Viper Force: 56th Fighter Wing – To Fly and Fight the F-16

“Viper Force: 56th Fighter Wing – To Fly and Fight the F-16” by John M. Dibbs with text by Lt.Col. Robert “Cricket” Renner, USAF (Retired) and published by Zenith Press is a work of art. John Dibbs photography is gallery quality photography. The book blends world-class photography with a great narrative. Lt.Col. Renner is a talented writer.

The training of the pilots occurs at Luke Air Force base, Arizona. I lived at Luke AFB for six years growing up in a United States Air Force family. It was like a visit to an old friend for me.  Lt.Col. Robert “Cricket” Renner, USAF (Retired) gives in-depth details and insights into the training for flying the “Viper” as well as the explanations of the F-16 and its abilities. The stories of many former and current viper pilots give the pilot’s point of view in a powerful way.

The narrative of Lt.Col. Renner has John Dibbs photographs support and assisting in telling the story. It makes a spectacular book.  The book would be a welcome addition to any aviation buffs library as well as the military historian’s collection. Community libraries would also benefit from the book as it tells the tale of the F-16.

Poem: Armistice Day

Armistice Day

On November eleven
As all of us knows
We signed an armistice
With all of our foes
And threw off our gas masks
We laid down our gun
And buried our hatchet
Along with the Hun

Now eight years have passed
Since that glorious day
When we signed that armistice
That ended the fray
And thousands of boys
Emerged from the strife
To come home a cripple
For the rest of his life

And thousands of others
Are over there still
Who never came home
And of course never will
They followed old glory
To a faraway shore
And to the loved ones at home
They returned never more

Althou’ we won glory
Across the big pond
We owe our respects
To our comrades that’s gone
And we’ll pause from our labor
Our tribute to pay
To our fallen companions
On Armistice Day

Written by Thomas Aaron Kepler in 1926
Copyright © Estate of Thomas Kepler
The poem was written by my grandfather, Thomas Aaron Kepler. It is one of several I have that he wrote and published.  He was a resident of Jamestown, Ohio. He passed away before I was born.  His poetry and writing are the only way I have had to know him.

Finland’s War Of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II

“Finland’s War Of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II” by Henrik O. Lunde  tells the little know story of the strange partnership and joint military operations of Finland and Germany between 1941 and 1945. The coalition of these two is rarely included in English books. This is not the more well know “Winter War” of 1940 between the Soviet Union and Finland, but rather the story that has not brought pleasure to that Finns. It was a political decision and union the Finns would rather forget.

Henrik O. Lunde is an excellent writer. He gives us the necessary background of Finland’s history. He gives a necessary overview covering the country’s severance from the Soviet Union in 1917. He explains Finland’s seclusion after the Winter War in 1940. Finally he explains the decision-making process and unbelievable lack of planning and coördination used by both the Germans and Finns in forming this unlikely coalition against the Soviet Union.

We see how bizarre it was for that the German Generals allowed their military machine to accept an unsteady and rickety alliance. We see how the normal planning processes just did not happen. We see the failure to plan their goals and aims. We see inadequate command and control as well as no overall coördinated plan. We find the normally professional German General Staff not following normal rules and protocol at every turn. We see how Leningrad jaded both the Germ and Finn’s planning and strategy.

We see how the Finns quickly fell into “Goose-Step” with the Germans as the willing followed their leadership without question. We learn that their best trained and most powerful army made almost no major contribution because of its misuse in central and northern Finland. German lack the troop strength in this harsh climate theater to achieve success without the Finns. The Finns were unwell in provide the necessary assistance.

The book concludes with the Finns battling the USSRs counterattack in 19944. We see how Finland lost all military gains. To the German’s dismay the Finns engaged in a separate peace agreement with the Soviets. This resolution gave the German’s no option due to their troop strength levels except to fight their way from the region. The casualties for this theater of operation were a staggering 1,000,000 plus.  Compared to the Soviet losses of over 800,000 the Finland/German total of just fewer than 300,000 were meager.

Former US Army Colonel Henrik Lunde has produced a well written, well researched book. It should be part of any World War II students library and is must reading for any student of 20th century European history. It is well done.