Captain C. Kenneth Ruiz, USN (Ret.)
The Luck of the Draw: The Memoir of a World War II Submariner: From Savo Island to the Silent Serviceby USN (Ret.) Ruiz
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A coin flip likely saved the life of Kenneth C. Ruiz. It was August 1942 and he was fresh out of the U.S. Naval Academy. He and a classmate flipped a coin to see who would stand watch on the bridge of their heavy cruiser, the USS Vincennes, off Savo Island as the Marines were landing on Guadalcanal. Ruiz was on the bridge when the ship took a direct hit and sank. He ended up in the Pacific without a life jacket, but his classmate and the entire radio room crew perished in the attack. "The luck of the draw" is a recurring theme in this powerful memoir. Following the demise of the Vincennes, Ruiz volunteered to serve on submarines for the balance of the war and had numerous harrowing experiences. He spent most of his time on the USS Pollack, which was sub-standard in terms of technology, but was still deadly and made a significant impact on Japanese shipping in the far reaches of the Pacific. A worthy addition to the litany of WWII books on submariners, The Luck of the Draw is filled with heartbreaking stories of how the smallest decisions made the difference between life and death for soldiers and sailors in the war.
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You start off in an out of control crash dive to your imminent death and Kenneth Ruiz has you immersed in a Tom Clancy styled epic, the only difference, this is a real life and death struggle. Not only does the crew have to battle the Japanese but they are also fighting the antiquated USS Pollack. You won't have the author giving you family history like a lot of other military authors, instead you are with the crew 250 feet below the surface being depth charged or on the surface , with the spray in your face, charging after the enemy. For the movie goer there is 'DAS BOOT', for the reader there is Kenneth Ruiz's 'The LUCK of The DRAW'.
Pounses on a black bird then kills it
Having read several accounts of WWII submarines, this book stands up well. It lacks the technical attack details of the book "Wahoo", but provides a good sense of what it was like to be on a boat in the Pacific. The submarine of this account was one of the older U.S. boats with many technical problems; yet, the crew fought on to make their contribution to the war effort. Unlike accounts of Jack and Wahoo, which were both very successful, this particular account is about a typical boat and the many issues and stress the crew faced. Good technical details are provided on types of Japanese depth charges, their kill radius and depth settings etc. Also, some good insight into the skill level of the Japanese Destroyers vs. typical escort ships is provided. I recommend this book positively to those with an interest.