John Domagalski Copyright 2019
The dark morning hours of August 2, 1943 found PT-109 idling in the waters of the Solomon Islands. The eerie silence of the South Pacific night was shattered when a Japanese destroyer suddenly emerged from the blackness to slice the small wooden torpedo boat in half. The surviving crewmen and their boat captain – a young John F. Kennedy – began a desperate struggle for survival. The sinking marked the final episode of what would become one of the most famous warships in American history.
Behind the well-documented account of the future president and the boat’s sinking, is the little-known story of the two officers who first commanded PT-109. Into the Dark Water tells the complete story of PT-109 from her launch to sinking - and beyond - by focusing on the three officers who served as her boat captains. The book brings to life a riveting World War II story of combat and survival.
"History has long recorded that John F. Kennedy's heroic efforts after the sinking of his PT-109 led to his successful political career as Representative, Senator, and ultimately President. But, as John Domagalski demonstrates in this thoroughly researched narrative, there was far more to the boat's achievements in the South Pacific than the terrifying night when a Japanese destroyer cut her in two. This account crackles with intensity."
- Paul Stillwell, author of Battleship Arizona
The early morning hours of July 6, 1943, brought the sinking of USS Helena off the Solomon Islands in what would later be known as the Battle of Kula Gulf. As the last of the light cruiser disappeared below the ocean’s surface, her remaining crewmen’s struggle for survival had only just begun. Sunk in Kula Gulf tells the epic little-known story of the Helena’s survivors. Hundreds of sailors were rescued the night of the sinking as the sea battle continued to wage, but one group of survivors was missed entirely. Clinging to life rafts or debris, the weary men endured days at sea under the hot tropical sun, before they finally landed on the Japanese-held island of Vella Lavella deep behind the front lines. The survivors organized and disappeared into the island’s interior jungle. Living a meager existence, the group evaded the Japanese for eight days until they were evacuated in a daring rescue operation.
“Sunk in Kula Gulf is a thrilling account of one of World War II’s most dramatic episodes.”
- Alex Kershaw, author of The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II
“The greatest true story never told of World War II. A vivid, powerful drama of naval combat, sacrifice, survival, and rescue in the Pacific, Sunk in Kula Gulf is in the capable hands of skilled researcher and master storyteller John Domagalski.”
- Bruce Henderson, author of Rescue at Los Banos: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II
The dramatic account of two American warships in the South Pacific, the book follows the last days of USS Astoria and USS Chicago when both warships participated in the critical battle for Guadalcanal during World War II. Drawing on a variety of firsthand accounts - some previously unpublished - the story is told from the perspective of the men aboard each ship. Readers are transported inside the gun turrets, behind the lookout binoculars, and below deck as the battle rages. Individual stories of heroism, sacrifice and survival unfold as lives become intertwined and both vessels meet their fates in the South Pacific.
"An absorbing and poignant narrative."
- Nautical Research Journal