Durham, North Carolina
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What Rotten Eggs – Overcoming severe isolation
A tale of people and challenges
August 26, 2022
Members of the Armed Forces can expect to experience stress, depression, and even homesickness. The first experience is usually in boot camp for enlisted personnel and at academies or officer candidate schools for commissioned officers. Following these initial experiences one can also expect an undesirable assignment—the worst, of course, being combat.
Before reading this book, it may be helpful to put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist, a Coast Guard officer named Roy Fisher. He is in his mid-twenties, experienced as a junior officer on a large cutter (as all USCG ships are designated) and as the commanding officer of a small cutter. Roy has been assigned as commanding officer of an isolated USCG transmitting station on the famous WWII island of Iwo Jima. [During this period there were many similar stations around the world. Some were in remote places like Iwo Jima, but some were in very nice locations where families could accompany the men.]
Roy’s command includes over 40 other Coast Guardsmen, all male and all unaccompanied—their wives, sweethearts, and family will not be seeing these men during their one-year tour of duty on the island. Aside from three senior enlisted men (perhaps in their 30s), the crew members are in their teens and twenties. Such a situation can lead to the aforementioned stress, depression, and homesickness. And sometimes a little off-the-wall behavior.
In this book, White tells the story of the struggle to meet the challenges facing the young commanding officer throughout his year-long tour of duty on the station. There are cases of insanity, recklessness, threats, and a superior officer with a vendetta. This is added to the normal need to maintain morale among a group of men who clearly would rather be somewhere else.
The book is fiction, but is no doubt based on the actual experiences of the author. Names are changed and events possibly inflated in their severity, but there is every possibility that this fiction mirrors the facts of life at this type of isolated station.
One adjustment that younger readers may find necessary is to place themselves in the time period of this book—the early 1960s. The only means of communicating with the folks back home were via very slow seagoing mail or through ‘phone patches’ of limited duration via ham radio. Think of the limited ways for the crew to spend their spare time: exercising, reading, 16mm movies once daily at most, perhaps self-study of one kind or another. Then, of course there is the prevalent odor of rotten eggs generated by the many sulfur pits on the island—hence, the title of the book.
August 26, 2022
| Verified Purchase
Intriguing story. How one man’s perseverance led his team to a higher standard when being confronted by many obstacles.
A good read.
Very interesting, easy read. Enjoyed the story line.
July 10, 2022
Kept my attention and was curious how it would end. I recommend to all readers.
June 28, 2022
An interesting story and good read
I really loved this book. I loved this book so much that I finished reading it in a day and half.
The book starts off with Fisher arriving on Iwo Jima with the military men are wearing flip flops working in T shirts with no regard to military protocol. Instead of having the commander of the base train him over the next couple of weeks, the commander is on a plane within a day and gone. The first day that Fisher is in charge, somebody wants to kill him, somebody else has a nervous breakdown, and somebody is building a raft to escape off the Island to visit his girlfriend in Japan.
This story shows how Fisher takes command and eventually whips the base into shape with a whole series up anecdotes. Running through the story is the mystery as to why the big commander hates him so much and tries to give him poor reports for his handling of the base. There definitely is some internal sabotage because they find jars filled with cockroaches that were released when the commander came for his inspection.
You eventually learn who the person on his staff is who is sabotaging and the reason why the commander wants Fisher to get poor reviews. The isolation and loneliness of the base in the 1960’s is understandable and the background of Iwo Jima in World War Two all add to the rich texture of the book.
I think this would make a great movie. Until the movie comes out, I recommend you read the book.
Submitted by Jean Grenning 6/27/22
On Website Together We Served
During World War II, the Coast Guard built its LORAN, or long-range navigation systems, a network of land-based transmitting stations that would give military ships and aircraft a means of accurately navigating to their destinations. After the war, the LORAN became the primary means by which the entire world navigated the oceans. LORAN stations were built wherever there was local support for them, but those who worked at these remote locations often found themselves far from home, isolated, and lonesome. The LORAN on Iwo Jima was operated by the Coast Guard from World War II until it was taken over by the Japanese government in 1994. Coast Guard veteran Daniel M. White’s book “What Rotten EGGS” is a fictional work based on true stories about USCG LORAN during the period after the Second World War.The book follows a Coast Guard Lieutenant as he begins a tour as the new commanding officer of the LORAN Station on Iwo Jima, Japan. While he wasn’t sure what to expect on the remote and desolate island, he never could have predicted the weird happenings and the challenges he would face. In just his first week of command, one crew member went insane, another threatened to knife him in his sleep, and the third tried to sail off the island in an oil drum raft, attempting to make the 700-mile journey to Tokyo. The new commander was also woken at 0400 on his first Saturday night to handle a sailor that was threatening to kill people in the bar. He got the situation under control but came close to getting blasted with a sawed-off shotgun. When the base doctor gets seriously injured, the lieutenant must act as the base doctor. Amid all these challenges, he learns that one of his men is a mole. At first, the lieutenant believes his crew is a bunch of rotten eggs. As he gains experience and gets to know the men better, he realizes that isolation is the real enemy.Daniel M. White was born in 1938 in New York City. He graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1962. His first assignment was as a communications officer on USCGC Pontchartrain, based in Long Beach, California. In his long Coast Guard career, White also served as commanding officer of the LORAN Station on Iwo Jima when it was under USCG control.After military service, he spent thirty years in the high-tech industry. He worked for both IBM and Apple Computer. He is retired and lives with his wife in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He has three grown daughters and five grandchildren.White’s book comes at a time when much of the world is still dealing with the problems that arose from being isolated from friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. In the book, the Coast Guard leadership tries many things to reduce boredom and improve morale and mental health, but most efforts fail. It’s a poignant reminder that humans need one another to survive, mentally and physically.
Then the base leaders try one last time to curb the boredom and fix the psychological issues that are impacting the Coast Guardsmen, which becomes a silver bullet. Readers will just have to find out what that is by reading the book.
The hard copy of “What Rotten EGGS” is $27.00 and can be purchased at Dorrance Publishing or on Amazon.
Should be read by all that served on loran
I just read Daniel White’s excellent book “What Rotten Eggs”.
I served 22 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, one of those years was on a Loran Station on an island south of Sicily Italy, Lampedusa. We had 18 Coasties on the station.
Daniel’s book was a different time and place with different people but it was so similar to my year of experience that it transported me back to 1981/2. This well written book covered the good times, bad times and a whole lot of crazy that happens when you isolate people from family and friends for a year. All the different personalities that blend together, most of the time, to become a “crew”. After my year of Loran duty, I came away with a few lifelong friends and many memories. Thank you Daniel for this excellent book and bringing those memories to life. I recommend “What Rotten Eggs” to all Loranimals and anyone interested in rarely discussed life on U.S. Coast Guard Loran Stations.
Keith Phillips CWO4(ENG) USCG Retired
Edward Pat Kehoe
Edward Pat Kehoe November 17, 2022 at 3:25pm
Dan White tells it so we all can relate
I sent for and received Daniel M. White’s Book “What Rotten Eggs?” I just finished reading it last night and I could really relate to it. I was a SN when I was on Attu in 1962-1963 and the stories he told were so true! I wanted to be a Yeoman, but I couldn’t touch type. I took the YN-3 course and set a goal to keep going on the courses and finished the YNC course before I left Attu. The Coast Guard came out with a PE Test that we were required to do each quarter. A bunch of us got together and started doing the test daily. Another bunch of us got together and decided to make a map of the Reeves Aleutian Airways Air Route. We copied it off a matchbook cover. Bob Reeves, the president f the airlines flew out from Anchorage 1800 miles to see it. Attitude was the key to having a successful time on the island and Dan White tells it in a way that most of us can relate to. My honorable discharge said YN-3!
Thank You Dan White!!!
It’s been 42 years to the day since I landed on Iwo Jima, Japan. No one shot at me, but it was crazy and chaotic nonetheless. I recently became acquainted with LT Daniel White, USCG and his book “What Rotten Eggs”. It’s a piece of historical fiction (though not much fiction!) and certainly worth your time. He was the commander on Iwo JIma in 1962, so 60 years ago. Read about how things changed and still remained the same. Also it’s an interesting comparison of life in command versus life at the very bottom of the heap.
A Tasty Omelet
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 26, 2022
Excellent read! Really keep my attention – I couldn’t put the book down. As a former USCG Loran Station Commanding Officer I could easily relate to the experiences of Ltjg Roy Fisher. Isolated Loran station duty is a unique and challenging experience. In many ways it’s a make or break year for many of the officers and crew assigned to these remote stations. Many a young junior officer had their eggs scrambled during their year as a Loran Station CO. This is a timely book which honors the service of these dedicated young men now that duty on a remote Loran station is a thing of the past. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has served on any remote unit whether it be military or civilian.
I just finished your book and I really enjoyed it. It brought back memories to the point where I was dreaming about my year on Marcus Island. Well done sir.
Aside from a year of isolated duty we have IBM in common. After leaving the USCG in 83 I worked at IBM Poughkeepsie for 33 years and retired just last year.
Well done sir.
From someone who spent a year on an isolated Loran Station in 80’s the stories brought back a flood of memories of that best of times, worst of times year that seemed to never end. I was an enlisted man and just had to manage myself. What this book did was give the reader the perspective of the CO and how his position added another level of isolated loneliness. The stories which may seem fictional at times are all too possible when a group of young men are removed from society and dropped on a remote Island. A great read and a tribute to a now almost forgotten USCG tour of duty. BZ Lt White.
Excellent – Caught it all
Reviewed in the United States on February 2, 2023
I was on 2 LORAN stations in the early 70’s. Great memories for me but a good read for those that did not spend a year + of their lives in this environment. I was enlightened and I experienced it….don’t miss out on reading this. Thank you Mr. White
An Excviting cliff hanger suspensful book that is a must read
Reviewed in the United States on January 26, 2023
Having served at multiple USCG Loran Stations and spending time at Iwo Jima, this book was scary in its accuracy. I couldn’t put it down and had several times where I thought I knew the ending and a big curve at the end. It’s well written and recommended as life on Isolated or remote duties and the challenges.
Life Changing Experience on an Isolated Island
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