A SLOW MOVING TARGET, The LSTs Of World War II, is a historical novel that contains many authentic stories about the turmoil and hardships that the Amphibious Fleet endured during beach invasions in World War II. To enhance the military adversities, the story revolves around the personal lives of five young fictitious sailors who, in 1942, enlisted in the U.S. Navy to defend their country against the Axis.
They come from different parts of America and meet in the same boot-camp at Bainbridge, Maryland. As a result of the difficulties they encounter in boot-camp and in the war they become life-long buddies. After boot-camp was completed they were transferred to the dreaded and perilous Amphibious fleet of LSTs (Landing Ship Tank), because the LST is truly a A Slow Moving Target having the reputation of a brief life during an invasion.
In this historical novel each principle character in the book presents his own unique and unusual experiences. The main character of the novel is John Maroni, who attempts to keep the group together and to preserve their friendship throughout the war. They call themselves The Five Phibies.
The Five Phibies are later split-up and are transferred to different LSTs which compelled them to fight in separate campaigns in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters. They continued to communicate with one another via one central location in the States. They send their mail to John Maroni's kid sister, Angela, in Queens, New York, who rewrites the letters by relating their war experiences, their health, and anything new about their personal lives, but deliberately leaving out any unpleasant ordeals, then sending the letters on to the Phibies.
Phibie No. 1 is John Maroni who was born in Queens, New York. Phibie No. 2 is Dan Bletcher born in Dover, New Jersey. Phibie No. 3 is Andre Robbier born in Chicago, Illinois. Phibie No. 4 is Rich Hienman born in Dallas, Texas. Phibie No. 5 is Bob Olsen born in Boston, Massachusetts.
Understandably, most historical World War II novels are written around large fighting vessels such as aircraft carriers, battle ships, cruisers, destroyers, and submarines. Very little is written about the LST and their amphibious operations on beach landings of unloading troops and cargo because it isn't a glamorized fighting ship. The book provides many authentic LST battles which are depicted through the fictional characters presented in this novel. The author tried to encompass the five Phibies in several authentic battles even though their characters and experiences were created by his own imagination.
The LST played a very important role in the military operations in the islands in the Pacific, and during the invasions of France, Italy, and Africa. Without the LST and its ramp, the delivery of cargo to the beaches during an assault would have been extremely difficult and time consuming. The LST was not the most elegant looking ship to come out of American shipyards but it was designed for a purpose, to deliver men and cargo to an invading beach as quickly as possible, and to support the Allied troops ashore with ammunition, tanks, jeeps, trucks, artillery, medical supplies, and most critical of all food and water. Without these back-up goods the war may have been extended a year or more which would have cost many more American lives.
The LST and the other Amphibious forces must be recognized for their part in the war by being one of the most essential components of World War II, and should be commended for their effort in the invasion of hostile enemies both in the Pacific and in the Atlantic theaters. This author attempts to do just that. The novel does not cover the land struggle after an invasion because the ground assaults have already been covered by other authors, and to repeat them here would serve no other purpose but to reiterate their achievements.