The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue

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In the winter of 1952, New England was battered by the most brutal nor'easter in years, wreaking havoc on land and creating a wind-whipped peril of the freezing Atlantic. In the early hours of Monday, February 18, while the storm raged, two oil tankers, the Fort Mercer and the Pendleton, broke in two. The Coast Guard raced its cutters to the Fort Mercer to rescue the men huddled in the halves, and when the Pendleton proved to be in danger of capsizing, sent out into the storm two 36-foot wooden lifeboats, each manned by ...

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jjares

Nov 21, 2016

Coast Guard Heroism in a Killer Storm

This is a true story written without the hyperbole that accompanies so many heroic adventures. An incredible February storm attacks the Eastern Seaboard, dumping snow, sleet, ice and hurricane-force winds -- almost without warning. It is 1952, before the days of high-tech body coverings like neoprene. Sailors only had old-style rain-slick wear and perhaps wool gloves.

This is truly an adventure of man-against-Mother-Nature. With horrific seas hurling 70 foot waves, two relics of the second World War (built with 'dirty-steel'), break at stress points. During WW II, ships were built with all speed, because the Germans were sinking them so fast. Short-cuts were taken in their construction. After the war, the ships were retrofitted to be oil tankers. After the ships' break up, their cargo was oozing out of their holds in the freezing rain and huge waves. The ships broke so that the officers were in the forward hulk and the crew was in the aft section of the dead ships.

Into this melee, the Coast Guard sends 36 ft. boats to rescue anyone still alive on the ships. The impossible was done just to get to the ailing ship hulks. And then the real work began. The two writers tell the story, often in the sailors' own words. This is truly a unique story.

One engaging aspect of this book is that the authors finished the story. They tell what happened to the Coast Guard men after the rescue and give sketches of their remaining lives. The tribunal conducted after such a large loss of live was also covered.

The rescuers were stunned by the accolades and awards sent their way, 'just for doing our jobs.' The work these young men did was all the more admirable because of their humility.

The book is lean at 224 pages. However the authors' research was obviously extensive. I happened to have 'read' this book via a library 'talking book.' I was disappointed with the narrator; his reading was bland. Without a doubt, this is one story that stays with the reader.

Brian H

Sep 3, 2016

Most Amazing Ocean Rescue in History

As a former Coast Guard officer, I read this account with utter disbelief. The chance that these men would ever return to shore, let alone save men from a ship going down, approaches zero. Disney has made a movie, which I plan to view, but nothing can surpass the drama of this account. PS The boat has been restored and is now, I believe, at the Chatham Lifeboat Station on Cape Cod.

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