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The Raft: The Courageous Struggle of Three Naval Airmen Against the Sea

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  471 ratings  ·  76 reviews
On January 16, 1942, three men boarded a single-engine aircraft for an antisubmarine patrol flight. They became lost and when the fuel ran low, they decided to ditch into the Pacific. Before they could inflate their life raft, the plane sank beneath them, carrying with it most of the survival gear. Thirty-four days later the raft landed on an atoll in the Danger Islands, h ...more
Audiobook, 0 pages
Published December 3rd 2005 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1942)
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Start your review of The Raft: The Courageous Struggle of Three Naval Airmen Against the Sea
Jason Koivu
Three naval airmen from a downed plane spend over a month in an open raft upon the South Pacific Seas with no food, water or cover from the sun and live to tell the tale. Wow. I need to stop bitching when I get a little sunburn or miss lunch.

This memoir was put together by Robert Trumbull in 1942 soon after Harold Dixon, Gene Aldrich, and Tony Pastula underwent their trying ordeal. It's told from Dixon's perspective. He was the pilot and senior to the other two. He gives his opinions relatively
Dec 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The perfect book to read while solidifying in subzero weather is The Raft by Robert Trumbull. And one look at the cover will suggest that another bite of that fat laden steak is well-worthwhile.

Trumbull retells the story of 3 aviators whose plane went down in the Pacific. They had a rubber raft and little else because the plane sank so quickly. They were adrift for 34 days and traveled over 1,000 miles. The raft was about four by eight feet. It was so small that no one could stretch out. "Imagi
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book as I was cleaning out a bookcase in my parents' home. Mom belonged to the Book-of-the-Month Club during the WW II years, and this 1942 copy still has the review and synopsis by the Club News inside. It is the true story of three US navy-men who took off from a carrier on a bombing mission, ran out of gas, and had to ditch in the ocean somewhere in the South Seas. They, unfortunately, end up in a small rubber raft with no food or water and little else, floundering and supportin ...more
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
I found out about this story when I went to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola where there was a display (replica?) of the raft. This is an amazing, fast-moving story about three airmen who lose their plane in the South Pacific and survive at sea for over a month. I'm always intrigued by survival stories. What makes a survivor? If I were in a similar situation, would I survive? Why don't people give up? I mean, I'm sure that happens, you just don't get to read the story. But do you ...more
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every once and a while one finds things that prove to be a real treasure. I rarely browse this one used book store close by with the hopes of a worthwhile find. This place is a hodgepodge of battered paper backs strewn on overstuffed shelves and collapsing piles, but I have by luck found several unforgettable reads in the past. This one kind of stood out, it was old and yellowed with that musty dry smell of old newspapers, but in pristine condition. In fact I doubt it had ever been read. The pri ...more
Khairul Azlan
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true story about three men staying alive in a small sized raft. After the plane carrying them crashed at the pacific ocean. It is surprising to know how much human can withstand pain and hardship just to stay alive.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The true story of 3 Navy men who survive 34 days in the Pacific with no food.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saw-the-movie
A true, no-nonsense, first-person account of three American soldiers' survival on a raft in the Pacific with zero emergency supplies during WWII. It reminded me quite a bit of Redford's All Is Lost – just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. Six days without water. Two hurricanes. Sharks. One of the more light-hearted moments was when Dixon punched a shark in the face.

We ate perhaps two-thirds of the meat at this one sitting. None of us had a mind to deny ourselves a good bellyful. Th
After seeing the movie (Against the Sun) based on this story, I was intrigued and decided to track down the real story. I thought, surely the movie embellished most of the scenes in the film - surely most of it was fictionalized. It's an excellent movie, by the way - I highly recommend it. Come to find out, the movie was pretty accurate (with the exception of a few things).

Survival/endurance and WWII stories are my favorites, and this one is an absolutely incredible story. I really enjoyed the s
Joanne Fate
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
Three Navy men go down in a plane in the Pacific. It is near the beginning of WWII. They survive 34 days in a raft and lived to tell their remarkable tale. This book (except forward and afterward) was written while the war still raged on so the men weren't allowed to talk about exactly where they went.

This is an Audible Kid's production, which I didn't realize when I bought this. It's an excellent book, except it seems like glossed over war propaganda and therefore I gave it 4 stars. It would b
Kyle J Malinosky
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on a true story, which I found to be quite inspiring of 3 men stuck at sea for 34 day in a raft the size of a claw foot tub.

Overall it was a quick read and found some value in it. Holds the attention and makes you think about what these men actually went through.

Only negative, which is to be expected was I found it to be a little repetitive at some times, but what else are 3 men going to do on a raft for 34 days.

If you make it through the first half of the book, the ending is worth it.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I wanted to compare this book to Unbroken, and it is similar. This book was written by the person that experienced the raft, not by a professional author so the style is pretty straightforward, nothing fancy.
They suffered immensely. They went for days without food or fresh water, but all three men survived. What they suffered could have made them break down, want to harm one another, or simply give up, but they fought to stay alive and positive.
Mortisha Cassavetes
I really loved this book and the vintage writing style was just the thing to add it to my Favorites List of 2020. The story is the true account of the harrowing event that three naval airmen who's plane went down in the Pacific Ocean after running out of fuel and their 34 days at sea in a raft during WWII. What I loved most about this story is how they braved it out together and the forever bond they would have. I highly recommend this book!
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book during COVID-19. After reading what the three men endured as they figured out how to survive for 34 days in the middle of the ocean in a raft not meant for survival I realized I had nothing to complain about. Managing life during COVID-19 is a walk in the park compared to what they endured.

The writing isn't great and sometimes the pilot's attitude toward the gunner and navigator bothered me but I was inspired by their determination and will to survive.
Mickey Tompkins
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic true story about survival, I read this book a few years ago, and even got to see the real lifeboat in person at the National Museum of Naval Aviationin Pensacola, Fl while on vacation.

They made a movie about it "Against The Sun" never seen that though. Give the story a chance, it's one you will never forget.
I own a first edition copyright 1942 edition of The Raft. I could feel the pain, the hunger, and the yearning the author sought to convey to the reader. The book was a hard read for me, yet, with an ending that brought hope and closure.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great, quick read... enjoyed the narration and pace
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging true story of survival adrift on the open sea written in the blunt style of mid-twentieth century pulp fiction. Spoiler alert: around day twelve, bowel movements are discussed.
Read this in High School and enjoyed it a lot back then. Don't know how I would feel about it now though. (Date read is an approximation).
Reporter Robert Trumbull's book "The Raft" tells the story of Harold Dixon, Tony Pastula and George Aldrich. The trio's plane crashed in the ocean during World War II and they floated in a rubber raft for 35 days with a knife, rusting pistol and a couple of life jackets along side them. Their survival is nothing short of a miracle.

Told with sparse, short sentences, the book is not a literary masterpiece. However, the story is very readable and engrossing. There are loads of better written surviv
I didn't realize this was a re-release of a nonfiction book from the early 1940s when I picked it up at the library. If i had known, I might have missed out on learning about this 70 years ago headline catching news story. What an amazing story of survival!

Wiki: Three downed U.S. Navy fliers from the USS Enterprise landed on Pukapuka in February 1942.[5] Harold Dixon, Gene Aldrich, and Tony Pastula survived 34 days on the open ocean in a tiny 4 by 8 foot (1.2 by 2.4 m) raft, beginning their odys
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw this book mentioned while viewing the actual raft at the NAS museum in Pensacola, FL. It was as fascinating as I had expected, and was different enough from Unbroken, which i also read recently, to still keep my attention. The only reason it lost a star is that the author gives away future facts in several places. For instance, at one point he states, "that was the last food we would have." This changes the intensity of the remaining accounts of fishing and trying to catch birds, if you kn ...more
Brian (Butters)
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Adventure
After reading The Raft, By Robert Trumbull, I leaned that this is a non-fiction book, told in first person point of view about three navy flyers named Gene Aldrich, Tony Pastula and Dixon, the leader with 24 years of navial exprience. Dixon is the piolot of a plane that crashes into the Pacific Ocean. The main storyline entails how Gene, Tony and Dixon survived 34 torching days with the scholdering heat and the shivering cold of night, on a 6 foot by 10 foot piercing yellow raft as bright as the ...more
Apr 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another truly amazing survival story (yes, I've been on a bit of a survival kick lately). A pilot and his two crew members crashed in the Pacific Ocean during WW II. The only thing they managed to get from the plane before it sank, was a 4 X 8' raft. They had no food, water, equipment, etc. and yet they survived for 34 days. It was fascinating to see their resourcefulness in getting food, water, navigation, etc. They eventually made it to an island where the natives helped them to regain their s ...more
May 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Navy philes
I have a passion for true stories of people who were lost at sea and survived. This one is about 3 navy aviators who survived 34 days in a small raft in early 1942. They got lost while on a routine mission and ditched in the ocean. They had little in the way of food and water. They were burned by the hot tropical sun every day. They caught and ate fish, coconuts that floated by in the water, a shark(!) and a bird. They drank animal blood and also learned to wring rainwater out of their clothes f ...more
Dan Walker
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, adventure
Interesting story with a lot of parallels to another raft story, "Unbroken." But I found it an interesting read. The ingenuity and sailing skills of men who have nothing to work with, the challenges of surviving in the open ocean, and how the men dealt with the psychological stress, made it fascinating. In the end they were incredibly fortunate or else God had a plan. The other thought that haunts me is how many other US airmen and sailors perished in the Pacific because they were, in the end, e ...more
Bruce Cline
The Raft, by Robert Trumbull (pp 128), first Printed in 1942. This is the story of three naval aviators that crash landed in the Pacific during a reconnaissance patrol. They spent 34 days with little food and even less water drifting until they landed on an isolated small island and were nursed back to health by native families living there. Exact locations were withheld because of wartime considerations. Not great writing, but might be of interest to those who enjoy survival stories. This story ...more
Nov 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 'Life of Pi' lovers
I read this book off my parent's bookshelf when I was 12. It was the first 'adult' non-fiction book I really read and it was gripping. I'll never forget how intense the experience was and how I totally related with those guys on the raft. I'll never forget it, because it took my love of reading to a whole 'new level'. (How cliche! sorrry, but it did.) When I read "Life of Pi" years later, I remembered this book.
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read this recently out loud to the kids on an RV vacation. I really enjoy this book. I love books from the WW2 era. The book details the journey of three US soldiers whose plane goes down in the South Pacific. They are left alone in the ocean with only a very small life raft, a few very basic items. The story details their fight to survive over multiple weeks adrift at sea through ingenuity and an unwillingness to give up.
A typical survival book (I love survival books) - fascinating to read, but not particularly good literature, but told in a very straightforward manner. The story is of three navy airmen who survive in the Pacific for 34 days with essentially no supplies or food or water. Their survival and the fact they finally find land is hard to imagine.
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“Gene was leaning intently over the side, his knife held ready, dagger fashion. Finally, a shark swam bravely up to him. The knife flashed out and down, and there was a sound like a punch. Gene turned pale. “I—I think I hit the boat,” he said. He held his hand in the water where he had struck. There was a quick, convulsive thrash and Gene’s arm was yanked like a line. “Wait! I got him,” he yelled. He had been fortunate enough to strike the shark in the gill. That, we learned later, was the only spot vulnerable to the little knife. Quickly, but with care, Gene hauled the shark into the boat, using the knife like a hook. Tony again was dozing in the bottom of the boat. The shark landed right on top of him. I haven’t had the experience yet of having a live shark, wet and bleeding, thump me in the ribs while I was half asleep. It nearly scared the wits out of Tony. The yelp of surprise was hardly out of Tony’s mouth, though, when he grasped the whole situation. Like a wrestler, Tony flipped over and slammed all his weight on the struggling sea beast. He concentrated every ounce of his energy on holding down the sinewy, slippery thing.” 1 likes
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