They were running. There was no other word for it, no comforting euphemism to make the sting less sharp. In fact, it seemed impossible to wring the slightest sense of purpose from the confusion, privation, terror, and bone-numbing weariness they’d endured since the very day the war began on December 7. Now, three months later, they were running away (‘limping’ might be the better term), and they hadn’t even had the chance to lick their wounds. The tired men and elderly ships of Destroyer Squadron (Des Ron) 29 had hurled themselves repeatedly at the implacable juggernaut that was the Imperial Japanese Navy while their numbers were ruthlessly slashed by disaster and disrepair. It was a tragically lopsided contest, a feeble gesture of defiance against overwhelming odds. In the end, a gesture was all it had been. Now all that remained was to flee--and it was probably too late anyways. Lieutenant Commander Dirk William Hodges, captain of USS Walker (DD-163), stood on the starboard bridgewing and tried to maintain at least a semblance of dignity in his rumpled and sweat-stained shirt. His left hand clutched his hat to his head against the thirty-knot breeze while his right tried to keep the half-filled mug of lukewarm coffee from slopping onto his uniform.