Sunday, October 16, 2016

Citizen Grouch book review: "Alone Orphaned on the Ocean"

The other day I saw a reference on the internet to a drama at sea that occurred in 1961 in which an 11 year old girl was found floating in a float in the ocean and was rescued by a Greek freighter.  The picture of the girl in the tiny cork float intrigued me and I needed to find out about the whole story.

The story of Terry Joe Duperrault and the murder of her family while on a sailing vacation around the Bahamas is told in "Alone: orphaned on the ocean" by Richard Logan and Tere (Terry Joe) Duperrault Fassbender.

The book is a slim publication and can be read in a couple of hours.  I was able to find it at the city library.

The book tells the story of a sailing vacation that turned into a murderous nightmare when the captain of the hired sailing schooner killed his wife who was also on the schooner, the parents of Terry Joe, and her two siblings leaving Terry Joe to go down with the ship when the captain scuttled it to hide the evidence of his crime.  She survived (as did he) and floated alone for 4 days on a cork life float meant to act the same as a life ring and not as a raft before being rescued by a passing cargo ship.  Terry Jo was near death and even another hour may have been the end of her.  Only her survival kept the murder from getting away with his crime.

The book isn't especially well written but the story it tells of the captain Julian Harvey, WW2 pilot and decorated hero and the Duperarrault family is engrossing no matter the skill of the author.  The trauma that Terry Jo suffered after her rescue and the number of failed marriages that she went through as an adult are sad to read of.

An amazing connection for me when reading the book was to learn that Harvey, during his WW2 service was the pilot of a B-24 bomber that was intentionally ditched in a river to determine the bomber's ability to withstand a water landing, something very common during the war, particularly in the Pacific theater.  The image of the bomber ditching test is rather famous and I had recently viewed it in a book about the B-24 that the Missus gave me.

That the pilot of this aircraft went on to murder at 7 people in his lifetime is unfathomable.

Another interesting bit of information that came from the book is that because of the Terry Jo going unnoticed by search aircraft who cris-crossed over her as she drifted on a white float that blended with the ocean's whitecaps, all personal floatation devices have since then been rescue orange in color.  Prior to that they could be any color that the manufacturer decided.

I recommend this book as an amazing tale of a young girl's determination to survive and her struggle and ultimate success to find peace and lasting love in her life.

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