In this compelling and remarkable account, Bob Harper defies physical limitations to serve his country during a time of escalating demand for soldiers. Standing at a modest 5 feet, 4 inches and weighing a mere 110 pounds, Harper falls short of the minimum size requirements for US military service. However, as the need for manpower intensifies, rules are flexed and Harper's deferment is revoked, thrusting him into the Army against all odds.
Harper was deployed to the European front and survived 35 combat missions as a B-17 ball turret gunner. Based at airfields in England, Bob and the 381st Bomb Group flew brutal missions over heavily defended industrial centers in Germany. Harper was shot down twice and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Through his letters home, combat reports, and extensive interviews with author Bill Cullen, Harper describes his harrowing experiences on board the Flying Fortresses of the Eighth Air Force.
Cullen's interviews with Harper, who was still alive as of the completion of the manuscript (he died at age 100 on July 6, 2023), took place over a period of years, and it is the anecdotes from the interviews that drive the majority of the narrative. The ball turret was located underneath the aircraft and was a confined, intense, and unique environment from which to experience combat during the Second World War. Readers will find Harper, who went on to a successful business career after the war, to be an insightful, witty, and engaging storyteller.