Provenance is just a fancy word for “origin” or “history.” I’m thinking my use of it makes me sound more authorial and learned. You’re probably thinking it makes sound like a jerk. Okay, let’s call it a draw. But I’ll give a brief background of each novel anyhow.


This novel, my first in the WHEN HEROES FLEW series, sprang from a documentary I watched on TV about the 1943 low-level U.S. bombing raid on Ploesti, Romania. I’d never heard of the raid before, but the story utterly fascinated me. An additional driving force came from my late wife, Christina, and the tales she told me about growing up in Nazi Germany and enduring the war years there. Thus, I wrote the book using two point-of-view characters. One, an Army Air Forces B-24 bomber pilot, the other, a Luftwaffe Bf-109 fighter pilot. The German airman’s family life is informed by the stories Christina shared with me. WHEN HEROES FLEW was awarded a Gold Medal by the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA).


I hadn’t really intended to write a series when I wrote WHEN HEROES FLEW. But circumstances in my life changed. I found myself with more time to write. I also had become thoroughly fascinated with WWII flying exploits after researching the Ploesti raid. I wanted to do more. Not with the same character or characters, which is what a traditional series would be built around, but with novels focused on additional legendary aviation feats. I recalled when I was a kid reading about Jimmy Doolittle’s famous raid on Tokyo, Japan, in 1942. It was a thrilling adventure that stuck with me even as a grown man. So I again created a fictional pilot, crew, and airplane, and planted them in the middle of the action. And the action wasn’t all centered on only training and bombing. Much of it involved the raiders’ escape from occupied China to Chungking (the country’s provisional wartime capital) after the American bombers either crashed or crash-landed in China. WHEN HEROES FLEW: THE SHANGRI-LA RAIDERS won my second Gold Medal from the MWSA.


This novel—set in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater in WWII—is one of my favorites. For a couple of reasons. First, the characters. I had such fun with Rod and Eve, an exquisitely mismatched couple—Rod, an Army Air Forces pilot and weather officer, Eve, a sharp-tongued Army nurse. The second reason I enjoyed the book is that I wasn’t bound to the details of a specific mission. There was none, at least not like the raids on Ploesti and Tokyo. So I had the freedom to create my own adventure. I centered it on the men who flew over the snaggletoothed Himalaya Mountains—the Roof of the World—ferrying war supplies from India to China. It was an operation as deadly as any in WWII. A trail of blood and mangled aircraft was strewn along the route which became known as the Aluminum Trail. I pitched Rod and Eve into this turmoil and they found themselves parachuting from a crippled aircraft, slashing their way through a hostile Burmese jungle, encountering Naga headhunters, and battling Japanese soldiers in a deadly firefight. WHEN HEROES FLEW: THE ROOF OF THE WORLD received my third Gold Medal from the MWSA. It also garnered the Nancy Pearl Award for genre fiction from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.

Part II of this blog will appear in about a week.


  1. Edd Lawhon on April 5, 2024 at 2:23 pm

    Buzz, don’t ever sell yourself short. As far as I’m concerned, you rank up there with the big boys. ‘When Heroes Flew’ is such an incredible series, as well as ‘Down a Dark Road’.’ I can’t wait for your next offering!
    Keep up your great work!
    Edd & Sherry too

    • Buzz Bernard on April 12, 2024 at 2:44 pm

      Thanks, Edd. I hope you enjoy my next novel as much as you have the previous ones.

  2. David E. Huntley on April 5, 2024 at 4:03 pm

    You are one of the big boys, Buzz. You may remember I was so captivated by , “When Heroes Flew” it was hard to believe it was fiction.
    So happy to see another one hot off the press.

    • Buzz Bernard on April 12, 2024 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks, David. I’ve just begun work on a novel dealing with B-17s flying out of England. (See Part II of this blog.)

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