By Ken Wiley
A book review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 22, 2019
Reader Note: Words appearing in BLUE mean they are links to web sites
Disclaimer: I retired from the U. S. Coast Guard so my opinion of this book may be a bit biased but even having said that, I do not believe for a second my Coast Guard career influenced my review of this book.
There are two titles for the same book. The first one is Lucky Thirteen. If you search for it on Amazon it will appear as a very expensive book but you can purchase a good used one for less than $6.00. The second title is D-Days in the Pacific with the US Coast Guard and it is available as a book or a Kindle Read. For the record I purchased both the book and the Kindle version.
Also, before I provide you with a review of the book, I did a little research to discover Coast Guard involvement during World War II. The numbers surprised me. From the Internet:
Source - US Coast Guard http://www.naval-history.net/WW2UScasaaDB-USCGbyNAME.htm
241,093 personnel served in World War 2, including 12,846 women. There were 574 deaths in action including 1 POW, wounded not known, and 1,343 deaths from other causes, e.g. crashes, accidents, disease or drowning etc., and 4 POW of whom 1 died
Links to the books on Amazon:
Lucky Thirteen, U. S. Coast Guard LSTs in the Pacific
D-Days in the Pacific with the US Coast Guard; the Story of Lucky Thirteen
This book reads like a Hollywood fictional thriller. It is NOT Hollywood but it IS a thriller and it reads like a thriller. This is one very exciting book to read. I rarely spend so much time dedicated to reading a book as I did Lucky Thirteen. I could not put it down and I didn’t.
As I read the book I could not help but examine my own convictions when I was a boy of just 17 had I been thrust into a World War. How would I have reacted? How would I have been able to handle the rigors of war? How would I have been able to handle the death of war?
This book reads like a history book thriller. Any one of the stories author Ken Wiley describes unto itself would be a great read. But when you realize how many “close encounters” Wiley and his boat crew were involved in is just beyond belief. By war’s end Wiley was still only 20 years old and most of his stories occurred when he was just 17 to 19 years old.
I cannot do this book justice by trying to explain how overwhelmed I was reading it and proud to have served in the same branch of the military as Ken Wiley. Suffice it to say I think it is very well written. It puts you right in the middle of the action. Why it has never been made into a movie is beyond me; it should be a movie and it would be a big hit at the box office once the word got out about its content.
Who should read this book? Anyone interested in World War II, especially the War in the Pacific. Anyone interested in reading about courage and determination literally “under fire!” Anyone who enjoys reading about growing up and doing so under tremendous stress. EVERYONE IN THE COAST GUARD!
Would I give this book as a gift? Probably not because the subject may not be of interest to everyone. It would nonetheless still make a great gift IF they would read it.
Would I read the book again? Probably not but only because it was so compelling the first read I don’t think I could possibly gain any further insight into what Wiley and he crew experienced.