This is Latch The Story of Rear Admiral Roy F. Hoffman

Weymouth D. Symmes

(529 pages)

Reviewer:  James Mullins

Overall Rating: Four Stars--Highly Recommended. An excellent book.

Weymouth D. Symmes’, “This is Latch The Story of Rear Admiral Roy F. Hoffmann”, provides a detailed and exciting look at a real “navy type” hero. He comes across as an understanding, compassionate, true leader of men who knows how to get the best out of them by example, by giving them a great deal of responsibility early in their careers and handing out compliments or “a kick in the ass” as he did on one memorable occasion to a watch officer on the bridge who was not paying close attention to his duties.

He started his career as an enlisted man in the V-12 Officer Program, graduated from Notre Dame in NROTC Program and went aboard USS QUICK (DD-490), which was converted to a high speed destroyer minesweeper during his service. On several ships during his career he observed what makes a good officer in relationship with other officers and the enlisted men. He soon realized that it was the chief petty officers and long service enlisted men that ran the navy, a message he never forgot.

Discharged after the end of WWII and the draw down of men, he stayed in the reserves. This led to his call back during the Korean War and service in the USS HUBBARD, the USS CROMWELL—serving as commanding officer, a tour at the Naval War College and skipper of USS CHARLES F. ADAMS (DDG-2).

The next assignment is the crux of the book, while he served as commander of Task Force 115 comprised of minesweepers, LSTs and mostly fast small craft swift boats, Coast Guard cutters, some SEALS and US Army, Marines and Vietnamese troops that either supported or were supported by the boats. The story of their near suicidal trips up long, narrow creeks gives a hair-raising story of this kind of war that was fought against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. The last portion of the book deals with the formation of the Swift Boat Association and their battle against John Kerry’s run for president.

An interesting aspect of the book is the author’s reporting with exacting detail the mood of the country prior to World War II as well as the radio programs, books we read and movies we watched. He continues this type of report throughout the book. Old Tin Can Sailors will recognize many officer types, both good and bad, and also various types of shipmates.


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