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  • Tailspin




written by John Armbruster with interviews of Gene Moran, WWII Vet



Non-Fiction - Historical - WWII - Personal Narrative

420 pages

ISBN 9781645383154



A rookie social studies teacher overhears a conversation about a World War II tail gunner who survived a four-mile fall from the sky. It turns out the tail gunner, Gene Moran, lives just a few miles up the road. The teacher, John Armbruster, will have to wait sixteen years to hear this story. That’s nothing. Gene’s children waited six decades. 

When the elderly Gene finally shares his saga, John has no idea of the wounds he’s reopening. Stories of burning bomber planes cartwheeling through the German sky and mortally wounded friends screaming for help are only the beginning. Gene reluctantly gives up memories of his transport on a hell ship and his six-hundred-mile forced march in 1945 as Central Europe becomes a continent of death. 

As John records three years of interviews with Gene, his wife, Carmen, fights her own war against cancer. Carmen loses this battle. John must continue uncovering Gene’s story of survival and struggle as he himself confronts life as a grieving single father to two young sons.

Tailspin is more than a war story. It’s a story of two men’s separate journeys confronting extraordinary grief and loss. It’s a story of resilience. 



John Armbruster has taught American history and government at the middle and high school level for twenty-nine years. Before becoming a teacher, he wrote for public radio and newspapers after graduating from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He lives on a small farm outside of Viroqua, Wisconsin, in the heart of the Driftless Region. His late wife, Carmen, died in 2012 after a long fight with breast cancer. They have two sons: Matthew and Joseph.



Awards for Tailspin


American Writing Awards 2022 Nonfiction Book of the Year

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