Front St. Arts


Socratic Men


Black Sunday

The Big One

Clark Field

The One

Flying Blind

Raid on Palau


The Rake

Hog Killin'

Sunday Call

Tough Birds

Run of Hollow

Robbing Bees

Hay Hauling

The Shed

Final Mission

Like About Bob

Exuberant Birds






by Jerry Murley

Robert W. Hulme, whose stories started and dominate the TennesseeSoul war stories series, is pictured here about the time that he was in pilot training at Chickasha, Oklahoma. One of his most intricate and humorously self-deprecating stories concerns the mishaps of his initial flight training. In it, he clearly brings the myth of war-making down to earth and reveals the happenstance of life and career.

I'd like to pose a definition of courage that his stories illuminate. It encompasses a courage that is replete with self-effacing humor in the face of great danger. It is a danger that entails leading men to do their mission as ordered and returning home safely time after time – all while not wanting heroics but wanting most to return home to a normal life. This courage embraces the determination to abandon senseless violence once home. It perseveres in the daily expression of strength and clarity of duty for friends, co-workers, subordinates, and kin for long years thereafter.

Family are perhaps deluded in their admiration of such steady performance, but we are motivated most when we see the wonderful stories of such men breezily passed over by historian types, because the stories emphasize human mistakes, bonds, and enrichment more than the significance of an individual's contribution to a huge, bewildering war effort. Family do see the courage nonetheless, especially when at periodic reunions crew member after crew member, year after year, tell of their fears and their reliance on a pilot to get them through. Because such men are not portrayed as perfect or godlike, but much like us in their hapless dangers, losses, and fortunes, such stories make us imagine, if only briefly, that we could do it, too, should the call come.


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