The USS Johnston was one of the Taffy Three, a group of American warships under siege by the Japanese in the battle off Samar in the Phillippines on Oct. 25, 1944. Although the Americans were taken by surprise, the battle resulted in a U.S. victory.
Kevin McDonald Novato, a high school teacher at Terra Linda High School in Santa Rosa, has written the book to honor veterans and to tell how the USS Johnston helped save the Taffy Three. Kevin McDonald tells the story through the eyes of three men aboard that ship, Captain Ernest Evans, Gunnery Officer Bob Hagen, and Seaman First Class Dusty Rhodes.
“World War II has fascinated me ever since I was a child,” says Kevin McDonald Novato. He has always been interested in the ships and artillery used, as well as in the men, barely out of high school, who fought. Kevin McDonald Novato chose these three men because he wanted to present the battle through the eyes of men of different ranks and also because of the information available on them. A significant amount of material existed on Evans and Hagen; Rhodes was still alive and could be interviewed, Kevin McDonald Novato said.
In addition to having written the book, Kevin McDonald Novato, also has given talks to high school students about how to write a biography, using Tin Can Soldiers Save the Day as an example.
Kevin McDonald Novato has been a teacher for more than 20 years. Before Terra Linda, Kevin taught in Santa Rosa City Schools. He also has taught in the Novato United School District. He has taught math, science, language arts, and history, as well as designed curriculum for these subjects. While most of his career has been in California, he also taught English to students in Japan for 3 1/2 years. He also is a philanthropist. One charity he supports is Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where his father, the late Dr. John L. McDonald founded the first emergency room in Sonoma County.Kevin McDonald of Novato also spoke at the dedication of a new emergency room and trauma center named for his father. Dr. McDonald, who also founded REACH Air Medical Services, served in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Kevin McDonald also is a member of the USS Johnston/Hoel Association.
Born and raised in Santa Rosa, Kevin McDonald attended Carleton College in Minnesota where he played soccer and worked in the arboretum. He is still an avid soccer player and coach.