The Ship that Wouldn't Die – The Saga of the USS Neosho, a World War II Story of Courage and Survival at Sea
In May 1942, Admiral Jack Fletcher’s Task Force 17 closed in for the war’s first major clash with the Japanese Navy. The Neosho, a vitally important tanker capable of holding more than 140,000 barrels of fuel, was ordered away from the impending battle. Minimally armed, she was escorted by a destroyer, the Sims. As the Battle of the Coral Sea raged two hundred miles away, the ships were mistakenly attacked by Japanese dive bombers. Both crews fought valiantly, but when the smoke cleared, the Sims had slipped beneath the waves and the Neosho was ablaze and listing badly, severely damaged from seven direct hits and a suicide crash. Scores of sailors were killed or wounded, while hundreds more bobbed in shark-infested waters. Fires on board threatened to spark a fatal explosion, and each passing hour brought the ship closer to sinking. It was the beginning of a hellish four-day ordeal as the crew struggled to stay alive and keep their ship afloat, while almost two hundred men in life rafts drifted away without water, food, or shelter. It would be nine days before any of them would be rescued.
Working from eyewitness accounts and declassified documents, Keith offers up vivid portraits of Navy heroes: the Neosho’s skipper, Captain John Phillips, whose cool, determined leadership earned him a Silver Star; Lieutenant Commander Wilford Hyman, skipper of the Sims, who remained on his vessel’s bridge throughout the attack and made the ultimate sacrifice to try to save his ship; Seaman Jack Rolston, who pulled oil-soaked survivors out of the water and endured days adrift in an open life raft; and Chief Watertender Oscar Peterson, whose selflessness saved the lives of innumerable shipmates and earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
A tale of a ship as tough and resilient as its crew, The Ship That Wouldn’t Die captures the indomitable spirit of the American sailor—and finally brings to the surface one of the great untold sagas of the Pacific War.
About Don Keith (Birmingham, Alabama Author)
Award-winning and best-selling author Don Keith has lived in the South all his life and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. As a broadcast journalist, he won awards from the Associated Press and United Press International for news writing and reporting and was also the first winner of Troy University's Hector Award for innovation in broadcast journalism. As an on-the-air broadcaster, Don was twice named Billboard Magazine "Radio Personality of the Year."
His first novel, THE FOREVER SEASON, received the Alabama Library Association's "Fiction of the Year" award. He has since published more than thirty books, fiction, and non-fiction, including the nationally best-selling thrillers FINAL BEARING, DANGEROUS GROUNDS, and FIRING POINT. The latter will be released as a major motion picture in late 2017 starring Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman. His inspirational novella, THE LAST CHRISTMAS RIDE, has also been optioned for the screen, and his script based on his non-fiction book UNDERSEA WARRIOR is now being shopped. Don’s non-fiction work THE ICE DIARIES was submitted for consideration for the Pulitzer Prize.
Don has written extensively about World War II history. He sponsors the UNTOLD MILLIONS Project, an effort to encourage the capture and publication of eyewitness accounts of major historical events such as the Great Depression, World War II and other wars, the space program, the Civil Rights struggle, and more. The project website is www.untoldmillions.net.
Don lives in Indian Springs Village, Alabama, with his wife, Charlene. His website is www.donkeith.com.