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Beyond Valor: A World War II Story of Extraordinary Heroism, Sacrificial Love, and a Race against Time

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Beyond Valor is one soldier’s extraordinary tale of bravery, heroism, faith, and devotion. On April 12, 1945, a fleet of American B-29 bombers flew toward Japan. Their mission was simple: stop World War II by burning the cities, factories, and military bases of the Japanese em­pire, thereby forcing an unconditional surren­der. Yet the mission did not go as planned. On board Beyond Valor is one soldier’s extraordinary tale of bravery, heroism, faith, and devotion. On April 12, 1945, a fleet of American B-29 bombers flew toward Japan. Their mission was simple: stop World War II by burning the cities, factories, and military bases of the Japanese em­pire, thereby forcing an unconditional surren­der. Yet the mission did not go as planned. On board one of the B-29s, the City of Los Angeles, a phosphorus bomb detonated inside the plane. Staff Sergeant Henry E. “Red” Erwin absorbed the blast of burning phosphorus yet managed to throw overboard the still-flaming bomb, be­fore collapsing from the third-degree burns over much of his body. Breaking protocol, the plane diverted to a military hospital at Iwo Jima. President Truman quickly ordered that Erwin be awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest honor of the American military, before the young airman died of his wounds. There was just one problem: no Medals of Honor were available in the entire Pacific theater. General Curtis LeMay dispatched a squad of airmen on a 1,000-mile mission to smash their way into a display case and steal a medal to give to Erwin before time ran out. Meanwhile, Red’s courageous young bride set out on her own mission, one of against-all-odds healing. Her success would determine the fate of the twenty-three-year-old warrior--and years later make possible the birth of the book's author: their grandson, Jon Erwin. Drawn from in-depth interviews with eyewitnesses and deep archival research, Beyond Valor is an extraordinary tale of bravery, heroism, faith, and devotion.


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Beyond Valor is one soldier’s extraordinary tale of bravery, heroism, faith, and devotion. On April 12, 1945, a fleet of American B-29 bombers flew toward Japan. Their mission was simple: stop World War II by burning the cities, factories, and military bases of the Japanese em­pire, thereby forcing an unconditional surren­der. Yet the mission did not go as planned. On board Beyond Valor is one soldier’s extraordinary tale of bravery, heroism, faith, and devotion. On April 12, 1945, a fleet of American B-29 bombers flew toward Japan. Their mission was simple: stop World War II by burning the cities, factories, and military bases of the Japanese em­pire, thereby forcing an unconditional surren­der. Yet the mission did not go as planned. On board one of the B-29s, the City of Los Angeles, a phosphorus bomb detonated inside the plane. Staff Sergeant Henry E. “Red” Erwin absorbed the blast of burning phosphorus yet managed to throw overboard the still-flaming bomb, be­fore collapsing from the third-degree burns over much of his body. Breaking protocol, the plane diverted to a military hospital at Iwo Jima. President Truman quickly ordered that Erwin be awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest honor of the American military, before the young airman died of his wounds. There was just one problem: no Medals of Honor were available in the entire Pacific theater. General Curtis LeMay dispatched a squad of airmen on a 1,000-mile mission to smash their way into a display case and steal a medal to give to Erwin before time ran out. Meanwhile, Red’s courageous young bride set out on her own mission, one of against-all-odds healing. Her success would determine the fate of the twenty-three-year-old warrior--and years later make possible the birth of the book's author: their grandson, Jon Erwin. Drawn from in-depth interviews with eyewitnesses and deep archival research, Beyond Valor is an extraordinary tale of bravery, heroism, faith, and devotion.

30 review for Beyond Valor: A World War II Story of Extraordinary Heroism, Sacrificial Love, and a Race against Time

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I received a final edition, early release copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for my honest review. "...heroism isn't born in a moment but in the lifetime leading up to that moment. Whatever is in the character of these heroes manifests itself in moments of extreme pressure, and acts of courage, like Medal of Honor actions, are often acts of pure self-sacrifice and love." -pg 159 This is a top notch story with a lot to love. The story itself is definitely a 4-5 star one and is s I received a final edition, early release copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for my honest review. "...heroism isn't born in a moment but in the lifetime leading up to that moment. Whatever is in the character of these heroes manifests itself in moments of extreme pressure, and acts of courage, like Medal of Honor actions, are often acts of pure self-sacrifice and love." -pg 159 This is a top notch story with a lot to love. The story itself is definitely a 4-5 star one and is so much more than the synopsis reveals. Yes, the basic premise is the event that led to Henry "Red" Erwin's receipt of the Medal of Honor, an event that occurs during the highly successful and devastating blow to Japan in WWII. Operation Meetinghouse was the low altitude, single formation, nighttime air raid on Tokyo - it is during this raid that a phosphorus bomb gets stuck in the chute and blows back in Red's face setting him on fire and filling the cockpit with smoke. However it is all of the details within and around that event that really captured my attention. I don't particularly enjoy combat novels, and so I was a little reluctant to read this one, but while there, it is not a ton of actual combat and I thought what was there was very engaging. I found all the other tidbits of history extremely interesting and the author really digs into what the Medal of Honor means and how it impacts those few who survive and receive it - mentally and socially. There are a lot of interesting facts on the creation of the B29 planes used in WWII and some of the problems faced with bombing due to the jet stream at such a high elevation. There is a discussion of civilian killing in wartime that I found extremely engaging. There is some background into the American victory at Iwo Jima and the direct purpose for wanting to take Iwo Jima that I was unaware of - and some discussion as to whether or not that was worth the American lives lost. Yet it was that victory which ultimately led to saving Red's life because there was an American war hospital that had just been put into place that he was able to be taken to. Because I am a scientist, the most fascinating aspect of this novel for me was how phosphorus bombs work and the chemical reaction of phosphorus and oxygen and what that meant for Red who had the phosphorus burned into his skin. The medical aspect of burn treatment and the evolution of that treatment from 1945 through the present was also discussed. There is a large Christian and faith-based element to this story as well. For the most part the religious aspect was well incorporated and relevant. There was only one point where I thought it got to be a little much. Unfortunately, as good as the story was, the writing was not great. There were some weird, unrelated facts "thrown into" the story that I thought were unnecessary with the most bothersome being the mention of FDR's mistress. It served absolutely no purpose but to slander FDR in my opinion. There was also SO MUCH repetitiveness and repeating of EXACT phrases, sentences and quotes. I actually think the author may have been cutting and pasting because there was so much of this. It should be noted that the author is the grandson of Red Erwin and he is not necessarily a writer, but a film director. The author's bio does indicate this story is being developed into a major motion picture.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Beyond Valor is the extraordinary story of a World War II hero, Red Ewin, who put himself in harms way to save the lives of everyone on his B-29. Told by his grandson Jon Erwin, Beyond Valor tells the story of Red and how he became a Medal of Honor recipient. When a phosphorus flare malfunctions and shoots back into their B-29, Red is immediately badly injured. He still finds the strength to carry the flaming bomb while on fire 30 feet to throw it out the window and save everyone on his plane. H Beyond Valor is the extraordinary story of a World War II hero, Red Ewin, who put himself in harms way to save the lives of everyone on his B-29. Told by his grandson Jon Erwin, Beyond Valor tells the story of Red and how he became a Medal of Honor recipient. When a phosphorus flare malfunctions and shoots back into their B-29, Red is immediately badly injured. He still finds the strength to carry the flaming bomb while on fire 30 feet to throw it out the window and save everyone on his plane. His faith had him immediately pray for God’s help and through the guidance of God, he was able to make his heroic rescue. As he lay afterwards on what was thought to be his death bed, the new President Truman awarded him the Medal of Honor. There were none available in the area and they wanted to get one to him before he died. Another crew flew to Hawaii, smashed open a display case to take a Medal of Honor to get it back in time. I loved Red’s faith, his love for her wife Betty, and his family. I love that Betty stuck by his side after his horrific injuries and years of surgery afterwards. I also loved that before the war, Red was a hard worker that had to take care of his mother and siblings after his father’s untimely death. He also found the time to be a youth minister at his church. After the war, he continued to live a good life and tried to help as many people as he could. He felt he had to live up to being a Medal of Honor recipient. Beyond Valor also digs into the history and tells a fascinating story with details. I learned so many new things about B-29s, the firebombing of Tokyo, the start of Harry Truman’s Presidency, the Medal of Honor, the treatment of veterans, and much, much more. I loved that it took a look into the ethics of war on both sides of the conflict. Curtis May had some deep thoughts saying, “Killing Japanese didn’t bother me much at the time. I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal. Luckily I was on the winning side.” He admitted to thinking of the horrific things that were happening in Japan, but he observed that to “in order to do your job and keep your sanity, you had to banish such thoughts from your brain.” It was really interesting to think about. This was a very human story. I loved that it started by Jon Erwin being at his grandfather’s funeral and wondering what exactly he had done to get such a send off and what exactly being a Medal of Honor winner entailed. He took a deep dive into history to figure it out and really learn about his grandfather. I have loved reading about World War II in both non-fiction and fiction since I was a kid, and I’ve especially loved the airplanes from the war. I personally thought this was a very fascinating true story. Favorite Quotes: “Many Medal of Honor recipients have gone on to live lives of great distinction and fulfillment, but others have been burdened by the recognition . . . some embrace the role of Medal of Honor recipient, spending their lives speaking to civic groups, raising money for charities, and hobnobbing with movie stars, politicians, and professional athletes. Others resent having their private grief turned into public display.” “You know, looking back on that, I think, no, that took an extraordinary amount of willpower to do that, and I don’t know whether I would have been able to do it. He didn’t just save twelve people, he saved generations of people.” – Navigator Pershing Youngkin “The true measure of a hero is really not necessarily the gallantry of his action, but essentially how he lives out the rest of his life after all of the attention and glory have faded away.” “Red often explained how the intervention of God made it possible and that’s the only explanation that makes sense to me.” “There are only about seventy Medal of Honor recipients who are alive today. My fear is that your generation is losing sight of what the Medal of Honor means and why it matters. You should tell them that story. Tell them the idea of doing more than is required of you is part of the American ethos, and it is exemplified in the Medal of Honor. It’s part of what makes us Americans. You don’t have to be a soldier and on the field of battle to go above and beyond the call of duty.” “So, the best thing to do is always make the best of what you have. Life is what you make it. Life is beautiful.” Overall, Beyond Valor is a fascinating non-fiction story of a great man, how he impacted history, and how faith brought him through it all. Book Source: Review Copy from Thomas Nelson for being on the TLC Book Tour. This review was first posted on my blog at: https://lauragerold.blogspot.com/2020...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Thelma Fountain

    I won this book in a goodreads giveaway. This is a very moving true story about a WWll medal of honor recipient. Red Erwin's bravery is almost beyond comprehension The story is told by his grandson. Red Erwin's grandson decided to learn more about his grandfather after his passing. Often we take the people in our lives for granted and fail to learn their histories until its to late to talk to them about it. This book shows that some stories are really worth taking the time to listen to and ask q I won this book in a goodreads giveaway. This is a very moving true story about a WWll medal of honor recipient. Red Erwin's bravery is almost beyond comprehension The story is told by his grandson. Red Erwin's grandson decided to learn more about his grandfather after his passing. Often we take the people in our lives for granted and fail to learn their histories until its to late to talk to them about it. This book shows that some stories are really worth taking the time to listen to and ask questions. This book was more than just a story however I learned a lot about WWll aircraft. This book was well researched. It was a good personal story but also contained a lot of historical information about the building of aircraft and problems pilots faced flying in the south Pacific theater. Most of the WWll books I have read are set in Europe. I enjoyed learning more about the war in the Pacific. I like books that focus on a real hero although there is nothing wrong with historical fiction that has fictional characters. I just like to learn about the actual people who fought for our country.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    I had to read Jon Erwin's Beyond Valor when I discovered Staff Sargent Red Erwin was the same rank and had the same job as my father during WWII. Reading about Red not only gave me keen insight to my father's service, but it inspired me. I especially appreciated a quote from Medal of Honor recipient, Gary Littrell. He said, "My fear is that your generation is losing sight of what the Medal of Honor means and why it matters... You don't have to be a soldier on the field of battle to go above and I had to read Jon Erwin's Beyond Valor when I discovered Staff Sargent Red Erwin was the same rank and had the same job as my father during WWII. Reading about Red not only gave me keen insight to my father's service, but it inspired me. I especially appreciated a quote from Medal of Honor recipient, Gary Littrell. He said, "My fear is that your generation is losing sight of what the Medal of Honor means and why it matters... You don't have to be a soldier on the field of battle to go above and beyond the call of duty." Thank you, Gary, for that reminder. And thank you, Jon Erwin for sharing your grandfather's story. While I appreciated the layered details from other accounts during the war and after, I wished the story centralized more around the extraordinary life of Red Erwin (thus only four out of five stars).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    john Erwin has written a good book but it could have been much more better if he spent more time on Red irwin then giving us a for dummies history of WW2. We get Red's story but he seems to be a part of the larger story when he should have been THE story. I would have loved to learn more about his recovery and how he overcame the judgement of a very judgmental era. For example we learn he had to write using his left hand and then move on to the next scene. I would have loved to hear more about h john Erwin has written a good book but it could have been much more better if he spent more time on Red irwin then giving us a for dummies history of WW2. We get Red's story but he seems to be a part of the larger story when he should have been THE story. I would have loved to learn more about his recovery and how he overcame the judgement of a very judgmental era. For example we learn he had to write using his left hand and then move on to the next scene. I would have loved to hear more about how he did this since it would have been more inspiration then learning about Curtis LeMay. This is a very good book but it can't decide if it wants to be a WW2 history book or an inspirational story It comes up short being an amazingly inspirational story and that's to bad.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    If you love military stories, nonfiction heroes, and the power of family, this book is exactly what you need. In this story, we get the remarkable backstory of the author’s grandfather during one of the most tragic yet heroic moments of his life; all surrounding one flight, one bomb, and a group of soldiers. This is one of those books that sticks with you off the page. You’ll fly through it without knowing as the words hit you full force. I really enjoyed how this isn’t just a war story, but one i If you love military stories, nonfiction heroes, and the power of family, this book is exactly what you need. In this story, we get the remarkable backstory of the author’s grandfather during one of the most tragic yet heroic moments of his life; all surrounding one flight, one bomb, and a group of soldiers. This is one of those books that sticks with you off the page. You’ll fly through it without knowing as the words hit you full force. I really enjoyed how this isn’t just a war story, but one including the perspective of the family throughout the journey. It gave the onlooking perspective of mystery and awe. Overall, this was a fast read that will leave you thinking about the broader world. If you love war history, heart-clenching survivals, and emotional recoveries, I highly recommend this one! A solid 4 out of 5 stars. *Disclaimer: I requested a free copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All of my reviews contain my honest opinions only and are not influenced in any way.*

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rylee

    The story of Red is incredible, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about what an extraordinary person he is. However, only about 1/4 of this book is actually about Red. It has a tendency to go off on tangents about historical aspects of WW2 that are largely unrelated to Red (there are 5+ pages just about the early life of President Truman). I wish the author would have placed more focus on Red and less on the history of WW2, because the book claims to be about Red. Very misleading title and descr The story of Red is incredible, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about what an extraordinary person he is. However, only about 1/4 of this book is actually about Red. It has a tendency to go off on tangents about historical aspects of WW2 that are largely unrelated to Red (there are 5+ pages just about the early life of President Truman). I wish the author would have placed more focus on Red and less on the history of WW2, because the book claims to be about Red. Very misleading title and description in this sense.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kitty Kolb

    This book recounts the story of Red Erwin, a World War 2 Medal of Honor winner. It was interesting to hear his life story. Since the book is written from an inspirational standpoint, I think it would work best for a Sunday School or religious-based book club. I was hoping for more historical aspects, but the emotions involved are always valuable to understand. The main reason I gave it a 2 rather than a 3 was that it tended to go off on tangents (such as Patton and the Battle of the Bulge, or a This book recounts the story of Red Erwin, a World War 2 Medal of Honor winner. It was interesting to hear his life story. Since the book is written from an inspirational standpoint, I think it would work best for a Sunday School or religious-based book club. I was hoping for more historical aspects, but the emotions involved are always valuable to understand. The main reason I gave it a 2 rather than a 3 was that it tended to go off on tangents (such as Patton and the Battle of the Bulge, or a biographical sketch of Harry Truman) that seemed less relevant to the main narrative.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    The story of Red Erwin is exceptional and his heroism is almost unfathomable. The background surrounding Erwin paints an excellent picture of his life leading up to the fateful day, his heroic actions and the efforts to get his medal before he perished. Ultimately the most riveting part was his will to live and the life he lived after. There's some tangents into history and individuals that is interesting historically, but not really relevant to the story. Overall a good read but an incredible t The story of Red Erwin is exceptional and his heroism is almost unfathomable. The background surrounding Erwin paints an excellent picture of his life leading up to the fateful day, his heroic actions and the efforts to get his medal before he perished. Ultimately the most riveting part was his will to live and the life he lived after. There's some tangents into history and individuals that is interesting historically, but not really relevant to the story. Overall a good read but an incredible true life story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    3.5 stars I won this book in a Goodreads book giveaway. While I am glad that I now know the story of Red Erwin, a WW2 American War hero, I cannot say I loved the book. I felt like the author couldn't decide if he was writing a American History text book, or a biography. I would have preferred the biography. I loved reading the human story behind Henry "Red" Erwin. He was an extraordinary man. I disliked the tedious history lesson on airplanes, bombs,etc.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Xenia Serrano Val

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Es interesante hablar del amor sacrificial. Creo que en este tiempo de pandemia estamos viviendo lo que es el quebrantamiento, dolor, temor y sufrimiento que nos ha llevado a una muerte colectiva. La única forma de salir es peleando por tu vida y si esto está alcanzado, pelear por un amor que levante un cántico de alabanza que llegue a todo el mundo. Sí, es encontrar un amor que se sacrifique por alguien más o por toda una nación.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beth Schmeling

    This was a fabulous read. I especially enjoyed learning about the foundation of prayer that characterized not only Red Erwin's life but the lives of so many of our founding fathers and presidents. This information was part of the Appendix "Seven Prayers." This was the icing on the cake, so to speak, for this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John

    A short but engaging read, I found this book to be equal parts inspiring and informative. It’s probably a fair criticism to say that there are a few odd, tangential statements within the writing, and a couple of things I’d have edited differently. But I think the authors did an excellent job of conveying the key information and message.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I enjoyed this quick, but inspiring read about a WWII hero. I learned about a part of the war with Japan that I wasn't familiar with, which made the account even more interesting. More importantly, I liked the authors' emphasis on Red Erwin's reliance on God, positivity, and determination. BEYOND VALOR is an inspirational, faith-promoting read. I recommend it to readers who enjoyed UNBROKEN.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara White

    If you have a loved one, or know of someone that served in World War II, you'll shed more than one tear while reading Beyond Valor. I did. It's an amazing story that brings more of U.S. history to life. It would be a great pairing in a high school history class with a textbook. Thanks to Goodreads First Reads for my copy of Beyond Valor. I highly recommend it. Kudos to Jon Erwin.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    An interesting story about Staff Sergeant Henry E. "Red" Erwin who was severely burned by a burning phosphorous bomb inside a B29 bomber heading on a bombing raid to Japan. The bomber broke protocol and went to a hospital in Iwo Jima to help Erwin. He later won the Medal of Honor.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    Extraordinary man! Thank you for your service!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    This was an excellent account of one airman's heroic action to save himself and his fellow crew from certain death. His miraculous recovery must have had Divine intervention

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Massey

    Exceptional heroism, incredible faith, and wonderful human story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paul Drew

    I read this book in one sitting, simply because I could not put it down. This is the true story of Henry "Red" Erwin, who in 1945 was serving in the military as a radio operator on board an American B-29 bomber as it flew on a bombing mission over Tokyo. A faulty phosphorous bomb detonated inside the plane, dousing Red in burning phosporous, and threatening to claim the lives of the entire crew should it set off the rest of the bombs. Despite third degree burns over a large portion of this body, I read this book in one sitting, simply because I could not put it down. This is the true story of Henry "Red" Erwin, who in 1945 was serving in the military as a radio operator on board an American B-29 bomber as it flew on a bombing mission over Tokyo. A faulty phosphorous bomb detonated inside the plane, dousing Red in burning phosporous, and threatening to claim the lives of the entire crew should it set off the rest of the bombs. Despite third degree burns over a large portion of this body, and in excrutiating agony, Red picked up the still burning bomb, carried it the lenth of the plane, and threw it out the window, saving the plane from certain catastrophe, before collapsing from his injuries. The story of his heroic sacrifice quickly reached Washington, and he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in record time. He was not expected to live, and there was a strong desire to get the Medal to him while he still clung to life. The story of Red, his life leading up to this event, what caused him to take the action he did, and how he survived against all odds is beautiful and inspirational.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim Mader

  23. 4 out of 5

    John White

  24. 4 out of 5

    T.J.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Molly Jonas

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tim Van Kirk

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ella Burns

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

  29. 4 out of 5

    Judy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Logan Bush

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