The book begins with Helena's story in January of 1943. Since Strong didn't pull into Guadalcanal until February 7th, they aren't part of the story at this point. It isn't until April of 1943 that these ships are brought together in port at Tulagi, into Task Force 36.1. Shortly after being brought together with the rest of the task force, they engage and help to sink Japanese submarines in the area. They were also together during mine laying operations in the Blackett Strait on the evenings of May 13th and 14th. Mr. Domagalski does a good job of detailing these operations and I can find corroborating documentation with what I have on Strong.
Domagalski mentions the formation of the CIC, or command information center, as being an integral part of planning and strategy for operations in the Pacific theater. First used in early 1943, it was an area of the ship's superstructure designated for collecting radio reports, performing radar plots and analyzing and interpreting data. Since this was my great-uncle Billy's area on Strong, I enjoyed reading about the operations and learning more about his duties.
While reading Captain Wellings letters, he mentions stops in port, but in his letters could not be specific. One of his favorite things was to go to the beach early in the morning and get in a swim before breakfast. He also talks about playing softball with the enlisted men, officers verses and such, but I was never sure where they were. In the book, Domagalski talks about Paradise Beach on Espiritu Santo, just a short walk through the jungle from port. There was also space nearby for volleyball, horse shoes, baseball and softball. A small nearby island had a recreation center for the men to visit. They would get their two chits for beer and head off for a good time. There were also movies at night while in port at Espiritu Santo. Tulagi was also a port of call, but didn't have quite the same facilities.
And just like the sailors of Strong, the men of Helena were lonely, homesick and desperate for mail from home. Thankfully Captain Wellings wrote home often, and because of this I have some wonderful personal insights on his time away at sea.
The only other book I've seen that covers the ordeal of Strong is Into the Shadows Furious by Brian Altobello. Altobello mentions my great-uncle in his book and mentions the fact that he and his superior officer Lt. Jetton and the fact that they didn't make it off the ship. He also details the 43 days Hugh Barr Miller, Jr. spent on Arundel Island.. These books are well worth your time and effort to read. The more new books come out with information on Strong, the better chance we have of seeing something truly happen to tell her story. Mr. Domagalski will be doing some book promotion next year, but currently only has three dates for events: January 26th, 2013 in Huntley, Illinois; March 13-14th, Washington, D.C. Details are here: http://www.amazon.com/John-J.-Domagalski/e/B003TSV8H4/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1#/ref=la_B003TSV8H4_st?qid=1346204653&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_82%3AB003TSV8H4&sort=daterank
If you are in those areas or have the opportunity to go hear him speak, it would be a great experience. I've contacted him via email, and he was kind enough to share some of the documents he found pertaining to Strong. More data for my personal archives!
Off to finish the book and learn more about the men of Helena!