John J. Domagalski - Author
Seventy-five years ago a group of American sailors packed aboard a tanker ship and departed the Brooklyn Navy Yard for a journey half way around the world. The nearly 80 men and six small PT boats of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three arrived in Philippines in late September 1941. Less than two months later the sailors found themselves in a desperate situation on the front lines as the Pacific erupted into war. Under a Blood Red Sun tells their story.
Under A Blood Red Sun
The Remarkable Story of PT Boats in the Philippines and
the Rescue of General MacArthur
A small group of American sailors in the Philippines were propelled into the forefront of the fighting during the opening days of World War II in the Pacific. They were armed with six small wooden torpedo boats and led by a courageous larger than life character in Lieutenant John D. Bulkeley. The men of Torpedo Boat Squadron Three faced insurmountable odds as they conducted a series of heroic operations against Japanese naval forces.
As America’s defense of the Philippines crumbled under the weight of a massive Japanese assault, the courageous activities of Bulkeley’s men made headlines across the United States - often as the only good news coming from the bleak Pacific front. The unit achieved everlasting fame by evacuating General Douglas MacArthur from the front lines. The squadron continued to fight until all six of its torpedo boats were lost. The fate of the doomed American defenders was sealed when the Japanese won the battle for the islands in the spring of 1942.
The exploits of unit were forever immortalized in the blockbuster 1945 movie They Were Expendable staring John Wayne and Robert Montgomery. The saga of Bulkeley and his men has since slipped into history. Under a Blood Red Sun revives the story of the Philippine torpedo boats through the intertwined accounts of Bulkeley, young naval reserve officer Ensign Iliff D. Richardson and others. It is a story of courage under fire and of brave men making the most of a desperate situation.
Copyright 2017 John J. Domagalski
PT-32 was one of six small wooden torpedo boats under John Bulkeley’s command. The craft were so new that formal Navy tactics and doctrine had not yet been developed at the start of World War II.