Sunday, July 22, 2007

The USS Dale in WWII

Ken, one of the men in our Saturday morning breakfast group at the Cozy Corner, served on a destroyer during the Korean War. He loaned me Tales from a Tin Can, which is about the USS Dale, a destroyer that served in the Pacific during WWII. The author's father served on that ship, and the author had little idea of what his dad had done in the war until he went with him a few years ago to a reunion with the crew. He was amazed and fascinated by the stories they swapped, and, a writer by trade, he ran to the car and got his tape recorder. Like pearls on a silver thread, he has strung those stories chronologically in this book, along a narrative of his own that helps place the stories in context. It is an easy, enjoyable read, and I learned a great deal about destroyers, fleet movements, typhoons, the Japanese.

For example, I had no idea that the Japanese occupation of a couple of the Aleutian islands in Alaska caused so much concern in the US and resulted in one of the first of the war's amphibious landings, difficult though successful landings that helped prepare the Navy for landings later in the war.

When you read about the kamikaze and other suicide tactics that the Japanese desperately employed in 1945, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki makes a lot of sense. The US Navy lost almost half of the ships it lost in WWII in the Pacific during that year, 1945, because of the desperation of the Japanese. I've heard it before, but the book recounts the belief that there would be over 1 million casualties on the US side if it took an invasion of the Japanese homeland to finish the war. And the Japanese were willing to sacrifice millions of their own to make the cost so high that we would negotiate.


Sean Meade said...

sounds like a great book, Paul. putting it on my Amazon list. thanks

Paul Stokes said...

I think you will enjoy it, Sean.

Kellsey said...

My PaPa (dad's dad) was on a naval boat during WWII in the Pacific. My dad's cousin told me a terrifying story. He said that PaPa was on a team of five who worked one of the guns. They tried to shoot Kamikaze pilots before they could aim to crash into the boats. One day, PaPa was in the gun with his crew when a kamikaze pilot crashed his plane into the gun they were in. PaPa was the only survivor. He didn't like to talk about the war and he had a deep seated dislike of the Japanese. Although I wish that had been different, I find it hard to blame him considering his experiences. I would also be interested in this book, I think.