Vanished Hero

The Life, War and Mysterious Disappearance of America’s WWII Strafing King

Jay A Stout

Elwyn G. Righetti remains one of the most unknown and controversial commanders of World War II. Arriving late to the war, he led the 55th Fighter Group against the Nazis with a no-holds-barred aggressiveness that transformed the group from a middling organization into a headline-grabbing team. Ultimately, Righetti's calculated recklessness ran full
Date Published :
October 2016
Publisher :
Illustration :
16 pages of photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612003955
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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A hell-bent-for-leather fighter pilot, Elwyn G. Righetti remains one of the most unknown, yet compelling, colorful and controversial commanders of World War II. Vanished Hero tells the story of this remarkable man and the air war that he and his comrades fought, while examining his possible fate.

Arriving late to the war, he led the England-based 55th Fighter Group against the Nazis during the closing months of the fight with a no-holds-barred aggressiveness that transformed the group from a middling organization into a headline-grabbing team that had to make excuses to no one. Indeed, Righetti’s boldness paid off as he quickly achieved ace status and additionally scored more strafing victories—27—than any other Eighth Air Force pilot.

However, success came at a high cost in men and machines. Some of Righetti’s pilots resented him as a Johnny-come-lately intent on winning a sack of medals at their expense. But most lauded their spirited new commander and his sledgehammer audacity. Indeed, he made his men most famous for “loco busting,” as they put more than six hundred enemy locomotives out of commission—170 in just two days!

Ultimately, Righetti’s calculated recklessness ran full speed into the odds. His aircraft was hit while strafing an enemy airfield only four days before the 55th flew its last mission. Almost farcically aggressive to the end, he coaxed his crippled fighter through one more firing pass before making a successful crash landing. Immediately, he radioed his men that he was fine and asked that they reassure his family. Righetti was never heard from again.

About The Author

Jay Stout is a native of Indiana and a 1981 graduate of Purdue University. He was commissioned into the Marine Corps that same year and earned his designation as a naval aviator in 1983 with orders to fly the F-4 Phantom. He later served as an instructor on the T-2C Buckeye and transitioned to the F/A-18 Hornet. As a Hornet pilot, he flew 37 combat missions during Desert Storm.


Introduction: “I’ll See You When I Get Back”
“I Now Have Cancer”
“He Loved Flying More than Anything” 7
“My Flying Has Been Pretty Good Lately”
“I’d Rather Fly than Eat”
“I’m Really Enjoying This All”
“The Chance of a Skunk Picking on a Lion”
“I’m Going off to War Now, Mom”
“Have My Own Squadron Now”
“Everyone Looks So Well”
“We Try Not to Hit the Crew”
“Tonite This Lad is a Tired Guy”
“It All Happened Pretty Fast”
“Jerry Went Out of Control”
“Seems Like an Excellent Break for Me”
“I Hit the Deck”
“I’m Pretty Much Tired”
“Don’t Be a Fool”
“One More Pass”
“Your Little Daughter is Sure Getting Cuter”
“I Felt Bad”
Author’s Comments


"Honoring a commitment to a dying researcher, aviation historian Jay Stout picked up all the loose ends regarding the mysterious disappearance of the hard-driving Lieutenant Colonel Elwyn Righetti and fashioned a superb, edge-of-the-seat account of Righetti’s stellar combat career during the final months of the air war against Germany. This book is filled with the kind of attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from Jay Stout."

- Eric Hammel, Military History Author

"Former fighter pilot Jay A. Stout continues to prove why he is one of the leading military aviation historians with his latest effort, Vanished Hero. He blends his storytelling talents with meticulous research of both family and military archives to reconstruct the moving true story of one of America’s lesser remembered fighter aces. The saga of aggressive fighter commander Elwyn Righetti is presented with a superb blend of details of both the big picture in Europe during the closing stages of World War II and insightful facts on the aircraft, tactics, and strategies employed by both Germany and America."

- Stephen L. Moore, author of As Good as Dead: The True WWII Story of Eleven American POWs Who Escaped from Palawan Island

"As a fellow historian and author on World War II aviation subjects, who has conducted hundreds of interviews with combat pilots, I was quite pleased with Jay Stout’s latest release. His attention to detail regarding aircraft, missions, historical accuracy, background and human interaction does not hinder the flow or the quality of this excellent, well proportioned and well-balanced biography of a remarkable yet almost unknown American fighter pilot, P-51 Mustang ace Lt Col Elwyn Guido Righetti. Add this to your collection of great books, and provide it a prominent place in your library."

- Colin Heaton, Co-Author of The Star of Africa: The Story of Hans Marseille, the Rogue Luftwaffe Ace who Dominated the WW II

"Military historian Jay Stout has given us a rare gift:  a look inside the heart and mind of a lost warrior from the Greatest Generation.  In intimate detail, Vanished Hero explores the life and legacy of Col. Elwyn Righetti, who blazed a brief and valorous trail through the skies of wartime Europe.  Vanished Hero is a welcome addition to the pantheon of America’s WWII literature."

- Robert Gandt, author of The Twilight Warriors, Intrepid, and Angels in the Sky

"Enhanced with a wealth of vintage black- and-white photographs, notes, a bibliography, and an index, Vanished Hero is a welcome addition to military biography collections, and highly recommended for both public library collections and personal reading lists."

- Midwest Book Review

“Through Righetti’s personal story this book also offers a good insight into the Home Front activities during 1942-1944, the European Theater of Operation during 1944-45 and even details on operations and missions flown by the 55th Fighter Group. I will highly recommend this book to any aviation history aficionado.”


“Few have ever heard of Elwyn G. Righetti, but his story is worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster… well-written an detailed with smooth prose. It is a fitting tribute to both Righetti and the man who collected his life’s journey.”

- Military Heritage

“…it is such a great “read”… Highly recommended”

- Small Air Forces Observer

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