We saw one of the most tremendous melodramas in the record of great military institutions unfold itself, scene by scene, act by act, in strict conformity to the rules of unity and plot. We saw the Navy---flattened not only by the Pearl Harbor tragedy but by the global war that grew out of it---suddenly setting out to do whatever could be done with what materials happened to lie at hand, going ahead with ever-increasing momentum, gathering up material and men as it moved and fought, out guessing Admiral Yamamoto and his talented knifemen with traditional American brilliance, striking cautiously at first, then with daring---through the Marshalls and Gilberts and Wake and Marcus to the ornate shambles of the Coral Sea. And finally, out-numbered and out-gunned, to the incredible victory of Midway."
Robert J. Casey takes you along, step by step, day by day, even minute by minute, through this great drama of recoil, recovery and counterattack, through these breath-taking encounters that answered superbly the nervous query "Where is the fleet?"
He reached the Pacific battle scene just after the Japs had made Pearl Harbor their "torpedo junction." He walked in on as terrible a morning-after as the United States has ever known. His fleet slipped in filth, the stench of burned oil was in his nostrils, knotted iron and scrap lay all about and on Red Hill were 3500 new graves to be avenged. Hawaii was hysterical, wondering why it hadn't been finished off when the Japs had a chance that would never come again. For weeks it went on, the turmoil, the rebuilding, the restless waiting.
You realize suddenly the months, perhaps years, of careful planning that preceded that Jap sneak attack, you realize why the United States could not risk lightning retaliation. You wait as Honolulu rebuilds and speculates with nightmarish intensity on what's coming next.
And then, at last, American action.
Aboard a heavy cruiser, with a compact task force of fighting ships and planes, Casey watches the men of the Navy prepare for battle. Days pass. Out of the quiet Pacific come more American forces, to converge on the Jap base of Wotje. In a few breathless hours the Japs are smashed. Casey records the first American score from start to finish.
Things are not done so neatly and completely at the bombing of Wake, but at Marcus, that dot on the far eastern sea, the Navy attacks with the calm of veterans. Again, the relentless and wearing preparation pays big dividends, as the Japs wilt under our fire.
Stories of the fighting in the Macassar Straits come in. With Casey's cruiser you swing down toward the Coral Sea, scene of portentous conflict.
But this is only prelude to one of the greatest naval battles of all time---Midway. With smaller forces, divided but working with deadly co-ordination, the Americans attack unhesitatingly a great Jap concentration bent on repeating their success at Pearl Harbor. It is an overwhelming victory for the United States that Casey reports from the deck of his cruiser, a victory in which no ship fires at another ship, a victory from the air that yet is truly a naval victory.
With him you live through those harrowing hours when American planes give the Japs the licking of their lives, sink their fighting ships, their carriers, their transports. He believes it the beginning of the end of the war in the Pacific, a far, far, greater blow to Japan than Pearl Harbor was to us, a grand American "torpedo junction."
Bob Casey lived with the men of the fleet, as he lived through the war in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, England, Africa and on the Mediterranean. Author of twenty books, ace war correspondent for the Chicago Daily News, who has been over more of the global war map, land and water, than any other correspondent, he brings you the exciting, the picturesque, the amusing, the terrible, the real story of the Pacific war. His keen, trained eye takes in every significant detail. Daily he makes note of his impressions while they are sharp and fresh. His sense of humor never deserts him. His ironic laughter is not stilled by shipboard routine or by danger. His instinct for human interest is immense and infallible. He is there with the fleet, the fleet is doing a great job, and you are with him.
Check out the SLC DECK LOGS for Jan. 10th, 1942
Shows when Robert J. Casey boarded the USS SLC CA25