In the dark days of 1942, the battle for the Solomon Islands was very much in doubt. When carrier dive bomber Robert D. “Hoot” Gibson sighted the Japanese fleet heading for “Hell’s Island,” he attacked the vanguard ships, sinking the heavy cruiser Kinugasa and two loaded Japanese troop transports in a battle royal that earned him the Navy Cross. He was also credited with the sinking of an I-Class submarine and shooting down two Zeroes, after going toe-to-toe with Japan’s premier ace pilot, and he alone accounted for the deaths of thousands of Japanese soldiers and sailors. Hoot was a hero when America needed heroes and when America needed to turn the tide of the war from defense to offense. He was on the Yorktown at Midway and the Enterprise at Guadalcanal. Hoot was in three of the five carrier battles of the war, the first and last amphibious invasions of WWII, and thirteen major battles. A Hoot in Hell’s Island tells Hoot’s dramatic story and that of the American navy in the crucial battles of the Pacific War.
HOW TO ORDER "A Hoot in Hell's Island"
Military Writers Society of America 2022 Book Finalist and Silver Medalist in Memoirs/Biography
Most pilots fly the plane, the great ones put it on….Hoot was a great stick. --Joe Mavretic, Lt. Col., US Marine Corps, Retired
Presented for the first time in full length, the wartime memoirs of decorated World War II dive bomber pilot Robert "Hoot" Gibson are an enlightening look into an important era of American history. His nephew, Colonel Kirk Gibson Warner, has tastefully blended Hoot's full story from training through carrier combat with other historical segments to keep the action in perspective. Gibson was a true American hero, and Warner has done him great justice by sharing a rare snapshot of life under fire as documented by a man who survived one of the most challenging periods of the war, establishing himself as a flattop fighter of the first degree. No library of Naval carrier aviation would be complete without this valuable narrative. --Stephen L. Moore, author of Pacific Payback and The Battle for Hell's Island
Military Writers Society of America Review:
A Hoot in Hell's Island is more than one man's experiences as a Navy dive bomber pilot. It is an emotionally moving account of history as it was being made in the South Pacific theater of World War II. The credibility of the book is extremely high due to the author's excellent blending of one man's account with newspaper and public media accounts and official war records.
I learned new things from this book about the growth of a weak American military presence to a world leading presence. That growth occurred in an incredibly short time, notably due to the civilian war effort and the gallantry of the American fighting personnel. I appreciate my own father, a WWII U.S. Navy veteran, more now than ever.
This book will be enlightening to any reader, whether a "war buff" or not. It would be particularly relative to prospective members of the military. Not only was this book informative and credible, it was enjoyable.
Zone of Action is a front-row seat to major combat operations, leadership, tragedy, and nation-building. These are the war-theater observations of a senior Army JAG constantly in the thick of the war, the occupation, and the Iraqi community. He tells the inside-the-war-room story of Operation COBRA II and Iraqi Freedom during the march to Baghdad and the nation-building beyond. It details his official and inner journeys and those of soldiers and Iraqis encountered along the way. It reveals the sacrifice of many unsung heroes and the challenges of liberating and occupying a broken country. It shows the character of our soldiers and leaders . . . and the occasional lack of it. But above all things, it is an honest, often humorous romp through war by someone deep in the arena.
HOW TO ORDER "Zone of Action"
Military Writers Society of America 2022 Book Finalist and Bronze Medalist in History
Kirk Warner is a retired Army JAG Colonel who served in a variety of senior military lawyer roles inside the Coalition, Third Army, and V-Corps during the march to Baghdad and during the early nation building in Iraq. His weekly war chronicles were followed nationwide and at the highest levels of our government. He was a featured "hero" on CNN's Lou Dobb's Tonight. After returning from the war theater, he became deputy legal counsel to three Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Staff Judge Advocate to a national command. He has commanded at all levels of the Army. He is a partner and senior trial lawyer in Raleigh's largest law firm representing Blackwater and many Fortune 500 companies in courts throughout the country. He is a graduate of the Army War College and has five graduate degrees. Kirk lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Diane and their dog Wally.
"All of a sudden, shells from below were going by in front of me and then a 20 mm cannon shell hit me in the seat and exploded. It had hit my bomb, glanced up and exploded against my seat with shrapnel passing out through the radio equipment between the two cockpits...The cannon shell ricocheted from my bomb and exploded under my armored seat. The shrapnel took a renewed energy and sprayed hot jagged steel in all directions except my body. Saved by a seat, but with no time to appreciate the miracle." -Hoot, August 7, 1942
"At age twenty-two and lost at sea on a stormy night, fate had just appointed me the leader of forty-seven carrier aircraft and their crews. I must lead them, in the black of the night, back to the carrier and get them safely aboard. I remembered my vow at Pearl Harbor and another power hidden in the dark, rainy night took hold." - Hoot, October 25, 1942
I threw one of the two levers to the trap doors in the execution building at Abu Ghraib and wondered why they needed dual hanging chambers and why they bothered with the deadly redundancy of making the bodies squirm by simultaneously electrocuting the prisoners as they hung there. U.N. Special Envoy Sergio de Mello and Ambassador Paul Bremer asked me the same questions as they stood there aghast.
I also wondered why the Iraqis line up outside Abu Ghraib asking for permission to seek their kin’s amputated hands, ears, and feet that must be buried near here. I returned to the Republican Palace just in time to receive 556 teeth from 299 skulls from a mass grave at Musayib during the Shia uprising in 1991. I also wonder, how the hell did I get here? Just four months ago, I was sitting at a Bruce Springsteen Concert in Chapel Hill with my wife and good friends when my cell phone rang.
“Duty in a combat area is a personal experience to be sure. Kirk Warner, a litigator of national renown, and a citizen soldier, clearly has affirmed that adage with his book, Zone of Action. His writing is at times humorous, but mostly he offers earnest and intense observations of a group of dedicated American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines as they went about the incredible task of imbuing the concepts of the rule of law and order among a population who for decades knew only tyranny. It is important for the reader to understand Kirk and his colleagues went about doing their duty while in a war with no clearly defined lines nor easily recognizable enemy. Zone of Action is a superb memoir. -Dan K. McNeill, General, US Army (Ret), Former Commander, Coalition Forces – Afghanistan, XVIII Airborne Corps, U.S. Forces Command, and International Security Assistance Force – Afghanistan (ISAF)
“An on-the-ground, in-the-moment look – not from the battle-front but from the decision-makers tents and palaces. At times comical, at times insightful and always engaging, Kirk’s experiences show the myriad of issues Judge Advocates face in the zone of action provides fascinating insight into the tactical, strategic and even political features of modern combat.”-Thomas E. Ayres, Major General, U.S. Army (Ret), Former Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Army