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Death on Base:

In Hostile SkiesIn Hostile Skies

An American B-24 Pilot in World War II

James M. Davis

Military Book Club Selection

Narrated by Jim Woods

Available from Audible

Book published by University of North Texas Press

James "Jim" Davis lived what he considered "an impossible dream' as he piloted a B-24, as part of the 8th Air Force, on more than thirty missions in the European Theatre during World War II. He flew support missions for Operations Cobra and Market Garden and numerous bombing missions over occupied Europe in the summer and fall of 1944, attacking enemy airfields, airplane factories, railroad marshalling yards, ship yards, oil refineries, and chemical plants. While he and his crew survived without serious injuries, they witnessed the destruction of many of their friends’ planes and experienced serious damage to their own plane on several occasions.

James M. Davis is a retired businessman who lives in Midland, Texas, with his wife of over six decades, Jean. He served on active duty in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and then in the Air Force reserves until 1961.


“The key word was 'survival.' Run the flak gauntlet, escape the Luftwaffe, overcome the weather, get the bombs on the target, and make it back to base, safe—until the next time. From the rigors of training to the demands of combat flying, Jim had one predominant goal, survival. This marvelous story will take you there with Jim and his crew.”

—LTC Charles H. Freudenthal, USAF Ret., Historian of the 8th Air Force, 489th Bomb Group

“As a retired Air Force flag officer I must confess that I am appalled to learn that those in command in the 8th Air Force allowed Davis to go on combat missions with a copilot who had never landed or taken off in a B-24 and had never practiced formation flying. Davis' revelations of just such snafus as these are what give added value and interest to his narrative.”

—I. B. Holley, Jr., Emeritus Professor of History, Duke University

“Jim Davis will certainly claim to be an 'ordinary man.' But in this riveting first-person account of his pilot training and B-24 combat missions over Europe during the waning years of the Second World War, Davis and his crew are surely extraordinary people. Thanks to David Snead’s graceful editing and insightful historical references, Jim’s own words reflect not only the facts of this epic adventure, but reveal the joy and sorrow, fear and relief, and deep feeling of being blessed to have survived this monumental war in the air while flying one of the great bombers of all time, the B-24 Liberator.”

—Robert S. Hopkins, III, Ph.D., Former RC-135 Aircraft Commander and aerial combat veteran

“A near-perfect example of 'the greatest generation,' Mr. Davis has written an enthralling account of his service in World War II. Indeed, to understand the air war in the European Theatre, with its unrelenting fatigue and harrowing dangers, there is no better place to start than with this poignant, enlightening, and entertaining memoir.”

—Peter Maslowski, Professor of History, University of Nebraska

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University Press Audiobooks