Be Like Bob, Know Your History

One of the smartest guys I ever knew was an old squadron mate. He was an enlisted man, a loadmaster on the C-130 Hercules. He had no formal education beyond high school and his training in the Air Force and Navy. But his hobby was reading history. Every time you saw him, he had a nonfiction book on some period of history.

One day he and I were with a group of fliers on a day off in Germany, and we were touring a castle in Heidelberg. Bob could talk without notes about historical events in that part of Germany, including things that had happened at that castle.

Bob’s knowledge impressed me so much, I asked him, “Are you a history teacher in civilian life?”

“Nope,” he said.

“Are you working on a history degree?”

“Nope,” he said. “I just like to read.”

“That’s pretty impressive,” I said. “What is it that motivates you to read so much about history?”

“This $#%& actually happened to people,” Bob said.

This year brings the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. But too many people know too little about it. That’s why I’m challenging folks to read at least two books about World War II this year. Naturally, I hope one of them is my new historical novel, Silver Wings, Iron Cross, which comes out in May. But it could be anything, fiction or nonfiction.

If you take up the #WWIIBookChallenge, please check in and let me know what you’re reading. But we’ll have a hard time catching up with Bob.


  1. Kevin Varley on February 19, 2020 at 7:21 am

    On my 5th WW2 book of the year, Together We Stand by James Holland. Previous ones were All the Gallant Men (Stratton), Wolfpack 351 (Cooke), Pacific Thunder (Cleaver), and A Pair if Silver Wings (Holland). Looking forward to yours!!! Have enjoyed all of your other books. Thank you!

    • Thomas W. Young on February 20, 2020 at 6:10 am

      Thanks, Kevin. I appreciate that. I’ll have to check out some of the WWII books you’re reading, too. All the best….

  2. Elizabeth watts on February 19, 2020 at 8:27 am

    My husband,Navy Captain Harry Franklin Watts Jr. loved history .He read books about history all the time.aHe was really smart as a result of reading.

    • Thomas W. Young on February 20, 2020 at 6:15 am

      Hi, Elizabeth. Thanks for checking in. Always good to hear from you. I wish I could have met Harry. I’m sure he was quite a guy.

  3. Tim Shipway on February 19, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Yes, Tom we were blessed to have the experience of talking to and see the world with these men that told the story. One trip to Germany I and Alex an engineer rented a car and drove to a small town near stuttgart Ge. to see his family his fathers friend was their and he was in The Germany army and was a POW captured at Vosneck, Hurtgen forest. My grandfather was their and was wounded November 21 1944. The hairs on my neck was standing straight up hearing him talk , translate through Alex . What memoirs!

    • Thomas W. Young on February 20, 2020 at 6:13 am

      Hi, Tim. Thanks for checking in. Wow–I’d imagine both your grandfather and the German veteran had some fascinating stories. My grandfather was a B-17 mechanic in the 8th Air Force. I grew up hearing his stories from the war.

  4. Ron Royster on February 19, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    The most unbelievable thing for me is not the history of how Hitler seized power and through the use of misinformation and propaganda was able to persuade an entire country to support his reign of madness, but how a great portion of our country did not learn the lesson.

  5. Wayde on February 23, 2020 at 9:37 am

    I have a similar outlook… reading history is like reading a good story, except it’s true. Currently reading The Guns at Last Light.

    • Thomas W. Young on February 24, 2020 at 6:35 am

      I’m reading that one, too!

  6. William Bailey on February 6, 2021 at 8:28 am

    I retired after 25 years in the Air Force, I miss it reading the Parson and Gold novels puts me sometimes back into the action. However safe in my recliner. Do you have any plans to write a new book and if so when would you release it.

    • Thomas W. Young on February 7, 2021 at 8:03 am

      Hi, William. Thanks for your kind words, and more importantly, thank you for your service. My newest novel, a World War II story titled SILVER WINGS, IRON CROSS, came out recently. It will be republished in softcover on March 31. My next book, also a WWII story, is titled RED BURNING SKY, and it’s scheduled for release in January of 2022. RED BURNING SKY is inspired by the real-life Operation Halyard, the rescue of more than 500 downed American airmen in Yugoslavia.

      All the best, and please keep in touch.

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