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Roanoke College professor and student collaborate on World War II book

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  • Roanoke College professor and student collaborate on World War II book

  • 02/14/12
  • SALEM, Va. - Dr. Robert Schultz, Fishwick Professor of English, has co-authored a newly released book, We Were Pirates: A Torpedoman's Pacific War. On September 29 at 7:30 p.m., in the Wortmann Ballroom at the Colket Center, the authors will read from their work.

    The work chronicles the Navy's Pacific war, bolstered with eyewitness accounts by Robert Hunt, a torpedoman on the USS Tambor for 12 consecutive war patrols. Schultz and Hunt were neighbors in Iowa for years before the veteran revealed to him his remarkable war experiences.

    Hunt's dozen patrols on the Tambor included stints at Wake Island, Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway, the Philippines, the South China Sea and off the coast of Japan. He survived several life-threatening attacks, including a harrowing 17-hour ordeal at the bottom of the East China Sea, under assault by a Japanese destroyer. For his service, Hunt received a special letter of commendation from Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.

    At Schultz's request, Hunt worked for a year, writing down his memories, including stories of the sometimes-unbridled revelry of onshore liberty between patrols. He presented Schultz with over 200 pages of notes, and he also shared a diary, photographs and memorabilia with the professor.

    When Schultz left Iowa to accept the Fishwick professorship at Roanoke College, he met freelance writer James Shell, a nontraditional student in two classes that Schultz was teaching. Shell took an interest in the project, and a faculty-student collaboration began.

    We Were Pirates relies on several sources, principally Hunt himself. In addition, Schultz and Shell researched other war histories and official naval records and reports. Shell took on the task of editing Hunt's notes and aided with drafting and revision. Schultz says that Shell is the principal author of several chapters and that his work "was invaluable in keeping the project moving forward."

    "We Were Pirates" is an important addition to the catalogue of World War II books because Hunt's perspective as an enlisted man offers details not often found in the official records and histories of this era. His 12 consecutives war patrols on a single boat far exceeded the average tour of duty, and thus his recollections offer a continuity of viewpoint that is missing from many accounts.

    Schultz is also the author of The Madhouse Nudes, a novel, and Winter in Eden, a book of poetry.

    Roanoke College, an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a classic, undergraduate setting. Roanoke prepares students for their futures through its commitment to providing a true classic college experience. Roanoke is one of just 276 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast."

  • Public Relations
  • (540) 375-2282
  • gereaux@roanoke.edu