PT Boat Odyssey

In the Pacific War with Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 16, 1943–1945


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About the Book

During the Pacific War between the United States and Imperial Japanese navies, the author’s father, Francis Gelzheiser, deployed with Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 16A, from New Orleans to Panama to Seattle and to Attu Island in the Aleutians. After their return voyage, the PT boats journeyed to New Guinea, then battled Japanese kamikazes for the Philippine Island of Mindoro.
Like many World War II veterans, Gelzheiser only shared his recollections of combat later in life. The author chronicles his father’s experience, details the roles PT boats played in the war and examines why, despite America’s overwhelming wartime manufacturing capacity, the Japanese believed they could still win the war.

About the Author(s)

Robert P. Gelzheiser is a retired history teacher. He lives in Englewood, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Robert P. Gelzheiser
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 303
Bibliographic Info: 99 photos, 8 maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6264-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3389-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
1. A Father’s Workshop 5
2. December 7, 1941 9
3. The Motor Patrol Torpedo Boat 18
4. The Grand Adventure: The Voyage to Panama 35
5. PT Boat Squadron 16 and the War in Alaska 55
6. The Battle for New Guinea and the Motor Torpedo Boat Returns to the Philippines 88
7. American Production Versus the Japanese Spirit Warrior in World War II 120
8. Mindoro 142
9. The Battle for Manila and a Sailor’s Journey into the Darkness 234
10. Father and Son, Confessions and a Sailor’s Last Voyage 247
Afterword: Killing 261
Appendix A. Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 16 Honor Roll: Awards and Citations 267
Appendix B. Memorandum and Suggested Unit Citation Sent by Lieutenant Commander Davis to Rear Admiral Bowling 269
Chapter Notes 271
Bibliographic Note 281
Bibliography 284
Index 287

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Nicely illustrated with black-and-white historical photos…extraordinary…impressively informative…. Expertly organized and presented…recommended”—Midwest Book Review

• “PT Boat Odyssey serves as a good addition to the historiography of PT Boats as a whole and Squadron 16 in particular, providing a well written chronicle of one father’s wartime experiences as told through the voice of his son. …this work covers several often-overlooked aspects of PT Boat service during the Second World War, and offers an excellent ground level view into one man’s experiences in the Aleutians, New Guinea, and on Mindoro”—The Northern Mariner

• “Robert Gelzheiser does an excellent job conveying the settings of the Pacific War, enabling the reader to understand the environment that his father and fellow sailors experienced.”—Military Review