Review of Indestructible: One Man’s Rescue Mission That Changed the Course of WWII by John R. Bruning
Indestructible is the remarkable story of the air campaign in the Philippines during WWII as told through the eyes of one family. Specifically, it is the story of Paul Irvin Gunn and his family after they become separated shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
Paul Gunn, known to family and friends as P.I., is a retired naval aviator. He moves to the Philippines to serve as the chief pilot of the new Philippines Air Lines (PAL). When war breaks out after Pearl Harbor, P.I. becomes a commissioned officer in the Army Air Force. It is during these hectic first few days at the beginning of the war, at a time when the Japanese also attack the Philippines, that P.I. and his family become separated. Thus begins P.I.’s odyssey to rescue his family from the Japanese.
The author skillfully alternates between P.I.’s story and that of his wife and kids, who end up in an internment camp. So, while P.I. fights the Japanese in aircraft that he modifies, his wife Polly and their four kids struggle to survive the deplorable conditions in the internment camp
Besides being a great story with a defined goal and conflict, the author tells the story in an unrushed pace. The result is an expertly crafted story that encompasses the entirety of WWII in the Pacific. Historical battle scenes, familiar to anyone who has studied the subject, take on a new perspective when told through the eyes of one man. The cruelties of war, the loss of life, the acts of heroism, and the mistakes of those in charge, gain new meaning in this telling.
If you’re looking for a rich story, one that will transport you to another place and time, this book is for you.