Growing up, I had always heard the stories of how my Uncle Moose’s (Mike Franchak) ship went down in a huge typhoon and how it was a miracle he was found and survived. So, I gladly pickup up DOWN TO THE SEA and began to read it a few weeks ago.
What a well-written, readable book! I enjoyed every minute and was thrilled to get the details of how, when and why the Hull (and Spencer and Monaghan) went down. I enjoyed reading about the men who were on board these ships and others, and how they lived their lives (and even died) on those ships. I also have a better understanding of why it happened and that it was preventable on so many levels from the top (Halsey) down.
Thank you for a wonderful book which I will share with other members of the family.
Nancy (Franchak) Gilbert
I am an avid reader of WWII history and this is one of the few books that I would keep and read again. Thanks for a great read.
Like you, I also served on a carrier during Vietnam, USS Ron Homme Richard (CVA-31). Was also in a typhoon when we left Yokosuka at the end of my first cruise in 1968.
Hello Mr. Henderson,
I served aboard USS Hoel (DDG-13) 1966-69 as electrical and damage control officer.
I enjoyed DOWN TO THE SEA tremendously. A great story — and anyone who ever served on a destroyer should read this.
Thanks for writing such a great historical account.
A few hours ago I finished reading DOWN TO THE SEA. It has been hard to get back to work, my mind is so full of the men, the powerful images, the nauseating injustices of this incredible tale, I feel bereft, I want to call out to somebody, hug a sailor, cry, cry, cry…
It’s difficult to tell you how grateful I am for this book. It had me by the heart in an instant, the way some novels grab you with an opening line. I found myself rationing out chapters, trying to prolong the suspense, or the misery, as I got farther along. These men became like my beloved uncles, brothers, guys I would have loved to date, and I kept looking back and forth at the photos, wondering which of the handsome young souls would survive.
Thank you for this marvelous work, for your obvious love for these men, for another glimpse into a generation that is too rapidly leaving us behind. We will never be the same without them.
Dear Mr. Henderson,
I am a retired meteorologist who recently came across, purchased and read the Smithsonian edition of DOWN TO THE SEA. Heartiest congratulations on a well-researched and most readable book.
Kudos for a great book!
Norman L. Canfield
University of Maryland (Ret)
Formerly U.S. Navy Aerological Officer (Atlantic)
I just finished reading DOWN TO THE SEA. Well Done! It was gripping, factual, and to the point. You bridged the time sequences of the story lines of the three ships expertly, and enabled the reader to follow the story without the usual “looking backward” that most authors require.
Leon C. Henderson, CDR, USN (Ret)
Dear Mr. Henderson,
My father, Samuel Rosen, died aboard USS Spence in the typhoon of December 1944. Your book, DOWN TO THE SEA, was riveting for me. It gave me more details, and the personal stories of the sailors were new to me. Thanks for writing it. When I was growing up, my mother always called Admiral Halsey an SOB, and she knew that the decision of the Board of Inquiry was a whitewash.
The dedication in your book was quite moving: “…and for the children they never knew.”
A. Eric Rosen
As a plank owner of USS Alywin (DE-1081), I enjoyed reading your book DOWN TO THE SEA. I’d say your book was an introduction to heroes who were caught in situations that should have been avoided. It was a balanced presentation.
Robert W. Dawson
Your account of the Pacific typhoon in December 1944 is gripping and most informative. In DOWN TO THE SEA, you give considerable favorable attention to former Army meteorologist Reid Bryson, who subsequently was a stellar member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty. (Note: Reid Bryson, who earned a Ph.D. in meteorology after the war, died in 2008.) I believe the large atmospheric and ocean science building on our campus is largely a result of Bryson’s work. Your excellent and fascinating scholarly account of this debacle is widely appreciated.
Robert F. Schilling, M.D.
University of Wisconsin-Madison