About the Book
Devotion tells the inspirational story of the U.S. Navy’s most famous aviator duo, Lt. Tom Hudner and Ens. Jesse Brown, and the Marines they fought to defend. A white New Englander from the country-club scene, Tom passed up Harvard to fly fighters for his country. An African American sharecropper’s son from Mississippi, Jesse became the navy’s first black carrier pilot, defending a nation that wouldn’t even serve him in a bar.
While much of America remained divided by segregation, Jesse and Tom joined forces as wingmen in Fighter Squadron 32. Adam Makos takes us into the cockpit as these bold young aviators cut their teeth at the world’s most dangerous job—landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier—a line of work that Jesse’s young wife, Daisy, struggles to accept.
Deployed to the Mediterranean, Tom and Jesse meet the Fleet Marines, boys like PFC “Red” Parkinson, a farm kid from the Catskills. In between war games in the sun, the young men revel on the Riviera, partying with millionaires and even befriending the Hollywood starlet Elizabeth Taylor. Then comes the war no one expected, in faraway Korea.
Devotion takes us soaring overhead with Tom and Jesse, and into the foxholes with Red and the Marines as they battle a North Korean invasion. As the fury of the fighting escalates and the Marines are cornered at the Chosin Reservoir, Tom and Jesse fly, guns blazing, to try and save them. When one of the duo is shot down behind enemy lines and pinned in his burning plane, the other faces an unthinkable choice: watch his friend die or attempt history’s most audacious one-man rescue mission.
A tug-at-the-heartstrings tale of bravery and selflessness, Devotion asks: How far would you go to save a friend?
Hailed as “a masterful storyteller” by the Associated Press, Adam Makos is the author of the New York Times bestseller A Higher Call, and the critically-acclaimed Devotion. Inspired by his grandfathers’ service, Adam chronicles the stories of American veterans in his trademark fusion of intense human drama and fast-paced military action, securing his place “in the top ranks of military writers,” according to the Los Angeles Times. In the course of his research, Adam has flown a WWII bomber, accompanied a Special Forces raid in Iraq, and journeyed into North Korea in search of an MIA American airman.
“. . . Korea, the place that would end their lives or make them men.”
What an amazing story. I’d never read anything about the Korean War, but was so taken by Adam Makos’s A Higher Call. I still have a lump in my throat from the power of genuine friendship in the midst of the brutal Korean War. Marine pilots, one of them the first Black to fly with them, based on the USS Leyte, supported Marines on the ground that terrible winter–surrounded for several nights in such brutal cold that their guns failed.
When thousands of White Jacket Chinese troops attacked with bayonets during the day at Chosin Reservoir, the Corsairs were finally able to provide close air support. The Battle of Chosin Reservoir has been compared to the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. One of the Corsairs went down. A friend of the pilot, against orders, crash landed his own plane trying to save him. Dramatic and emotional to the end.
I was especially interested in this battle because Iowan Dennis Dorman, a veteran of two tours of duty in the Korean War who fought with the 7th Infantry Division (which is named in the book), is a survivor of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, where his Army unit took heavy losses–only 348 survived out of 3,790 soldiers. Mr. Dorman was awarded Six Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, and is named on the storyboard accompanying the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn.
The book’s Afterword updates information about people in the poignant history. There’s also an extensive bibliography along with notes. An important and moving story to appreciate the camaraderie and sacrifice during this juncture of American history.
Our American Stories just featured Thomas Hudner’s story (11 minutes) about this incredible episode. “The Navy commissioned its newest destroyer and named it after a man who deliberately crash-landed a perfectly good aircraft behind enemy lines. But the man who became the first American serviceman in the Korean War to receive the Medal of Honor—and the man who lent his name to the USS Thomas Hudner had a darn good reason, perhaps the best of reasons.”
A terrific interview with the author.