Item description for LUCKY THIRTEEN: D-Days in the Pacific with the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II by Ken Wiley...
The images of soldiers and marines coming ashore on hostile shores are embedded in our collective memory of World War II. But what of the sailors who manned the landing craft, going back and forth under fire with nowhere to take cover, their craft the special targets of enemy gunners?
In this book, Ken Wiley, a Coast Guardsman on an Attack Transport in the Pacific, relates the intricate, often nerve wracking story of how the United States projected its power across 6,000 miles in the teeth of fanatical Japanese resistance. Each invasion was a swirl of moving parts, from frogmen to fire support, transport mother ships to Attack Transports, the smaller Higgins boats (LCVPs), and during the last terrifying stage the courageous men who would storm the beaches.
The author participated in the campaigns for the Marshall Islands, the Marianas the Philippines and Okinawa, and with a precise eye for detail relates numerous aspects of landing craft operations, such as ferrying wounded, that are often discounted. He conveys the terror and horrors of war, as well as, on occasion, the thrill, while not neglecting the humor and cameraderie of wartime life.
An exciting book, full of harrowing combat action, Lucky 13 also provides a valuable service in expanding our knowledge of exactly how World War II's massive amphibious operations were undertaken.
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Reviews - What do customers think about LUCKY THIRTEEN: D-Days in the Pacific with the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II?
Coast Guard in the Pacific Jun 7, 2008
Ken Wiley presents his USCG participation in seven Pacific War invasions. We meet him as a typically carefree 17 year old small town Texan who drives hot rods and thinks about girls. We meet his family and are almsot overwhelmed by their matter of fact acceptance of obligation to country. Three of the author's brothers serve in the Army Air Force. One is killed. Another volunteers for a second tour of duty in the face of extraordinary danger. Ken Wiley joins the Coast Guard. We experience with him Boot Camp and landing craft school. We follow him through seven invasions in which he is a crew member or coxwain of a landing craft. He does not appear, with one exception, to have landed in a "Saving Priate Ryan" like first wave assault, but is fired on, mortared, strafed, and part of a fleet constantly targetted by the Japanese. He admires the courage of the Soldiers and Marines he transports. He takes part in other dangerous missions, rescues, and raids. His memoir stands in stark contrast with the proud but resigned world view of Marine authur Eugene Sledge as described in "With the Old Breed." Unlike Sledge's and his Marine comrades, to Wiley, death is a possiblity, but survival is not a statisitcal anomaly. Ken Wiley served with distinction. His account is well worth reading. Recommended.
An awesome untold story May 29, 2008
As a WW II history buff, I am always looking for an angle on the war that I have not seen before. This book delivers that and then some. Not only was Ken Wiley in the action on numerous Pacific landings - his prowess led to his crew being selected for a number of "special missions" that provide insight into the Japanese suicide boats and to "special forces" type actions to stop them. A great read all around.
LUCKY THIRTEEN: An engaging true life WWII story told from the heart Jun 8, 2007
I particularly enjoyed this book because it is an important story about our nation's history and is told from the inside by a man who was there and lived it, instead of by some scholarly historian or journalist with an axe to grind. The pace is even and fast and the story is told compassionately without the slightest hint of bitterness toward the military, the enemy, the author's superiors, or his mates - even the ones who lost their courage under fire. This is the story of young men coming of age in the most extreme and trying circumstances. In any age of our history this will be an important book, but especially now with so many over-stuffed politicians on both sides of the aisle vying for attention while our young men and women, such as the ones in this story, are doing the brave and dirty work. This book gives us reason to stand proud of who we really are as a nation, and reminds us of the sacrifices that were paid for our standing as the world's freest nation.
One Of A Kind Tale May 26, 2007
Since September 11, the US Coast Guard, the nation's fifth armed service -- almost always overlooked or ignored as even *being* an armed force -- has finally begun receiving the public acknowledgment and respect due the US's oldest, continuously existing branch of service. Most Americans don't know much if anything about the Coast Guard, especially its participation in every American war except Korea, where it had no purpose, or that it is in Iraq and the Persian Gulf today, where it has taken its first killed in action since Vietnam.
When there was an amphibious landing in WW2, a large percentage of the landing craft coxswains were Coast Guard enlisted men. It was the service that had the most coxswain experience with ocean-going small boats, after all. More, Coast Guard, and sometimes Navy, beachparties went ashore with the first wave of Marines in the Pacific theater's island battles, fighting alongside them until a beachhead had been established, when they'd begin organizing the first medical stations, evacuation of the wounded, and orderly supply depots on the beach.
Finally, this book -- Ken Wiley's *Lucky Thirteen* -- has appeared to document this virtually unknown aspect of WW2. A personal memoir told in the first person, the book reads like what it is: a CG coxswain's account of his service in the Pacific. It's apparent that the writer is an amateur recording personal experience from memory, but the book is nevertheless an important contribution -- the only book of its kind, to my knowledge -- documenting a little known part of the war by an often ignored armed force.
And a rollicking good tale.
You want this one in the WW2 section of your library.
Gary Sisco, former ET3, USCG, Vietnam Era
A personable and engaging tale of World War II from an oft-overlooked point of view. Apr 10, 2007
Author Ken Wiley tells of his service in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II in Lucky Thirteen: D-Days in the Pacific with the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II, a military memoir in first-person perspective. Wiley was only 17 when he enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1943; in the Pacific Theater, he was given responsibility of commanding "Lucky Thirteen", his own Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel. His task was to shuttle troops and supplies form the transport to the beaches, often while under fire and during inclement weather conditions. He served in campaigns for the Marshall Islands, the Marianas, the Philippines, and Okinawa. Lucky Thirteen recounts beach combat, kamikazes and suicide boats, sniper fire, and dangerous jungle river expeditions as well as sad tales of lost loves, friends made and lost, and humorous accounts of shipboard life. A personable and engaging tale of World War II from an oft-overlooked point of view.