During the early afternoon hours of April 24, 1944, Second Lieutenant James J. Goebel, Jr. finds himself floating alone toward the war-torn Belgian landscape below. What was his safe passage home, his B-24 Liberator, is now engulfed in flames and hurls to the ground only to report back with a distant thud upon the earth. Just moments earlier, the B-24 and its crew of ten were enroute back to England after their inaugural bombing mission and the successful pounding of the Nazi war machine. At the hand of sheer randomness and bad luck, an enemy fighter selected their heavy bomber for retribution from the 230 B-24s dispatched earlier that morning.
Forced to jump for their lives, Goebel and his fellow crew members were now scattered along the Belgium countryside. Soon to be a downed airmen in a hostile enemy occupied territory, the odds of survival are against him. With two men running toward his drifting canopy, Goebel fears he may never see home again.
The Lucky Seven is a gripping true story of escape, evasion and résistance.
“The Lucky Seven is an authentic, skillfully woven Bayeux tapestry of the aerial war of WWII as seen through the eyes of Lieutenant Goebel, his crew, and the people who interacted with them before the mission and in the aftermath of rescue and captivity.”
Tom Gauthier – Readers’ Favorite Review
“Norman W. Holden’s non-fiction narrative has a sense of storytelling to it that perfectly captures the tension, courage, and camaraderie during wartime, and also sheds light on the often-overlooked acts of heroism by those who resisted Nazi occupation.”
K.C. Finn – Readers’ Favorite Review
“The Lucky Seven is, quite simply, an epic tale not to be missed by history buffs or even those who just enjoy a supremely crafted narrative. Anyone who reads The Lucky Seven by Norman W. Holden is sure to come away edified, gratified, and highly entertained.”
Rich Follett – Readers’ Favorite Review
“The Lucky Seven successfully walks the fine line between being a detailed account of history and a thrilling story of action and adventure.”
Scott Cahan – Readers’ Favorite Review
“The Lucky Seven is a stirring and inspirational read that had me glued to the story from the beginning.”
Grant Leishman – Readers’ Favorite Review
“One of the best World War II books ever! You won’t want to miss this one!”
(Read the full review here)
Kristine L. – Reedsy Discovery Review
“Riveting true-life story of escape and survival behind Nazi lines in World War II.”
Editors Pick Booklife Reviews
“The Lucky Seven is a captivating and poignant account of one man’s extraordinary journey during World War II.”
“Compelling story. Excellent book. Well-written. Even knowing there would be a “happy ending”, I still couldn’t put it down. It is a must read, especially for those with an interest in WWII history – I would highly recommend it.”
“I could not put this book down, read it in 2 days. So many times Lt. Jim Goebel could have been captured or killed. Well written to keep the reader engaged.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author did an excellent job of keeping the reader interested in the story with great detail about the many obstacles the men faced as they evaded capture by the Germans. I didn’t want to put it down.”
“What a wonderfully written book on The Greatest Generation!”
“Really enjoyed this book. Very well written and amazing story!”
“Great historical perspective on the bravery and risk that went on during WWII.”
Excerpt – Prologue
April 24, 1944
Altitude 14,000 ft. above Belgium
The fuselage fire was growing out of control, leaving nothing left for the crew to do but bail out. Second Lieutenant James J. Goebel Jr. stood on the narrow bomb-bay catwalk as he checked his straps one last time. Summoning the courage, he stepped into open space. The overpowering throb of the remaining Pratt & Whitney 1200 horsepower engines were replaced with dead silence. It took less than three seconds for Goebel to reach terminal velocity. With black smoke tracing its final journey, the wounded B-24 continued its plunge toward the earth’s surface. The aircraft’s descent was punctuated by an orange fireball exploding in an open, grassy pasture.
Nothing prepared Goebel for the experience of falling at nearly 120 miles per hour with no feeling of motion. Recognizing the irony of his situation, Goebel muttered, “Why wasn’t this part of my training?” This baptism by fire became his first practice jump. He pulled the rip cord; the force of his chute opening immediately knocked him momentarily unconscious. Floating like a ghost toward the earth’s surface under a silken white mantle, he regained consciousness. Trying to shake the fog from his head, he silently observed the quickly approaching foreign countryside, then silently prayed for a safe landing and braced himself for impact. The force of impact drove Goebel’s knees hard into his chest, knocking all of the air from his lungs with a loud gasp. Straining for breath, he half-heartedly tugged on his chute, feeling immediate resistance as the barbed wire fence gripped the white silk.
Struggling to break free of the straps that harnessed him, Goebel began to move quickly yet awkwardly. A downed airman in occupied land, he was now a wanted man. In just a few seconds, his fate would rest in the hands of the two men running toward him, leaving him to wonder, “Were they friend or foe?”