I just had to buy the book Lucky’s Life when I read what was written on the back cover.
The story of my uncle, William Rudolf Larson- nicknamed “Lucky” by his fellow pilots, is the account and authentic voice of a WWII TBF pilot told in his own words from more than 60 family letters and postcards to his proud parents and his kid-brother – my father. Lucky served on the USS Nashville before WWII, participated on the Doolittle Raid as a SOC pilot, and then trained in the new Avenger plane before shipping out to the Solomon Islands and bombing Japanese positions during the Bougainville Campaign of 1943. Several of his aviation exploits were chronicled in the Chicago Daily News, the Oakland Tribune, the Divide County Journal, and the Williston Herald. Lucky’s letters to his home were saved in a pinewood Naval trunk for 70 years within the family. Upon researching his life, the War Diary of his radioman was discovered and filled in the rich WWII history of Lucky and his fellow VC 38 squadron. Recent declassified mission reports of VC 38’s heroic actions during the Bougainville Campaign also provide an insight into Lucky’s war experience and air battles. Sadly, Lucky never returned to the family farm in rural Divide County, North Dakota. Lucky was posthumously awarded the Air Medal. This book includes condolence letters from family members and VC 38 pilots, along with their individual stories and photographs. 43 TBF mission reports and over 150 unpublished WWII-era photographs and maps are included.
Some of the reviews on Amazon…
Don has created an incredible tribute to his uncle and the largely unsung heroes of US Navy Composite Squadron 38 (VC-38) who served so courageosly in the South Pacific in World War 2. This book will forever hold a special place in my life and helps complete the legacy of not only Don’s uncle, William, but also of my father, Richard “Wag” Wagner, Lucky’s radioman, whose life ended before I could ask so many of the questions Don has answered in this incredible book. Lucky made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this great country, as did many others whoso stories Don’s book also memorializes, thanks Don for bringing their stories to life and preserving them for all time. I’m proud to have been associated with this great story, even in a small way, and simply cannot express my gratitude to Don for creating this great work.
Wonderful real-life accounting of the life of a WWII fighter pilot. The book contains history of a young man growing up on the plains, going into the service, and letters and pictures sent home of the day-to-day happenings during WWI. It contains a love story, and many personal accounts from Lt. William R. Larson that paints of picture of his amazing life. Such a wonderful read!
This is a heart warming story written by a nephew about an uncle that he never knew. He found an old trunk in his Grandmother’s house containing all the letters he had written home and many other things. The author did a great deal of research and the book contains a lot of information on WWII but the story of his uncles life is wonderful and sad, like so many of the men who lose their life in wars. It would make a great movie!
William R. “Lucky” Larson’s nephew, Donald J. Larson, who never met his uncle, has written one of the most personal, engaging and heartwarming stories you will ever read regarding any part of WWII. Through an impressive collection of Lucky’s letters, notes and flight logs along with letters from shipmates, friends and family, a great and unique story has been written. William Larson was a US Navy pilot that flew off both crusiers and carriers, who fought from Alaska to the South Pacific and earned his “Lucky” nickname multiple times. A strong, humble, midwestern kid, he was a deep thinker, an educated and kind man and one who was loved by officers and enlisted men alike. Other than a strict autobiography (Helmet For My Pillow by Robert Leckie comes to mind), there is no WWII story that can detail the life of a WWII serviceman to the extent this book does. That is partially due to the tremendous number of letters saved coupled with a museum worthy collection of documents and photos, both personal and official. By the end of this book you not only feel like that Lucky was your best friend, you feel like you grew up with the entire family.
This is an outstanding and engaging work, worthy of a permanent place on any reader’s bookshelf. Highly Recommended.
Steven Bustin, Author, “Humble Heroes, How The USS Nashville CL43 Fought WWII.
I loved this book!!!! It is a raw, intimate account of an intelligent, mature, handsome young man who unselfishly served his country in WWII. What makes this book unique is that it is portrayed in Lucky’s own words through his personal letters to various family members, friends, and fellow servicemen. Through his correspondence, it is easy to visualize “Lucky” and the optimistic, yet careful soldier he was. It is obvious he knew he was living in dangerous situations and in dangerous times, but his letters home minimized those fears by discussing girls he met on leave, places he visited, and people he had met. By the end of the book, the reader feels as though he knows Lucky, his parents, his brother, his friends, and the rugged area of North Dakota in which he called home. Although the reader knows from the beginning the fate of “Lucky”, one finds him/herself hoping that the ending is not really going to happen. The book will make you laugh, smile, and cry. The author, Lucky’s nephew, who never met his uncle does an excellent job of adding details and background information to enhance Lucky’s story. This book is a great read for anyone who wants to follow the goodness of humanity.
Charles Eichenberger was my step brother and I would greatly appreciate hearing from anyone that knew him or knew about him.