Rich Lowry's compelling book review ("The immortal Indianapolis," Aug. 21) prompted these comments.

I was generally aware of the sinking of the Judy, but I wanted the full story. I put the pedal to the metal and headed for Barnes and Noble. Money well spent. It's a fascinating read.

Before WWII, with the country gearing up for the war which was coming, my dad moved the young family to Vallejo on the east San Francisco Bay. He worked on Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

About 40,000 men and women (think Rosie the Riveter) worked around the clock building submarines and when the war started, repairing war ships. My dad worked as a pipe fitter. Sure enough, when I reached page 63 of the book, the author writes of the pipe fitters, electricians, metal workers and others who kept our shipping in the war.

I started school in Vallejo, and by the time I was 8-years-old in August 1945, I had many memories of those war years on the home front. On pay days, my dad would take me on the launch over to Mare Island for his check. Barrage balloons were over the base with sea planes circling high above. Rationing was in effect. Blackouts were common. Kilroy was here and signs were everywhere.

You could feel the patriotism of Vallejo residents. Mom ran an around-the-clock boarding house for ship yard workers. I remember a war bound rally when the main attraction was a shot-down Japanese Zero, pulled by a tractor onto a high school football field.

We had put aside our isolationism after Pearl Harbor, and with American resolve, set out to win a war. Unlike today, we were a united people. America is great. It has always been great. We need leaders from both parties who will work together to keep us great. John McCain, a true war hero, was a shining example. He will be sorely missed, as will former President George H. W. Bush.

Jim Smith, Bakersfield