THE FIGHTER PILOT’S WIFE

Gilberta Guth

At age 21, Gilberta meets and, a year and a half later, marries a dashing young Air Force fighter pilot. She leaps into the unique challenges of raising a family with lives framed by worldwide travel, military aviation, and the constant specter of combat. She learns to cope with seeing young pilots lose their lives in plane crashes, joining other wives in comforting the widows, and helping them pack up their children and leave the familial embrace of the military. Meanwhile, Gilberta strives to protect her own children from that looming unspoken fear—that their father could perish while in service as a jet pilot.

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At age 21, Gilberta meets and, a year and a half later, marries a dashing young Air Force fighter pilot. She leaps into the unique challenges of raising a family with lives framed by worldwide travel, military aviation, and the constant specter of combat. She learns to cope with seeing young pilots lose their lives in plane crashes, joining other wives in comforting the widows, and helping them pack up their children and leave the familial embrace of the military. Meanwhile, Gilberta strives to protect her own children from that looming unspoken fear—that their father could perish while in service as a jet pilot.

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  • Call Sign Press
  • Paperback
  • 2006
  • 376 Pages
  • 9780976867807

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About Gilberta Guth

Gilberta Guth married Air Force fighter pilot Joe Guth in 1953, whose career took them around the world as they raised four children. She later earned a master’s degree in education and now lives with her husband in Novato, California.

Praise

“A bright legacy of all American wars lies enshrined in the words of women who wrote wrenchingly, eloquently, and passionately of their anguish, their fears, and their love for their men who went to war and often never returned. In that tradition of excellence, in this fine book, Gilberta Guth has given us a loving, moving memoir from her heart to ours.”
John C. Waugh, author of Surviving the Confederacy

Discussion Questions

How does the courtship of Gilberta and Joe compare to a courtship of today?

How did the long distance and lengthy separations between Gilberta and Joe affect the relationship? Did their brief, intense visits skew their perception of the relationship?

Why was Gilberta so hesitant to commit to Joe early on? Was she approaching marriage from a traditional standpoint?

Gilberta describes how she shielded herself and her children from the possibility of their father’s death due to his dangerous profession. She writes, “I had almost convinced myself that Joe was as invincible as he believed himself to be.” Were there consequences to the children or to the marriage because of this denial?

The challenges faced by the military family are virtually unknown in the civilian world. What did you learn in reading Gilberta’s account of military life in the 1950s and ’60s? Would you say that today’s military families face the same or different challenges?

Many readers would say that Gilberta was a stereotypical ’50s housewife and mom, foregoing a career to follow her husband in his career and raise the children. Do you agree? How does she compare to today’s stay-at-home mom?

The era of the story is commonly associated with a high level of glamour, romance, and Americana—drinking and dancing in the evening, flying fighter jets in the morning. How does the Guths’ social life fit into this view?

In interviews, Gilberta has said that no matter the city or country, she and Joe had a “built-in” social life because of the military. What do you think this means?

Due to Joe’s profession as a military pilot, the Guth family moved to many different countries and cities over the years. Did this have an effect on their children? The marriage?

Gilberta strove to give her family as normal a life as possible. Did she succeed?