The Long Escape

The Long Escape

Authored by shipmate Jeff Noonan (plankowner)

The Long Escape

The Long Escape



Author’s Note: The following description was generated by the book’s publisher and it makes the book sound a lot bleaker than it really is. There are a lot of great, sometimes risqué, sea stories in it. It’s a good “sailor story”. For info, I was an original Plankowner as well as the Total Ship Test Manager in Philadelphia Naval Shipyard when we rebuilt the Belknap after the collision. The Belknap will always have a special place in my memories.

(Available on The Long Escape by Jeff Noonan (Paperback and Kindle editions)


This is a true story; a story of survival. The story starts in the 1950s, when a boy and his family lived a life of hellish abuse. The story ends after the boy defeats the abuser and moves on with his life. During the last six chapters of the book, the boy is a First Class Petty Officer aboard USS BELKNAP (DLG-26) during its Pre-Com Period and Shakedown Cruise.

Jeff was raised in a happy home in the mountains of Montana where he idolized his father, a former professional boxer. But before Jeff was twelve, his idol turned to alcohol and became a violent abuser, repeatedly beating Jeff, his mother, and his seven younger siblings. In desperation, Jeff resorted to digging hidden bunkers where the family could hide when they were attacked. Life became a daily struggle, both physically and financially.

He left school and worked wherever he could find a job, using the money to help feed his family. He labored in lumber mills, railroads and ranches until, at the age of seventeen, he joined the military.

This story follows the boy from the hell of his childhood through Pacific island love affairs, killer typhoons, and Hong Kong bar battles as he fights his way to acceptance in the rough and tumble world of a destroyer sailor. In his first Navy assignment, he finds that his poor education has resulted in a job he despises; working as a permanent head cleaner on an old destroyer. But through perseverance, hard work, and an iron will, he becomes a leader, supervising teams working on experimental shipboard missile guidance systems.

But you can’t run from yourself. Jeff’s family problems haunt him, frequently bringing him back to Montana; to increasingly violent confrontations with his father. Tensions build until the inevitable happens and Jeff is drawn into a final, epic, battle with the abuser.

A sobering, visceral, and shockingly real portrait of domestic violence, the boy’s relentless drive for survival is nothing short of extraordinary. An uplifting journey to redemption and self-acceptance, The Long Escape sends an unforgettable message to the abused that there really can be hope and love in their future. It also brilliantly captures the sometimes hollow feeling of victory and the scars of abuse that are carried for a lifetime

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