***2023 MORISON AWARD ANNOUNCED***
The Life of Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee Jr.
Battleship Commander explores Lee's life from boyhood in Kentucky through his eventual service as commander of the fast battleships from 1942 to 1945. Paul Stillwell draws on more than 150 first-person accounts from those who knew and served with Lee from boyhood until the time of his death. Said to be down to earth, modest, forgiving, friendly, and with a wry sense of humor, Lee eschewed the media and, to the extent possible, left administrative details to others. Stillwell relates the sequential building of a successful career, illustrating Admiral Lee's focus on operational, tactical, and strategic concerns. During his service in the Navy Department from 1939 to 1942, Lee prepared the U.S. Navy for war at sea, and was involved in inspecting designs for battleships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, and destroyers. He sent observers to Britain to report on Royal Navy operations during the war against Germany and made plans to send an action team to mainland China to observe conditions for possible later Allied landings there. Putting his focus on the need to equip U.S. warships with radar and antiaircraft guns, Lee was one of the few flag officers of his generation who understood the tactical advantage of radar, especially during night battles.
In 1942 Willis Lee became commander of the first division of fast battleships to operate in the Pacific. During that service, he commanded Task Force 64, which achieved a tide-turning victory in a night battle near Guadalcanal in November 1942. Lee missed two major opportunities for surface actions against the Japanese. In June 1944, in the Marianas campaign, he declined to engage because his ships were not trained adequately to operate together in surface battles. In October 1944, Admiral William Halsey's bungled decisions denied Lee's ships an opportunity for combat.
Continuing his career of service near the end of the war, Lee, in the summer of 1945, directed anti-kamikaze research efforts in Casco Bay, Maine. While Lee's wartime successes and failures make for compelling reading, what is here in this biography is a balanced look at the man and officer.
M. ERNEST MARSHALL, MD
REAR ADMIRAL HERBERT V. WILEY
A Career in Airships and Battleships
Suspecting a war with Japan somewhere over the horizon, the American Navy needed a means of conducting surveillance of the vast Pacific Ocean to guard against invasion. Surface vessels were too slow, and the Navy had too few of them, and airplanes lacked the range to cover the Pacific Ocean. The Navy turned to airships (dirigibles) as a solution - vehicles that could range for thousands of miles in the air on a single tank of fuel. Rear Admiral Herbert V. Wiley and Vice Admiral Charles E. Rosendahl - close friends - were with the Navy's airship program from beginning to end. After the loss of the Navy's last airship, Rosendahl went on to develop the blimp program that guarded America's entire coastline during WW II.
ON DESPERATE GROUND
THE MARINES AT THE RESERVOIR, THE KOREAN WAR'S GREATEST BATTLE
ON DESPERATE GROUND tells the story of one of the most harrowing clashes in American history, the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, during which Mao’s numerically superior armies surrounded and tried to destroy the First Marine Division in the frozen mountain wilds of North Korea. In this deeply researched work of literary non-fiction, bestselling historian Hampton Sides offers a gripping chronicle of the extraordinary feats of heroism performed by the beleaguered Marines, who were called upon to do the impossible in some of the most unforgiving terrain on earth.
On October 15, 1950, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of UN troops in Korea, convinced President Harry Truman that the Communist forces of Kim Il-sung would be utterly defeated by Thanksgiving. The Chinese, he said with near certainty, would not intervene in the war.
As he was speaking, 300,000 Red Chinese soldiers began secretly crossing the Manchurian border. Led by some 20,000 men of the First Marine Division, the Americans moved deep into the snowy mountains of North Korea, toward the trap Mao had set for the vainglorious MacArthur along the frozen shores of the Chosin Reservoir. What followed was one of the most heroic operations in American military history, and one of the classic battles of modern times. Faced with probable annihilation, and temperatures plunging to 20 degrees below zero, the surrounded, and hugely outnumbered, Marines fought through the enemy forces with ferocity, ingenuity, and nearly unimaginable courage as they marched their way to the sea.
On Desperate Ground relies on years of archival research, unpublished letters, declassified documents, and interviews with scores of Marines and Koreans who survived the siege. While detailing the conspicuous follies and intelligence failures of the American leaders in Tokyo and Washington, On Desperate Ground is an immediate, grunt’s-eye view of history that serves as an enthralling illustration of what ordinary men are capable of accomplishing in the most difficult circumstances.
As Sides shows, the extremity of their predicament brought to the fore a naked instinct for self-preservation, a ferocious camaraderie, and a rare improvisational spirit—making the engagement at Chosin Reservoir not only one of our country’s most highly decorated battles, but also one of the great military survival stories of all time.
TIN CAN TITANS
The Heroic Men and Ships of WWII's
Most Decorated Navy Destroyer Squadron
An epic narrative of World War II naval action that brings to life the sailors and exploits of the war's most decorated destroyer squadron When Admiral William Halsey selected DestroyerSquadron 21 (Desron 21) to lead his victorious ships into Tokyo Bay to accept the Japanese surrender, it was the most battle-hardened US naval squadron of the war. But it was not the squadron of ships that had accumulated such an inspiring resume; it was the people serving aboard them. Sailors, not metallic superstructures and hulls, had won the battles and become the stuff of legend. Men like Commander Donald MacDonald, skipper of the USS O'Bannon, who became the most decorated naval officer of the Pacific war; Lieutenant Hugh Barr Miller, who survived his ship's sinking and waged a one-man battle against the enemy while stranded on a Japanese-occupied island; and Doctor Dow "Doc" Ransom, the beloved physician of the USS La Vallette, who combined a mixture of humor and medical expertise to treat his patients at sea, epitomize the sacrifices made by all the men and women of World War II. Through diaries, personal interviews with survivors, and letters written to and by the crews during the war, preeminent historian of the Pacific theater John Wukovits brings to life the human story of the squadron and its men who bested the Japanese in the Pacific and helped take the war to Tokyo.
"And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
I served in the United States Navy.” - John Fitzgerald Kennedy, US Navy Lieutenant & 35th President of the United States
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