Gause, Damon J. 1915(?)-1944
GAUSE, Damon J. 1915(?)-1944
PERSONAL: Born c. 1915, in GA; died in a flight training accident March 9, 1944, in Beaulieu, England; buried in Cambridge American Cemetery in England; married Ruth Carter, 1941; children: Damon Jr.
CAREER: Army Air Corps fighter pilot.
The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause, introduction by son, Damon L. Gause, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1999.
SIDELIGHTS: The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause "sounds like a movie pilot," wrote Jana Adams in the Jackson Herald. During World War II, "Gause escaped his Japanese captors in the Philippines by killing a sentry and swimming three miles toward safety, only to be recaptured. He escaped again, this time into the jungle with another prisoner, and sailed in a native boat 3,200 miles to safe harbor in Australia." Indeed, film rights to the work were secured as of 1999 with Miramax Films.
The War Journal "presents that story in [Major Damon's] . . . own words as he wrote it shortly after he returned to the United States. . . . The tale he's left us has the feel of that moment when America was desperate for heroes, and reading it now is as much a trip back in time as it is a journey across the dark Sulu sea," wrote Christopher Dickey in the New York Times Book Review. The journal was reportedly found in a foot locker by Damon's son, Damon L. Gause, Jr., and was published on Veteran's Day, 1999. Gause was killed in a training accident in 1944.
"The author's repeated reference to 'japs' and 'nips' and his description of the Japanese conquerors as 'victorycrazed sadistic devils' may offend readers of a more ethnically sensitive era," noted a Publishers Weekly critic, "but despite these lapses and his merely workmanlike prose, the drama of the events described will hold readers' attention." "[W]hat a book," claimed Mike Buffington in the Jackson Herald. "Although I first read the raw journal about 15 years ago, I was still amazed when I read the book again. . . . It is a story of courage and survival set against the backdrop of the century's greatest conflict. . . . On its face, the book is one man's story, but at a deeper level it also reflects much about this nation and its struggles during the last 100 years." Dickey concluded: "What really drove Rocky Gause? We're not going to know. But one thing's for sure. He'd be just the kind of man you'd want around if you were hoping to try a great escape."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Jackson Herald, May 13, 1998, Jana Adams, "Bidding Battle: Gause's War Journal Sought by Publish ers"; February 17, 1999, "Gause's 'War Journal' Headed for Silver Screen"; October 20, 1999, Angela Gary, "Gause's Book to be Available Veteran's Day"; November 10, 1999, Mike Buffington, "Gause Book Is a Veteran's Day Tribute."
New York Times Book Review, January 23, 2000, Christopher Dickey, "The Great Escape," p. 25.
Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1999, review of The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause, p. 60.