Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lost Black Sheep - The Search for WWII Ace Chris Magee


When most people think about VMF-214 AKA "The Black Sheep," they remember either Pappy Boyington or the fictional characters from the 1970s TV show. But there is a member of VMF-214 who not only was an ace, but whose life was probably more interesting then the TV show. His name was Chris Magee.

Robert T. Reed's book Black Sheep - The Search of WWII Ace Chris Magee is not only a biography of Mr. Magee but also a search for his roots by Mr. Reed. The first section of the book is pretty much straight biography. Chris Magee grew up in Chicago and as a young man tried a few ways to get to Europe to become a fighter pilot in World War II. He failed at first, but did end up training in Canada with the RCAF. After graduating with his wings from the RCAF he joined the United States Marine Corps and became the second highest scoring ace with the Black Sheep. Mr. Magee was not the typical fighter pilot as seen on TV and in the movies. He was a deeply intellectual man, who was a voracious reader, and a great writer. His letters to various parties included in the book are well written, observant, and quite amusing at times. Post-war Mr. Magee continued flying as a mercenary with Israel, was a bank robber, and spent some time as a guest of the Federal Government. Then he dropped off the face of the earth.

The second section of the book is more personal for Mr. Reed. He discovered that his father was Mr. Magee, and not the man he grew up with as his Dad. He attempted to track Mr. Magee down and establish a relationship. What does an ace, robber, and mercenary do in old age? Apparently, settle down to a life in a small apartment outside of Chicago to continue his intellectual quests in books. The story continues as Mr. Reed becomes acquainted with his father and reintroduces Chris to both his fellow Black Sheep and Mr. Magee's remaining estranged family members.

This is quite and interesting and enjoyable book. Sadly it gives only a little insight into what made Mr. Magee tick, but those insights show he was far from the stereotypical fighter pilot and certainly no two dimensional underscripted TV character.

1 comment:

knights said...

Jim,
I'd never heard of this book or this story. Thanks for the heads up. I'll have to read it.