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Mike Walling
Author & Storyteller

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Michael G. Walling (Hudson, Massachusetts) is the author of several books, including Bloodstained Sea, Forgotten Sacrifice, and Enduring Freedom, Enduring Voices.

An internationally recognized World War II expert, Walling is a contributing author to the U.S. Naval Institute’s Naval History magazine and has appeared on The History Channel and PBS as an aviation and naval expert. He and his work also have been featured in, American Heroes Radio, Authors Den, Coast Guard Channel, Coast Guard Compass, The Lowell Sun, Nashoba Publishing, Newspaper Heroes On the Air, and other media. In addition, he is a sought-after speaker, giving presentations before a variety of audiences and venues, including Battle Ship Cove, Fort Devens Museum, Maine Maritime Museum, National World War II Museum–New Orleans, Naval Order of the United States, Naval War College, U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association, and numerous veterans’ reunion groups.

Walling has spent five decades collecting stories from veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as those of pilots, merchant seamen, and civilian personnel with NATO and EUFOR. His research has taken him across the United States as well as abroad to such places as Afghanistan, Bosnia–Herzegovina, Croatia, Great Britain, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Russia, and Afghaistan.

After graduating from Montclair State College with a BA in Biology, Walling served in the U.S. Coast Guard for six years as a commissioned officer and a senior petty officer. Most of his seagoing experience was in the North Atlantic and included two trips to the Arctic. His assignments included buoy tending, search and rescue missions, drug and fisheries law enforcement, and oceanographic operations. As part of the Boarding Party and Prize Crew on two cutters, he participated in the seizures of a Panamanian drug-runner and a Cuban fishing boat. His decorations include the U.S. Coast Guard Achievement Medal (Operational) for counter-drug operations, Arctic Service Medal, Sea Service Medal, the National Defense Medal, and USCG Cutterman’s Insignia.

Writing & Storytelling

A natural storyteller, Walling has published nonfiction and fiction alike. He also produced a new version of the old song “I’d Like to Find the Guy Who Named the Coast Guard,” originally written and recorded by Paul Yacich and the Coast Guard Band in 1945. The music has been lost, but working with Alison Freemen, this wonderfully humorous tune has been given a new lease on life and is updated with three verses reflecting today’s Coast Guard global missions.

Walling’s first book, Bloodstained Sea: The U.S. Coast Guard in the Battle of the Atlantic 1941–1944 (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2004), received critical acclaim from reviewers and veterans alike. Winner of the 2005 Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature, awarded by The Naval Order of the United States, the book earned praise from the likes of bestselling novelist Stephen Coonts; Master Chief Petty Officer Vince Patton, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.); and Dr. Dennis L. Noble, author of Lifeboat Sailors: Disasters, Rescues, and the Perilous Future of the Coast Guard’s Small Boat Stations and The Rescue of the Gale Runner: Death, Heroism, and the U.S. Coast Guard, among others.
Moving from naval to aviation history, In the Event of a Water Landing, tells for the first time the full stories of the Bermuda Sky Queen and Sovereign of the Skies rescues, the only two completely successful open ocean ditchings in Commercial Aviation history. These two stories encompass many facets of ditching: bad weather, engine failure, horrific sea conditions, and indomitable courage in the face of death. Between these two are tales of other ditchings, as well as the journey we humans have undertaken from the beginning of transoceanic flight to today.

His most recent nonfiction book, Enduring Freedom, Enduring Voices (Osprey Publishing, 2015), uses the voices of the men and women who have fought in America’s longest sustained war entailing combat operations to tell for the first time the history of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan from 2001 through mid-2014.

His previous titles include Forgotten Sacrifice: The Arctic Convoys in World War II (Osprey Publishing, 2012), which captured for the first time the true essence of these convoys and served it to the reader in a book seemingly made from crystalline Arctic Sea ice yet actually composed of Allied and Soviets survivors’ memories and, sometimes, memories left behind by those who didn’t survive. The book is an international bestseller, reaching #1 on Amazon–UK’s World War II list shortly after publication.

Mike’s first novel, Choke Points (Cutter Publishing, 2009), addresses the real threats to Maritime and Port Security. It’s the first of the ten-book Fletcher Saga series spanning more than two centuries.

On the lighter side, he published and wrote the introduction for a new edition of Sinbad of the Coast Guard (Flat Hammock Press, 2005; ISBN: 978-0975869932), the adventurous, true story of the USCGC Campbell’s mascot, whose exploits during World War II became legendary. Appropriately, Sinbad’s story was told by a fellow member of the Coast Guard, Chief George F. Foley, Jr., while the fine pictures were drawn by the outstanding Coast Guard Reserve artist George Gray.

Walling has shared meals, drinks, tears, and laughter with the men he writes about, and they consider him one of them. His deep appreciation and understanding of the men and the era in which they lived and fought have come through decades of studying World War II and the Great Depression that spawned it, as well as talking with hundreds of veterans from all the U.S. military services and those of other countries.