Title: A Call to Colors
Author: John J. Gobbell
Reviewer: Jeff Foster
ISBN (links to MWSA Amazon store): 978-0-7394-7919-3
A-Day, 20 October 1944, is the code-name for when General Douglas MacArthur fulfills his promise of "I Shall Return" to the Filipinos. With over 400 amphibious ships, he lands 165,000 troops in Leyte Gulf to begin throwing the Japanese Army out of the Philippines. Protecting MacArthur is Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.'s Third Fleet concentrated around sixteen attack carriers. Also, the scrappy Halsey looks for the first opportunity to deliver the killing blow to the Imperial Japanese Navy.
But Admiral Soemu Toyoda, CinC of the Imperial Japanese Navy's combined fleet, and Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita have a general idea of what MacArthur and Halsey intend. They form a brilliant plan to divert Halsey's aircraft carriers so they can send in a battle force to wipe out MacArthur's troop and supply ships.
Both sides commit more than 800 ships with the battle for Leyte Gulf becoming the largest naval battle in history.
Caught in the middle is Commander Mike Donovan, skipper of the destroyer USS Matthew. On patrol off Leyte Gulf, Donovan doesn't realize Halsey's carriers have been drawn out of the way by Toyoda's decoy force. Now it's just Donovan and seven other "tin cans" standing between Kurita's force of four battleships, nine cruisers, and twelve destroyers poised to gun down MacArthur's ships frantically unloading inside Leyte Gulf.
Worse, Donovan isn't aware he's under attack on another front. Ammunition ships are blowing up all over the Pacific at an alarming rate. The conclusion is obvious: Ships in the Leyte Gulf battle force are next. Lieutenant Commander John Sabovik of Naval intelligence is in a position to catch the saboteur and save Donovan among others. But there's a catch: Once best friends. Sabovik has vowed to kill Donovan. It's not just because both are in love with Katherine Logan, a medical intern in California. It goes back two years when both served on a jinxed cruiser off Guadalcanal.