Operation PLUM
The Ill-fated 27th Bombardment Group and the Fight for the Western Pacific
Military History - World War II
6 x 9, 363 pp.
34 b&w photos., 8 maps.
Pub Date: 06/24/2008
Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series
Price:        $29.95

Price:        $18.95


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Operation PLUM

The Ill-fated 27th Bombardment Group and the Fight for the Western Pacific

By Adrian R. Martin and Larry W. Stephenson

They went in as confident young warriors. They came out as battle-scarred veterans, POW camp survivors

. . . or worse. The Army Air Corps’ 27th Bombardment Group arrived in the Philippines in November 1941 with 1,209 men; one year later, only 20 returned to the United States.

The Japanese attacked the Philippines on the same morning as Pearl Harbor and invaded soon after. Allied air routes back to the Philippines were soon cut, forcing pilots to fight their air war from bases in Java, Australia, and New Guinea. The men on Bataan were eventually taken prisoner and forced into the infamous Death March.

The 27th and other such units were pivotal in delaying the Japanese timetable for conquest. If not for these units, some have suggested, the Allied offensive in the Pacific might have started in Hawaii or even California instead of New Guinea and the surrounding islands.

Based largely on primary materials, including a fifty-nine-page report written by the surviving unit members in September 1942, Operation PLUM (from the code name for the U.S. Army in the Philippines) gives an account of the 27th Bombardment Group and, through it, the opening months of the Pacific theater.

Military historians and readers interested in World War II will appreciate the rich perspective presented in Operation PLUM

ADRIAN R. MARTIN, a retired high school teacher, is the author of three books, including Brothers from Bataan: POWs 1942–1945. He lives in Menasha, Wisconsin.

LARRY W. STEPHENSON, the nephew of Capt. Glenwood Stephenson, a participant in Operation PLUM, is the Ford-Webber Professor of Surgery at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. A retired Army colonel, Stephenson also serves as an associate editor of a major medical journal and has written six other books and more than 300 articles

What Readers Are Saying:

“This work details the experiences of pilots of an Army Air Forces’ dive bomber group caught up in the 1941–42 Philippines campaign without their aircraft, a story not previously covered as a single volume in the literature. By heavily relying on the pilots’ own descriptions of personal experiences, the authors are able to present a graphic picture of the frustrations the young and combat-inexperienced airmen endured in the early months of the Pacific War.”--William H. Bartsch, Independent Historian

"Were this a novel, it would be a page turner.  Alas, it is history -- but so personalized that the men become your friends and you mourn their loss as much as their fellow aviators . . . You will not finish this book without saying to yourself, 'My God, where did we find such men?'"--Allied POWs Under the Japanese

"Adrian Martin and Larry Stephenson have collaborated to produce an interesting and much-needed examination of the fate of U.S. Army Air Forces fliers trapped in the Philippines during the Japanese invasion of December 1942 . . . the book is an excellent choice for anyone interested in examining the pioneering efforts of West Point graduates in the U.S. Army Air Forces of World War II, or who wishes to analyze firsthand accounts of aerial combat in the Pacific Theater."--Assembly

"This is a fine tale of a little-known chapter in World War II, complete with maps and excellent black-and-white photos. Martin and Stephenson, the latter the nephew of a 27th pilot, should take particular pride in their thorough research."--Proceedings

“Operation PLUM is able to give the most complete and compelling picture of the early Pacific air war ever likely to appear…Scholars will value it, and general readers will respond favorably to its often spellbinding appeal—it is a very reader-friendly book, a virtual page-turner with its snappy alterations between broad perspective and telling specifics.”--Dr. Jerome Klinkowitz, Professor of English, University of Northern Iowa

“The tale of the U.S. Forces’ involvement in the war in the Pacific in the early months after Pearl Harbor is a story that cries out to be told . . . . Little has been said about the early heroes of the war in the Phillippines, Java, Australia, and New Guinea . . . . This book goes deep into the terrible events in those days. As a participant in the war against Japan that followed, I recommend this book as a historical comment to set the record straight, and to remind all Americans of the sacrifice and bravery of our armed forces then and now.”--Col. Russell M. Paquette, USMC (Retired), Veteran of World War II battles for

“History is so important but often ignored . . . . This is a first hand account of the horrors that went with World War II . . . . These stories, by those who were there, will hold your attention.”--Paul H. Poberenzy, Founder, Experimental Aircraft Association

“This is a story of the darkest days of the war in the Pacific, immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It is a story of confusion, indecision, conflicting orders and missed opportunities. Told through the experiences of the 27th Bombardment Group of the Army Air Forces, it is also a story of courage and resourcefulness, of sacrifice and selflessness. It is an inspiring reminder of just how substantial our debt is to these men who paid such a terrible price to help lay the foundation for ultimate victory at a time when that victory seemed little more than a faint hope. It is a book that needs to be read—and remembered.”--Neal Shine, former publisher, the Detroit Free Press

“The book is excellent and the most readable of reads. The events, facts and data were so wonderfully presented that the possibility of boredom never became a factor. The research that went into this book was remarkable. I will never forget your presentation beginning page 218 with the heading ‘Missions, April, 19–21’ through the rest of the chapter to page 230. It was cleverly presented almost as a mystery thriller.”--David Hochman, M.D., Physician and POW, 27th Bombardment Group

“The book brings back vivid memories of my time back there on Bataan . . . . I’m finally learning what happened to the pilots and men of the 27th who managed to avoid capture. I am greatly impressed by (Operation Plum) . . . . it is definitely an attention grabber.”--James J. Bollich, Veteran and POW, 27th Bombardment Group and author of Ba

“It’s a great book and you have done a wonderful job of research and writing.”--Col. Ronald Hubbard, USAF (ret.), Pilot, 27th and 3rd Bombardment Groups

“The book is outstanding. Even though I was there, I learned a lot. I was unaware of some of the events happening around me at the time that are portrayed in the book.”--Col. Howard B. West, USAF (ret.), Pilot, 27th and 3rd Bombardment Groups

“The book is terrific; it is well written, well documented and well edited, and is a real contribution to the history of those events and people it covers.”--G. Wayne Dow, Nephew of Harry Roth, Pilot, 27th Bombardment Group


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