In Green Light! Martin Wolfe gives us the big picture of World War II airborne warfare in Europe through the lens of one unit, a squadron typical of some sixty others. Troop carrier squadrons delivered paratroopers behind enemy lines, tugged gliders into battle zones, and, between combat operations, freighted up to the front everything from food to artillery shells and carried back wounded infantrymen and newly freed slave laborers. Wolfe's firsthand account is an engaging and informative narrative that goes beyond the facts to investigate the feelings of the tightly knit unit. He also describes the management and training techniques that prepared the squadron for its role in four of the five main invasions of Nazi Europe.
In all the literature about World War II , this is the first account to show how all levels of a squadron functioned-clerks as well as pilots, maintenance mechanics as well as flying crew chiefs, the mess hall as well as headquarters. In addition, Wolfe's is the first book to show the interplay between unit experience and high command theory—what units like the 81st Troop Carrier Squadron could actually accomplish and how concepts of airborne warfare changed at Supreme Headquarters. He explains why and how it was not until the last airborne invasion, in March 1945, that the full potential of the troop carrier was reached.
Wolfe melds the recollections of ninety veterans of this squadron with a general history of Allied airborne forces in World War II. Through their words, Green Light! paints vivid portraits of the real men of the war, not the Rambos or Sad Sacks of popular culture. And through the retelling of their experiences, the book shows that the truism "war is hell" does not hold for all soldiers all the time.
Martin Wolfe was a radio operator in the 81st Squadron and participated in all its combat and most of its other missions. He was Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Pennsylvania.