Watch “Greyhound.” Not the dogs in La Marque, but in the north Atlantic in February 1942. Based on C.S. Forester’s, “The Good Shepard,” this is Apple TV’s showing of Tom Hank’s gripping movie of naval warfare during World War II.

Filmed on a real life destroyer, USS Kidd, so much action and emotion are packed into the tiny bridge and Combat Information Center; it’s exhausting.

Code name Greyhound, the Fletcher class swift ship, “herds” 37 tankers and cargo ships in a convoy across the “Pit” the sea where there was no aircraft coverage for a long 50 hours. The supplies keep England in the war against the Nazis. No cargo, no survival of democratic freedom.

On his first command, Tom Hanks character is a father figure to 300 19-year-old sailors while playing a deadly complex match with eight enemy U-boats — the wolf pack. Sailors portray Galveston’s Neal Van Dussen, who joined the Navy at 17, and “did his job” on a destroyer escort.

Neal was recognized during the last Veterans Day ceremony at Seawolf Park where his story was told by Mayor Pro Tem Craig Brown.

Watching the movie, you feel the cold spray, smell the smoke, hear the screaming, feel the ship’s never-ending motion and are touched by the sailor’s faces with Academy Award-winning emotions, fear, courage and thrills. If you weren’t in the Navy, you may wonder what the heck is going on, the jargon is fast and furious.

“I have the con,” “target bearing 087 degrees,” “come around to 320 degrees,” “ready K-guns,” all while guns blast and the ship is rocking. Meanwhile, down in the combat information center, the executive officer, the XO, draws on a circular table each ship’s is location while the sonar man listens to propellers calling out information viewing the primitive radar, which sometimes works.

“Hit the deck, sailor” was my wakeup call from commander dad. Uncle Wally shared stories from his 14 trips across the Pacific in convoys.

“Greyhound” puts on display the deadly underwater warfare, which played the critical difference in WWII.

Galveston has the only museum in the world where there’s beautifully restored submarine, and a destroyer escort, who’s mission was to sink submarines side by side. Plaques and docents, many of whom will teach you the jargon, as they were sailors, provide an enhanced visitor experience to all ages.

Visitors stand where gun crews manually handled rounds, just like USS Stewart plank owner Chief Rudy Biro, who just turned 98, explains on a sound box. You stand on the bow and smell the sea.

The country could come together and celebrate this movie by visiting our memorial. But wait, the Galveston Park Board has closed the Galveston Naval Museum.

What a loss for veterans, their families, schoolchildren and groups who have the sleepovers onboard experience with programs. Disgracefully, the civilian park board is keeping the Cavalla Historical Foundation Board, many former naval officers, from completing asbestos repairs and safely reopening the museum. For more information, visit

Alvin L. Sallee is president and CEO of the Cavalla Historical Foundation.


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(2) comments

Don Schlessinger

I haven't seen "Grayhound" yet but intend to. What a shame the inept PB refuses to cooperate with knowledgeable people regarding Seawolf Park so that job can be finished. Maybe if it was located on the west end they would take more interest in it.

Carlos Ponce

I wish they would make a movie based on "Torpedoes in the Gulf: Galveston and the U-Boats, 1942-1943" by Melanie Wiggins


At the beginning of America's involvement in World War II, Galveston Island was a recreation center for area servicemen. Every evening throngs of soldiers, sailors, and Marines strolled along the seawall, basking in the warm sun and soft gulf breezes. Red, pink, and white oleanders bloomed in all their glory, sea gulls squawked overhead, and gentle waves swished over sandy beaches. It was paradise on earth.

Small wonder that German U-boat commanders couldn't believe their eyes when they stealthily entered the Gulf of Mexico that year. All navigational lights glowed, and towns and cities along the coast shone brightly, illuminating every American ship traveling by. On Galveston Island the summer tourist season had just begun when Harro Schacht, commander of U-507, sailed up to the mouth of the Mississippi River and blew up eight ships.

Catching Americans totally unprepared for a Gulf attack, twenty-four German submarines entered the Gulf of Mexico between 1942 and 1943 and attacked both American and Allied ships, sinking fifty-six merchant ships and damaging fourteen more. In May, 1942 alone, the blitz of the "Gulf Sea Frontier" gave German U-boats their greatest victories to that date in the war. From then until peace in 1944, Allied shipping in the Gulf sailed freely, secure from attack—but not until this surprising onslaught raised national patriotism to new heights and brought the war so close to home.

Based on interviews with U.S. Navy, Merchant Marine, and German U-boat veterans, translated war diaries, and declassified military documents, Torpedoes in the Gulf tells a fascinating personal story with two sides. Readers will marvel at behind-the-scenes accounts of German U-boat spy maneuvers and as Galvestonians, fearing for their lives, raced to fortify their island, convinced at last that they were truly at war.

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