Monday, May 23, 2005
You'll learn more at the website but the video below shows some aging heroes mostly talking about their navy careers *after* the war. Dutch Kooper, the first one who speaks, in the film "Death Becomes The Ghost" tells how after their final battle as shells exploded in the water around him - nearly rupturing his chest - he could see the Houston's flag go under the waves ... lighted by Japanese searchlights on surrounding cruisers and destroyers. He said it was a moment of pride he had relived many times. They gave their all and did not surrender the ship. Jack Feliz who speaks next, wrote a Book about his colorful navy career. Otto Schwarz, who was a 17 year old seaman at the time of the last battle, is blind now. He lost one eye to a steel sliver working as a slave repairing rails for the Japanese Army in Indochina. He lost the other a few years ago in a home accident. On this date .. only Otto remains alive. Their story is one for the anals of Naval history. Two videos are available from the Houston website. Several books are listed there for reference. "Fleet The Gods Forgot", "The Ghost That Died in Sunda Strait", and "The Last Battle Station" are classics. And for their Hell that followed, read "Prisoners of The Japanese". However a new book will be coming soon from James Hornfischer, award winning author of the book about Taffy 3 and the Battle of Leyte Gulf "The Last Stand of The Tin Can Sailors". That book covers another heroic time of the Pacific War some years after the Asiatic Fleet had been sacrificed to stall the Japanese advance. Look for his USS Houston story in 2006. The book is sure to include more about the Houston's valiant ally on its last mission, HMAS Perth. The other ships of the lost combined ABDA Fleet (American, British, Dutch and Australian) will surely receive a good accounting as well. Some were lost without a trace.