Of all the heroic stories to come out of World War II, few are as extraordinary as that of Major Rocky Gause, who was captured by the Japanese, escaped from the infamous Bataan Death March, and, with a fellow soldier, endured a harrowing voyage across the enemy-held Pacific in a leaky, hand-crafted boat.
In the battered notebook he kept throughout his journey, Gause traced his steps from the besieged city of Manila on New Year's Eve, 1941, to his safe landing on the Australian coast ten months later. In spare and vivid prose, Gause wrote of a voyage on which he encountered a savage two-day typhoon, a treacherous Nazi collaborator, numerous enemy ships, and a final strafing that set his boat on fire just before landfall. His compelling vignettes document the heroism of the men who fought and died beside him, and bring to life an important chapter in World War II history.
Tragically, Gause was killed a year later in a plane crash over London, but his remarkable account, recovered from Gause's footlocker by the son who never knew him, will live on as a testament to the power of the human spirit in a time when heroes are all too hard to find.
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Damon L. Gause, the son of Rocky Gause, wrote an introduction to his father's journal. He was invited by the Philippine Ambassador to the United States to speak at the dedication of the American-Philippine War memorial. A frequent speaker before Veterans groups, he is a general contractor living in Georgia.From Kirkus Reviews:
An American pilots remarkable diary, copied in a small notebook hidden in a footlocker for over 50 years, records his amazing escape from the notorious March of Death ordeal inflicted by Japanese soldiers on American and Filipino POW's and his further dangerous adventures during the last days of Bataan and Corregidor in the 1942 Philippines. The diary records how Gause, an army pilot without a plane since MacArthur's aircraft were destroyed on the ground after the Japanese sneak attack on Luzon, joined an American infantry unit to continue fighting against a swarming, ruthless enemy that pushed the gallant defenders from Manila to the dense jungles and killing fields of Bataan. Gause was one of the 78,000 American and Filipino soldiers running out of food, medicines, and ammunition who were captured by the Japanese. Nearly 60,000 died in captivity from hunger, thirst, disease, and murder. Gause escaped into the jungle after killing a Japanese sentry and swam through shark-infested waters to Corregidor amid brushes with death from enemy patrols. He found and repaired an abandoned fishing boat and undertook an unbelievable voyage to other islands and Australia after meeting another escaped American officer. Only the constant help and courage of patriotic Filipinos and other natives protected the two Americans from tropical storms, hunger, mosquitoes, and Japanese planes and ships. Gause and Osborne subsisted on raw fish, coconuts, bananas, rice, and rainwater. A Nazi agent dressed as an American colonel tried to kill them while they slept, but they were able to overpower the spy and leave him for dead. After many close calls during a harrowing 3,200 mile voyage to Australia and freedom, they were presented to General MacArthur ten months after the fall of Manila. The two were awarded Distinguished Service Crosses and then sent home for a well-deserved furlough. A suspenseful odyssey, rescued from obscurity, that honors two valiant and resourceful soldiers who never gave up hope to survive an impossible nightmare. A worthy addition to the rich lore of WWII. A movie is planned. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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