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Ron Surels,
Author & New Hampshire Resident

Ron Surels, although serving time in the US Air Force during the Korean War, has a family Naval tradition going back to the early days of our country. He has traveled in Europe and the central Pacific and has visited several World War II battle sites. He has been a minister for some fifteen years, including time spent on the island of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands as a chaplain. He has been an educator, helping to start several Christian schools. Holding a Ph.D., he also does some college teaching. His favorite hobby is reading and researching American military history. Married with three grown children, Ron lives with his wife Lynne in rural New Hampshire.

DD 522: Diary of a Destroyer
Ron Surels
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The group of kamikaze suicide planes circled about like a swarm of angry bees, searching out targets for their lethal sting. Suddenly two broke away to begin their suicidal run on the destroyer. Freeman Philips, S1/c, had just picked up a canister of 20 mm ammunition for his gun when he spotted the two planes. His eyes widened with horror as he realized they were coming straight in at him. Transfixed, he froze on the spot as the kamikazes bore in on their target. There was nothing he could do except wait out the few scant seconds before the fatal impact occurred.

Thus began the several minutes of carnage and death as suicide planes plowed into the USS Luce, causing her to sink off Okinawa on 4 May 1945, carrying almost half of her three hundred thirty five crew members to watery graves. The survivors of the gruesome ordeal, many of them badly wounded, were subjected to strafing and shark attacks while floundering in the sea. A few, like John Carpenter, WT1/c, were pulled back into the ship as it slopped under the waves. Finding himself swimming blindly in a corridor and knowing that he only had a few seconds before drowning, John desperately sought a way of escape. He was fully aware that the ship was plunging toward the distant ocean bottom-with him in it.

Here is told the story of a fierce and gallant destroyer and its battles in World War II. Told in the words of the survivors and some families of those who did not survive, the men of the USS Luce (DD 522) tell of their varied experiences in their accounts off life aboard ship and on shore and the battles they fought as the US Navy pushed the Japanese back across the Pacific. The Luce earned five battle stars as she participated in the Aleutian, Philippine, and Okinawa campaigns. The ship was privileged to be part of the Task Force which was the first to raid the Japanese homeland at Paramushiro in February 1944. From the Aleutians to the Phillippine invasion and then to her demise off Okinawa, the Luce became known for her sharpshooting abilities. Nicknamed by some the "Lucky Luce" because of surviving some battles unscathed, this oral history covers the life of the destroyer from its commissioning to its sinking-a scant twenty-three months. Almost half the book deals with the action that took place around the sinking. From the eyewitness accounts, battle reports, and other resources, the author has woven together a fast-paced war story of humor, pathos, and tragedy as a tribute to the sacrifice of men fighting for their country and freedom.

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