“A Sea Story: The Untold Story of the US Navy Response to 9/11” by Joseph Pignataro and Barry AA Dillinger

The author is the protagonist in this recounting of what happened on a Navy ship in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Pignataro changed all names except his own, which makes me wonder about the captain and other senior officers, whose names must be a matter of public record, ditto the name of the ship, USS Leyte Gulf (a Ticonderoga class cruiser, not a destroyer). The ship is described as a “bodyguard” for a battle group and normally carries about 350 people.

I have no memory of the event at the climax of this book, the ill fated boarding of an Iraqi tanker suspected of carrying embargoed goods and weapons. Several sailors died. This was probably not reported publicly at the time.

I suppose the Navy has “boarding” all figured out, but to me it seems strange to send so few people into such uncertainty with so little planning for their extrication.

I think writing this book was “therapeutic” for the author. I put the term “therapeutic” into quotes because it  is entirely possible J Pignataro didn’t ever feel he needed “therapy”. But as a witness to shocking violence and sudden death, he was certainly a candidate for PTSD, and as I read his description of the events on the boarded ship, I had the sense that he was trying, as he described his team’s movements and the responses they faced, to make sense of something incredibly complex and troubling. 

I have read that “narrative is the beginning of recovery”. Before a person can recover from trauma, it is necessary to tell the story. I hope that his experiences left no permanent scars on Pignataro.

Reviews on Amazon cast doubt on some details in this book, but I would rather read this kind of energetic first person account than some polished and 100% fact checked memorandum. My thanks to the author for giving me a glimpse of his world!

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One thought on ““A Sea Story: The Untold Story of the US Navy Response to 9/11” by Joseph Pignataro and Barry AA Dillinger

  1. Thank you for the insightful comments! It was therapudic. I did change a lot of names for security reasons and filled in gaps I was privy to while being low on the totem pole ;). Glad you liked it and of course…GO NAVY! I actually just got invited to the NYC 911 tribute center to tell my story and be in an exhibit!

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