The Men of LCS 52 in World War II


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About the Book

In late 1944, 78 U.S. Navy sailors and officers climbed aboard a ship just 150 feet long and 23 feet wide, and headed toward the sound of gunfire. One of a class of gunboats known as “mighty midgets,” LCS 52 carried an arsenal equal to ships twice its size. Yet its shallow draft enabled it to maneuver to within a few hundred feet of any beach. Packed inside the tiny craft, the diverse crew were farmers, students, cooks and teachers. They ranged from age 17 to middle-aged—a few had seen combat in the Atlantic and the Pacific. This book tells the story of the ship’s extensive service in World War II’s Pacific Theater. Most of the crew survived the war, as did LCS 52 itself, serving in the U.S. Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force until 1958, when it was decommissioned and used for artillery practice. A roll call of crew members is included, with biographical information when available.

About the Author(s)

Gary Burns is a retired U.S. Marine and historian whose passion is telling the personal stories of veterans. He divides his time between homes in the Texas Hill Country and the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.

Bibliographic Details

Gary Burns
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: 47 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6687-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2646-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii
Introduction 1
1. The Maiden Voyage 9
2. How Did We Get Ourselves into This? 28
3. Practicing the Trade 44
4. Life at Sea 66
5. Black Sand and Suffering 82
6. By Land and Sea: The Battle for Okinawa 100
7. Birds of Prey 116
8. Downfall to Fallout 136
9. Ex-Kamikazes and Mysteries of the Orient 156
10. Rebuilding Lives 179
11. Death of 52 197
12. Roll Call LCS 52 199
Chapter Notes 239
Bibliography 249
Index 253

Book Reviews & Awards

“represents an extremely raw, emotional, unfiltered, and highly subjective account…rich…excellent…extremely valuable…engaging…not to be missed”—Northern Mariner; “the author does a fine job of illustrating the ship’s service and combat record…. Combining elements of military and social histories, Burns expertly weaves together a web of short, intermingling biographies of the men of LCS 52. The inclusion of high-resolution images including official navy photographs and personal snapshots acquired from a crew member’s private camera helps readers better visualize the well-armed gunboat on which much of the story takes place. World War II history buffs and those interested in twentieth-century military, social, and cultural history will find Burn’s work to be a comprehensive and satisfying read. The author has effectively immortalized the memories of LCS 52 and its fighting crew forever”—H-Net Reviews.