This is Latch: The Story of Admiral Roy L. Hoffmann
Author: Weymouth D. Symmes
Publisher: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co. (2007)
Binding: Hardcover, 529 pages
This is Latch is a biography of Rear Admiral Roy F. Hoffmann, who served in three wars (WW II, Korea and Vietnam). Adm. Hoffmann commanded four ships in his career. He was the gunnery officer aboard the USS Pirate when she struck a mine during the Korean War and sank in less than five minutes. Admiral Hoffmann was the Commander of Task Force 115 (the Market Time forces) in Vietnam, which included U.S. Navy Swift Boats. during the advent of the SEALORDS operation under Admiral Zumwalt. In retirement, Admiral Hoffmann founded and led Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth during the 2004 election. This is Latch has 529 pages, and 162 photos, three maps, 60 plus interviews, a glossary, sources and index. It is a hardbound edition.
MWSA 2010 Silver Medal for Non-Fiction, Biography
Not Just a Biography but a History Lesson Too! Author Weymouth D. Symmes has captured so much more than just the story of Admiral Roy Hoffman in his biography "This is Latch". This book weaves in the social, military and political history of the Admiral's life. The reader will come away with a much better understanding of those historic times and the people with whom Hoffman lived through and associated with. The book not only honors the service of this great naval commander but also gives glimpses of his family life and his own beginnings.
The book takes us to Korea and the war there in 1950, with sinking of the ship he was on and his rescue from those icy cold waters. The book follows his career through those years between wars. However, it really grabs the attention of the reader with the details of not only the Admiral's time and service in Vietnam but also provides many insightful tidbits and personal history of those under his command. One those this book focuses on is the war service in Swift Boats of Senator John Kerry. The writing is surprisingly balanced, as the author does actually mention some positive statements and accounts of Kerry. However, there is no way that one can hide the ugly truth. Kerry is raked over in much of this section of the book and later on as well. It provides an interesting back drop to the whole book itself. Admiral Hoffman eventually forms a group of former Swift Boat crew-members who oppose Senator Kerry's bid to become President. This section is well worth the read and might give non-veterans a better understanding of what brought this action about. It might also give some understanding as to why Vietnam veterans in general and Swift Boat veterans in particular, consider Kerry in such low esteem. Some, in fact, consider him to this day - as a traitor.
The author has done an outstanding job creating a book that is both informative and still entertaining. It very well researched, has great photos and maps and is an easy read.
Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2010)