Rocky Boyer’s War: An Unvarnished History Of The Air Blitz That Won The War In The Southwest Pacific

By Allen D. Boyer. Naval Institute Press (Annapolis, Maryland). Click the photo above to purchase the book.

“Rocky Boyer’s War,” a WWII history just published by the Naval Institute Press, casts new light on a well-remembered figure from the Ole Miss campus and Oxford life.

Roscoe Allen Boyer, known as Rocky, taught educational psychology at the University of Mississippi School of Education from 1955 until 1989. He was a familiar sight as he rode his ten-speed bike around the campus, and taught Sunday school at Oxford-University Methodist Church, where he and his wife Margaret Anne were lifelong members.

Dr. Rocky had once been Lieutenant Boyer. Rocky went to the Pacific with a fighter- bomber outfit, serving as a communications officer. His unit shipped out to New Guinea in 1943; they came home from two years later, after Japan surrendered.

Lt. Roscoe A. Boyer in May 1943 in South Mississippi as the 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group traveled from Louisiana to its final training base at Laurel Army Airfield. 

Rocky rarely talked about the war, but he wrote about it, in a wartime diary. His diary is the heart of “Rocky Boyer’s War,” a narrative history of the air war in the Southwest Pacific. The book is written by Rocky’s son Allen Boyer, a writer and lawyer, who has reviewed books for the New York Times and run investigations for the New York Stock Exchange.

Diaries were forbidden, but Rocky faithfully kept writing, recording casualties, accidents, off-duty shenanigans, and rear-area snafus. He had friends who died in shoot-outs with Japanese anti-aircraft gunners and when their planes were caught in bad weather.

“Rocky Boyer’s War” is wrapped around two battles and a scandal. The scandal ended with colonels being busted and a chaplain being exiled. The battles were sudden and fierce, and, until now, have mostly gone unsung. One was the night when Japanese warships shelled the beachhead at Mindoro in the Philippines. The other was the air strike off Cape Waios, New Guinea. In 90 seconds, a B-25 squadron earned sixty Distinguished Flying Crosses – nineteen of them posthumous.

The 110th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, in which Boyer served as communications officer, placed this scoreboard on their last base, le Shima, a small island off Okinawa, at the end of the war.

The book also features people whose role in the Pacific War has not been recognized.

The Fifth Air Force had its churchgoing math majors and worried married men as well as its hard-drinking fighter pilots. It also had its black engineers and quartermasters, who built the airfields of New Guinea and stopped a banzai charge in the Philippines.

Rocky Boyer’s comments could be keen-eyed, wry, and disgruntled (as his students may remember). The book gives an unvarnished history of a hard-fought, brilliant campaign.


“Rocky Boyer’s War” is available in hardback and ebook format. 

For further information, please contact: Judy Heise – Naval Institute Press
Tel 410- 295-1028: email jheise@usni.org


Advance praise for Rocky Boyer’s War:

“Put a copy of Rocky Boyer’s War on the shelf next to your copy of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. The movement of the 5th Air Force from Australia to New Guinea and then to the Philippines and Okinawa in World War II was an extraordinary operational maneuver. But what was it like day-to-day? Read Rocky Boyer’s War to find out. You will find it hard to put down.”

TOM HONE, editor of The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute Guide to the U.S. Navy’s Greatest Victory

Rocky Boyer’s War tells the extraordinary story of the 5th Air Force in the Pacific and how it blazed a trail to victory, over two thousand miles, from New Guinea to the Philippines. Based in part on the diaries of Lt. Roscoe ‘Rocky’ Boyer, it’s a wonderfully moving and entertaining account of the Air Blitz that speeded the end of World War II in the Southwest Pacific.”

ALEX KERSHAW, author of The Few: The American “Knights of the Air” Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain

“Supplemented by postwar research, the diary of Lt. Roscoe (‘Rocky’) Boyer, an Army Air Forces communications officer, offers penetrating insight into precisely how one air group functioned on New Guinea and in the Philippines during World War II. Among Boyer’s compatriots were true heroes and a few outright scoundrels, but mostly they were ordinary men living in extraordinary times. Rocky Boyer’s War is a warm, honest tribute to their service and their sacrifice.”

JOHN B. LUNDSTROM, author of Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal

“New Guinea in World War II is far removed from the New York Stock Exchange seventy years later, but Allen D. Boyer makes the transition with aplomb as he expands upon his father’s wartime diary. The resulting true-life Rocky Boyer’s War will draw inevitable comparisons with Joseph Heller’s fictional Catch 22. World War II students will appreciate Rocky Boyer’s War for its uncompromising honesty and downright enjoyable narrative.”

BARRETT TILLMAN, author of Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan 1942–1945


For more information on this and other great books, visit www.usni.org. eBook edition also available.
ISBN: 978-1-68247-096-1
HISTORY • WORLD WAR II
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.


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