Friday, June 30, 2017

What Really Happened to the Darter?

So far in this journal (online museum?) I have provided all the evidence I can find about the Darter-Dace incident, and my grandfather's and his crewmates' gripping story. I even found what could be the last surviving copy of an eyewitness account, written by a Lieutenant-Commander aboard the USS Dace, about how they rescued the Darter's crew. The full text of which can be found in an earlier post. I have put these 70 year old documents online and made them fully searchable, in the hope that some other descendants of these brave men want to know more about 'what grandpa did in the war.'  

But even after absorbing all this technical information, we still cannot know what these men were feeling or what they were thinking during this ordeal that changed their lives forever. The only way to really find out is to ask a veteran, and there may not be any left. Which is why we must preserve their memories. We must retell their stories or they will fade away. 

There are two ways you can learn more about the Darter-Dace incident if you want to know more.  A US Navy veteran named John G. Mansfield published a book in 1997 called Cruisers for Breakfast: War Patrols of the USS Darter and USS Dace. Mansfield interviewed my grandparents, and many other surviving crewmembers to write this book. It was the product of lengthy discussions and old sea stories swapped over dinners at reunion meetings in the 1980's and 1990's.  I have a signed copy of this book, with a note written by Hugh's wife to anyone who wants to learn his story.  Hardcover copies of this book are still floating around and can be obtained at the Amazon.com link above.

But, for the sake of my family (and because not everyone has the time or the interest to read a 300-page book) I wanted to attempt a novelization of the story. A more condensed account that can be read in one sitting, and has enough excitement to keep a reader interested.  This is the kind of untold story that could easily become a movie, if enough people cared about it.

Since he has been gone for 20 years now, I figured his story is ready to be told again for posterity, lest it be forgotten. As I explained to my parents, "If I don't do this to remember him, nobody ever will." And I believe that.

So, on October 23 2014, the 70th anniversary of the USS Darter incident,  I decided to publish my own narrative of what he experienced in the form of a 45 page short story. After half a year of writing and more months of careful research, cross referencing and fact-checking, I think it is ready to be revealed to the world. I want my children someday to know what a remarkable man their great-grandfather was. But I also wanted to present the chain of events as the men experienced it...a tense, nail-biting drama of a miracle rescue that played out on the open sea, thousands of miles away from home and safety. 

So if you have read everything on my site and still wish to know more, if you want to see these events as they unfolded, told as vividly as if you were there...look no further. I have electronically published the story on a site called Scribd.com, and you can download and read it for yourself at the link below.

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