In this episode we’re looking at three brothers all in the US Navy at the start of the war, and their remarkable story.
Today I’m joined by Sally Mott Freeman, her book “The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home” follows her father and his two brothers through the war.
The extraordinary, real-life adventure of three brothers at the center of the most dramatic turning points of World War II and their mad race to change history—and save one of their own.They are three brothers, all Navy men, who end up coincidentally and extraordinarily at the epicenter of three of hree of the war’s most crucial moments. Bill is picked by Roosevelt to run his first Map Room in Washington. Benny is the gunnery and anti-aircraft officer on the USS Enterprise, one of the only carriers to escape Pearl Harbor and by the end of 1942 the last one left in the Pacific to defend against the Japanese. Barton, the youngest and least distinguished of the three, is shuffled off to the Navy Supply Corps because his mother wants him out of harm’s way. But this protection plan backfires when Barton is sent to the Philippines and listed as missing-in-action after a Japanese attack. Now it is up to Bill and Benny to find and rescue him.
Based on ten years of research drawn from archives around the world, interviews with fellow shipmates and POWs, and primary sources including diaries, unpublished memoirs, and letters half-forgotten in basements, The Jersey Brothers is a remarkable story of agony and triumph—from the home front to Roosevelt’s White House, and Pearl Harbor to Midway and Bataan. It is the story, written with intimate, novelistic detail, of an ordinary young man who shows extraordinary courage as the Japanese do everything short of killing him. And it is, above all, a story of brotherly love: of three men finding their loyalty to each other tested under the tortures of war—and knowing that their success or failure to save their youngest brother will shape their family forever.
Bill Mott would start the war in FDR’s Whitehouse Map room, his brother Benny would be on the Carrier USS Enterprise and Barton was a supply officer based in the Philippines…
Their experience brings out how difficult it must have been for families at war.