My very sincere congratulations to you for the superb work you’ve done with book (Shipmates—a most appropriate title). When I opened the package and saw the jacket front, I was awestruck with the beautiful layout and then turned it over and saw the back cover. I was overcome with emotion and shed some tears. Just beautiful! Then the piece de resistance; the two poems your father wrote. It was all overwhelming. 

Thank you for your efforts in perpetuating the memory of the Rowan and crew. I can’t think of anything more fitting as a memorial to your Dad and Mother than “Shipmates.” Every Navy man should read it, not only because it’s good reading and they can relate to it but also because one of their own reached down in the depths of his soul in tribute to the men who go down to the sea in ships.

-- From survivor Tony Barrale


“Thank you so much for my copy of Shipmates. I’ve begun reading it and you certainly did a wonderful job of writing it.”

            -- Sara Greer, widow of a former Rowan crewman


Thank you so much for the book. Reading it brought back so many memories.

            -- Frank Broedel, Former Rowan crewman


Just a note to say how much I enjoyed Shipmates. It must have been a lot of hard work. You did a wonderful job.

            -- Sheila Glynn, reader in Bronxville, NY


Thank you for the Shipmates book. It is well written and I could hardly put it down after I started reading it. The book should be in school libraries for students to read.”

            -- Orville and Arlene Kelley, brother and sister-n-law of
             Willis Doyle Kelley, casualty of the Rowan sinking


At every opportunity, I slipped away [from the family during the holidays] until I had read every word of Shipmates.  You have done a wonderful job and I can’t tell you how impressed I am and how grateful for the book you have sent me. It is evident that it took a great deal of research and careful crafting. You write beautifully. I know it was a labor of love. How I’ve reminisced and will again as I reread Shipmates!

-- Gretchen F. Wyatt, widow of Lt. John Wyatt,
survivor of the sinking of the Rowan


I received and read the book Shipmates. I don’t remember reading a book I have enjoyed more. I shed a lot of tears and had to put the book down at times.

            -- Wayne Easterling, survivor of the sinking of the Rowan


“Your book is a labor of love and I can’t imagine all the hard and difficult work that produced it.”

            -- Robert F Abbott, survivor of the sinking of the Rowan


I’m writing to thank you for you and your father’s book “Shipmates”. I didn’t know much on the history of Sue’s family so I appreciate some of the gaps filled in. I like reading history, especially about those who have courageously sacrificed much or risked life for the benefit of others. It not only makes me realize what they have done but reminds me to keep on doing the same also.  God Bless

            -- Anthony Bisaccio


I just wanted to again congratulate you on your book, “Shipmates.”  I am so proud of you for all your hard work and perseverance in completing this wonderful tribute.  I know your dad must be very proud of you, too.

            -- Peter Vallone, Atlanta, GA


I’ve only known a little of my family’s (father’s side) history.  I do know that my uncle (father’s brother), Russell Pruett, went down on the U.S.S. Rowan, off Salerno, Italy.

I plan to get this book and share with my father and my cousin Edward, retired from the U.S. Army.  My husband is a Navy man, having served on several carriers.  It gives me chills to look at the photos.  I believe my father has an original / print of the crew.  Naturally, I want to know more.

Thank you for all the effort that went into this.  Warm Regards,

            -- Cheryl Pruett


I picked it up and thought I’d give the first few pages a quick skim.

After the intro and first 20 pages, I forced myself to put it down. It’s very well-written, entertaining, and communicates on so many levels. I was immediately involved in it emotionally which speaks to how powerfully it’s written. I’m impressed way beyond my expectations.

Should be quite interesting to see how my father reacts to it. His experiences were quite similar, although he was in the Army Air Corps.  His brother wasn’t with him, but he was shot down and his best friend went with the plane, etc. He had nightmares until about the mid-1980’s.

-- Danielle Engstrom


I want to tell you that I received my copy of Shipmates yesterday and couldn’t put it down.  I took it to work and snuck readings throughout the morning, cut lunch short, went back to my desk and had it finished by 3:00 pm today!  It was so well written, so sensitive, and beautifully done.  You are really to be commended for collecting all that data, and putting it into such a great story that read like a novel.  As the dates were getting closer to Sept. 11, 1943, I was getting so anxious as the “clock was ticking.”  This, in spite of the main incident happening right at the beginning of the book.  I thought it was handled, or presented in such a cohesive way, considering that you had so many threads to pull together, so many testimonies.  Really, it could be a movie, and a very successful one at that!  The publication job was very tasteful, also, from the layout to the cover.

You are really to be commended for getting it all down, for the time that went into it, and for helping your father to come to terms with this incident.  Congratulations, Lorraine.  I, for one, know what went into that book!  I know it meant a lot to your father.

            -- Diane Ruiz, New York reader


Finished the part about the sinking and all the emotions and tradedy. It sure was a lot for a Soul to bear. I’m so glad he had all of you, his kids and his great life’s love with him when he needed it. You bonded  with him too which would surely help, and is so good to happen.

            -- Don Cottingham, Canadian reader


A gripping account of the realities of Navy life during WWII I enjoyed the mix of action interspersed with details of routine shipboard life. The reader gets more than the usual brief glimpses of what daily life on a Navy ship was really like for ordinary sailors during WWII. Consistent use of real naval terminology helps give the feeling you are really there.  Unlike many documentaries, this one is very good at conveying the emotions surrounding the events. All in all, a very compelling read!

            -- Virginia Reynolds, West Texas reader


It must have been quite an experience to live day after day on a ship, knowing the subs were under water just waiting for a chance to sink your ship.  It makes one realize all that others have sacrificed so that we can live in a free country.

            -- Heidi Skarie, MN Author of Red Willow


I know that may sound weird—but this is like reading a novel, only the characters are real.  It’s kind of a bit like time travel—because you wrote it in first person narrative.  It’s like reading someone’s diary from another era of time.   

            -- Carol Horn, reader from California


Just finished reading your book. ( I made it last as long as I could. ) Thanks for writing your Dad’s story. You have a beautiful way that helped me relive some of my life.

-- Larry Hardiman—Georgia Reader


I couldn’t put it down. I liked the format - could keep track of dates. Besides the Rowan, you also gave the larger picture of the war that they were involved in. Incredible how you pieced all the survivors stories together to weave this story. I had to laugh at the two pilots that hit the mast of a sailboat and clipped their wing so they had to land in the water.

            -- Phyllis Brown, Atlanta reader


Thank you for preserving the history of those who gave so much to preserve our freedom and make this nation great. There is not enough that can be broadcast about this tremendous work.

            -- Don Raby


I read your book, :"Shipmates," which my son, Robert B. Smith, obtained for me after learning about it from the internet. As a "plank owner" on the Rowan, DD 405, the book was of great interest to me. I was assigned to the Rowan while she was still under construction at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1939.(I've forgotten the exact date, but she was commissioned September 23, 1939). I served on the Rowan until May 17, 1941. I assume your father joined sometime in June, 1940. Unfortunately, I cannot remember him, and I'm sure he would not have remembered me as I was in the engine department. Even though we were on the same ship, to an extent we were isolated from other departments. I did know most of the original crew, but did not get to know smoe of the later arrivals. We probably did get to know each other by sight, if not by name, because a destroyer is a small ship and rather confined. 

Reading the book brought back many memories. It was at my request that Bob contacted you, as I wished to speak with your father. I know we would have had many things to remisnisce about. I'm very sorry it did not work out that way. when I received your e-mail, through Bob, August10, giving your father's address, I immediately attempted to call him. Even though you stated he was ill, I did not realize that he was at the advanced stage that he was in. I received no answer from my call, I assume he was in the hospital at the time. As you had given Chris Harvey's phone number I placed a call to him. Chris was very generous with   h is time, we had a long and enjoyable conversation. Although Chris did not join the Rowan until after I left, we were shipmates with many of the crew who were still aboard. Chris informed me that you had called him that day telling him you were leaving for Wilmimgton as your father was not expected to live. 

I was extremely sorry to learn of your father's death. Even though I do not remember him, there is a certain bond between seamen, especially those who have served on the same ship that landlubbers cannot understand. I'm not sure I understand it myself, but it is there nevertheless. 

I remember many of those mentioned in your book. "Red" Burroughs, Uliano (Wop), Decker -- Who could forget Decker?-- aaand several others. It was extremely interesting for me to read about some of the incidents your father talked about. Some of them I remember,such as the loss of the plane from the Yorktown while we were acting as plane guard for the purpose of recovering downed planes. Most of the time we did nothing but cruise around the carrier. I remember the incident a little differently than your father, but time dims memories, so perhaps I do not remember it correctly. But we were both there when it happened. at this time that is the most important thing concerning the incident. 

Bob and I were on a fishing trip to Canada when I read your book. It brought back so many memories that I regaled Bob with so many stories about the Rowan that I'm sure he must have felt like a crew member. 

Incidentally, I saw Uliano in New York after the Rowan went down. The only crew member I ever saw who was aboard when she was sunk. When I saw him he had obtained the rating of chef commissary steward. He was first or second class cook, I don't remember which, when I left the Rowan. Chris informed me he that Uliano died earlier this year. The ranks are thinning out. I lost touch with the crew members after leaving the Rowan. I joined the U.S. Maritime Service during the war, and afterward served in the Merchant Marine until retirement in 1978. Therefore, I became rather isolated from the Navy. 

I apologize for rambling on in this manner, but I got started and just kept going, and going. 

Thank you again for writing the book that afforded me so much pleasure; and that recorded a history that should be kept alive for posterity. Younger generations need to know the sacrifices that were made by so many that they may breathe the air of freedom that was provided to them by those sacrifices. I know that every sailor who served on the Rowan will greatly appreciate your efforts.

            -- Hugh O. Smith  (On the Rowan I was known as "Snuffy")


I didn’t lay it down.  You did an excellent job and I loved every page of it.  I am reluctantly loaning it to a few favorite people.  I may decide to purchase a couple copies for some out of town friends.

-- Agnes Spagnolo


It’s such a pity that a screenwriter hasn’t picked it up to write the script. It has the substance of a wonderful movie.

I had the good fortune to serve with Lewis Seeley during his next sea duty after the Rowan experience, aboard USS Newman K. Perry, DD/DDR883. I reported aboard, in relief of the commissioning Supply & Disbursing Officer, just after Perry completed her shakedown cruise. I was fresh out of Supply Corps school and surely fit the model of the “90 day wonders” described in Shipmates, even though I had endured about 18 months of various Navy schools by then. Still, I had not yet celebrated my twentieth birthday, and would have been relatively clueless as to how to begin, had it not been for (then Chief Commissary Steward) Lewis Seeley, who quietly, gently and efficiently led me through many of the duties which I had inherited.  I never had an inkling of what he had endured, and have not seen him since he left on emergency leave, due to his Father’s last illness, in the spring of 1946. I have corresponded with Helen, due to Lew’s failing eyesight, and still hope to see both of them at an N.K.Perry reunion.

            -- Bill Hagen, Jr., son of a Rowan survivor


I salute him and his daughter on their gripping tale of the Rowan, and only wish that I could have known him better while I had the opportunity. 

-- William A. (Bill) Magee, LCDR, SC, USNR, Ret.




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