In an extraordinary survival story, a U.S. naval officer is rescued from the USS Langley (AV-3) after a Japanese attack that eventually sank the ship. He then becomes stranded on a remote beach, faces an Indian firing squad, and tempts death to keep his sanity and to spite the Japanese who captured him. A fellow prisoner sketched the portrait at right of Lieutenant Commander Thomas Donovan in Makassar, Celebes, before he lost 100 pounds in captivity.
The first official notification my mother received concerning the whereabouts of her husband, then-Lieutenant Commander Thomas A. Donovan (U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1928) was a letter from the Navy Department. He had been last seen in a pilot boat with three natives, it reported, a mile off Christmas Island, south of Java, on 28 February 1942. She received a second letter in August; no further word had been received, it stated, but it indicated that Donovan could be a prisoner of the Japanese. Later that month, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox declared him missing in action. Official word that he had been captured came in a Navy Department letter in December 1943.