As smoke billows skyward from Pearl Harbor, Japan throws its full military might against the outnumbered and under-equipped Filipino forces. Admiral Hart sends his U.S. Asiatic Fleet south to the safety of Allied waters. When the remnants of PBY Patrol Wing 10 depart with the fleet, Charles Beckner, corpsman for PBY Squadron 102, is left behind with no apparent avenue for escape. Under relentless pressure from Japanese General Homma’s troops and air forces, American-Filipino troops retreat to the tip of the Bataan Peninsula. Sick with malaria and dysentery and nearly out of food and ammunition, surrender is imminent for those who survive. From his position with the Navy Beach Defense Unit on Corregidor, Charles joins Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3 as machine gunner and corpsman on PT-34, engaging enemy forces along the Bataan coast. MTB-3 is tasked with a critical, covert mission that once more leaves Charles stranded, this time on the southern Philippine island of Cebu. As the Japanese noose tightens, Charles joins other sailors and soldiers preparing for guerrilla resistance from the interior mountains of Mindanao Island. Before the final surrender, he is assigned to one last mission, unexpectedly reuniting him with crewmen of his old seaplane squadron. With advancing Japanese troops only minutes away, there remains one possibility for escape. It is risky, and failure will be fatal.
This well- researched history vividly portrays a terrible defeat for the United States as WWII opens in the Pacific. Dr. Floyd’s depiction of an independent duty Navy Corpsman was spot on. It is a highly readable action story and reminded me of many solid corpsmen I had the privilege of working alongside; ordinary yet extraordinary, the best of what is American. Frankly, I was sorry to see the story end. Well done, sir.
5.0 out of 5 stars. Highly readable narrative of personal courage from PBYs to PT boats.
We are losing our World War II veterans by the thousands daily and along with them we all too often lose their stories. John Floyd has done an admirable job of preserving the stories of his father-in-law in a fast-paced and highly readable narrative. Originally assigned as a Navy corpsman to a PBY patrol wing, Charles Beckner was not only on Corregidor with MacArthur, but also in the chaos of the start of the war in the Pacific he ended up in the PT-boat squadron that evacuated the general from the Philippines. Highly recommended as the story of one family’s sacrifices well told in the context of the broader war. Floyd knows his military history as well as his family’s.
The audiobook of The Expendable is in production. It is scheduled for release by October.