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Tin Can Sailor: Life Aboard the USS Sterett, 1939-1945 (Bluejacket Books)

Tin Can Sailor: Life Aboard the USS Sterett, 1939-1945 (Bluejacket Books) [Kindle Edition]

Charles R. Calhoun
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

More than eight hundred sailors served aboard the Sterett during her hazardous and demanding duties in World War II. This is the story of those men and their beloved ship, recorded by a junior officer who served on the famous destroyer from her commissioning in 1939 to April 1943, when he was wounded at the Battle of Tulagi. Peppered with the kind of vivid, authentic details that could only be provided by a participant, the book is the saga of a gallant fighting ship that earned a Presidential Unit Citation for her part in the Third Battle of Savo Island, where she took on a battleship, cruiser, and destroyer and was the last to leave the fray. Calhoun's gripping and colorful account tells what it was like to be there during those furiously fought, close-range engagements. When published in hardcover in 1993, the book was widely praised as a good read loaded with rich and interesting details.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 6050 KB
  • Print Length: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (15 Jan 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #995,021 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book! 29 Jun 1998
By A Customer
The only problem with this book is that the author didn't stay on the Sterett past 1943 so the book could have been longer. Very good reading. Hard to put down.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Finally Got It! 22 Nov 2002
By Larry Johnson - Published on
I have read many books on destroyers during WWII. This is the first book that put me on the deck during a night surface battle, and I could SEE what was going on. There is no hype, no "I was a hero" type of comments, just the facts. You can feel the pain he felt when he saw a fellow sailor dead on the deck. It almost brought me to tears.
If you want to SEE what life on a destroyer was like in WWII, this is a MUST READ book!
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tin Can Sailor 26 Dec 2000
By Dan O'Connor - Published on
The book had special meaning for me in that my father was aboard the Sterett from October 1941 to October 1943. Although he had often explained many of the events aboard ship, the connection for me between the war and it's lasting affect on the men who served, was not realized until I read the gripping tales recounted by Captain Calhoun. In a well researched history enhanced with the credibility of first hand knowledge, Captain Calhoun related the Sterett's experience. Every child, grandchild, and great grandchild of every sailor who ever served during WW II on any ship of any kind should read this book and well-up with the pride of having known, or have in their lineage the brave men who stood in harms way to preserve our freedom. My regret is that I had not read it prior to my father's passing on December 10, 1999 and let him know how proud of him I am. Thank you Cal wherever you are.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delivers on it's Subtitle, What Life was Like on a WWII Destroyer 10 Feb 2006
By Dianne Roberts - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I picked up this book because my grandfather was a WWII destroyer sailor (DD-727 USS DeHaven II, not the Sterret), and I wanted to get a sense of what the war must have been like for him. I think this book does an excellent job of this and "Cal" Calhoun has to be commended for pulling together the story of this destroyer.

Of course the book follows one particular destroyer but it focuses on the daily life of the sailors and officers, giving you a good concept of what their working lives and their missions were. The Sterret also had a particularly distinguished career, especially during the Third Battle of Savo in which the author took part. The Sterret engaged a Japanese cruiser, battleship, and sunk a destroyer at point blank range at night while receiving 14-inch shells, and makes for some of the best combat writing I've ever read.

The book takes you from the Sterret's comissioning, training in the pacific before the war (including adventurous attempts to try to capture turtles by steering the ship), early duty with the British home fleet in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and then on to its amazing career in the Pacific from Guadalcanal to Okinawa, and, last, its return to New York for decomissioning and scrapping.

The author had to leave the ship shortly after the action in around Savo and so about two-thirds through the book the style of storytelling necessarily changes. Despite this the book is still an excellent read throughout. At only 160 pages or so of text it's also an easy read yet still does justice to the ship, her crew, and all who served on destroyers in WWII. Definitely recommended.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Navy Adventure! 15 Oct 2001
By E. D. Biggers - Published on
Like a previous reviewer, my father also served on a WWII Pacific destroyer. This book helps to capture what life on a destroyer must have been like. Interestingly, it follows the life and action of this ship from it's beginning in the shipyard; through its exciting sea battles, and then to her decommissioning. Thankyou Capt. Calhoun for a book well done.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important contribution to the historiography of a confusing battle 8 Jun 2012
By William S. Grass - Published on
Tin Can Sailor is the story of U.S. Navy destroyer Sterett (DD-407), commissioned in 1939, and serving through to the end of WW2. The author, C. Raymond Calhoun, served aboard Sterett from her commissioning, until he was wounded in April 1943 during a Japanese air attack. Although that wounding ended Calhoun's days aboard Sterett, the remainder of her WW2 service is described through first-hand accounts, accumulated by Calhoun, from men who continued to serve aboard her for the rest of the war.

Calhoun's book is an incisive and informative look at life aboard a WW2 destroyer, from the perspective of an officer. For that reason alone, Tin Can Sailor is an important read for WW2 naval enthusiasts. However, its most significant contribution to Pacific War historiography is that it provides a participant's (Calhoun's), eyewitness account of the fierce night surface action of 13 November, 1942, fought off Guadalcanal, between a Japanese force attempting to bombard Marine positions ashore, and a U.S. Navy force sent to prevent them from doing so. This action is remarkable even by Guadalcanal standards because the dispositions of the opposing forces and darkness of the night resulted in their formations becoming intermingled as the battle began, causing great confusion and difficulty for both sides in identifying friend or foe. As a result, historians have had difficulty piecing together what exactly happened, and in what sequence. Sterett in this battle was in the thick of the fighting, dishing out the punishment to Japanese ships with 5-inch salvos and torpedoes, and absorbing a great deal as well, taking many hits, including several from 14-inch battleship guns, and suffering 28 crewmembers killed. At times Sterett found herself less than a thousand yards from enemy ships, considered point-blank range by naval gunnery standards. Calhoun calls this battle, the "Third Battle of Savo Island." Other U.S. sources call it, the "First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal," or the "Battle of Friday the Thirteenth." In Japanese sources it is called, the "Third Battle of the Solomon Sea."

Later on, in August, 1943, Sterett participated in another important action, the Battle of Vella Gulf. In this instance a formation of six U.S. destroyers, including Sterett, managed to surprise a formation of four Japanese destroyers which were attempting to deliver reinforcements and supplies to the Japanese garrison on Kolombangara. The U.S. destroyers sank three out of four of the Japanese destroyers with a radar-directed torpedo attack and subsequent gunfire. The result was completely one-sided. The U.S. ships suffered no damage or casualties. Although this action occurred after the author's departure from Sterett, Calhoun includes a firsthand account of a Sterett officer who was present during the Vella Gulf battle. Readers interested in a Japanese perspective on the Battle of Vella Gulf and Third Battle of Savo Island should refer to a book entitled, "Japanese Destroyer Captain," by Tameichi Hara, who was present at both battles.

Tin Can Sailor is an excellent account of a destroyer in combat in WW2. In addition to providing primary source material for the above battles, Calhoun gives us a good look at day-to-day operations and routine of shipboard life, and how a good crew could remain sharp, even as frequent turnover of captains occurred throughout the war. The book also provides good information on the gunnery system aboard Sterett, explaining the operation of the gun director and responsibilities of the crewmembers therein. The only real shortcoming of Tin Can Sailor is its lack of maps. Those readers not already knowledgeable of Pacific War geography might have difficulty visualizing where Sterett was at any given time. That is a small complaint though, and anyone interested in destroyer warfare in WW2 will benefit from a reading of Tin Can Sailor.
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