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The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause [Hardcover]

Damon Rocky Gause , Stephen Ambrose
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 10 1999
A Veterans Day treasure, the true, first-person account of a captured World War II soldiers incredible escape and courageous journey home, discovered after more than fifty years. Of all the heroic stories to come out of World War II, few are so 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 and later converted to a thrilling narrative, Gause traced his steps from the besieged city of Manila on New Years Eve, 1941, to his safe landing on the Australian coast ten months later.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This newly discovered memoir relates one WWII soldier's extraordinary escape from the Japanese invasion of the Philippines and the fortress of Corregidor as he made his way through jungles and villages and then across the Pacific in a leaky boat. A pilot, Gause was stationed in the Philippines when the Japanese launched their attack on the American-controlled islands just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Retreating with the American forces to the peninsula of Bataan, he was captured as that area fell to the overwhelming forces of the Japanese. He made an amazing escape from a prison camp to the American fortress of Corregidor, off the coast of the Philippines, and then, when that bastion fell, escaped again; with another American officer, he managed to reach Australia in an old motorboat. They were helped by a beautiful Filipino woman, residents of a leper colony and the isolated inhabitants of various islands on which they landed. The author's repeated references to "japs" and "nips" and his description of the Japanese conquerors as "victory-crazed sadistic devils" may offend readers of a more ethnically sensitive era, but despite these lapses and his merely workmanlike prose, the drama of the events described will hold readers' attention. Gause died in a plane crash in the European theater later during the war. His long-buried journal, found in his foot locker by his son, offers a real-life adventure for fans of The Thin Red Line. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Among all the war stories of World War II, this memoir stands apart as a remarkable true story of a great escape and a miraculous sea voyage. Maj. Rocky Gause, an American pilot in the Philippines, was trapped on the Bataan Peninsula as the Japanese invaded in 1941; when U.S. and Filipino forces surrendered in spring 1942, he escaped from the Bataan Death March and began a 159-day odyssey of survival that ultimately took him from Corregidor to Australia. Accompanied by another American soldier, Capt. William Osborne, Gause sailed a leaky, 20' wooden motorboat across 3200 miles of treacherous waters, dodging Japanese warships, aircraft, submarines, and coastal patrols. Using a hand compass and an old National Geographic map of Oceania, Gause and Osborne navigated all the way to Australia and safety. Rich in detail, suspense, and drama, this memoir was written a year after Gause's escape using notes and a journal he kept during the journey. Gause died in a plane crash in 1944, but his son has resurrected and published this inspiring and exciting tale of human courage and endurance. Recommended for all public libraries.ACol. William D. Bushnell, USMC (ret.), Brunswick, ME
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great first-person WWII narrative Jan. 16 2004
Format:Paperback
"The War Journal of Major Damon 'Rocky' Gause" is a well-told, exciting survival and escape story of World War II. Lieutenant (at the time of the events related in this book) Gause was a pilot stationed in the Phillipines when General MacArthur was ordered to retreat. His plane being destroyed, he fought with the American troops to the bitter end of the defeat of Corregidor, and through the kindness of the Filipinos and natives of the South Pacific, escaped via a 3,200 mile route to Australia.
This story may perhaps be the greatest survival and escape tale from World War II. It's full of close calls (a Japanese submarine surfacing next to their craft), thrills (a disguised Nazi officer trying to murder Gause and his companion, Lt. Osbourne, in their sleep), quirks (getting much-needed help from a leper colony) and hardships (their small wooden craft being thrown about in a storm). The book also has some truly touching moments--the kindness and loyalty of the Filipinos who were willing to aid Gause despite the risk, and the picture of Gause with his son, whom he saw for a mere few hours before his deployment and subsequent death in Europe in a training exercise.
The book is written simply (but is not a simple book), and not too politically correct (which I don't think Maj. Gause would care for being, anyway). The story flows well, and the foreward and afterword by Maj. Gause's son are well-done. The book would be improved by the inclusion of more maps showing their route and a timeline, and perhaps the reproduction of some of the original ship's log pages.
The book also has a prologue by Stephen Ambrose (whose imprimatur should promptly silence those questioning the credibility of the story).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Endless Journey Jan. 21 2003
By Sarah F
Format:Paperback
Overall, in my opinion, the book was very good. The characteristic that I liked most was that it was written in first person. It is the actual account in Gause's words of what happened. If the story had been fiction, it would not have been as enjoyable. It would have been unfair to all the brave soldiers who actually fought in the war to make up a story such as this. However, since the story was real, it gave me a lot of respect for everything that Gause had to go through. He was so brave and so determined. Many people never would have even thought of risking the 3,200-mile voyage to Australia. Gause never gave up, though, even when all hope seemed lost and it did not look like the trip could get any worse. Another characteristic that made the book enjoyable was that it was easy to read. The book used short sentences and simple words. Gause was writing everything in his log, so he did not need long elaborate sentences, or have the time to write them. The book also teaches many lessons. Whenever I look at a challenge that I'm facing, I will realize that maybe it really is not so bad after all. Chances are, I will not be running from the Japanese in a leaky boat like Gause was. The book helps me to put my own problems in perspective. Never, ever, give up. It also teaches the value of friendship. Without the support that Gause and Osborne gave to each other, they never would have made it to Australia. They had their disagreements, but they always managed to settle them. It was very important that they were able to communicate with each other. The book also it gave a real feel for how hard the journey was. There was not anything covering up the hardships. Many times Gause wrote about how bad the conditions were and how he had been overly optimistic right from the beginning. Nothing was done to try and "sugar-coat" the story. Gause was just telling it as it was.
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Format:Paperback
I was seventeen when I joined the army during the Vietnam Era (I plead youth and insanity), and, after training at Fort Polk's 'Tiger Land' (Special Forces), I thought I was tough stuff. But, after reading what Major Damon Gause went through, I paled in comparison. This man dwarfs any other combat man (or woman) I have ever known. I doubt that even Rambo could have endured what this man experienced.
Damon Gause had the characteristics of Rambo: raw physical strength, mental toughness, the ability to withstand tremendous amounts of pain, discomfort, deprivation of food & water, toleration of the sight of gore and scores of gruesome deaths, plus one more - both he and the war he fought were real.
Beyond being a true warrior Damon Gause is also a very good writer. Most "journal" books have the prose of flour paste. This war journal is an exception. Gause brings you into the horrible moment of the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese. You feel the desperation, despair and dementia when the Japs took Corregidor. Continually through the book Gause praises the courage and loyalty of the Filipinos who fought with him and often helped him.
It would be easy to read this book as just an account of a courageous and extraordinary American solider whose feats of "heroism in action" awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross, but this book offers more. It offers a wealth of lessons that anyone could learn from, and apply to daily life.
Two truths that can sustain you in the 'valley of the shadow of death': believe in your cause and hold to your ideologies. In the words of Winston Churchill "Never, Never, Never Give Up". And, despise the thought of surrender. Retreat yes, surrender no. Fight on, even when it looks impossible to prevail.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Rebuttle to coward who wouldn't identify himself War Journal Major...
Living now just 20 miles from Rocky's home town and growing up only 6 miles out then, I remember as a mere kid the throngs that gathered on the town square to greet his arrival... Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2010 by Mack Elder
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating First-Person Account of War
Beautifully written and unpretentious, this book amazes and inspires! A classic World War II account!
Published on July 12 2004 by Christiana Washington
1.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, yes...as in "not credible"
If half of this stuff actually happened, I would be the most surprised man on earth. I've read a great deal about WWII and this story smells like bologna to me. Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars A roller coaster ride of adventure
The War Journal of Damon "Rocky" Gause is a roller coaster ride of adventure, heroism, sacrifice and survival. Read more
Published on June 30 2001 by David G. Gran
5.0 out of 5 stars Rocky Gause--One of a Kind
Rocky Gause, an Army pilot without a plane, made a wartime escape from the Japanese that was remarkable. His accounting of the day to day adventure is also remarkable. Read more
Published on April 23 2001 by Charles A. Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't make heroes like this anymore!
Major Damon "Rocky" Gause's "War Journal" chronicles his escape from the Philippines by boat to Australia at the outbreak of WWII. Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2000 by TMac
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Hero
"Rocky's" personal account sheds an important light on a very dark period in the Pacific, the opening days of the war... Read more
Published on Aug. 27 2000 by Scot Shively
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring reminder of the price of freedom
In an age when many Americans cannot even conceive of life without McDonalds, TV and SUVs on demand, this fantastic story should be required reading. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2000 by T. H. Mckinnie
5.0 out of 5 stars The Right Stuff
The saga of Damon Gause should be a reminder to the country that long before "The Right Stuff" was attributed to other brave men, there were thousands of men and women... Read more
Published on May 1 2000 by Edwin Grosso
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book
This book reads like a novel but is a true story. I would recommend this to WWII vets and students. This is a great story of courage and heart. Read more
Published on March 28 2000
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