Available Dec. 1, 2016, in print and all eReader formats.
Pre-orders coming this Fall.
Table of Contents
Prologue – The Past and the Present
Chapter 1 – Seven Men at Sea
Chapter 2 – Two Survived and Five Did Not
Chapter 3 – Children Searching for Their Fathers
Chapter 4 – Unexpected Encounters
Chapter 5 – Journey Continues
Chapter 6 – Synchronicity
Chapter 7 – Further Encounters
Chapter 8 – Unity Born Out Of War
Chapter 9 – Beyond the Past and Into the Future
Chapter 10 – Dialogue with Commander King
Chapter 11 – Strange Experience in Hawaii
Chapter 12 – International Submariners Congress
Chapter 13 – The Commander’s 102nd Birthday
Epilogue – Living On Forever
This is a work of historical non-fiction. None of the names, places, or events have been altered in any form. Written material, such as letters and emails, authored by others and included herein are reprinted verbatim with the expressed permission of their respective copyright owner. Since the entirety of this story unfolded organically and without the benefit of recording devices, attributed dialogue is presented in accordance with the best recollection of the author, with no malice intended. All major characters depicted in this manuscript have been afforded the opportunity to review and correct the record.
The author extends his deep appreciation and affection for all those he encountered along this journey of discovery, as well as heart-felt thanks for their subsequent support in allowing him to share the story with a broader audience through this book.
July 17, 2016
Akira Tsurukame. 75 years old. Married.
It was in spring of 2003 when my wife and I left Los Angeles to spend the next 101 days traveling around the world. The plan included stops in the Pacific Islands, Japan, China, Malaysia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and the Netherlands. But our trip was cut short in Beijing when the SARS scare broke out, leaving us no choice but to return home on the 46th day.
It was by strange coincidence and something that may be called ‘karma’ that this event turned into the beginning of another journey altogether – a search for my long-lost father. During the Pacific War my father served as chief engineer aboard a Japanese submarine, and died in action somewhere in the southern seas when I was 3 years old. My desire to find out more about this submarine took me across the world to different places and people – and how surprisingly wonderful this journey has been. I found the surviving families of the crew who were on the Dutch submarine destroyed by my father’s submarine. I located the relatives of my father’s shipmates and finally met the British submarine commander who was, at one time in history, my father’s enemy.
This pilgrimage to honor my father began in 2003, and still continues to this day. The three submarines from Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom had engaged in a fierce, unrelenting underwater battle during the Pacific War. A fourth submarine, the Italian Bagnolli, itself became a pawn in the evolving allegiances between warring countries. And two Americans – a JAG officer and a Navy sailor – would also play key roles as my story unfolds.
Through this journey, both my wife and I have come to believe that the world is a far more fascinating, rich, and endearing place than we ever imagined. If we could only take a moment away from our hectic life, we just might be able to feel the presence of those loved ones, no longer here, in the familiar sights and sounds that surround us. Perhaps they are somewhere in the tender breeze or in the warmth of the light that shines upon us, showing that they still care. I see the world this way because I now feel reconnected with my father. And through him, I’ve met many wonderful people. This is the story I’d like to share with you.
Dedicated to all the people who lost their lives in WWII.
Prologue – The Past and the Present
June 25, 2012
Oranmore Castle, Ireland
The old man was in good spirits. He looked happy from the bottom of his heart. Facial muscles relaxed, his eyes twinkled. He leaned against the wall in his bed, the bottom half of his body under a blanket, and he was singing out loud. He wore a dark brown knitted hat pulled down to his eyebrows and a thick, midnight blue nightgown over crimson pajamas. He must have used the cap and nightgown for quite some time, for both seemed completely conformed to his aging body.
The aging process itself might have shrunken his size, but for a Westerner, he was on the shorter end of the scale with a slim but fit physique. Although small, his face – tanned deeply from a long life at sea – exuded health and vitality. A strong will still emanated from the sharpness of his eyes and in the shape of his face. However, now in his later years, they were enveloped in the calm and mellow aura of a genial old man.
As he sang, he got into the swing of the moment and started to sway his head, and his right hand gestured vigorously. His cheeks were faintly flushed, and his actions alone made him look just like a teenager. He sang the songs that he used to sing with peers and colleagues at his naval college and later in the Navy. They all used to drink and sing boisterously, whether on the sea or on land. The happy memories must have returned to him, for his mind and heart delved deeply into his past. His repertoire changed from sea shanties to a Hollywood movie theme of the late 1920’s titled “If You Want the Rainbow (You Must Have the Rain).”
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Just two days ago, the old man had celebrated his 102nd birthday. Sadly, symptoms of Alzheimer’s began to appear several years ago. He could no longer recognize most faces, nor the names of friends and relatives. However, he still knew his daughter, her husband, and his grandchildren who lived with him in the castle. His body functioned quite well, except for the inconsistency of his memory. He did need some help but was able to walk and to enjoy his daily life quite comfortably. He laughed a lot, but he did not eat much. He talked a lot, but often the conversation was one sided. Nevertheless, his memory of the past, particularly the one over half a century ago, was vivid and colorful.
Three weeks previously, he suffered a light cerebral infraction, suddenly collapsing and falling to the floor. His life in grave danger, loved ones feared he might not survive. However, he surprisingly recovered, showing amazing resilience and strength. Now at least, he seemed quite healthy, agile, and strong. However, no one doubted that his days on this earth were definitely numbered.
The old man lived with his family in a place called Oranmore Castle. Understandably, the name derived from its location in Oranmore, in Galway County, Ireland. Built of stone in the fifteenth century, it was to protect Ireland from any invaders from sea. The Clanricardes, a prominent Norman family, used it as a stronghold during the 16th & 17th centuries. If, from the city of Galway – situated in the middle part of the country – one drives south along Galway Bay for about 30 minutes, this four-story fortress will be found on the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is about a two-hour drive from Ireland’s capital of Dublin.
A huge black iron gate and a spacious green lawn precede the castle doors. The building itself drips with masculinity, markedly different from the feminine, romantic image associated with chandeliered French chateaus. Constructed as a solid rectangular building of four stories, this castle features a square staircase turret with gun loops on the bottom floor. On each level, the ocean-facing walls included many crenels for defense. Each floor consists of a wide-open space with a few beds and chairs that are no longer in use. An exceedingly large dining room could easily accommodate several dozen people.
The Castle is reminiscent of its long history. The stairs are made of hard stones, but the exposed center of each is concave, worn down by six centuries of use. Tens of thousands of people – soldiers, kings, noblemen, cooks, maids, prisoners, slaves and children alike – must have walked up and down these stairs.
Ownership of the estate changed many times. In 1947, Lady Leslie, a cousin of Winston Churchill and wife of Sir Shane Leslie, bought it and gave it to her daughter, well known as a writer under the name of Anita Leslie.
Connected to the first floor of the castle is a relatively recent addition: the living quarters for the old man’s family – built in the late 40’s, a few years after World War II. Given the size of the castle, the old man’s bedroom was quite small. Furnished with a queen sized bed, a bed side table and a clothes cabinet, the room measured less than 20 square meters, about four meters by four meters. Several pictures and paintings hung on two of the walls. One of the photos depicted Anita, who passed away 26 years earlier. Next to her, a picture captured the old man in a Royal Navy uniform, taken in his thirties when he was a submarine captain.
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The old man – who had been singing his “Rainbow” song so loudly, so happily, as if he were again living in the distant world of his youth – suddenly stopped. He became eerily silent.
His eyes refocused on those about him. There were two others in the room.
After a long pause, he murmured, “During the war, I killed an Imperial Japanese Navy officer, and his son came to see me.”
One of those seated to his side spoke.
“Yes, Commander, that son is me!”