My name is Clint Hayes.
My introduction to the Eager Beavers back in 1993 was the same as it was for most people back then: Martin Caidin’s Flying Forts: The B-17 in World War II. An aspiring screenwriter, I was looking for a movie to write. My dad, a private pilot and fellow WWII history buff, sent me a copy of the book, telling me simply, “Read the first chapter.”
I did, never dreaming how much a part of my life it would become. I’ve spent the balance of the twenty-three years since researching and writing about Jay Zeamer and his crew, first in an original motion picture screenplay written in the mid-Nineties, more recently in a completely revised version of that script and an upcoming novelization of that script. And now this website.
One may ask why, because I’ve asked the question myself. What is it about this story that keeps drawing me to it? For one, it’s simply a trait I share with Jay Zeamer, Joe Sarnoski, and the rest of the Eager Beavers (not to mention my dad): If I’m going to do a job, I want to do it as well as I can. I knew that despite the many compliments I’d received on it, my first attempt at this story wasn’t what it deserved, and so I set out in the 2000s to start over and do it right.
That trait also drives my desire to set the story straight. Caidin’s chapter on the crew in Flying Forts, titled “Mission Over Buka,” is a gripping, breathtaking tale of heroism that had up to then remained largely untold except in a few magazine articles over the decades. It is also mistaken in considerable respects, and has resulted in decades of unfortunate misconceptions about the crew and their history. I respect these men too much to allow such rumors and fictions to stand.
It is that respect, though, that explains it most. I feel an obligation not just to this crew, but to all the bomber crews who served in the SW Pacific during the early days of World War II, to publicize as much as I can the criminally unrecognized role they played in our victory in the Pacific. They helped save Australia from the Japanese under some of the most inhospitable conditions of any theater of the war. They deserve their place in the public consciousness for that.
Hence my multiple approaches to the story, and its continuing presence in my life. I’ve been rewarded with the acquaintance of some wonderful people as a result, and a deeper understanding of what true responsibility and dedication to purpose looks like. I thank the veterans I’ve come to know for that, and their families for entrusting their husbands' and fathers' experiences to me.