- ISBN/SKU: 9781557506580
- Binding: Paperback
- Era: World War II
- Number of Pages: 264
- Subject: Women, Minorities Military
- Date Available: July 2000
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With the launching of Subchaser 1264 in the spring of 1944, the U.S. Navy began a social experiment designed to test the ability of a group of African Americans to live, fight, and survive under wartime conditions on a small combatant. At the time blacks served only as messmen in the navy, but ships were being built faster than men could be trained so the navy desperately needed manpower. Over strong opposition, PC 1264 went to sea with a crew of fifty black enlisted men and five white officers. The ship's captain and author of this book, Eric Purdon, had only been to sea for ten days before assuming command.
Purdon tells the story of his ship as it was lived in this strangely condensed society. Filled with drama, comedy, and emotion, it is the story of a commanding officer fearful that his inexperience would jeopardize the aspirations of an entire people, of a crew quick to resent a slur but quicker to react to enemy submarines, and of a young black officer assigned to the ship in 1945 who later became the first black rear admiral in the navy. Purdon offers a play-by-play description of shipboard life, including the intensive anti-submarine convoy escort operations in which the crew amply demonstrated their abilities. With the success of PC 1264 and the USS Mason and her African-American crew, the navy was able to move more rapidly toward total integration.
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