Book Review: Pathfinder Pioneer: The Memoir of a Lead Bomber Pilot in World War II


by Raymond E. Brim

Philadelphia: Casemate, 2016. Pp. xx, 266. Illus., appends. $32.95. ISBN: 1612003524

Leading the Bomber Stream

Now long retired, Col. Brim joined the Army Air Corps at 19 shortly, after Pearl Harbor. Rather more than a year later he found himself piloting B-17s over western Europe. By his eight mission, Brim had become a pathfinder, leading the bomber stream to its target, a duty he performed until early 1944, when, having completed the required 25 missions, he returned to the United States for less perilous duty.

In Pathfinder Pioneer, Brim exposes the reader to much detail about the air war over Europe. We learn precisely what a pathfinder did for a living, follow his experiences on hours long missions under fire, and get many little insights into the common place business of military life and service at the time. Brim also makes many observations about life in contemporary America and Britain, punctuated here and there with some sly humor.

Although Pathfinder Pioneer concentrates on these two years, Brim also gives us a look at his early life, working in a mine in Depression-era Utah, his wartime courtship and marriage, and carries his story through his postwar career in the Air Force.

As a bonus, the book opens with a thoughtful foreword by the British-born granddaughter of one of Brim’s former crewmates who did not survive the war.

Despite the lack of maps, which would have helped the reader better follow Brim’s missions, and of an index, this is an excellent personal account of the war as seen from the cockpit of a B-17.

Note: Pathfinder Pioneer is also available as a audio book.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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