By Christopher Miskimon

The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle of World War II, and by most measures the largest in history. It involved 200,000 people, 280 ships and 1,800 aircraft. Among all those ships and men, Ensign Warner Tyler, later to bear the sobriquet “Captain Chaos,” flew a Grumman TBM-1C Avenger torpedo bomber through heavy enemy fire to launch his torpedo at the Japanese hybrid battleship/carrier Ise. For this, he earned the Navy Cross, the service’s second highest award for valor, while his enlisted radioman and gunner each received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Though their part in Leyte Gulf was but one small piece of a massive, concerted effort by the U.S. Navy, it contributed to the aggregate and overarching goal of defeating the Imperial Japanese Navy.

The story of Ensign, later Captain, Tyler and his fellow naval aviators aboard the USS Lexington is well-told in this new work. The author is a retired naval officer who served with Tyler postwar, allowing him to gather accurate information on his subjects. However, this is not a simple collection of the pilot’s war stories. The book is well researched with pilot’s narratives woven into a coherent whole using credible source material.

Captain Chaos: Navy Cross Recipient Warner V. Tyler, Carrier Air Group Nineteen, and the Battle for Leyte Gulf (Steven E. Maffeo, Focsle Press, Annapolis MD, 2022, 318 pp., maps, photographs, appendices, bibliography, $25, softcover)

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