Sometimes I look for books that will challenge, encourage and inspire me as I walk through this cancer journey. And while there are times the tales of cancer survivors fulfill that niche quite nicely, there are other times such inspiration needs to be linked to something other than cancer.
I gave this book (The War Journal of Major Damon ‘Rocky’ Gause) to my Dad as a gift over a decade ago. Being a World War II veteran from the Pacific Campaign (Okinawa), he quickly read it and returned it to me to read. Ten years later I picked it up and began to read … three days later I was done and all I can say is … WOW!!!
What Major Gause and his partner Captain William Lloyd Osborne encountered and endured in their flight to freedom makes my battle with cancer so far look like a walk in the park … their story is an incredible one.
What makes this story all the more interesting to me is that Major Gause was a local boy … born and raised in nearby Jefferson, GA. And his son who made sure this journal was published lives but a few miles down the road from me.
This war journal is a first person account; “one man’s chronicle of his incredible 159-day escape from the infamous Bataan Death march and harrowing voyage across the enemy-held Pacific in a leaky wooden boat during World War II.” Regarding that voyage, his son wrote the following, “For fifty-two days they dodged scores of enemy patrols, weathered tropical storms, ran aground on uncharted coral reefs, made countless makeshift repairs, landed briefly on the world’s largest leper colony, lived on ever-dwindling supply of fish, coconuts, banana, rice and rainwater and barely survived a strafing from a Japanese fighter plane.”
That fifty-two day voyage in a twenty-foot fishing boat began in the Philippines and covered 3,200 miles before safely reaching allied forces near Wyndham on the northwest coast of Australia in October 1942.
On October 21, 1942 General Douglas MacArthur personally decorated Major Gause and Captain Osborne with the Distinquished Service Cross in recognition of their great escape and their “extraordinary heroism in action”.
If you like tales of World War II, I would think you would enjoy this book. If you like tales that reveal the tenacity, perseverance, never give up attitude, and the endurance of men, I would think you would also like this book.
The courage and tenacity of Major Rocky Gause challenges me to persevere, to endure and to never give up.
And for that I am thankful!