P.T. Deutermann is a Naval Academy grad who commanded a destroyer and has written several successful thriller novels, so when he writes of the surface navy in the Pacific during World War II, you expect a lot. This is a thrilling story about three Annapolis grads from the Class of ’32, and Glory, the navy nurse they all loved. That may sound like the setup for a romance novel, and there is some personal drama, but this is war as real as you can get from the printed page.
Told as a flashback by a retired officer to his stepson, the tale begins with the changing of the Officer of the Deck at the beginning of the midwatch on a heavy cruiser off Guadalcanal in August, 1942. If you know your history you get goosebumps right there. Within minutes that ship is sinking, and our primary protagonist, Lieutenant Marsh Vincent barely escapes going down with her. The details, from a personal perspective, as Japanese cruisers and destroyers clobber the ship, and the sights and sounds of her sinking remain with me yet.
One of the friends, husband of Glory, the navy nurse, has gone down with the Arizona before the story starts. The third friend is a dive bomber pilot; brash, fearless, and flawed, who sinks a Japanese carrier at Midway. We live through Guadalcanal, Midway, and the savage but little known naval battle at Samar. Marsh and McCarty are there when the Yamato, the largest battleship ever built, attacks a group of small escort carriers providing air support for the American landing in the Philippines.
The tale jumps between action in the Pacific and recovery back at Pearl Harbor. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish the last 100 pages. You will too.