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For Crew and Country: The Inspirational True Story of Bravery and Sacrifice Aboard the USS Samuel B. Roberts, by John Wukovits

New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2014. Pp. xviii, 350. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $16.99 paper. ISBN: 1250041910.

A small ship and a handful of men in a desperate sea fight against fearsfull odds.

Commissioned in early 1944, the destroyer escort Samuel B. Roberts (DE 413) was lost off Samar on October 25, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  In For Crew and Country Pacific war historian Wukovits gives us an excellent biography of the ship, the men who served on her, and their gallant action on that final day.  Wukovits devotes about a third of the book to the origins of the ship and of the men who served on her, giving us many glimpses into their lives, their training, their duties, and their war, which culminated off Samar.

The Battle off Samar, of course, pitted Japanese battleships against a handful of American destroyers and destroyer escorts making a desperate stand in defense of the escort carriers of Taffy 3.  Wukovits devotes about half the volume to the battle.  He covers the action by cutting back and forth among the many crew members, allowing us to see the events unfold almost minute-by-minute.  This gives us a vivid picture of men coping with courage and discipline against fearsome odds and tremendous horror.  Wukovits then follows the survivors as they clung to rafts until rescued.  Wukovits concludes with a summary of the consequences of the battle and an overview of the later lives of the crewmen. 

For Crew and Country is a great sea yarn, well worth reading. 

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Note: For Crew and Country is also available in hardback, ISBN 978-0-312-68189-0, and as an e-pub 978-1-250-02124-3.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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