Category Archives: World War II

Upcoming Release: The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast


NEWS RELEASE: The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast

While graduating from Texas A&M University in the ‘70’s, my Uncle Charley Pryor, retired Marine Corps Captain, came by my home in Eagle Lake for a visit. He knew I was into writing history books and gave me a transcript of an interview he had with Dr. Ronald E. Marcello at North Texas State University. He told me to keep it for my family history book, as I had become the family historian.

I always intended to tell his story, but my career in oil & gas exploration took the front seat. After all, I was a no-named author and that doesn’t put groceries on the table, so to speak.

Why, you might ask, did I wait until now to bring this subject up on my blog? Well, out of respect for the hard work Dr. Marcello did in first performing the interview with Uncle Charley, I requested permission to release his interview for all interested readers of lost World War II history.

With my third historical fiction novel in the six-book series, The Trial of Lewis Thornton Paine (Powell) in the Lincoln Assassination out in the next thirty days (pre-release now available), I will briefly take an intermission from the series, and with permission of University of North Texas and BeeBop Publishing, introduce my next book, “The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast.”

In the Battle of Java Sea in 1942, the USS Houston and fourteen allied ships took the fight to seventeen Japanese warships. Five of the allied ships were lost. The Houston retreated to Banten Bay. It could only try to make its escape through the Sunda Strait. Several Japanese destroyers blocked it. Several torpedoes immediately hit the Houston with Japanese ships also raking the decks with machine gun fire.

News hit the papers of the discovery and confirmation of the USS Houston in 2014. It carried 1,068 crewmen, sunk by the Japanese in World War II, killing over 700 onboard? Did you know about 291 sailors and marines survived the sinking? They were captured as POW’s? Did you know the U. S. Government announced that all aboard the vessel were missing in action and presumed dead? Did you know the Houston’s commanding officer Captain Albert H. Rooks, received the Medal of Honor? Did you know two years before going to sea in 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt had his picture taken under the big guns of the USS Houston?

And, the biggest question, where did the “Bridge Over the River Kwai” find its labor pool…the POW’s of the USS Houston and one in particular, Uncle Charley Pryor. How many people know of the USS Houston? How many people know of the 700 who lost their lives that day? How many know it was the POW’s who help build the railway and the bridge over the River Kwai? Now, let me ask, who has heard of William Holden or the movie the Bridge Over the River Kwai, winner of seven Academy Awards…everyone probably.

There are books and books associated with the Battle of Pearl Harbor. There are numerous history books written about many other battles and the brave men associated with them. But, a seemingly lost battle in history, the Battle of Sunda Strait in 1942 and the sinking of the USS Houston is one I wish to preserve in this first-hand experience from POW Captain Charley Pryor?

I feel I owe it to my Uncle Charley Pryor, Captain USMC, and his first eyewitness account as a POW working on the “Bridge,” including the loss of so many friends be made available to followers of WWII history.

Resting off the west coast of Java, Indonesia, the ship remains sovereign property of the United States. The Navy estimates there are over 17,000 sunken ships and aircraft resting on the ocean floors worldwide.

Scheduled release date for THE GALLOPING GHOST OF JAVA COAST is due out from BeeBop Publishing on October 15, 2015. BeeBop Publishing and are making it available now in a prerelease for Kindle.

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