My short story, “Typhoon Prompting,” part of The Hope of Christmas, takes place during Typhoon Cobra. The navy’s Pacific combat fleet was caught in a storm that capsized three destroyers. One of them, the Spence, was featured in Wheresoever They May Be.
Among the ships battling the storm was the Monterey, a light aircraft carrier. Among the Monterey’s crew was a young lieutenant, Gerald R. Ford.
|Gerald Ford, the jumper on the left, plays basketball on the Monterey's hangar deck.|
Ford was one of ten gunnery officers and also served as the ship’s athletic director. During the typhoon, the ship rolled twenty-five degrees, causing him to fall and slide the full width of the flight deck. He managed to catch the two-inch metal rim around the deck with his foot, breaking his momentum and allowing him to land on the narrow catwalk just below the deck.
The airplanes on the Monterey’s flight deck broke loose as the ship pitched and heaved, and were swept overboard. Planes on the hangar deck crashed into each other. Fire broke out. The men raced to drag bombs and torpedoes out of harm’s way and dump them overboard. Smoke funneled into the engine and boiler rooms, forcing crewmen to flee or be asphyxiated. Three of four boilers stopped, and the ship was in danger of losing power.
|The USS Monterey rolls in the typhoon.|
Admiral Halsey ordered them to abandon ship, and ordered nearby cruisers and destroyers to pick up survivors, no easy task in a typhoon. The men of Monterey fought the fires for forty minutes and saved their ship. Three men died, forty were injured, ten critically, and all their planes were lost.
One of the survivors was Gerald Ford. Had he gone overboard, it is extremely doubtful we would have had a President Ford.
|Releasing on Nov. 24, The Hope of Chrismas|