I first heard about the Third Fleet’s disastrous encounter with a typhoon in the western Pacific in December 1944 one day at lunch with a friend, John Kreidler. He told me about his father, whom he never knew, perishing during the storm when his ship, the destroyer Hull, sank in the storm, leaving John’s pregnant mother a young widow. Growing up, John heard few details about his father’s death. While conducting research, I discovered another dozen “Hull orphans.”
Drawing on extensive interviews with nearly every living survivor (two dozen of the 94 survivors were still alive when I started my book research) and rescuer, many families of lost sailors, transcripts and other records from two naval courts of inquiry, ships’ logs and action reports, personal letters, and diaries, I finally after two years had the material to write this story of one of the greatest naval dramas of World War II — but one few people know about — involving ordinary seamen as well as the most famous “fighting admiral” of his day: Bull Halsey.