A Young Man’s Letters from World War II
“More than Becoming a Soldier”
The 8th Air Force
Serial Number 14175619B

THIS IS THE STORY of the making of a soldier. It is the story of an everyman, his struggle for self-identity and integrity in a world at war.

A Young Man’s Letters from World War II, a fresh and compelling addition to the trove of firsthand accounts of life in wartime, contains over 200 letters written by a pilot-in-training to his parents back home in small-town Middle America.

Beginning with the first letter, dated January 31, 1943, the correspondence offers an authentic, personal insight into how the Army Air Force was able to create professional airmen and deploy the largest air armada of all time in a relatively short period. At the same time, it mirrors one man’s development from a possessor of his own self-described “inferiority complex” to an officer leading men into battle.

It originates with Langenfeld, a private, joining 7,000 men in basic training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, with all the common drudgery known to the newly minted fighter: drilling, sore feet, and lectures on sex hygiene.

We watch as he undergoes a demanding regimen of instruction: mornings filled with drills and workouts, afternoons with math and physics. We see him evolve from the rookie flying basic trainers over the cornfields of Illinois, graduate to the more demanding two-engine planes in the hill country of Texas, and become the lieutenant commanding his B-24 on missions through the dark, flak-filled skies of Germany.

This engaging collection of primary source material offers great detail, humor, and perception. A Young Man’s Letters from World War II meticulously chronicles the day-to-day experiences of the making of a soldier, a pilot, and a man.

B-24 Crew photo

Photo accompanies 6 January 1945 letter.
On the back Lt. Langenfeld (second row, far left) pens the following:

Ship “Plucky Lucky.” Flew her on my fourth mission. Got shot up and lost an engine. Had a spare gunner for Davenport and a radar man along. Tail gunner nearly got hit, see circle [top right on the tail gunner’s turret].


"Nothing brings home the boredom, frustration, and horror of war like letters from a serviceman to his family and friends. They tell the personal side of the conflict, everything from the mundane to the terrifying experiences each person encountered.... For those with an interest in the air war over Germany through the eyes of some who was there, this book would make a good addition to any home library."

World War II History, March 2012, p. 70.

Kindle Version

  2011  No. 1 in The Trade Book Library Series

$20.00   Cloth   240 pp.

ISBN 978-0-944318-39-3   eISBN 978-0-944318-45-4

Acid-Free Paper



Navigation Bar