Tales From a Tin Can: The USS Dale from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay


In the words of those who manned her, the destroyer USS Dale’s war comes vividly to life in this first oral history of a combat ship from World War II’s start to finish. From carrier raids on Midway, Guadalcanal, and the Solomons to the bombarding of Saipan and Guam in the capture of the Marianas, from the Aleutians in the far north to strikes on Tokyo and Kobe, Tales from a Tin Can re-creates the action aboard the Dale and conveys as never before the true grit of wartime on a ...

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In the words of those who manned her, the destroyer USS Dale’s war comes vividly to life in this first oral history of a combat ship from World War II’s start to finish. From carrier raids on Midway, Guadalcanal, and the Solomons to the bombarding of Saipan and Guam in the capture of the Marianas, from the Aleutians in the far north to strikes on Tokyo and Kobe, Tales from a Tin Can re-creates the action aboard the Dale and conveys as never before the true grit of wartime on a destroyer.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Register –Pajaronian (CA), June 15, 2007

“Told through the narratives of 44 of the ship’s crew, this fascinating book captures not only the furious clashes with the Japanese but also the humdrum days in-between and the heart-stopping encounters with typhoons that could be as lethal as any engagement with the enemy. Anyone interested in stories from World War II will find this well-illustrated account of the naval campaign in the Pacific fascinating.”

Californian, June 2, 2007

“This new book’s eyewitness accounts of events aboard the destroyer will appeal to anyone interested in World War II. The 17 pages of black and white photos are an added plus and assist the reader in visualizing the ship and the men who share their memories on a ‘tin can.’”

Author Olson managed to interview 44 veterans of the World War II destroyer U.S.S. Dale (despite their average age of 88), producing the first oral history of one ship's adventures over the entire Pacific theater. Their tales produce no new insights, but their eyewitness accounts of great and trivial events are fascinating. A dozen veterans describe the attack on Pearl Harbor, which occurred all around them, leaving their ship untouched. The men also spent nine miserable months in the Aleutians in subzero weather and stormy seas with no relief; five crew members suffered nervous breakdowns. But the Dale was a lucky ship: no sailors died in action, though all agree on the terrors of kamikaze attacks that destroyed nearby vessels. More frightening were typhoons during which everyone expected death for days on end, joining companion destroyers that sank with all hands. Between reminiscences, Olson writes a running account of the war and illuminates shipboard details readers need to know. His book is an impressive accomplishment, bringing vividly to life the actions of a single warship that fought across half the world during 1941–1945."—

Publishers Weekly

“[Tales from a Tin Can] describes the actions, hardships, and joys of a WWII destroyer as seen through the eyes of her crew. The author writes a mix of WWII Pacific History, entries from the ship’s Deck log, and a labyrinth of quotes and tales from the ships crewmembers … Tales from a Tin Can is a good read and an excellent overview of WWII in the Pacific.” -Military Magazine

WWII History, September 2007

“What was life like on a destroyer during World War II? Find out by reading Michael Keith Olson’s superb telling of tales of the war in the Pacific as seen from the deck of a very luck ‘tin can”… The son of a former Dale crewman, Olson interviewed 44 veterans and delved deeply into official documents to give this book the air of authenticity that puts the reader in the heart of the action.

Tales from a Tin Can is the first oral history of one combat ship’s adventures, sometimes comic, sometimes mundane, sometimes heart wrenching, over the entire course of America’s involvement in the Pacific. An impressive accomplishment and highly recommended.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760338261
  • Publisher: Zenith Press
  • Publication date: 6/12/2010
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 980,268
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Keith Olson is an agriculturalist and journalist. He consults on farm projects throughout the world, from the city of Watts to the jungles of the Amazon. Olson has produced, written, and photographed news for the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner newspapers, NBC, ABC, the Australian Broadcast Commission, and KQED Public Television. His previous book, MetroFarm, is a guide for small-scale farming in the city. Olson is the executive producer and host of Food Chain, a syndicated radio talk show, and is currently president of the MO MultiMedia Group in Santa Cruz, California, where he lives with his family.

Robert “Pat” Olson, his father, served on the USS Dale.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps 8

Preface 9

Acknowledgments 16

1941 17

November: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii 22

December 7 to 8: Japanese Attack 26

0700 to 0755 28

0755 to 0820 32

0820 to 0855 40

0910 to 1930 46

1930 to 0500 48

December 8: Return to Pearl Harbor 50

December 9: Battleship Row 52

December 15 to 31: Cleanup 52

1942 55

January: The Recruits 56

January to March: Carrier Raids 61

Rabaul, New Britain 64

Lae-Salamaua, New Guinea 69

March to June: Carrier Battles 71

Coral Sea 71

Midway 76

July to December: Solomon Islands 84

Espiritu Santo 87

Guadalcanal 92

1943 107

January: Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea 108

January to March: Amchitka Island 112

March 26: Battle of the Komandorski Islands 119

April to June: Attu Island 142

June to August: Kiska Island 154

September: Aleutian Islands to Pearl Harbor 162

October: Central Pacific and Wake Island 165

November: Gilbert Islands 168

December: Pearl Harbor to San Francisco 175

1944 179

January to March: Marshall Islands 180

Kwajalein 181

Eniwetok 184

Majuro 186

March to May: Caroline Islands and New Guinea 188

Task Force 58 Raids 188

Majuro 197

June to July: Mariana Islands 200

Saipan 201

Guam 206

August to October: United States 208

Bremerton 209

San Pedro 213

Pearl Harbor 217

November to December: Philippines 219

Eniwetok 222

Ulithi 225

Typhoon Cobra 228

1945 233

January: Philippines and South China Sea 234

Ulithi 235

Philippines 238

South China Sea 241

January to March: Iwo Jima 247

March to June: Okinawa 253

June to July: Balikpapan 266

July to August: Ulithi, Guam, and Japan 272

September to October: New York City 281

Epilogue 287

Appendices 293

The Crew 293

USS Dale World War II Battle Stars 295

Chronology: November 1941 to October 1945 297

Task Force Assignments 302

Notes 305

Glossary of U.S. Navy Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Slang 307

Bibliography 313

Index 317

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Tales from a Tin Can

    Excellent reading for the destroyer sailor or family. Great blend of historical accounts with individual experiences on the ship during those periods in the war. Goes beyond the fighting and into the thoughts and feelings of the sailors as the USS DALE treads the waters of the Pacific during WW II.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2007

    First person story of WWII in a Navy Destroyer

    This book is easy reading, historically accurate and a pleasure to read. There are many personal histories through out the book with historical references and authors comments. I am a Viet Nam era Tin Can sailor and I found myself in their place many times while reading. This is a 'must read' book.

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