Dick Curtis went against the odds in World War II. He simply should t have made it through. An older brother was killed in a B-17 Flying Fortress and a younger brother would be killed in Korea, so just how Curtis survived as a P-51 Mustang pilot gnaws at him to this day. Shipping out to Italy in May, 1944, second lieutenant Curtis was part of the 'hottest' shipment to leave Newport News for he was one of fifty or so emergency replacement pilots heading for combat with less than thirty hours of flight time in their new high-performance aircraft (the official minimum was three hundred hours before a pilot was considered ready for combat). He would soon realize that he was entering a combat zone where there were more aircraft than pilots to man them. Pilots were flying five to six hour missions every day in a constant state of exhaustion. As one of twelve replacement pilots for the 52nd fighter group, half would be shot down within two weeks of their arrival. Ultimately, Curtis would prove to be the sole survivor. This is his dramatic story.
Richard K. Dick Curtis, as a P-51 fighter pilot with the 52nd Fighter Group in Italy earned the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war he earned a bachelor of Theology degree from Northern Babtist Seminary in Chicago and an MS and PhD from Purdue University. He retired from the faculty of Purdue University after twenty-four years teaching speech communication. He is the author of three previous books; They Call Him Mister Moody (Doubleday, 1962), Evolution or Extinction: The Choice Before Us (Pergamon, 1982) and Hubris and the Presidency: The Abuse of Power by Johnson and Nixon (Rutledge Books).