Tales from a Tin Can is the true story of the Farragut class destroyer USS Dale during World War II. Author Michael Keith Olson’s father, Machinist Mate Robert Olson, served on the Dale and through this connection, the author was able to interview many of the surviving crew. The term Tin Can was a common term to describe World War II destroyers because they had thin metal hulls which made them fast and maneuverable but also vulnerable to enemy fire. The book is written in chronological order based on the recollections of the crew and information pulled from official sources. The Dale was present at Pearl Harbor and fought through the entirety of the war in the Pacific. The remembrances of the crew include the mundane of countless hours chipping paint, the shenanigans of young sailors, and the sheer terror of combat against a massively superior Japanese battle group. The Dale finished the war intact with 12 battle stars and, being an old destroyer, was scrapped in 1945 shortly after the end of the war. Tales from a Tin Can includes an Epilogue, Glossary of Naval Terms, and helpful Appendices to assist readers. These are especially helpful for those not familiar with naval terminology, acronyms, and combat. This fascinating book is perfect for readers who enjoy the human element of history. I’ll conclude with one of my favorite quotes from the book, a lighter moment remembered by Electrician Earl Hicks:
(S)ome of the guys were chumming the water off the fantail with galley scraps.
You could see huge sharks swimming around, so I threw a couple of wooden crates over the side and the sharks went into a frenzy over them.
The (Captain) came on the squawk box and said, “You guys better not fall over the side because I don’t want to pick up what’s left!”