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Skybreak Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2021 Title Skybreak
Author Mike Guardia Publisher Magnum Books
Published 2021 ISBN 978-0999644379
Format 219 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $14.95


If you enjoy reading military history and especially tales of air combat, read on. I've always enjoyed reading books like 'Thud Ridge' by Jack Broughton, 'Low Level Hell' by Hugh Mills, and 'My Secret War' by Richard Drury which in these cases, look at different aspects of the Vietnam Air War. There are many other similar titles which compile the experiences of pilots from World War One through the Falklands War, all of which provide interesting insights into what these men experienced both on the ground and in the air. What's different about this new title 'Skybreak' is that the tale is told in harmony by ten F-15 pilots who deployed for Operation Desert Shield after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, then flew air superiority missions during Operation Desert Storm (ODS).

The author provides an introduction of each of the ten pilots from their own words which put each of them into context from their experiences growing up through their entry and training in the U.S. Air Force or in one case, how one pilot became a U.S. Marine pilot and was an exchange pilot in this F-15 squadron. The title doesn't get bogged down in details, but it effectively puts these 10 story arcs into focus as events unfolded to take this squadron (and many others) to war. For those who wore the uniform prior and/or during the first Gulf War, it was a challenge to shift the Air Force from its peacetime into a wartime stance. Several chapters describe the challenges that these pilots and the rest of the squadron faced. But once the curtain raised and ODS began, the stories continue as these pilots engaged the Iraqi Air Force and protected their coalition partners.

The title dovetails nicely with similar historical and biographical titles from the Gulf War to keep events in perspective, and at the same time, jumps into the cockpits for most (if not all) of the aerial kills that were achieved by the squadron. But you might ask why chronical this squadron? The 58th Fighter Squadron, based at Eglin AFB, Florida, was credited with the most kills during the war. For years after ODS, you could still see the MiG kills painted on those aircraft, even after they were transferred to other active duty, reserve, or Air National Guard units. The author provides a nice chapter to describe what happened with each of these ten pilots after they returned home.

Like Mike Guardia's previous titles, this is an easy read that you won't want to put down. You can find a copy of this great book on Amazon.

My sincere thanks to Mike Guardia for this review copy!