Category: Book

The USS Laffey: The Ship That Would Not Die.

USS Laffey: The Ship That Would Not Die.

The story of the USS Laffey is one of uncommon bravery and perseverance in battle and a tribute to all members of the American military.

Some years ago I visited Patriot Point in Charleston, South Carolina. While there I toured the Aircraft Carrier USS Yorktown, the Destroyer, USS Laffey, and the submarine, the USS Clamagore. There were also several aircraft, a Vietnam Experience exhibit and a Medal of Honor Museum at Patriot Point.  I enjoyed the visit immensely. Of course, the Yorktown the Clagamore were both impressive and their history fascinating. But the USS Laffey and its story were both simply incredible. I bought a book in the gift shop on the way out. That book was The Ship That Would Not Die by F. Julian Becton, Rear Admiral, USN, Ret, with Joseph Morschauser III. This book contains 12 fascinating chapters. I could hardly put it down.

I was going through and sorting old piles of books when I came across it and decided to read it again. I am glad I did. If you are interested, it is available on

The First USS Laffey

Chapters 1 and 2 describe the sinking of the original destroyer named Laffey during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942 and Becton’s later assignment as commander of the new Laffey. Chapter 3 and 4 describe the new destroyer being built at Bath Iron Works in Maine, its commissioning, and the ship’s shakedown period in Bermuda.

The Normandy Invasion

Chapters 5 and 6 describe the Laffey‘s combat assignment providing support for the Allied invasion of France in June 1944. As part of the Utah Beach section of the Western Naval Taskforce. The Laffey’s initial assignment was to protect and assist the amphibious assault ships on their trip across the channel. She then screened these and the heavy bombardment ships … backing them up when the invasion began.

The War in the Pacific

USS LaffeyChapters 7 to 10 detail the USS Laffey‘s service in many Pacific battles beginning with her arrival at Ulithi in early November 1944 and culminating with the beginnings of the Battle of Okinawa in early April 1945. The destroyer had numerous experiences with kamikaze planes during this period. The crew witnessed suicide crashes into other ships, shot at incoming planes, and provided aid to other ships that had been hit by kamikaze aircraft.

“I’ll never abandon ship as long as a gun will fire!”  ~Commander F. Julian Becton

Chapters 11 and 12 are twenty of the most unbelievable pages of military heroism I think I have ever read. The destroyer Laffey (DD-724) fought for 80 minutes against 22 Japanese kamikaze planes and conventional bombers on April 16, 1945. Although the ship’s gunners downed nine incoming planes, seven suicide planes crashed into the ship. Two other planes dropped bombs that hit the ship. These attacks killed 32 and wounded 71, but the Laffey survived despite the fires, smashed and inoperable guns, and a jammed rudder. Amazingly, eight of Laffey’s guns were still able to fire.

A Truly Amazing Story

USS Laffey
Commander F. Julian Becton

USS LaffeyF. Julian Becton, the Laffey‘s commander during World War II, wrote this amazing history of this ship’s distinguished wartime service at Normandy, the Philippine Islands, and Okinawa. Joseph Morschauser III, a former writer for Look magazine, co-authored.  This book’s 12 chapters tell the amazingly heroic tale of a U.S. Destroyer that was hit more times by kamikaze planes in a single day than any other ship in U.S. naval history.  The President of the United States awarded a Presidential Unit Citation to the USS Laffey and its crew. Eighteen members of her crew received Bronze Stars, six received Silver Stars, two received Navy Crosses, and one received the Navy Commendation Medal.

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlentes.

Vietnam War

A novel of the Vietnam War!

Many today know little about the Vietnam War. The author, Karl Marlantes, served in the Marine Corp during the Vietnam War. Awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals, Mellas was no armchair warrior. He was deep in the shit and therefore, writes with a voice that can only come from personal experience. I have read many books on the Vietnam War and Matterhorn was by far the best to date.

Meet 2nd Lieutenant Mellas

In its pages, you will meet 2nd Lieutenant Mellas, an Ivy League college graduate with political ambitions, who finds himself in Vietnam commanding a platoon in Bravo Company. Officers are in very short supply, and Mellas discovers that his Company Commander is a 1st Lieutenant and the Executive Officer is a 2nd Lieutenant. Mellas, at age 22, is fighting a war with young kids wearing Marine fatigues. His mind is besieged both with doubts about his own abilities and a desire for medals and proving his own courage under fire. He wants to do more than just survive … Mellas wants to do it right and to be successful. You will be a witness to Mellas’ coming of age in this world of mud, shit, rot, wet, disease and death … dealing with short supplies, poorly-planed missions, racism in the ranks, and the need to take on impossible challenges.

Experience the war for  yourself …

Sometimes grim. Sometimes heartbreaking. Occasionally humorous. Always brutally honest. This book inspires many strong emotional reactions. There were many sections of this book that were hard to read … like a scene in a movie where you can’t help but close your eyes or look away. Karl Marlantes’ novel takes you deep into the shit with the Marines from Bravo Company. You will tramp through the elephant grass with leeches hanging from your legs, jungle rot oozing pus from the cuts on your hands, suffering from immersion foot, humping for days with no food and little water … you will battle both a deadly enemy and senior officers motivated by politic ambition rather than the welfare of their men.

Semper Fidelis

The author offers a glimpse into what it means to be Semper Fidelis … what it means to be a Marine. In addition, Marlentes clearly demonstrates that war, fought for the wrong reason, is something that must be avoided. We have to know that when we put our military in harm’s way … it is always for the right reasons. They are not pawns to be used in a political game of chess. I very highly recommend this book!

Wowsers! Thanks, Ann Pippen, For The Great Review!!

Reviews ReviewAnother 5 Star Review

Serpents Underfoot has just received its 4th Five Star review! Thanks, Ann, for the great review!  While writing this book, I had imagined it would mostly appeal to men between 18 and 65 years of age. The number of women who also seem to really enjoy the book is surprising to me. That is really great.  I’m not sure if it’s Ajax, the Belgian Malinois, or the romance between Curtis and Mai, or if it is just that darn good a book or what.  But, I am very happy that it appeals to a larger audience than I originally thought it would.

This book would make a great Christmas Gift

Do you happen to have a reader who likes military, action, thrillers complete with romance and a really cool dog in your family? If so, you can order them a signed paperback or hardcover copy by visiting right here!  Don’t wait too long … so it will arrive before December 25th!  Of course, also available at in paperback, hardcover and Kindle formats.

Reviews and Other Odds and Ends!

Great Reviews for Serpents Underfoot!

What awesome reviews! ReviewsThank you, Brad Glentrier, for the great review on my website.  I do really appreciate any feedback, both positive, and even negative! Positive because it feels good, and negative because it will help me to ensure the next book, will be even better!  That being said, if you have the time, and are willing, please also review the book on!  That would be very helpful to me.  Thanks again!!

Sales are good!

Serpents Underfoot UpdateHardcover, paperbacks, and Kindle versions are selling pretty well. I know it takes time and hard work to get the word out, get some good reviews, and increase sales, but I am happy with how things are progressing. Yesterday, someone I know who had bought the Kindle version originally asked me to sign the hardcover edition that had arrived from the day before. It was quite an honor and exciting to sign my first hardcover edition autograph!  It was actually kind of humbling!

New Exposure

My books can now be found at AUTHORSdb and on Pinterest!  I am just trying to get a little more professional exposure.  This is a very interesting and exciting journey. Headed to an Author’s Cocktail Hour at the Bond Brother’s Brewery here in Cary next Wednesday. When you go, you take a copy of your book to put on the book table. Then when you leave, you take a copy of someone else’s book with you. Sounds interesting!  I have had a few of Bond Brother’s beers at different locations and events around Cary.  Looking forward to it!

Shameless Plug

So, by the accounts of those who have read my first novel, Serpents Underfoot, it is pretty darn good. I am thinking you should order a copy!  Either a hardcover, paperback or Kindle version from Amazon or a sign hardcover or paperback from my website. My German Shepherd, Sophie, would greatly appreciate it!



Two More Five Star Reviews for Serpents Underfoot!

Thank you for the Five Star Reviews!

Five Star ReviewsWow!  Two new Five Star reviews! Thank you very much to Danny Smith and Eric Ewald for their great reviews of Serpents Underfoot. It is one thing to publish a novel. It is quite another thing to have somebody actually read it and enjoy it enough to take the time to give you a review on Amazon!  That really does mean a great deal to a writer, especially an aspiring indie author like myself! So, my sincere appreciation to both of you!


Son of Serpents Underfoot!

For those who enjoy this first novel and are interested, I’m researching for the sequel to Serpents Underfoot!  Yes, there will be future adventures of JD Cordell and his fearless K9 sidekick, Ajax!  My mind is a sea of swirling possibilities, awash with brilliant plot ideas, and villainous characters! Well, okay … maybe I am getting a little carried away!  Let’s just say I am busy doing research for the sequel!

Return to Vietnam?

The whole situation with the fate of the Montagnards after the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam is both fascinating and tragic. They fought hard as allies of the American forces … especially the Special Forces teams.  In the end, after we left, they paid dearly for their support … subjected to the wrath of the victorious North Vietnamese, some fled. But, the North Vietnamese slaughtered thousands of them.  I feel I may need to revisit that in the second book.  Just one idea …

Serpents Underfoot showcased on North Carolina Writers’ Network Book Buzz!

North Carolina Writers' Network

Serpents Underfoot Showcased on North Carolina Writers’ Network Book Buzz!

The North Carolina Writers’ Network in their section Book Buzz. Now, that is pretty darn awesome if you ask me!

The North Carolina Writers’ Network supports the writers of this state by providing educational resources for the craft and business of writing. They also provide opportunities for recognition and critique of literary work, resources for writers at all stages of development. In addition, they support and advocate for the literary heritage of North Carolina, and provide an active community for those who write.

I attended their Spring Conference last April and it was well worth the time and money. At the conference, I met some great people and most importantly, learned a great deal. In addition, I also had a great time. Unfortunately, I cannot make the Fall conference, but I am looking forward to next Spring! I certainly recommend the North Carolina Writers’ Network and its conferences as a great tool for anyone desiring to become a published writer.

As for, Serpents Underfoot, several people have read it or are now reading it … and the feedback has been great! And, to make things even better … two more people just bought paperback versions.

Goodreads Giveaway

For you Goodreads members out there, I am giving away 10 copies through a Goodreads Giveaway. You can register now at Goodreads. The giveaway runs until December 1st when Goodreads will pick 10 lucky winners and I will send them a signed copy of the book … just in time for Christmas!

Please consider getting a copy! It is available in hardcover for $19.99, paperback for $9.99 and Kindle for $2.99 … the deal of a lifetime! And, if you enjoy my book, please take the time to review it on Amazon, Goodreads, or even my website!

Holy Moly! Got My First Five Star Review for Serpents Underfoot

First Five Star Review for Serpents Underfoot

Great Jumping Jehoshaphat!  I just got my first Five Star Review for the paperback version of Serpents Underfoot, which is identical to the Kindle versions, so I am claiming that it counts equally for both. Thank you to Lee Sassman for that awesome review. Much appreciated!! I have set a goal of getting 50 such reviews … so only 49 more to go!

Five Star ReviewAlso, for all you dog lovers out there … another hero in my book is a Belgian Malinois named Ajax. A SEAL Trident Warrior, of the four-legged variety. A K9. Ajax was originally supposed to be a German Shepherd like Sophie (my GSD). Doing the research, however, I discovered that, while German Shepherds are often used in the military, the SEALs preferred the Belgian Malinois.

They are very similar to the German Shepherd in attributes and abilities, but weigh in about 10 pounds less on average. I do see this could be a rather big factor when jumping out of an airplane or helicopter with a dog strapped to your chest! This picture clearly show the comparison. The GSD is definitely a heavier dog, but the are indeed very similar! I’m not sure I would want to have either one chomp down hard on the forearm and drag me to the ground. I can’t help but think that would hurt a lot!

So much to Sophie’s chagrin, Ajax became a Belgian Malinois.  I guess I will have to make that up to her somehow.  Maybe some extra special dog treats, a new squeaky ball, or a day at the lake!!

I think you should gat a copy! I hope you will!  It might even make a good gift for the holidays. And, help me get those last 49 good reviews! Currently available in paperback and Kindle.