the Swashbucklers," the Marine Fighting Squadron VMF-214 spent their first years in relative obscurity, flying the Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat.

It wasn't until Boyington was given command of the group and the men were issued the new F4U-1 Corsair that their legend began to grow.

For the next few years, the Black Sheep became the darlings of the United States as the fliers set numerous records for downing enemy planes and destroying other ordnance. Their bravery and planning accounted for more "kills" than any other group in the American military.

Those interested in the history of WWII and especially in the stories of the Black Sheep Squadron will find this book to be a great addition to their library.

It should be noted that the book does not contain many descriptions of specific battles. Gamble has written two other books ("The Black Sheep" and "Black Sheep One") for those who are interested in greater detail of the unit's battles.

"Swashbucklers and Black Sheep: A Pictoral History of Marine Fighting Sqadron 214 in World War II" by Bruce Gamble. The author will be at the Sugar House Barnes and Noble on Sept. 26. (Zenith Press)

Gamble, a disabled Navy veteran, is driving across the country in his "Sweet Chariot" tour in his 1967 Ford Mustang convertible, which has hand controls, and will be at the Barnes and Noble in Sugar House on Sept. 26.

Mike Whitmer resides in West Valley City and writes on occasion. His email is grundelwalken@gmail.com or he blogs at mtwhitmer.blogspot.com.

If you go …

What: Bruce Gamble book signing

When: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Barnes and Noble, McIntyre Center, 1104 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City

Web: barnesandnoble.com

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