The Bravest Man: Richard O'Kane and the Amazing Submarine Adventures of the USS Tang
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“There’s no margin for mistakes in submarines. You’re either alive or dead.”
Hailed as the ace of aces, captain Richard O’Kane, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his consummate skill and heroism as a submarine skipper, sank more enemy ships and saved more downed fliers than anyone else.
Now Pulitzer Prize—winning author William Tuohy captures all the danger, the terror, and the pulse-pounding action of undersea combat as he chronicles O’Kane’s wartime career–from his valiant service as executive officer under Wahoo skipper Dudley “Mush” Morton to his electrifying patrols as commander of the USS Tang and his incredible escape, with eight other survivors, after Tang was sunk by its own defective torpedo.
Above all, The Bravest Man is the dramatic story of mavericks who broke the rules and set the pace to become a new breed of hunter/killer submariners who waged a unique brand of warfare. These undersea warriors would blaze their own path to victory–and transform the “Silent Service” into the deadliest fighting force in the Pacific.
phrase: “The war is over.” When the news came, the Japanese guards slaughtered an old horse and carried it with them as they fled the Omori camp, presumably for their homes. But the canny prisoner cooks had scraped out the intestines of the animal. They chopped them up and mixed them with “gyp-corn,” a rough meal fed to pigs. The POWs celebrated the Pacific victory with their horse-gut “dumpo” stew, the first meat any of them had had since arriving in Japan. There were no immediate plans for
too frequent task. Several other sub captains were quickly stripped of their commands for not pressing attacks on major enemy forces sighted, particularly in the Philippines, Wake Island, and Midway areas. Some beached skippers went on to surface or shore duty—often serving with distinction, as Wahoo’s Marvin Kennedy did in destroyers and Sailfish’s Mort Mumma did in PT boats, as well as Steve Barchet in the amphibious forces. Others with valuable technical skills remained on the staffs of
the Navy lost an excellent submarine skipper. It was clear to other captains, if not to their superiors, that torpedoes were defective. Skippers were reporting too many perfect set-ups resulting in misses—or in obvious duds when the fish failed to explode against the side of enemy ships. There was concern over the magnetic exploder. Some skippers changed the setting from magnetic to contact, without reporting the change—in effect falsifying their reports in the interest of getting hits. One of
scheduled to depart, Sterling was delighted to receive notice that his request was approved, with an authorization for transfer to San Diego to join the next steno school class in November. Excitedly, Sterling showed Captain Morton the letter. “That’s great news, Yeo,” Morton said. Then he added, “Yeo, I’m going to ask a favor of you.” Sterling’s heart sank. “Yes, sir.” “How’s about you making one more patrol with me? We’ll be back in October. I’ll get you plane transportation back to the
Islands, Tang approached a target that turned out to be a patrol boat. O’Kane preferred to ignore this dangerous small fry in pursuit of a larger, more important target. He soon found it—a big, armed merchantman, identified later as the Fukuyama Maru. As Tang closed, the target ship turned toward the submarine on a zig, too close for the torpedoes to arm. So O’Kane ordered a “dipsy-doodle” maneuver: the submarine turned, pulled away from the target, and then swung back, with the range now