A sketch of the boat that carried a group of sailors 2,000 miles from the Philippines to Darwin, Australia. 

(Illustration: Courtesy of John Fleming Gould)

Tim Deal, who lives in Castle Rock, Colo., and his brother Mike were riveted when they saw the HBO mini-series "The Pacific." They decided to do their own research and, eventually, unearthed a firsthand account of a daring escape during World War II.  

It began on a sweltering night in the Philippines on May 6, 1942. The Philippines had fallen to the Japanese and, to avoid becoming prisoners of war, a group of U.S. sailors hopped into a small, open boat and traveled 2,000 miles to Australia.

Lieutenant Colonel John Morrill was the group’s leader and wrote about the journey when he returned to the United States. It ran in a series of articles in the Saturday Evening Post beginning in December 1942. The story was essentially forgotten until Tim and Mike Deal republished it recently as a book, “South from Corregidor.”

The account follows the men as they journey south, always fearful that they would be discovered by the Japanese. The boat was 36-feet long and not designed for such a lengthy voyage.

A photo of the crew as the make their way to Australia. 

(Photo: Courtesy of Tim Deal)

“It was very tightly packed,” Mike Deal says. "They probably felt like sardines because the boat had so many supplies and sailors on board and so little room.”

A little over a month later, the men landed safely in Darwin, Australia, many returning to combat shortly after the experience.