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The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-Boats by William Geroux

Duration: 
(01:00:44)

On October 6, 2016, William Geroux delivered a Banner Lecture entitled “The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-Boats.”

In his book, The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-Boats, author William Geroux uses the experiences of merchant mariners from Mathews County, Virginia, to tell the largely forgotten story of the heroics and sacrifices of the U.S. Merchant Marine in World War II. Mathews, a rural outpost on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, had been a cradle of merchant sea captains and mariners since before the American Revolution. When America entered World War II in December 1941, Mathews mariners were scattered on ships throughout the war zones, and they became prime targets for German U-boats trying to choke off the Allied supply line. Mathews mariners faced U-boats in the North and South Atlantic, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean, and Indian Ocean, and even the icy Barents Sea in the Arctic Circle. Some died terrible deaths. Others survived torpedo explosions, flaming oil slicks, storms, shark attacks, and harrowing lifeboat odysseys—only to ship out again as soon as they’d returned to safety. Nearly every family in Mathews County had a personal stake in the U-boat war, and none had a greater stake than the family of Capt. Jesse and Henrietta Hodges and their seven sons, who would experience the war in all its horrors and triumphs.

William Geroux was a newspaper reporter for more than thirty years, mostly with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He also has worked for Maersk, one of the world's largest commercial shipping companies. He is the author of The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-Boats.