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Only seven U.S. submariners earned the Medal of Honor in World War II. Sam Dealey, the USS Harder's commander, was one of them. His honor was awarded posthumously after the entire crew was lost off Luzon in August 1944 during a depth-charge attack by Japanese ships. The Harder's fighting spirit is legendary, and its record of sinking a total of sixteen enemy ships (with a tonnage in excess of 54,000) made Dealey one of the top five submarine skippers in the war. During a single patrol his crew received credit for sinking five enemy destroyers in five short-range torpedo attacks—an unprecedented feat. In addition, the Harder played important roles in rescue missions, extracting secret operatives deep in enemy territory and saving downed pilots.
Drawing on previously untapped sources, Michael Sturma, an Australian teaching at Murdoch University, details several daring missions, one that involved the heroic Australian commando Bill Jinkins, and puts the Harder's action in the context of the overall Pacific campaign. In doing so, the author adds not only significant information to the Harder's story but also provides a fresh perspective on the submarine war.
Michael Sturma is chair of the history program at Murdoch University in Western Australia. He is the author of several books, including South Sea Maidens: Western Fantasy and Sexual Politics in the South Pacific.