Captain Fleming Pickering has been assigned to collect intelligence of what is happening in the field especially in the Pacific islands which is to be compared with reports from the admirals but he must also reconcile and channel the rivalry between the Navy and the Marines to keep the Japanese from taking Guadalcanal with the help of a bunch of brave pilots. Pickering had a remarkable record of service under the marines but has not been assigned to collect intelligence in the Pacific. However, he finds that he has to reconcile the sides of the navy and the marine as well as the intelligence community to provide an organized front to the Japanese and this involves help from various characters. Bill Dunn is a talented aviator and is in the battle of the midway where he is pulled from service upon a hearing for conduct unbecoming. At this time he begins a relationship with a nurse called Mary Agnes during his recovery at the hospital. Pickering is getting confidential information through his secretary and other resources that he has managed to assemble around him.
Pickering is tasked with the formation of a unit called the special detachment 14 by marine intelligence operating from Washington DC. The unit is supposed to assist the coast watchers who are in the Pacific South islands and watch the skies and seas for Japanese movement. John Moore is in officers Candidate School and is pulled from training and given the rank of Sergeant. He is also assigned to Australia. He is not given specifics on the mission but permitted a short visit home to Philadelphia before the trip. He falls in love with an older woman called Barbara but the fling does not last for long and it fades out when she goes back to her husband.
There is a special fighter group called VVF-229 which is under the command of Colonel Dawkins. At the time, the only member is the aviator; Bill Dunn. However, Captain Charles Galloway is on his way to the Marine headquarters in the company of his girlfriend to lead the group. He gets some help from his friend Oblensky who happens to be a wizard at the motors and they practice runs with the airplanes. The other members of the team include Jim Ward that happens to be the brother of Caroline, Galloway's girlfriend, and a bookish looking David Schneider. Dunn's girl Agnes starts to have feelings for Schneider and Dunn obliges as he was also getting tired of her. In Australia Moore is assigned to Pickering's team and he is a good fit, being fluent in Japanese and has lived there for sometime so he knows the culture. The last member of the team in Australia is Sergeant Banning from the Marines.
The Japanese attempt an attack to take back the Guadalcanal and Pickering puts himself in a position where he is at the front of the battle so that he can report back easily. When he is there he finds that he has to take charge of all of the intelligence gathering forces. Knox the secretary of the navy tries to get him out of there by ordering a ship to pick him up but the ship is attacked by the Japanese mid battle as he boards and Pickering has to take charge after the captain is killed. The VVF-229 is deployed and Dunn gets enough kills to get ace status but Galloway is shot down over the Pacific. The story ends just as they think he is dead but news arrives that Galloway was picked up by friendlies and is coming back to head the unit once more.
Best part of story, including ending:
I like the story because it focuses on different story lines of characters but who seem to be affected by one thing which was the war.
Best scene in story:
I like the scene nearing the end when the ship that Pickering, the main character was boarding for his protection was hit by enemy fire and the captain was killed. Pickering took charge quite seamlessly like he was used to it. he did not behave like a protected person or VIP in any way and did what he needed to as the superior officer.
Opinion about the main character:
I like that the main character, Pickering was not afraid to be in front line even though he was an officer. He had quite a lot of courage even though his superiors did not deem it necessary from him.