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James W. Vernon

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Lieutenant Commander James W. Vernon, USN (ret.) attended “two years college at Montana School of Mines before entering Naval Flight Training in 1942. He completed training in early 1944 and was commissioned; and, then trained in dive bombers in Florida and New Jersey. and, embarked on USS Randolph with air group 87, as a fighter pilot.”


Later, Lieutenant Commander James W. Vernon “went into combat aboard USS Ticonderoga in early 1945. Left the Navy and entered the U. of California, Berkeley where he earned a BA and MA in geology. He worked for the state of California 4 years before being recalled to active naval service as a photographic intelligence officer during the Korean War.  He became a civilian again in 1953 and began work as a geologist for Texaco in Southern California and Alaska. Quit Texaco and earned a Ph.D. at the University of Southern California and began working as a Marine Geologist employing SCUBA and deep submersibles and research vessels for oil exploration off California and Alaska, and engineering projects in the Marshall Islands and Mediterranean Sea.”


Lieutenant Commander James W. Vernon is the author of The Hostile Sky: A Hellcat Flier in World War II and Writes of Flight.


According to the book description of The Hostile Sky: A Hellcat Flier in World War II, “In the summer of 1942 Jim Vernon, a nineteen-year-old college student in Butte, Montana, joined the U.S. Navy's aviation cadet training program and by the spring of 1945 was flying F6F Hellcats from the USS Ticonderoga off of the coast of Japan. This memoir of his years at war provides a carrier pilot's view of the conflict in the Pacific during the final months of the war when the atomic bombs were dropped and Japan capitulated. He gives an up-close-and-personal account of life in a bomber-fighter squadron and the roller-coaster emotions involved in combat sorties over the hostile sea and land.


As a member of VBF-87, Vernon offers a unique glimpse into the past at a time when teenagers matured rapidly as they faced the realities of war. He has recorded his own feelings about meeting the challenges of war, his love of flying, and the camaraderie of his flying mates--both in the air and on liberty--along with the factual details of battle that contribute important dimensions to the overall story of the air war. Added to these stirring memories are his entertaining descriptions of the mobilization and training of carrier pilots and his recounting of the high incidence of non-combat fatalities and the change in the composition of the air group in response to the Kamikaze threat. Such a book not only will appeal to aviators everywhere but also will prove to be a thrilling read for those interested in World War II and air combat.”

The Hostile Sky: A Hellcat Flyer in the World War II
James W. Vernon  More Info
Writes of Flight
James W. Vernon  More Info

According to the book description of Writes of Flight, it describes “the making of a world war II naval aviator. the author quit college to begin training as a naval aviator. the end of the war found him a fighter pilot flying combat missions from an aircraft carrier against targets on the Japanese home islands. he brings to life again those turbulent years; grinding, perilous training; the pain for lost comrades; the joy of success; the numbness of carousing; the insanity of war. Through it all runs the enchantment and wonder of flying; the awesome aspect of the unforgiving air, the eternal sea and the skulking shadow of death. He has recorded how the tumult of war swiftly shaped his ascent from boy to man.”

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