- ISBN/SKU: 9781591148081
- Binding: Hardcover & eBook
- Era: World War II
- Number of Pages: 208
- Subject: Biography
- Date Available: December 2011
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Father Joseph T. O'Callahan was the first military chaplain to receive the Medal of Honor. An unlikely war hero, the bespectacled math professor who became the U.S. Navy's first Jesuit chaplain, served in combat in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He was on board the USS Franklin, an aircraft carrier known as "Big Ben," in the Okinawa campaign in early 1945 when a kamikaze attack nearly destroyed the ship and killed hundreds of sailors. As the Franklin lay dead in the water, consumed by flames and drifting toward Japan, the chaplain organized fire-fighting crews and ministered to the injured and dying. The carrier's captain called "Father Joe" the bravest man he ever knew.
To document the Franklin's ordeal and the chaplain's actions, the author draws on interviews with survivors and O'Callahan's family and many unpublished sources.
John R. Satterfield, a retired naval reserve officer, is also the author of We Band of Brothers: The Sullivans and World War II. He lives in Newark, DE.
Praise for Saving Big Ben
"The USS Franklin, the most damaged American carrier to survive the war, boasted the most decorated crew. Any student of American military history should know her story and that of the crew, especially the chaplain’s. They offer examples of dedication and courage born of crisis that will serve all readers well. I highly recommend Saving Big Ben: The USS Franklin and Father Joseph T. O’Callahan."
— Air and Space Power Journal
Anyone who has heard the story of USS Franklin and its indomitable Chaplain O’Callahan will thrill to the place they both have in American naval history and be grateful to John Satterfield for making the story come alive again.”
— Naval Historical Foundation
“…Journalistic, well-researched book…Not intended for military historians, but for a wider audience. I highly recommend this book for those interested in Medal of Honor history and World War II in the Pacific.”
— Military Review, March-April 2013
“Saving Big Ben is a compelling history of a uniformed man of God and the crew and ship he served, “The Ship that Wouldn’t Die”.… Author Satterfield has more than adequately presented the ship’s motto of “tenacity, courage and honor” through the context of one man who answered his nation’s call and those he served with.”
— The Journal of America’s Military Past, Winter 2013
“…strong, well-documented narrative.”
“A superb effort by a top-notch author.”
— Sea Classics, July 2012
“Anyone who has heard the story of USS Franklin and its indomitable Chaplain O'Callahan will thrill to the place they both have in American naval history and be grateful to John Satterfield for making the story come alive again.”
— Naval History Book Reviews, May 8, 2012
“Saving Big Ben is an inspirational true story of leadership, strength of character, and heroism on the high seas, highly recommended especially for public and college library biography collections.”
— The Midwest Book Review, February 2012