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Eight Bells Lecture Series: “Saving Big Ben”
January 19, 2012 @ 12:00 pm
John R. Satterfield, author of Saving Big Ben: The USS Franklin and Father Joseph T. O’Callahan to speak at Naval War College.
Father Joseph T. O’Callahan was the first military chaplain to receive the Medal of Honor. An unlikely war hero, the bespectacled math professor who became the U.S. Navy’s first Jesuit chaplain, served in combat in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He was on board the USS Franklin, an aircraft carrier known as “Big Ben,” in the Okinawa campaign in early 1945 when a kamikaze attack nearly destroyed the ship and killed hundreds of sailors. As the Franklin lay dead in the water, consumed by flames and drifting toward Japan, the chaplain organized fire-fighting crews and ministered to the injured and dying. The carrier’s captain called “Father Joe” the bravest man he ever knew.
To document the Franklin’s ordeal and the chaplain’s actions, the author draws on interviews with survivors and O’Callahan’s family and many unpublished sources.
John R. Satterfield, a retired naval reserve officer, is also the author of We Band of Brothers: The Sullivans and World War II. He lives in Newark, DE.