Three Years Aboard a Navy Destroyer
by Otis Ted Holly

This book is a sea story about a U.S. Navy destroyer and her crew. The author served on this ship, the USS Brush (DD745), for 3 years and 2 months in the early 1950's. Life on the Brush involved a lot of sea duty. She spent most of this time at sea either conducting training exercises off the coast of California or steaming around somewhere in the Far east. The Brush made 3 seven month cruises to the Orient while the author was aboard her. The main objective of this book, and the reason for writing it, was to tell about what the crew of the Brush experienced on these 3 cruises. The first cruise was made in early 1953. The Brush was sent to the Korean War theatre and spent several months there doing what destroyers do during war time. The men experienced things off North Korea that they will never forget. In addition to the Korean Patrol, the Brush participated in the Formosa Patrol for a month or so and went to the island city of Hong Kong while she was down that way. The second cruise was made in May, 1954. On this cruise, the brush spent most of her time in the South China Sea, Formosa Strait, and in the Sea of Japan. The Brush commenced the third cruise in June, 1955. This was more of a peace time cruise and we never had to go into harm's way. Although, the author had a number of interesting personal experiences which he wrote about.

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Comments by people who have read the book, 'Three Years Aboard A Navy Destroyer'

As the son of one of the USS Brush’s skippers identified in Ted Holly’s book, I was particularly fascinated to read of his and his shipmates’ many and varied experiences during their three Far East cruises. His folksy stories of a young man’s explorations of the vastness of the oceans, the wonders of the orient, and the uncertainties of combat are told in a detailed and entertaining style offering multiple layers of insight to life aboard a “tin can” in the 1950’s. In addition to his prose, Mr. Holly has included many photographs and maps which enhance and elucidate the storytelling. It is a terrific read for anyone interested in the naval service in general and the “unforgotten” Korean War in particular.

Dennis Quigley
Captain, USMC (Retired)

…the straightforward and unglossed memories of a young sailor, out of high school and soon into a U.S. destroyer, “greyhound of the seas”. Ted Holly was everybody’s favorite sailor, squared away with a great attitude in a key job around the nerve center of a 2200 tonner loaded for whatever kind of scrap. This book is an honest snapshot of the times, the people, and the ships that sailed to the Korean Conflict.

Ted Brown
LT., USNR (Retired)
New Hampshire

This book, Three Years Aboard A Navy Destroyer, vividly recounts typical destroyer, i.e. USS BRUSH DD745, operations during the final days of the Korea War and the transition into post war routine operations. It accurately reports destroyer actions against North Korean trains, sinking of floating mines with rifle fire, the Wonsan Harbor actions and support of Korean Forces engaged in clandestine operations.

It also provides a typical sailor’s view and experiences of the liberty ports in Japan and the exotic Hong Kong as a British Colony. And the author returns to Japan 29 years later and gives an interesting comparison of his experiences and the differences that he observed between his first trip and the 1982 trip.

The BRUSH was my first duty station after being commissioned in June 1951 until my transfer in November 1953. So I shared with the author the destroyer actions described. I was amazed that he was able to capture these events in so much detail and I enjoyed remembering the details of these events.

Herbert O. Burton
Captain, USN (Retired)
North Carolina

Three Years Aboard A Navy Destroyer is a marvelous account of the experience of the author as a young sailor during a period that few, since the days of World War II, have had the opportunity to share. While certainly many have sailed the seas, and some have encountered hostile action, this account fills the gap for those who have not had such an experience. Ted Holly communicates in the language of the sailor his experience that draws the reader into such that it is as if he (or she) is there. He captures the attention of the reader and presents an engaging account of the experiences of life aboard a 2200 ton vessel, which is missing all of the comforts of the cruise ship, from the periods of relative boredom to the periods of action with live ammunition.

Rev. Ralph H. Spiller, Jr., PhD, LMHC
CWO3, USN (Retired)

Ted Holly’s book is remarkable at several levels. First, he treats a subject from his own experience that is not often considered – life on an American destroyer during the Korean War. Further, he lends authenticity to his narrative through the painstaking process of obtaining and relying on the actual ship’s logs, day by day throughout his entire tenure aboard the USS Brush. Added to that, he, as a quartermaster, was well-placed to hear and see much of what was happening aboard the ship.

Ted includes exhaustive details on some of the high points of the ship’s experience, the shell hit in Wonsan Harbor and the attack on the submarine as examples.

Even for we who were aboard during much of the time covered in the book, some of the events were revelations. We either remembered them differently or not at all, or in less detail, but must defer to Ted’s account because of his reliance on the logs. Therefore, for any member of the crew during that period, Ted’s book is an enjoyable and enlightening read.

Don Gordon
RD 3/C, USN (Retired)
North Carolina

Great book! As a “Destroyer Sailor” aboard the USS DeHaven during the Korean War, I can testify Ted has written a fine book about his navy years aboard the USS Brush. If you are a navy destroyer sailor reading this book, then get ready to relive an exciting experience. I can recommend Ted’s book to anyone interested in ships, shipboard life, and even to one who has never been to sea. An outstanding experience.

Bill Williams
YN 2/C, USN (Retired)

This is a well-written true story of a young man’s growing up in the Ocala National Forest (Florida) during his teen years and subsequent entry into the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He served on board a navy destroyer engaged in close-in shelling of North Korean coastal defenses, dodging North Korean gunfire and mines, rescuing downed pilots from missions over North Korea, experiencing inclement weather and encounters with Russian and Chinese naval forces heretofore not mentioned in history of the Korean War – exploits not covered by other authors. Thanks Ted.

Grady E. Reichard
Sgt First Class, USA (Retired)
Korean War Veteran
Second Infantry Division & Seventh Infantry Division; X Corps
August 1950-November 1951 & April 1952-October 1954

I was a little doubtful before I started reading Ted Holly’s book, Three Years Aboard A Navy Destroyer, because being a woman and not at all familiar with the military life, I thought it would be dry, boring reading even though my husband also served in the navy aboard a light cruiser. That was before we met so I knew nothing about that either. Anyway, having known Ted for many years, I dived right in and honestly I could hardly put it down. I was impressed by the down home feeling Ted presented throughout the book, the “country boy come to town” character he was and the complete honesty he presented. The military descriptions were very detailed and understandable. I would recommend the book to anyone.

Joan M. Bryant

After serving four years in the navy, in which three and a half years were aboard a destroyer (USS NOA DD 841), and being a quartermaster as well, I can very well relate to Mr. Ted Holly’s experiences aboard the USS BRUSH DD 745, especially his time at sea and the different sea operations, liberty calls, and duties of a quartermaster. I felt like I was there with him on board the USS BRUSH. I encourage all past and present navy personnel to read Mr. Holly’s book. From cover to cover, a great naval experience.

Richard Bundschuh
QM3, USN (Retired)

I served aboard the USS Brush DD 745 from June 1951 to February 1955. I served in the afterfire room as a BT3, Petty Officer 3rd class boiler tender.

I have read this book and can vouch for what Ted Holly has written to be very accurate to life on a WWII destroyer during the Korean War. If you have never served in the navy it will give you a bird’s eye view of the life on board a naval fighting ship. If you have served in the navy, but on a different type of ship, and have always wondered what it would have been like to serve on a Tin Can, this book will give you what that day by day life was like, sometimes very boring and sometimes very, very interesting and full of excitement.

Any time a battleship or an aircraft carrier was going to be further than 12 miles from the U.S. coast they would have one or more destroyer around them to intercept any torpedoes as the U.S. Government said the destroyer is expendable compared to a battleship or carrier, and we all knew that. But when you are 18 to 20 years old you have no fear and are gung ho for anything.

Hope you enjoy reading the book.

Russell Maxwell
BT 3/C, USN (Retired)

It is an enlightening story of life aboard a U.S. Navy warship. It is constant training drills, firing guns, submarine hunting practice, and guarding aircraft carriers. It is threaded with leaves at home, shore leaves, the pleasure of meeting foreign people and appreciating their beautiful countries. The friendship of shipmates helped the crew to survive the perils of war. The horror of war, although not forgotten, gradually becomes overshadowed by fond memories. Three Years Aboard A Navy Destroyer is a must read. I enjoyed it and recommend it.

Ms. Patricia Farrell

It was a pleasure to read this book by Ted Holly, which brought back a host of memories of my time in the U.S. Navy. My three years on the same ship as Ted’s, the USS BRUSH DD 745, paralleled his within a few months, and we stood many bridge watches together. The book highlights experiences like liberty in interesting ports, quick responses to hostile action, and of course, the significant boredom of eventless hours of patrolling or station keeping in the task force. All in all, the book was a refreshing journey into the joys of cruising the ocean aboard a sleek, gray ocean liner of the U.S. fleet.

W.A. (Robbie) Robbins
LT JG, USN (Retired)

Otis Holly’s book brought back vivid memories of 50+ years ago! During and after the Korean War, I was one of the USS Brush officers who stood Officer-of-the-Deck watches in control of the ship, on the ship’s bridge. Quartermaster Holly’s duty station was on the bridge where he saw and assisted with the maneuvering of the Brush day by day in many different situations and weather conditions.

This book will help younger generations, whose fathers or grandfathers served on destroyers during WWII or the Korean War, better understand the military portion of the older generation’s life experiences.

Larry Cates
LT., USNR (Retired)

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, Three Years Aboard A Navy Destroyer, and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about real, authentic military experiences.

Ronald A. Hurst
LT. CDR, USN (Retired)

Extremely interesting reading from the view point of how a naval ship operates and the most personal narratives of Mr. Holly’s life from youth to naval duty. Great for the naval history buff.

Joe Cangelosi
WO3, USA (Retired)
Vietnam Veteran

After reading the book about life on the USS Brush, I had a greater appreciation for the sacrifices that the men and women who serve in not only the navy but in all military branches make to keep our country free.

Dixie Valentine
Wife of Joseph J. Valentine, GM 2/C, who served aboard the USS Brush

It was interesting as well as enlightening to finally learn of the experiences my brother had while he was in the navy during the time of the Korean “conflict”. Very well written and enjoyable.

Fay Rogers