Hugh T. Harrington: “Last Roll Call” Review

Mr. Tucker was a B-17 tail gunner in the 97th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force. He flew his 35th mission shortly before the end of the war…and shortly before his 20th birthday. He and his daughter Wanda Tucker Goodwin have written an account of his service beginning with the Pearl Harbor attack when Ken was still in school, through his training and his experiences flying out of Amendola, Italy.

Mr. Tucker does not dwell on the details of the training or combat. Knowledgeable AAF enthusiasts will not find much that is new to them. However, those who are new to the study of the U.S. contributions the air war in Europe will be delighted.

The writing style is wonderful. The book reads as if Mr. Tucker were sitting across the room telling the reader about his experiences. I didn’t want the story to end. He is very modest in his approach but reading between the lines it is clear that this was no picnic.

The book reads fast and left me very satisfied. I also had great admiration for Mr. Tucker and those thousands of men who flew with him.

 Enjoy.

Hugh T. Harrington, Author of Civil War Milledgeville: Tales from the Confederate Capital of Georgia

 The Last Roll Call written by Kenneth Tucker and Wanda Tucker Goodwin.

Santa Ana Army Air Field, California: “Last Roll Call” Excerpt

9 – Santa Ana Army Air Field, California: Classification

We had been there less than two weeks when everybody in my squadron received a letter from General Hap Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Corp. That memo would forever change our military dreams. It read something like this: “At this time there are too many personnel in air-crew training. Your squadron will be taken out of training. You will be given your choice of other fields that are experiencing shortfalls.”

The Last Roll Call written by Kenneth Tucker and Wanda Tucker Goodwin.

Shot Down: “Last Roll Call” Excerpt

33:  Shot Down

As the plane slowed down, we noticed a small crowd had gathered. When we came to a stop, some members of the greeting party moved closer. We were all pretty anxious to get out of that plane, so I quickly opened the door. As long as I live, I will never forget those three women who were standing so close to the door they were actually blocking our exit. They were so scary, my first instinct was to slam the door shut and grab my pistol. Each one of the women was about the size and shape of a refrigerator. Their uniforms looked like they were made out of those olive drab GI blankets. On their caps was the prominent Communist red star. Each one had a bandolier of ammunition with a sub-machine gun slung over their shoulders. Boy, they were mean looking, with no expression on their faces whatsoever. They just stood there, glaring at us, until Dunigan came forward and attempted to get them to back up so we could get out. He wasn’t having much luck, and I was beginning to think that maybe we should have ditched in the Adriatic.

The Last Roll Call written by Kenneth Tucker and Wanda Tucker Goodwin.

The Trip Over: “Last Roll Call” Excerpt

13:  The Trip Over

So now we knew that we were not going to be joining the illustrious 8th Air Force in England. We were not going to be in an English-speaking country with friendly neighbors and pretty local girls to date. We wouldn’t have local pubs to visit or weekend passes to London. There was little chance that Andy Rooney or Walter Cronkite would be paying us a visit. The war correspondents wanted assignments where they had access to comfortable hotels and good meals. No chance that Major Clark Gable would grace us with an appearance. He was a glamour boy who had been assigned to the 8th to help boost their glamorous reputation. Bob Hope’s USO Shows probably wouldn’t make it to our area either. No, we were headed to the not-so-glamorous 15th Air Force.

The Last Roll Call written by Kenneth Tucker and Wanda Tucker Goodwin.