United States Navy escort carrier CVL-28 Cabot
Class:Laid down: 3/16/1942
Launched: 4/4/1943 Commissioned: 7/24/1943 Decommissioned: 1967 sold to Spain
Shipyard: New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J.
TTD differences from class:
Camouflage: 43: Ms 14, 44-45: Ms 21
|43/11/15||43/11/22||sail from Panama to San Diego|
|44/02/18||44/02/20||Hailst||58.2.4||retire from Truk to Majuro|
|44/04/30||Reckle||58.2||damaging PG Hino Maru #2 at Truk|
|44/08/04||Forage||58.2||damaging APA T-4 (27-07N, 142-12E)|
|44/11/25||King2||38.2||damage(kami) - 62 KIA/WIA|
|44/11/28||44/12/11||Ulithi - permanent repairs|
|45/01/21||Mike1||38||sinking/share(Yorktown II) AO Munakata Maru at Keelung, Formosa|
|45/04/09||45/04/11||Iceber||58.3.10||sail to Ulithi|
|45/04/2||45/06||Mare Island Naval Shipyard - overhaul|
|45/08/01||12.3||7th Wake raid|
|45/08/21||45/08/25||30.3.9||sail from Eniwetok to join TF 38 off Japanese coast|
|45/08/25||45/08/27||refuel with TG 30.8, then sail to join TG 38.3|
Ship status, hull number changes...: CL-79 Wilmington>CV-28 42/06/02>Cabot 42/06/23>CVL-28 43/07/
Ship score (awards, enemy ships credited...): 9 Battle Stars Presidential Unit Citation
Notice: "G code"from 45/07/27: R; sold to Spain > Dedalo
A History of the USS CABOT (CVL-28):
A Fast Carrier in World War II by J. Ed Hudson Note: The copy that this electronic version was made from is property of Jackson County Library System Medford, Oregon 97501
COPYRIGHT by J. Ed Hudson 1986
This electronic copy made with the permission of the author.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE USS CABOT (CVL 28)
December 1943 - November 1945
1. Left NAS, San Diego - November 1943
2. Marshall Island Operation - February 1944
3. Strike on TRUK - February 1944
4. Strikes on PALAU Islands - April 1944
5. Strikes on HOLLANDIA, New Guinea - April 1944
6. Another strike on TRUK - April 1944
7. Strikes on the Marianas Islands and the "Turkey Shoot" - June 1944
8. Strikes on IWO JIMA - July 1944
9. Attacks on YAP and ULITHI - July 1944
10. Strikes on BONIN ISLANDS (Chichi Jima - Haha Jima) August 1944
11. Attacks on PALAU Islands - September 1944
12. FORMOSA strikes and "Streamlined Bait" Action - October 1944
13. Leyte Landings - Battle for Leyte Gulf - October 1944
14. Kamikaze attack - November 1944
15. The Big Typhoon - December 1944
16. South China Sea Action - January 1945
17. Ernie Pyle on Board and the first strike on Tokyo - February 1945
18. Strikes and patrols at OKINAWA - March 1945
19. Strikes on Japanese Fleet (YAMATO) - April 1945
20. Overhaul at Hunter's Point, San Francisco May-June 1945
21. Enroute for invasion of Japan and Wake Strike - August 1945
22. Anchored at Eniwetok - War ended August 1945
23. Supporting landings in Yellow Sea September-October 1945 24. Homeward bound MAIN FLEET ANCHORAGES A. Majuro - After February - 1944
B. Eniwetok - After March 1944
C. Ulithi - After September 1944
“An aircraft carrier is a noble thing. It lacks almost everything that seems to denote nobility, yet deep nobility is there. A carrier has no poise. It is top-heavy and lopsided. It has the lines of a well-fed cow. It doesn't cut through the water like a cruiser, knifing romantically along. It doesn't dance and cavort like a destroyer. It just plows. You feel it should be carrying a hod. Yet a carrier is a ferocious thing, and out of its heritage of action has grown its nobility, I believe that every Navy in the world has as its No. 1 priority the destruction of enemy carriers. That's a precarious honor, but it's a proud one."
Ernie Pyle (Written while Pyle was aboard the USS Cabot in February 1945. From: The Last Chapter by Ernie Pyle, Henry Holt & Co., 1945.)
CONTENTS Preface Acknowledgments Introduction
Chapter I BACKGROUND, COMMISSIONING, and SHAKEDOWN
Chapter II THE ASSAULT ON THE MARSHALL ISLANDS, TRUK, and HOLLANDIA
Chapter III OPERATION "FORAGER" and the MARIANAS TURKEY SHOOT
Chapter IV RAIDS ON THE BONINS, PALAU, and the PHILIPPINES
Chapter V AIR GROUP NUMBER THIRTY ONE
Chapter VI "The STREAMLINED BAIT" ACTION OFF FORMOSA AND THE BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF
Chapter VII THE KAMIKAZE ATTACK AND RELATED STORIES
Chapter VIII The "BIG TYPHOON" and HALSEY'S THRUST INTO THE SOUTH CHINA SEA
Chapter IX ERNIE PYLE'S VISIT AND STRIKES ON JAPAN
Chapter X COVERING THE OKINAWA INVASION AND THE SINKING OF THE YAMATO
Chapter XI AIR GROUP NUMBER TWENTY NINE
Chapter XII HOMEWARD BOUND FOR AN OVERHAUL
Chapter XIII BACK IN ACTION AND THE YELLOW SEA OPERATION
Chapter XIV AIR GROUP NUMBER THIRTY TWO
Chapter XV THE MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE AND OTHER ACTIVITIES IN THE 1950's to the 1980's
Chapter XVI THE CVL SUCCESS STORY
CABOT CASUALTY LIST STATISTICS of the CABOT CABOT FIGHTER "ACES"
CVL'S AIR GROUPS RATINGS & PAY GRADES BIOGRAPHIES of the CAPTAINS VIGNETTES FROM CREW-MEMBERS LIST OF U.S. FAST CARRIERS and JAPANESE CARRIERS WORLD WAR II AWARDS CABOT & NAVY TRIVIA THE USS CABOT ASSOCIATION ..167
Before Pearl Harbor, there was much debate over what would be the capital ship of the U.S. Navy. "Black shoe" admirals put their confidence in the battleship, while "brown shoe" admirals thought aircraft carriers were more important.
Perhaps the controversy began back in the 1920s, when Admiral William S. SIMS, an outspoken advocate of naval aviation, predicted "A fleet whose carriers give it command of the air over the enemy fleet can defeat the latter .The fast carrier is the ship of the future."
Sims' prophesy came true. After six Japanese fast carriers sunk our battleships at Pearl Harbor, most experts concluded that the carrier would be the mistress of the sea. And, on 10 Dec. 1941, when Japanese air power sunk the British Battleship Prince of Wales and the battle cruiser Repulse, the argument was confirmed.
As a result, America built or Finished only eight battleships after Pearl Harbor, while nine CVLs (light carriers) and 14 CVs (large carriers) were launched to fight in World War II. In addition to the fast carriers, more than 75 CVEs (escort carriers) were commissioned before the end of the war.
The simple truth was that a modern battleship could fire a projectile about 20 miles, while a fast carrier at the same speed could stay back some 200 miles and destroy a battleship with bombs and torpedoes.
When the hostilities started, the Japanese had 11 carriers to our seven, but American production met and surpassed the enemy by December 1943. The sinking of four Japanese carriers in May 1942 at Midway was the turning point of the war in the Pacific. After Midway, it was all downhill for the Japanese Navy, and by 1944, we had such superiority in ships and pilots that there was little doubt about who would win the contest.
Despite the CVLs' small size, they more than held their own with the larger Essex-type fast carriers on a plane-to-plane ratio. We are very proud of the light carrier USS Cabot (CVL 28) as it was credited with 252 enemy aircraft shot down by Air Groups 29 and 31, eight destroyed by AA batteries, 96 destroyed on the ground and 265 vessels hit by torpedoes or bombs from the air groups.
Cabot sailed 133,880 nautical miles in combat and won the highest award, the Presidential Unit Citation. Other honors received during or immediately after the war were:
American Area Campaign Service Medal Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Service Medal, with nine battle stars World War II Victory Medal Philippine Liberation Campaign Ribbon with two stars Republic of the Philippines Presidential Unit Citation
The Hellcat (F6F) FIGHTER Manufactured by Grumnan with a R2800 Pratt and Whitney engine of 2,000 HP. Top speed 324-380 MPH. Length: 33' 7" Span: 42'10" Weight. 13,228 loaded Crew of one. Armament: Six 50-caliber guns, 6 rockets and 1,000 pounds of bombs. Total produced: 12,275
The Avenger (TBF or TBM) Torpedo Bomber Manufactured by Grumnan and them by General Motors with a R2600R engine of 1500 HP. Top speed 254-275. Length 41' Span 54' 2" weight 15,906 Crew of 3. Armament Two 50-caliber guns forward, one turret 12.7 MM Ventral 50-Caliber gun Bomb load of 2,000 pounds or a 21" torpedo. Total produced: 9,836
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY WASHINGTON
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to the U.S.S. CABOT and her attached Air Groups participating in the following operations: January 29 to February 16, 1944, Marshalls, Truk: March 29 to April 30, 1944 Palau. Hollandia, Truk; June 11 to August 5, 1944, Marianas, Bonins, Yap: Sepember 6 to 24, 1944, Philippines, Palau, Yap: AG-31(VF-31).
October 10 to November 25, 1944, Ryukyus, Formosa, Philippines. Luzon; December 14 to 16. 1944, Luzon; January 3 tO 22, 1945, Philippines. Formosa. China Sea, Ryukyus; February 16 to 25, 1945, Japan, Bonins; March 18 to April 8, 1945 Ryukyus, Japan: AG-29 (VF-29, VT-29) for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
"For extraordinary heroism in action against enemy Japanese forces in the air, ashore and afloat in the Pacific War Area from January 29 1944, to April 8, 1345. Operating continuously. In the most forward areas, the U.S.S. CABOT and her air groups struck crushing blows toward annihilating Japanese fighting power; they provided air cover for our amphibious forces; they fiercely countered the enemy's aerial attacks and destroyed his planes; and they inflicted terrific losses on the Japanese in Fleet and merchant marine units sunk or damaged. Daring and dependable in combat the CABOT with her gallant officers and men rendered loyal service in achieving the ultimate defeat of the Japanese Empire."
For the President (James Forrestal)
Secretary of the Navy CABOT'S BATTLE STARS In addition to earning the NAVY OCCUPATION SERVICE MEDAL for service in Asiatic waters during the period of 2 September to 15 October 1945, USS CABOT (CVL 28) earned nine battle stars on the Asiatic-Pacific Service Ribbon for participation in the following operations:
One Star Marshall Islands Operation
Occupation for Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls 29 January to 8 February 1944
Two Stars Asiatic-Pacific Raids
Truk Attack 16-17 February 1944
Palau, Yap, Ulithi, Woleai Raid-30 March to 1 April 1944
Truk, Satawan, Ponape Raid 29 April to 1 May 1944
Three Stars Hollandia Operation
Aitape-Humboldt Bay - Tanshmerah Bay 21 April to 1 June 1944
Four Stars Marianas Operations
Battle of the Philippine Sea 19-20 June 1944
Third Bonins Raid 3-4 July
Capture and Occupation of Saipan 11 June to 10 August
Capture and Occupation of Guam 12 July to 15 August
Palau, Yap, Ulithi Raid 25-27 July
Fourth Bonins Raid 4-5 August 1944
Five Stars Western Carolina Islands Operations
Capture and Occupation of southern Palau Islands 6 September to 14 October 1944
Assaults on Philippine Islands 9-24 September
Six Stars Leyte Operation
Third Fleet supporting operations and Okinawa attack. 10 October 1944
Northern Luzon and Formosa Attacks 11-14 October
Battle of Surigao Strait 24-26 October
Luzon Attacks 15 October to 16 December 1944
Visayans Attacks October and November 1944
Seven Stars Luzoo Operation
Formosa attacks January 1945
Luzon attacks 6-7 January 1945
China Coast attacks 12-16 January
Nansei Shoto attack 22 January 1945
Eight Stars Iwo Jima Operations
Assault and occupations of Iwo Jima 15 February-16 March 1945
Fifth Fleet raids against Honshu and the Nansei Shoto 15 February to 16 March 1945
Nine Stars Okinawa Gunto Operations
Fifth and Third Fleet raids in support of Okinawa Gunto operation 12 March to 11 June 1945
AA Antiaircraft fire
AK Cargo ship
AO Oiler TBF/TBM torpedo plane
AP Troop transport
ASP Antisubmarine patrol
AG Air group
Bogey Unidentified aircraft
CA Heavy cruiser Seagull Curtiss
SOC float scout plane
CAP Combat air patrol
CinCPac Commander in chief, Pacific Fleet
ComSoPac Commander in chief, South
ComSoWesPac Commander in chief Southwest Pacific
CL Light cruiser
CO Commanding officer four engines
CV Large aircraft carrier
CVE Escort carrier
CVL Light aircraft carrier
DE Destroyer escortor night fighter
FDO Fighter director officer
Flack Antiaircraft fire
IFF Identification, friend or floatplane foe (on radar)
Jinking To take evasive action
LSO Landing signal officer
OTC Officer in tactical command
TF Task force Nate Fighter-plane
TG Task group
USMC United States Marine Corps bomber
USN United States Navy
USS United State Ship
VB Navy bomber squadron or
VF Navy fighter squadron or
VT Navy torpedo squadron or
U.S. Aircraft (Navy)
Avenger Gruman/General Motors
Corsair Vought F4U fighter
Dauntless Douglas SBD dive bomber
Hellcat Gruman F6F fighter
Helldiver Curtiss SB2C dive bomber
Kingfisher Vought OS2U float scout plane
Wildcat Gruman F4F fighter
Japanese Aircraft Code
Names CincPOA Commander in chief, Pacific
(Girls' names for bombers; Ocean areas boy's names for fighters)
Betty Mitsubishi twin-engine attack bomber
Claude Mitsubishi carrier fighter
Dinah Army reconnaissance plane
Emily Kawanishi flying boat with
Frances Twin-Engine Medium Bomber
Hamp Mitsubishi fighter
Helen Nakajima heavy bomber
Irving Nakajima reconnaissance plane
Jack Mitsubishi fighter
Jake Aichi reconnaissance
Jill Nakajima torpedo bomber
Judy Yokosuka dive bomber with in an aircraft tail gunner
Kate Nakajima torpedo bomber
Mavis Four-engine patrol flying boat
Nell Navy twin-engine medium
Oscar Nakajima fighter
Rufe Zero-type float plane
Tojo Nakajima fighter single plane
Topsy Mitsubishi twin-engine single plane transport
Tony Kawasaki fighter
Val Aichi dive bomber single plane
Zeke Mitsubishi A6M fighter (Zero)
BACKGROUND COMMISSIONING and SHAKEDOWN
When the keel was laid, the USS Cabot was supposed to be a Cleveland-class cruiser called USS Wilmington (CL 79), but in 1942, with the loss of four fast carriers and only one left in working order, the Navy was desperate.
Aware of the problem, President Franklin D. Roosevelt advised the Navy to convert some of the cruisers to carriers. As a result, nine cruiser hulls were converted in record time all were commissioned in 1943, and some even saw action that year.
However, the USS Cabot commissioned in 1943 wasn't the first American ship to bear the name. A vessel called "Cabot", a 14-gun brig was purchased in Philadelphia during November 1775 and used in the Revolutionary War. She was named for John Cabot (1450-1498). the Venetian navigator who discovered the North American continent in 1497 while sailing for King Henry VII of England.
The Cabot was, in fact, the first Continental naval ship to be seized by the British. In 1777 she was forced ashore in Nova Scotia, but the captain and crew escaped the British, who took the brig and refitted her for service in the Royal Navy.
The USS Cabot of World War II however was, along with the eight other carriers, given the special designation, "CVL", signifying "light carrier." During the war, the nine CVLs won 80 Battle Stars, three Presidential Unit Citations and one Navy Unit Commendation. One of the carriers went on to earn more Battle Stars in the Korean Conflict.
Most rush conversions are disappointments but the CVLs proved so successful that two Baltimore-type cruisers were converted, though not in time to participate in World War II.
The Independence-class carriers weighed 11,000 tons with a flank speed of 31.6 knots and carried a complement of 1,569 men. About 35 planes, including F6F fighters and TBM or TBF torpedo bombers, made up the air force. These carriers had four boilers with a 100,000 SHP powering the four screws. The CVLs initially had one catapult, but another was added. CVLs were sometimes confused with CVEs (escort or jeep carriers) due to similar size and silhouette. But there was a big difference CVEs could attain speeds of only 16-17 knots, and could not operate as fast carriers or compare to large CVs such as the Essex class. Additionally, CVEs could not withstand a torpedo hit or take any other significant punishment CVEs were numerous, though. Henry J. Kaiser built 50 of the Casablanca-type within a Short time.
lt's important to note that a carrier is practically useless in wartime without an air group and the Cabot had three during the war: Air Group 31 from commissioning in 1943 to October 1944; Air Group 29, from October 1944 to April 1945, and Air Group 32, from July 1945 to November 1945. The Air Groups were divided into a fighter and a torpedo group, with 24 F6F (Hellcats) and nine TBM (Avenger) planes.
Unlike the CVs, the CVLs never carried dive bombers because of a small flight deck.
In late 1943, some admirals wanted the CVLs to carry only fighters, but Admiral Ernest King then commander-in-chief, did not agree.
When the war ended in August 1945, all torpedo planes were removed, and the Cabot operated with fighters only in the Yellow Sea operations after the War. (For more about the CVL, read "The CVL's Success Story" by Lt.Cmdr. Ashley Halsey Jr., U.S. Naval Proceedings, April 1946 in Chapter XVI.)
Commission and Shakedown At 1445 hours on Saturday, 24 July 1943, the USS Cabot was placed in commission at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, with Capt. Malcolm F. SCHOEFFEL, USN, taking command. During the next two months, the crew was fleshed out toward a full complement of 1,569 enlisted men and officers.
The Marine detachment for the Cabot was formed in July 1943 at Portsmouth, Va., where they received training in naval terminology shipping and gunnery practice. The Marines reported on board in September and stayed for the war's duration. The detachment included two commissioned officers - a major and a first lieutenant - and 41 enlisted men: one sergeant major, a gunnery sergeant, a platoon sergeant two buck sergeants, five corporals and 31 privates or privates first class.
The Marines were placed in the 6th Division and their duties at flight quarters were to be on battle stations. Duties at general quarters were to man six 20MM guns nos. 10, 12, 14 and 16 on port side, and guns nos. 9 and 11 on the starboard side. One Marine served as captain's orderly who was Nicholas HALVAS.
The two Marine officers had quarters in the officers' country, and enlisted men's compartment was midship-one deck below the hangar deck, just behind the bridge, starboard side. The sergeant major, gunnery sergeant and platoon sergeant slept in the Marine office and ate in the chief's mess. The rest ate in the crew's mess hall.
All major warships had a complement of Marines with duties similar to those on the Cabot. The CVs and BBs had four Marine officers and about eighty enlisted men, while cruisers had the same size complement as the CVLs. The Marines manned all gangways while in port, and the brig while at sea. In addition Marines were given the task of guarding all Navy jails and prisons. Appropriately, a verse of the Marine Hymn reads:
"If the Army or the Navy ever look on Heaven's scenes. They will find the streets are guarded by the U.S. Marines." (Thanks to Platoon Sgt. Virgil J. SHROPSHIRE of USS Cabot for this information.) From 30 Aug. to 9 Sept., the Cabot was steaming for trials on Chesapeake Bay, and then from 10-13 Sept., was anchored at Hampton Roads, Va.
On the 14th, the carrier was underway for a shakedown cruise to Trinidad. A tragic incident happened on 19 Sept., when Ens. Robert Vance BENNETT died as his plane crashed. Not reported in the ship's log were others killed the same day: Ens. Ed ZALOT, the pilot; and crewmen D. C. SCIANAMEOs ARM3c and William S. KOCH, AMM3c.
While anchored in the Gulf of Paria Trinidad, a minor Jeep accident was reported on 27 Sept. Involved were Lt.(.jg) C. E. SHERMAN, Ens. W. F. FISCHER, Lt.(jg) S. S. TALBERT, Lt.(jg) E. E. WOOD, Ens. J. H. BUSHNELL and Ens. L. J. MILLER. These pilots hitched a ride with a chief, who was driving his Jeep back to the Cabot. They didn't know the driver was drunk, and when he said his vehicle could do anything their planes could they dared him to do a "slow roll". The fliers received scratches and bruisers, but the driver was left with a broken arm, and much more sober.
From 20 Sept. to 6 Oct., the Cabot steamed off the British West Indies for training exercises, and moored back at Philadelphia Navy Yard from 11-30 Oct. During that time, the crew received authorized leave. Most reported back in time, but dozens were AWOL from a few minutes to a day or so.
By 30 Oct., the carrier was underway again enroute to Rockland Harbor, Me., for post trial runs. From 3-5 Nov., she moored at South Annex, Boston, and was enroute to Quonset Point R.I. on 6 Nov. The next day, officers and men of Air Group 31 reported back for duty.
The Cabot's log records that on 12 Nov., the carrier was at Colon Harbor, Panama. By the 14th, she had transited the canal and moored on the Pacific side at Balboa. From there, the Cabot cruised to San Diego, where officers and men of VF36 were picked up for transport to Pearl Harbor.
As the carrier entered Pearl Harbor several days later, hundreds of her crew watched on the flight deck for signs of the Japanese attack two years earlier. All they saw were the Arizona and salvage operations on the Utah and Oklahoma.
Everyone there agreed with Admiral Halsey who had said, "Before this war is over, Japanese will only be spoken in Hell."
At the time, all the big ships were on their way for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands (Tarawa); the Cabot had just missed taking part in the action, but she would never miss another major war operation, as she remained in the Pacific 16 straight months.
On 27 Nov., the Cabot was moored at Ford Island, Hawaii, and then from 2-5 Dec., attached to Task Unit 19.15.1 underway for training around Hawaii. The Cabot cruised in and out of Pearl Harbor, and while training, TBF plane #5 overran the port side of the flight deck. To avoid being hit, P. M. WITHROW, AMM3c jumped overboard. The USS Young picked him up uninjured.
The plane's pilot had been Ens. E. J. LARKIN, with crewmen A. L. PELLETIER AOM3c and Harold LARSON, ARM3c.
On 28 Dec., the Cabot's forward elevator gave way, causing an F6F piloted by Ens. A. R. HAWKINS to crash into the shaft. In addition an F6F piloted by Ens. F. R. HAYDE, was damaged.
The log reads that on 2 Jan. 1944, R. L. WAGGONER Jr. GM3c, returned on board after completing temporary duty with the Shore Patrol.
On 9 Jan., while conducting air operations VF #27, piloted by Lt.(jg) J. T. ANDERSON landed on board and crashed into the barriers. Fortunately, there was little damage.
11 Jan. saw Ens. R. G. MELLIN and Ens. J. JONES Jr. reporting for duty with Torpedo Squadron 31.
The Cabot was underway with the USS Essex and USS Intrepid plus various cruisers and destroyers on 16 Jan. All were members of what would be the famous Task Group 58.2. As a member of the group, the Cabot cruised south and crossed the equator at 0843 hours, 22 Jan. 1944 at longitude 179°2S' west.
At 1500 hours, 23 Jan., "Davy Jones" came aboard with ruffles and such befitting the royal messenger of Neptunus Rex. All pollywogs were duly initiated, and Davy Jones pronounced them all "honorable shellbacks".
(NOTE: If a ship crosses the equator, those aboard are entitled to a "Shellback" card. If a ship crosses the 180th meridian (International Date Line), passengers receive the "Golden Dragon" card. But, when a ship crosses both the equator and the 180th meridian at the same time-a rare occurrence-those aboard are designated "Golden Shellbacks."
Although the Cabot's log records crossing that day at 179°25' west, the author believes the crew qualified as Golden Shellbacks. Some old cards from crewmen show this to be the case.)
"Men are the Navy, yet they live in ships. On the far spaces of the sea they become knit together; crew and ship forge into a single powerful unit to serve the United States in peace and war. The ship is their home, their weapon, their faith their pride. Men who have served in a ship are always interested in her. When they have trained and fought for their country in a ship it becomes a part of them and they in turn, a part of her forever after."*
E. M. Eller Rear Admiral Director of Naval History August 1959
* Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships Vol. I (Washington 1959)
The fall of 1943 was the time for the United States to go on the offensive in the Central Pacific. Our drive to defeat the Japanese would now be a two-prong attack, with General Douglas MacArthur moving up the New Guinea coast to take nearby islands, and Admiral Chester Nimitz steaming through the Central Pacific.
The power to carry out the drive through the Central Pacific was up to the fast carriers, and Nimitz now had the new Essex and Independence types to do the job. The Marshall Islands was to be the first assault, but a decision was made to take the Japanese-controlled Gilberts first to protect the planned invasion of the Marshalls from enemy air attack. Thus, in November 1943, the Gilberts assault took place with the new carriers: Essex, Yorktown, Lexington, Bunker Hill, Belleau Wood, Cowpens, Monterey and Independence.
The Cabot did not arrive in time to take part but thereafter she participated in every major action in the South Pacific-Marshall Islands (Kwajalein, Majuro, Eniwetok), the Caroline Islands (Truk, Woleai, Ulithi, Yap and Palau Islands), the Marianas Islands (Tinian, Rota Saipan, Guam) before MacArthur and Nimitz
joined forces to invade the Philippines in October 1944. The Cabot was battle-ready to join the 5th Fleet for the Marshall Islands invasion (code name "Flintlock") between 29 Jan. and 23 Feb. Overall command was in the hands of Admiral Ray Spruance, with Task Force 58 (fast carriers) led by Rear Admiral Marc Mitscher. As mentioned before, the Cabot was in TG 58.2 with Air Group 31 on board. Lt. Cmdr. Robert WINSTON led Air Group 31, with Lt. E. E. "Ted" WOOD in charge of VT 31. VF 31 had twenty-four F6F-3, and VT 31 had eight TBM-lc and one TBF-lc.
The Cabot's first war action was over Roi and Namur Islands, where the Japanese had air fields in this northern part of the Kwajalein Atoll. At 0552 hours, 29 Jan., the Cabot completed catapulting 12 fighters to fly combat air patrol, while six Avengers flew antisubmarine patrol.
At 0653 hours, A. W. TARAUBENBERG AMM3c was struck in the shoulder by a propeller but his condition was later listed as satisfactory.
Lt. Cmdr., WINSTON then led the combat air patrol (CAP) over the target, and reported numerous enemy planes were taking off from the airfield. Cabot's CAP reported shooting down five planes for certain, plus two "probables". There was strong AA fire up to 10,000 feet, but the attack seemed to have surprised the enemy.
WINSTON was the first from our ship to be credited with shooting down a Japanese plane and he also had the two probables. The other four hits were the work of Ens. C. N. NOOY Lt. ag) H. H. SCALES, Lt. D. W. MULCAHY and Lt. R. C. WILSON.
One fighter, piloted by Ens. F. HANCOCK had to make a force landing in the water, but was picked up uninjured by the USS Owen (DD 536).
No war ships were reported in the area, but small merchant ships were found in the Kwajalein Lagoon. The F6Fs took over, and the TBMs were on antisubmarine patrol (ASP) on D-1 day. Deep rumblings of heavy gunfire was heard from the battleships and destroyers which were blasting enemy positions on Roi and Namur.
On 30 Jan., VF #23 accidentally fired one of the 50-caliber guns on landing, but no one was hurt. D-Day for the landings on Roi and Namur and the south part of Kwajalein took place on 31 Jan. And, on the last recovery of the day TBM #7 had engine failure and landed in the sea about 100 feet astern. In minutes, all of the plane's crew were seen outside, and when the TBM sank, the depth charges exploded, severely injuring J. J. WOLF, AMM2c. The Lang (DD 399) reported Lt.(jg) R. P. McCHESNEY and K. M. HONEY, AMM3c were picked up apparently uninjured.
Six VTs were launched to bomb a large concrete building thought to be a radio station on Ennubirr Island. On D-Day plus 1, the Marines of the 4th Brigade landed on the lagoon side of Roi and Namur, supported from the air by our Task Group.
On 1 Feb., the Cabot suffered her first combat casualty. Word was received that T. J. WOLF, AMM2c was picked up and who died aboard the USS Stemble (DD 644), which was ordered to transfer his body to the USS South Dakota (BB 55) for burial at sea with full military honors. (NOTE: WOLF's name is on the plaque donated by the USS Cabot Association and placed on the USS Yorktown at Charleston, S.C.)
Air support continued from 1 Feb. to 4 Feb. and the Task Group left the target area on 5 Feb. enroute to Majuro Atoll. By then, our troops on Kwajalein had captured the island; on the 8th, the whole atoll was in Allied possession.
The Cabot remained at anchor for a week of rest at Majuro. During that time, replacement aircraft, provisions and ammunition were received. With this equipment aboard, Task Group 58.2 was underway with TG 58.1 and 58.3 to attack Truk Island. The following ships made up our group:
USS Essex (CV 9)
San Diego (CL 53)
San Francisco (CA 38)
Wichita (CA 45)
Owen (DD 536)
Stemble (DD 634)
The Sullivans* (DD 537)
Stephen Potter (DD 538)
Hickox (DD 637)
Hunt (DD 674)
Lewis Hancock (DD 675)
* The Sullivans (DD 537) was named for the five brothers who gave their lives when the USS Juneau (CL 52) was sunk in the fall of 1942.
After Kwajalein, Roi and Namur were secure, Admiral Nimitz wanted to take Eniwetok Atoll for a logistic base nearer the Marianas, but he had to neutralize Truk first.
By the time our fleet attacked Truk in February 1944, the Japanese had removed most of their combined fleet to the Palau Islands.
Thus, on 14 Feb., the Cabot was steaming in company with TG 58.2 to attack a station northeast of Truk.
The action began on 16 Feb., when Cabot launched eight F6Fs for CAP and six TBMs for antisubmarine patrol. At 1351 hours, the carrier launched eight fighters and three Avengers, led by Lt. E. E. "Ted" WOOD. They reported sinking a 7,000-ton AK, which was hit on the after hatch and seen sinking rapidly from the stern.
At 1733 hours, eight F6Fs and three TBMs made a bombing strike on Truk. The F6Fs dropped delayed-action bombs on the Parani airstrip. Lt. LARKIN, leader of the flight reported destruction of nine Bettys on the ground at Moem airstrip.
Enemy planes attacked the formation, and at 0012 hours on 17 Feb., the USS Intrepid reported being hit by a torpedo on her starboard side. The TF commander ordered Intrepid, Cabot, San Francisco and Wichita, plus four DDs to form TU 58.24 and proceed to Eniwetok or Kwajalein.
Heavy damage was inflicted on the enemy at Truk, both in ships sunk and/or damaged, and in planes downed and destroyed on the ground.
This attack was particularly satisfying for Americans as it was generally seen as partial payment for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
At 0934 hours, 20 Feb., the Cabot anchored in Majuro Lagoon until 28 Feb., when she got underway with other units of Task Force 58.2
enroute to Pearl Harbor, zigzagging according to Plan 6 on base course at 19 knots.
On 4 March, Cabot anchored starboard side to pier V-1 in Pearl Harbor with five manila lines and two wire hawsers. There, crewmen attended schools such as the Radar operator's school, with K. M. DeFERRARI, RdM2c in attendance. Others attended classes at Cape Catlin.
While in Pearl, many were transferred off the Cabot, with as many reporting aboard for duty.
The carrier was underway again on 15 March to Majuro. On the cruise, F6Fs and TBMs were launched and recovered to keep the pilots sharp for action. Battle problems were conducted and simulated attacks from TG 58.3 were made for gunnery practice. Firing at a towed-sleeve target was conducted on 19 March with 1,200 rounds of 40 MM and 2,969 rounds of 20 MM ammunition expended.
The Cabot anchored back in Majuro Lagoon in 31 fathoms on 20 March. While fueling, the USS Sabine hit the Cabot along port quarter. The impact buckled three or four caissons Behind the camel and bent the net supports around the landing signal platform. Also damaged was the catwalk guard rail, which was bent about six feet.
22 March saw the Cabot underway according to secret dispatch from Commander in Chief Central Pacific area 58 and OTC in the USS New Jersey (BB 62). On 29 March, the USS Enterprise (CV-6) reported her CAP had shot down a Betty and four Japanese survivors were swimming in the water.
Ens. Howard A. BO landed on deck when his aft landing wheel gave way, damaging the landing gear. Fortunately, there were no injuries.
TG 58.1 and TG 58.3 accompanied the Cabot toward the Caroline Islands, when all were attacked by enemy aircraft. At dusk, heavy AA fire was seen, with many fires observed in the area, presumably burning enemy planes.
Strikes on Palau Islands were made 30 March, with Cabot's Lt. (jg) Jack WIRTH flying an F6F on CAP. He rendezvoused with the wrong group and proceeded with a strike group from another carrier. Returning, WIRTH said he had shot down two Japanese Zekes and another probable, but he was not credited with the kills, because he did not stay with his group.
During one strike mission involving eight F6Fs and two TBMs, one of the latter did not return. It had been piloted by Lt. (jg) Jarrel S. JENKINS with a crew of T. B. CONLEN AMMlc and L. J. SUMERS, ARM2c. Pilots reported that the TBM made a direct hit on an AK, and the F6Fs strafed the same ship. Lt. (jg) JENKINS' plane was last seen pulling out of a dive after bombing the AK.
On 30 March, Cabot's CAP vectored out to intercept an enemy raid and reported shooting down nine torpedo planes (Jills)*. Eight were shot down immediately, and another headed for a DD, apparently attempting a suicide landing. Nevertheless, it was downed before reaching the DD.
Pilots who downed enemy planes in this skirmish were Lt. Cmdr. R. A. WINSTON, three; Lt. (jg) R. C. WILSON, three; Ens. F. HANCOCK, one, and Ens. C. N. NOOY, two.
Another pair of enemy planes was chased by two Cabot F6Fs for 40 miles, but could not be intercepted.
At 2230 hours, Cabot secured from general quarters, having been under attack for more than three hours. The Task Force sank three destroyers, 17 freighters, five oilers and damaged 17 other ships. Besides bombing the airfields our aircraft mined the waters around Palau to immobilize enemy shipping.
On 31 March, an F6F, piloted by Lt. (jg) Frank HAYDE crashed on approach. The plane skidded on the walkway, injuring E. BRECK, S2c on the catwalk. His condition was not serious, however.
Task Group 58.2 steamed at 30 knots on 1
April, while the Cabot was darkened in battle condition II and material condition B. All four boilers were on the main steam line, and she proceeded to a position to attack Woleai Island. At 0750 hours, the destroyers sighted the targets and later reported sinking two small Japanese fishing vessels.
At 1000 hours, the Cabot was ordered by the TG commander to send a couple of fighters to escort two seaplanes from USS Minneapolis (CA 36) into Woleai to pick up a pilot down in the water. The pilot was rescued, and Cabot launched six VFs for CAP and six VTBs for ASP. A photo mission was made over Woleai and while Combat Information Center reported 16 Bettys were headed our way, it turned out to be just one.
NOTE: WINSTON, in his book, Fighting Squadron, said these were Judys, or dive bombers with rear-seat gunners. He called this action a "grand slam", meaning nine kills.
At 1905 hours on 2 April, the Cabot backed all engines full to avoid colliding with the USS Conner (DD 582), which, for no apparent reason, had cut directly across the bow from the port quarter.
TG 58 was enroute to Majuro and was ordered by Admiral Spruance to proceed independently.
On 6 April at 0935 hours, the port anchor chain was walked out to 20 fathoms, and Cabot anchored in Majuro Lagoon in 15 fathoms of water.
By 13 April, the ship was underway and steaming in company with TG 58.2 as part of TF 58. She crossed the equator at 159°59.4" east, proceeding to New Guinea to join in the invasion of Hollandia. One of Cabot's TBMs reported being fired upon by a Langley (CVL 27) CAP plane, but no damage was done.
21 April was D-1 Day, and strikes were made on Wadke Island and Hollandia, New Guinea. The assault on Hollandia was the largest amphibious operation undertaken in the Southwest Pacific up to that time. More than 200 ships including carriers, battleships, cruisers and destroyers were commanded by Rear Admiral M. A. Mitscher to cover the landings.
That same day, the CAP sighted a submarine, but did not attack because there were so many American destroyers available to track it down.
Strike 3C (eight VFs and three VTs) wiped out two enemy aircraft on the ground at Hollandia. Lt. (jg) H. H. SCALES strafed two small ships in a cove north of Hollandia Bay. Ens. Adolph MENCIN destroyed some stores while Ens. W. E. DUGGINS demolished a concrete emplacement in the same area.
Ammunition used in the day's attack included 23,415 rounds of .50 caliber, nine 100 pound incendiary clusters, ten 500 pound semiarmor piercing bombs and three 500 pound general purpose bombs.
Cabot had a near collision with USS Wichita (CA 45) at 0135 hours, 23 April. Bill MEIER Slc was on lookout and notified the bridge that a vessel was off course. Tom O' GRADY WT2c remembers he was on watch that night in the Y2 fire room as the ship backed all engines full, sounded the siren and put the rudder over hard right to avoid a disaster. The Wichita which had cut across from starboard to port cleared Cabot's bow by a mere six feet.
The commanding officer publicly commended several men for their alertness, initiative decision-making and skill in helping avoid the near-collision. Those commended were:
Lt. F.A. ZIMANSKI, command duty officer Lt. (jg) P. J. MUELLER, officer of the deck Lt. (jg) T. J. MURPHY, officer of the watch, engine room Lt. (jg) T. D. ALEXANDER, junior officer of the watch Ens. R. H. DINGMAN, in charge of #1 engine room CWT A. V. SPRAGUE, chief of the watch, #1 fire room G. M. HUNT, WTlc, in charge of #2 fire room H. E. HARTFORD, MMlc, in charge of #2 engine room E. B. JOHNSON, MM2c, throttleman W. J. MOTTA, MM2c throttleman A. F. STEINER, MM2c throttleman L. J. LITTLE, MM2c throttleman G. G. BENNETT, QM3c helmsman R. M. THOMAS, Slc quartermaster of the watch R. R. SZATWICZ, QM3c annunciator watch Had the collision not been avoided, the heavy cruiser would have cut the Cabot in two. With a full load of aviation gasoline on board, it could have ignited and caused one of the worst disasters of the 5th Fleet.
Recalls Capt. Frank ZIMANSKI (USNA-1938): "From the second we detected the wild errant Wichita heading for us at 33 knots relative, we had not a second to lose-not to avoid collision, but to minimize the impact: "It is my belief that our starboard lookout was the first to detect the cruiser. He was the key and should have been singled out for the highest award- Lt. MUELLER lost not a second in backing all engines full speed astern. I relieved him of the conn. and ordered hard right rudder and emergency back full. The engine and fireroom gave us every ounce of steam pressure and every ounce was necessary! Capt. SHOEFFEL calculated we missed by two Fifths of a second!"
There was some disagreement between command duty officers. Some said the ship should have been turned port instead of starboard, but this would have been disastrous-Knight's Modern Seamanship agrees with ZIMANSKI. Chaplain R. L. SMITH and Lt. Paul ASHLEY one of the ship's doctors), who shared the same stateroom, were grateful to Lt. (jg) MUELLER and Lt. F. A. ZIMANSKI who would have been crushed to death had the ships collided.
Later on 23 April, the Cabot catapulted tour F6Fs for photographs and strikes on Wadke Island. Planes that bombed and strafed Wadke and Sawar used all their ammo and met no resistance except from small AA fire, which hit one of the F6Fs and forced it to land in the water three miles from the Cabot. The USS Hull (DD350) recovered Lt. (jg) J. L. WIRTH who was piloting VF #12 when it crashed.
Still another crash occurred at 1538 hours, 25 April, when TBM #5, piloted by Edward WOOD, hit the flight deck after going through barriers 2 and 3. The plane's tail hook had bounced over each arresting gear cable, causing the accident. No one was injured, but the plane was heavily damaged. Cabot's log records on 26 April, enemy aircraft were sighted and a destroyer reported "seeing a periscope".
29 April was the first day of a two-day strike on Truk Island by TG 58.2. At 0801 hours, TG commander ordered the Cabot to launch an emergency CAP of eight F6Fs to intercept an enemy attack. Japanese planes started to hit the Task Group and many ships in the formation opened fire. Three enemy planes were downed by AA tire, and a fourth was shot down by Lt.(jg) A. R. HAWKINS off Cabot's port quarter.
HAWKINS, from Lufkin, Texas, made what should be a record. His F6F had just been catapulted, and as he retracted the wheels, a Japanese torpedo plane came into his sights 5,000 yards from the ship. HAWKINS squeezed the trigger and promptly knocked him down.
He had barely been in the air more than 15 seconds when the incident occurred, and later it was discovered that still another plane, a Kate was shot down off the port bow just behind the horizon by F6F pilot Lt. (jg) F. HAYDE. All five attacking torpedo planes were downed reportedly four Kates and one Jill.
The VTB strike reported hitting hangars and buildings on Eten Island, leaving the airfield enveloped in flames and smoke. One of the TBM pilots, Lt. (jg) W. FISCHER, was hit by AA fire in the wing, but the damage was not serious.
M. W. HELM, ARM2c received slight shrapnel wounds in his right side and forearm but was returned to duty.
At 1330 hours, the Cabot recovered 13 VFs and four VTs of strike 3C and CAP. They reported direct hits on barracks areas southwest of Dublon seaplane base, bombing of Eten Island and setting a small ship on fire. A TBM from the Bunker Hill (CV 17) was recovered and the damaged plane had been hit by AA fire.
W. J. SCHUETZ, AMM2c was dead when removed from the plane and was buried at sea.
One of Cabot's planes piloted by Lt. (jg) B.
D. GALT Jr. was forced to make a water landing, but was picked up by The Sullivans. L. A. LUDFORD, S2c was slightly injured when an F6F machine gun accidentally misfired on the hangar deck.
The Cabot waged further attacks on Truk 30 April. Rejoining our screen were the USS MacDonough (DD 351) and USS Stephen Potter (DD 538). Both reported sinking a small sub.
During the strikes, Eten Island was successfully photographed and military installations on Dublon were bombed. VF #13, #24 and #19 all crashed into the barrier after landing too high and too fast.
Cabot's log notes that strike 3C bombed oil tanks in the Dublon seaplane base and scored a hit on the bow of a small tanker near Fetan Island.
In all, the attack on Truk netted American plane losses of 27 versus 63 enemy planes destroyed in the air and at least 60 on the ground.
On 1 May, the 5th Fleet was headed for Majuro, where it would be based and conduct maneuvers and training the whole month until plans were announced for the Marianas invasion.
On 5 May, Capt. S. J. MICHAEL and Capt. M. F. SCHOEFFEL inspected the lower decks and at 1015 hours, muster was held for captains' inspection. The two checked the crew in divisional parades. In conclusion, Capt. MICHAEL took command from Capt. SCHOEFFEL in a special ceremony.
As the fast aircraft carrier had emerged as the ship needed to win the war in the Pacific, there was desperate need for flag officers, (commodores and admirals) who were aviators. Most flag officers were battleship-trained and did not know how to handle a carrier.
In view of this situation, Capt. SCHOEFFEL, a pioneer aviator, was promoted to admiral and called immediately to Washington to serve on the staff of Admiral E. J. King, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations. Now a rear admiral, SCHOEFFEL, a near genius, was an aviator and had the experience of commanding a fast carrier, so his knowledge was needed at once by King.
On 10 May, Cmdr. DAVID J. WELSH reported on board as executive officer, and on 19 May, about 50 S2cs and F2cs reported for duty. A week later, on 26 May, a number of crewmen were transferred to the USS Belleau Wood (CVL 24).
Still more changes were to come. On 4 June Lt. Cmdr. Daniel B. CANDLER came aboard as navigator to replace Lt. Cmdr. Edwin S. MILLER, who would later command the Lowry (DD 770). It was one of many destroyers that was involved in the most dangerous task assigned to any ship during the war-picket duty off Okinawa. (The National Broadcasting Company cited Cmdr. MILLER for valor on a radio broadcast in Dec. 1945 for his part in action off Okinawa.)
Two days later, on 6 June, Medals were presented the following officers: Lt. (jg) Arthur R. HAWKINS, Distinguished Flying Cross Lt. (jg) Steve G. KONA, Air Medal Lt. tg) James G. STEWART, Air Medal Lt. (jg) Robert C. WILSON, Air Medal Lt. (jg) John L. WIRTH, Air Medal George SOULE, S2c, Presidential Unit Citation
OPERATION "FORAGER" and the "MARIANAS TURKEY SHOOT"
The Marianas Islands and the Battle of the Philippine Sea The Marianas, named for Queen Maria Ana of Spain, consist of Tinian, Saipan, Rota and Guam plus several smaller islands. Japan had occupied these former German possessions since 1914, and had been given mandate over them by the League of Nations. In 1917, Guam had been placed under the protection of the U.S. Dept. of Navy, but the island was captured by the Japanese in 1941.
Allied invasion of the Marianas was set for June 1944, with more than 600 vessels participating battleships, heavy and light carriers cruisers, high-speed transports and tankers.
Also to take part in the amphibious landings were more than 2,000 aircraft and some 300,000
men from the Navy, Army and Marines.
D-Day, 15 June, was the beginning of operation "Forager". The famous battle of the Philippine Sea took place on 19 June and was nicknamed the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" by Cmdr. Paul D. BUIE of the USS Lexington (CV 16).
The strength of the United States at the time can be realized when it is remembered that the invasion of Europe was also taking place then.
Our occupation of the Marianas would cut the Japanese-protected lines of communication from Japan. Tinian would become the base for the B29, which could reach Tokyo and other areas of Japan, once the island was captured.
On 8 June, Task Force 58 steamed out of Majuro to neutralize all Japanese air bases in the Marianas. The largest group of fast carriers with a total 884 planes, were in TF 58 as follows:
Task Group 58.1
USS Hornet (CV 12), 91 *
USS Yorktown (CV 10), 86
USS Belleau Wood (CVL 24), 35
USS Bataan (CVL 29), 33
Task Group 58.2
USS Bunker Hill (CV 17), 92
USS Wasp (CV 18), 97
USS Monterey (CVL 26), 29
USS Cabot (CVL 28), 34
Task Group 58.3
USS Enterprise (CV 6), 71
USS Lexington (CV 16), 92
USS San Jacinto (CVL 30), 32
USS Princeton (CVL 23), 33
Task Group 58.4
USS Essex (CV 9), 93
USS Langley (CVL 27), 32
USS Cowpens (CVL 25), 35
*Denotes total planes aboard including F6Fs TBMs, SB2cs and/or SBDs.
On 8 June, TBM #2 was slow taking off, failed to gain enough air speed and spun into the water. The plane sank immediately, and there were no survivors. The pilot, Ens. C. MANTELL, and crewmen M. W. HELM ARM2c and G. L. TURNER, AOM2c, were killed.
Fredrick DUDLEY, AOMlc remembers the loss of the Avenger and its crew: "In our group (V2 Division) we had a fine young man named General Lee TURNER. He was a good friend and had been checked out as a turret gunner while in ordinance school. We had lost some of our pilots and gunners in combat creating some vacancies, so TURNER applied and was accepted; it was something he wanted to do.
On his first mission (ASP) the pilot, (also a replacement) gunned the plane down the flight deck, took off and banked to the right as usual but he never brought the plane back up. It sliced into the water on our starboard side and disappeared. I remember standing on the flight deck for a long time looking astern and hoping to see someone. Finally two large bubbles appeared in the distance, telling us the depth charges had gone off, and there was no more hope."
11 June, the TF 58 was southeast of Saipan launching fighter sweeps and strikes on Tinian and Saipan to neutralize air opposition before the amphibious landings. At 1300 hours, the Cabot sent 12 F6F fighters to make a sweep over Tinian, and the following enemy planes were destroyed: Lt. S. G. KONA-one shot down, two damaged on ground Lt. (jg) E. FREE-one damaged, one destroyed on ground Lt. (jg) R. O. ZIMMERMAN-one shot down, one damaged on ground Ens. W. G. ANDREWS-one shot down, three destroyed on ground Lt. D. W. MULCAHY-one shot down, three damaged on ground Lts (jg) J. M. BOWIE-one shot down, three damaged on ground Lt. (jg) D. B. GALT, Jr-two shot down Lt. (jg) D. B. DRISCOLL-two shot down Lt. C. H. TURNER-two shot down, two probables Lt. (jg) V. A. RIEGER-two shot down, three damaged on ground Lt. (jg) R. D. CONANT-one damaged in air, three on ground The Cabot presumably suffered another casualty 11 June as Ens. R. G. WHITWORTH was last seen in a dogfight over Tinian. Later VF #32, piloted by D. W. DIETRICH, broke its tail hook in landing and pitched forward onto its nose in the barriers.
The Task Force attacked Saipan, Tinian and Guam 12 June with Lt. J. S. STEWART shooting down a Judy. As Tinian was bombed and strafed, a torpedo wake was seen crossing Cabot's port bow. The general alarm was sounded and material condition "able" was set as the ship made an emergency turn to port-in the direction of the torpedo wake-and it passed harmlessly by.
Also that day, an estimated 100 survivors of a Japanese ship were picked up by the USS Lexington. One survivor jumped overboard, but was retrieved by a destroyer.
On 14 June, strikes were made on Rota, with buildings demolished as well as a 7,000 ton AK set fire. D-Day, 15 June, saw another strike on Saipan, where Cabot destroyed ammunition dumps and hit gun emplacements. Ens. A. J. LAUBER dropped a depth charge on a Japanese sub, and an oil slick appeared on the water's surface. Ens. R. G. WHITWORTH who had been last seen in the 11 June dogfight over Tinian, was picked up by the USS Caperton (DD 650) after three days in a rubber raft.
Admiral Ozawa sent out a series of carrier raids on the fleet in an attempt to stop the Saipan invasion. On 18 June, Ens. R. A. SHIELDS dropped four 350 pound depth charges on a sampan, and prior to the Ozawa raids, Cabot's Fighters shot down six "Zekes" over Guam, with Lt. C. H. TURNER downing three, Ens. W. G. ANDREWS dropping one and Lt. (jg) R. D. CONANT and Lt. (jg) J. M. BOWIE getting one each.
The following is quoted from the book Angel On The Yardarm: The Beginnings of Fleet Radar Defense and the Kamikaze Threat by John Monsarrat who served on the USS Langley (CVL 27):
"The Japanese mobile fleet, counterpart to our fast carrier Task Force, and its supporting supply ships, was assembled at Tawi Tawi, just off the northeastern tip of Borneo. Under the command of Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, its main combatant ships were nine aircraft carriers, five battleships, seven cruisers, and 28 destroyers. These ships, which were organized into three Task Groups represented the largest Japanese striking force of the entire war, but most of its pilots and aircrews were inexperienced and severely hampered by lack of training."
"On 13, June, Ozawa sortied from Tawi Tawi with orders to proceed to the Marianas and destroy the American invasion force. Almost from the moment of his departure, he was sighted and shadowed by U.S. submarines, which provided the best intelligence Admiral Spruance was to receive for many days to come. After refueling at Guimaras in the Philippines, Ozawa passed eastward through San Bernardino Strait on the 15th, again sighted and reported by the submarine Flying Fish. It was now apparent that a major sea battle was imminent in the Philippine Sea, west of the Marianas.
"Just as Spruance and Mitscher were poring over every report that reached the 5th Fleet, Nimitz and Towers were doing the same thing at CinCPac. On the 16th while we were on our mission at Iwo Jima Towers warned Spruance and Mitscher that the Japanese might try to shuttle bomb our carriers by launching strikes from beyond our round trip range, then landing on their airfields in the Marianas to refuel and rearm for another attack on the long flight back to their own ships. This proved to be a remarkable prescient warning, for that was precisely the Japanese battle plan.
"The decisions that Admiral Spruance made in the next two days reopened and re-emphasized the old controversy between the 'air admirals' and the 'battleship admirals'. Basically at issue was the contention of carrier commanders such as Towers, Halsey, and Mitscher that the fast carriers should not be tied to supporting operations on the shore; they would be free to capitalize on their great mobility and striking power by ranging far afield to seek out and destroy the enemy's main forces."
"After the Battle of Midway, two years earlier, Spruance was criticized by some of the air admirals for not having pursued the remnants of the Japanese Fleet more aggressively and persistently after the initial actions had been successfully completed. Instead, he had elected to turn back and disengage, staying relatively close to the scene at Midway. The air admirals contended that this election had lost us a great opportunity to destroy the Japanese naval force once and for all, thereby shortening the war by perhaps years."
"Now, in the Philippine Sea almost exactly two years later, Spruance's tactics were to be subjected to the same criticism. Spruance's main concern was to protect the integrity of the large force already ashore on Saipan and of those still to be landed on Guam and Tinian. He was haunted by the thought that, if he took TF 58 away from the Marianas to find and attack the Japanese far to the west, a second enemy force might make an 'end run' around him and create havoc at Saipan in his absence."
"Accordingly, he moved the American transports and supply ships clustered off Saipan to a position well east of the island to keep them out of harm's way, and tethered TF 58 to a defensive position just west of the islands. Rightly expecting to be attacked in this position early on the 19th, he ordered Mitscher to clear all carrier decks for maximum use of fighter aircraft by sending their bombers and torpedo planes to orbit out of the way over Saipan. He then disposed the four carrier task groups 12 miles apart from one another and pulled out the battleships from each group to form a fifth group 15 miles to the west, in case the enemy should bring its ships within engagement range of surface ships. With the stage so set, the Task Force waited for the attack."
"Proceeding east from the Philippines Ozawa launched his strikes at maximum range, a few minutes before 10 o'clock on the morning of 19 June. Large groups of bogeys began to appear on the radar at ranges of more than 100 miles to the west. The combat air patrol was augmented by massive numbers of fighters, and those from the Essex in task group were the first to engage the enemy 55 miles away."
"The enemy planes behaved peculiarly. After approaching to within about 60 miles of our ships, they went into a circle and orbited for several minutes, apparently while their strike leader gave them final orders. This maneuver gave our fighters time to intercept them far from the task force and to get into optimum attack position. The pattern was repeated all day long, and many of the Japanese pilots indulged in aimless aerobatics before being engaged."
"The inexperience and lack of training of the enemy's pilots were apparent early in the day, and the four massive raids they mounted during the long day were almost totally destroyed. Few attackers were able to penetrate to our ships, and the Langley's antiaircraft guns were not even fired, despite the 473 aircraft Ozawa launched against the Task Force. More than 300 were shot down over the task force and stragglers who attempted to land on Saipan, Rota or Guam were destroyed by fighters over the airfields."
"In all, it was a triumphant day for American fighters and fighter direction. In the Navy, 19 June became known as the day of the Marianas Turkey Shoot. It was as first thought that the fast carrier Task Force, in defending itself against the four main raids from the Japanese carriers and those of land-based aircraft from the islands, had shot down more than 400 planes. The elimination of duplicate claims later reduced this number to something over 300. By any count, it was the greatest single shoot-down of the war in any theater, including the Battle of Britain; and it was achieved with a loss of only 29 American planes, including six lost operationally."
In U.S. Navy At War 1941-45, the official reports of Fleet Admiral King differ somewhat from Lt. Monsarrat's Record, and the final results of the Marianas Turkey Shoot were:
39S Japanese planes lost in combat 20 US planes lost in combat 6 F6F Hellcats 10 SB2C Helldivers 4 TBM Avengers 80 U.S. planes lost operationally (deck crashes and ditching)
17 F6F Hellcats 35 SB2C Helldivers 28 TBM Avengers In all, only 49 pilots and crewmen were lost thanks to the effective fleet rescue operations.
The Cabot's log reports her part in the Turkey Shoot as follows:
"At 1047 hours, bogies were spotted about 55 miles away, and the Cabot used her AA guns to shoot down a Japanese fighter astern. The results of V. Cap #2 with six F6Fs were:
Lt. J. B. STEWART-3 downed
Lt. (jg) A. R. HAWKINS-3 downed
Lt. (jg) J. L. WIRTH-4 downed
Lt. (jg) F. R. HAYDE-3 downed
Lt. (jg) D. B. GALT Jr.-1 downed
Lt. (jg) D. B. DRISCOLL-1 downed
Eight F6F Hellcats made up a fighter scramble which downed seven planes as follows:
Lt. (jg) H. H. SCALES-2
Lt. F. W. MULCAHY-2
Lt. G. KONA-1
Ens. S. W. GODSEY-1
Ens. C. W. DIETRICH-1
VF-31 shot down 28 Japanese planes without a loss, living up to its nickname, 'The Meat Axe Squadron'. The ship's AA guns shot down three Tonys dive bombing the USS Wasp.
At 1540 hours, 20 June, the Ozawa Fleet was contacted, and Admiral MITSCHER decided to go after them. He realized the first strike would have to make a night landing, and would probably run out of fuel since the distance to the Japanese - 215 miles - had been miscalculated by 60 miles. Thus, the second flight was canceled.
As part of the strike, the Cabot launched four TBMs at 1605 hours. As the planes were returning in the dark and low on fuel, Mitscher, at 2025 hours ordered all ships to turn on the red truck lights, endearing the admiral to the pilots.
The Cabot and the rest of the carriers were ordered to take on any planes from the fleet.
Our ship recovered nine, with just two our own. Recovered were an SB2C from the Bunker Hill two F6Fs from the Wasp, and others. At 2247 hours, the lights were turned off, many planes had landed in the water and pilots and crew were picked up the next morning.
One of Cabot's TBMs tried to land on the Bunker Hill, but made a barrier crash and burned. The pilot suffered first- and second-degree burns, but was in good condition otherwise.
Lt. E. E. "Ted" WOOD and wingman Lt. (jg) "Beast" RUSSELL went after the Chiyoda, a Japanese CVL, and thought they had hit it. On returning, "Beast" RUSSELL was allowed to land on any carrier he could, so he chose a larger Essex-type instead of a small CVL. Selecting one in the dark, he landed and asked what carrier he was on, and much to his surprise, found it was his own small carrier, the Cabot. It is said he fell to his knees and kissed the deck.
During the same strike, Lt. (jg) D. W. SMITH and Ens. Jimmy JONES Jr. hit a Kongo-class battleship with three bombs. Of the four Avengers, two returned safely by pilots RUSSELL and WOOD. Lt. WOOD had just five gallons of gas left when he landed on the Cabot. JONES returned onto the Bunker Hill, while SMITH made a water landing with a crew of Vincent McGRATH, ARMlc and G. J. Van BLAIRCUM, AMM2c.
Results of the strike by the 5th Fleet were five hits on a Shokakuaku-class carrier, one CVE hit and on fire, two battleships on fire, one oiler sunk and one on fire.
On 21 June, Fighter Director Lt. "Wary" WERRENRATH vectored out Lt. (jg) WILSON, who shot down a Betty to make him an ace. The next day, the USS Hunt delivered SMITH, McGRATH and VAN BLARICUM back to the Cabot.
On 24 June, the Cabot was steaming with Task Group 58.2 to knock out air fields on Pagan Island. Two days later, the ship was enroute to Eniwetok, anchored on 27 June and left 30 June to attack the Bonin Islands (Iwo Jima). A strike was launched there on 4 July resulting in three F6F pilots missing: Ens. F. HANCOCK Jr., Lt. (jg) H. G. ELEZIAN and Lt. (jg) M. L. LOOMIS.
On 29 June, Lt. Cmdr. Robert A. WINSTON, commanding officer of Air Group 31, was detached with a record of 64-0. His fighter squadron had downed 64 Japanese planes, and he had not lost a pilot. This was truly a remarkable record for the Commanding Officer who was much older than his men.
WINSTON recommended Lt. Adolph MENCIN as new commanding officer of AG 31, but Lt. Cmdr. D. J. WALLACE reported on board in that post. Others reporting for duty on the Cabot were: Ens. Martin C. MOORE, Ens. Joseph M. MARDESICH Jr., Ens . Albert SCHELLENBERG, Ens. Thomaeus J. KOSOWICZ and Ens. Maurice L. NAYLON Jr.
The strikes on Iwo Jima resulted in:
Lt. (jg) C. N. NOOY-3 Zekes shot down
Lt. A. MENCIN-3 Zekes shot down
Ens. W. E. DUGGINS-1 Jill shot down
Lt. (jg) D. C. McLAUGHLIN-1 Tony shot down
Ens. H. H. OSBORNE-1 Zeke shot down
Cabot's planes also destroyed large buildings and a fuel dump, and it hit a DD minesweeper.
Independence Day 1944 was a reminder to the Japanese that the U.S. Navy was in full command of this war, and defeat would not be far away.
7 July saw the Cabot enroute back to strike Guam, and the following day, our planes shot down nine Japanese aircraft:
Lt. D. W. MULCAHY-1
Lt. (jg) D. B. GALT Jr.-2
Lt. (jg) A. R. HAWKINS-1
Lt. (jg) D. B. DRISCOLL-2
Lt. (jg) J. L. WIRTH-1
Lt. (jg) F. R. HAYDE-1
Lt. (jg) SWEATT-1
Strikes over Rota on 9 July brought direct hits on runways and buildings, with the bombardment lasting seven days. F6F pilot Ens. T. J. KOSOWICZ failed to return from Guam, and the "Forager" campaign lasted until 24 July.
The following were awarded medals as a result:Lt. E. E. WOOD, Distinguished Flying Cross Lt. D. W. MULCAHY, Air Medal Lt. (jg) E. J. LARKIN, Air Medal Lt. (jg) H. H. SCALES, Air Medal Ens. H. A. BO, Air Medal Ens. C. N. NOOY, Air Medal Ens. R. A. SHIELDS, Air Medal Ens. R. C. WILSON, Air Medal R. SPRINGER GM2c, Presidential Unit Citation R. E. HYLTON, EM2c, Purple Heart
On 13 July 1944, the Cabot was transferred to Task Group 58.1 under Admiral J. J. Clark.
"Jocko" Clark, as he was called, was part Cherokee Indian and a fighting admiral - his Task Force hit the Jimas so many times, they were nicknamed the "Jocko Jimas".
Admiral Clark was skipper of the USS Suwannee (CVE 27) early in the war, and commissioned out the USS Yorktown (CV 10) as its first captain.
The Cabot's log at the time reads: "15 July Lt. (jg) F. R. HAYDE, pilot of an F6F failed to return to the Cabot. 16 July, on a return strike H. W. FOWLER, ARM2c, VT 31 had gunshot wounds in right shoulder from AA fire. Lt.Cmdr. Dan J. WALLACE missed arresting wires and crashed into barrier, but no personal injuries.
18 July, the Task Group hit Rota and Guam. 20 July, Joseph D. ROBERTS, S2c fell from lookout watch on port side of open bridge to the platform; internal injuries and condition fair.
24 July, the Group approaching Woleai Island. Lt. (jg) R. O. ZIMMERMAN made a barrier crash landing with no personal injuries.
25 July, the Force bombed and strafed Ulithi Atoll and on the 26th, TBM #1 missing from strike on Yap, but picked up by USS Brown (DD 546) and returned Lt. (jg) J. B. RUSSELL and crewmen W. M. BENNETT, AMM2c and H. M. WEBSTER, PhoMlc.
On 28 July, Lt. D. MULCAHY made forced landing after strike on Yap. Also, Lt. (jg) Edwin FREE made water landing 15 miles from Yap but returned later by the USS Bell (DD 587).
After anchoring in Saipan on 1-2 Aug., TG 58.1 headed for the Jimas, when it was reported that a Japanese convoy was steaming north from Chichi Jima. Admiral Clark launched his torpedo planes to attack, and sank nine of the 11 enemy ships, including a destroyer and two escorts. VT 31 of the Cabot took part in this victory as the log records on 4 Aug., "Lt. E. E. WOOD A-V (N) sank a Fubuki-class DD at Futani KO."
Information from Japanese sources after the SSAR indicated no Fubuki-class DD was sunk on or around this date. The Fubuki was a l,750-ton destroyer, and the Amagiri of this clasS was the destroyer that split President John F. Kennedy's PT boat in half. Records do show, however, that the Matsu, a DE was sunk on 4 Aug. 1944, and this was probably the ship Lt. WOOD sunk.*
In a letter from WOOD to the author, he writes, "I remember the event quite vividly since it was my first experience of having my plane hit by anti-aircraft fire (not particularly serious, but scary!)
"I confirmed this with Jim HUNT, who was on the flight with Don HORNBERGER and me. As to what type DD or DE was sunk, I have no idea, other than one was indeed sunk. Jim HUNT also confirmed that Don HORNBERGER and his crew were lost on that attack. "
It should be noted that during the Jimas attacks, Lt. (jg) J. S. STEWART sank two 60-foot barges loaded with men and supplies about four miles from Ani Jima. An additional Score was made by STEWART when he made a direct hit and a near miss on the stern of a large DD or CL.
Missing from the torpedo run at Chichi Jima harbor were Lt. (jg) D. L. HORNBERGER and crew Ken POHL, ARM2c and R. A. ANDERSON, AMM2c. Lt. A. J. PARKENHAM and Lt. R. G. MELLIN hit two AKs and set them on fire. PARKENHAM did not see his torpedo hit, but the target had vanished.
Also in the 3rd Fleet, our sister ship the USS San Jacinto (CVL 30) struck the Bonins and Yap in a diversionary action prior to the capture and occupation of the southern Palau Islands.
Ens. George Bush, the youngest-ever commissioned aviator, piloted an Avenger torpedo plane and was shot down over the Bonins and Chichi Jima on 2 Sept. 1944. He was picked by the rescue submarine Finback (SS 230) and spent 30 terrifying days with them before rejoining the San Jacinto. Like the Cabot, the San Jacinto and VT 51, which Bush was in, later received the Presidential Unit Citation. George Bush is now vice president of the United States and very possibly could be our next president.
On 6 Aug., the USS Brown (DD S46) delivered mail to the Cabot. Mail call, which occurred about every seven days while refueling was one of the most welcome morale boosters to the crew in the middle of the Pacific.
Cabot anchored at Eniwetok on 9 Aug., and while there, new men reported for duty with VF 31, including: J. D. McCORMICK, Slc, E. L. DOUGLAS, MM3c, W. D. FROMLET, S2c G. EVANS, RdM3c, Ens. Howard A. McMILLIAN, Ens. George G. BARDIN Jr. R. R. METZ, S2c (later killed in the "K" attack) and Ens. Edward W. TOASPERN.
On 17 Aug., Lt. Robert A. NEWCOMB USN reported aboard as assistant gunnery officer and acting first division officer. In February 1945, he relieved Lt. Cmdr. ZIMANSKI as gunnery officer.
The Cabot was underway again on 2S Aug.
for exercises, but was back at anchor from 26-31 Aug. During this period, the ship steamed along with TG 58.2 for training northeast of Eniwetok. On 28 Aug., a crewman jumped overboard, but was picked up after resisting the rescuers.
September was a busy month for the Cabot as American forces planned to land on Peleliu in the Palau Islands by the 15th. Early on in the month, the Cabot was part of TG 38.2, which meant the 5th Fleet had been renamed the 3rd Fleet under Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey's command. The renaming was done to confuse the Japanese and make them think the U.S. had two fleets. Actually, they were the same, but commanders had changed, as Admiral Halsey said later, "The drivers change but the horses stay the same."
NOTE: The Matsu had 5 inch guns, but is classified as a DE by Conway's Fighting Ships. Even so, others list it as a DD. An unofficial source reports the Matsu as a "destroyer sunk on 4 Aug. 1944, 50 miles NW of Chichi Jima Retto. * Who Sank Who in World War II, David R. Logsdon, 1983.
To neutralize bases which could interfere with the Peleliu invasion, the fast carriers struck Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines. Lack of opposition there led the carriers to hit the central Philippines as well, and later in September, they conducted the first carrier attack on Manila and Luzon.
Aboard the Cabot, awards were presented on 5 Sept. to:
Lt. (jg) R. C. WILSON-Distinguished Flying Cross Lt. (jg) C. N. NOOY-Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart Lt. S. E. HEDRICK-Air Medal Lt. (jg) R. D. CONANT-Purple Heart Lt. (jg) J. B. RUSSELL-Purple Heart Lt. (jg) H. H. OSBORNE-Air Medal and Purple Heart Lt. (jg) R. P. McCHESNEY-Air Medal Ens. R. G. WHITWORTH-Purple Heart K. M. BALMER, CSM-Presidential unit Citation W. N. BENNETT, AMM2c-Purple Heart H. W. FOWLER, ARM2c-Purple Heart H. M. WEBSTER, PhoMlc-Purple Heart On 6 Sept., aircraft was launched to strike the Palau Islands, and two barges were set fire.
There was no air opposition and only slight AA fire.
Another strike bombed and strafed AA positions on Koror Harbor. A torpedo plane scored hits on an ammo dump on Arakabesan Island sending a 1,500 foot column of smoke resembling a phosphorus shell explosion.
9 Sept. was the day the USS Independence (CVL 22) launched four VF(N) fighters at night. These night fighters were assigned to the Independence as well as the Enterprise (CV 6) and the Saratoga (CV 3). On other carriers aircraft operated only in daylight.
On 10 Sept., the Cabot was steaming in company east of Mindanao, and one fighter sweep dropped incendiaries and special bombs over the central part of Davao. The town was left covered by smoke and flames. On return, a fighter strafed and set fire a PT boat on the east side of Davao Gulf.
Ens. John J. ARNOLD and Ens. Jerome L. WOLF joined VF 31 on 11 Sept, and the following day, the ship was enroute to strike the central Philippines. That day, eight F6Fs were catapulted along with four TBFs for hits over Leyte and Bohol Islands. There they bombed and strafed the Leyte and Tacloban airfields destroying a twin-engine bomber, and damaged two VFs on the ground. There was no air opposition. Another strike damaged a building south of Tacloban airfield, ruining the runways.
Meanwhile, a strike northeast of Cebu Island sank one medium and two 4,000-ton AKs. A 200-ton inter-island ammunition ship was blown up as well.
At 1935 hours, a night fighter from the Independence shot down a Dinah.
There were four launchings from the Cabot on 13 Sept.: (1) eight VFs and four VTs, (2) six VFs and four VTs, (3) eight VFs and four VTs and (4) 11 VFs and four VTs. The first group shot down two Tojos, two Zekes, and one Jill taking off from Legaspi airfield, and destroyed two Bettys and two Judys on the ground on Luzon.
Afterwards, three fighter pilots were missing:
Lt. R. O. ZIMMERMAN, Lt. E. FREE and Ens. G. G. BARDIN. ZIMMERMAN was reported down 10 miles north of the Samar Island tip, and at 1046 hours, two F6Fs were sent to escorts for an OS2U rescue plane to recover the pilot. BARDIN had made a water landing and was not recovered.
Results of the second strike of 13 Sept. netted a damaged Betty at Silay field on Negros Island and bombing and strafing of runways at Cebu airfield. Another strike at Makabia airfield damaged buildings and hangars on Tanza field.
At 1815 hours, a destroyer rescued Cabot pilot Lt. R. O. ZIMMERMAN after he made a water landing. The plane had been hit over Legaspi airfield on Luzon.
14 Sept., a fighter piloted by Lt. (jg) Daniel DRISCOLL reportedly hit the water, and two Cabot fighters circled overhead for protection.
Another barrier crash took place 16 Sept. with a TBM piloted by Lt. (jg) J. T. HUNT Jr.
After fueling, the ship then proceeded to launching position for strikes over the Palaus north of Peleliu Island. During the attack, one VF piloted by Lt. J. L. WIRTH made an emergency landing on the USS Bunker Hill (CV 17).
On 18 Sept., the USS Cushing (DD 717) came alongside the starboard quarter to transfer Lt.(jg) E. HOEY and Ens. R. F. HAAS to the USS Intrepid (CV 11) for a conference on special bombs.
On 15 Sept. the following men were presented awards:
The Legion of Merit Captain S.J. MICHAEL The Navy Cross Lt. E.E. WOOD Lt. J.B. RUSSELL Lt. D.W. SMITH Lt.(jg) C.N. NOOY Lt. J.L. WIRTH Silver Star V.A. McGRATH, ARM1c G.J. Van BLARICUM, AMM2c Lt. A. MENCIN T.R. LEGETT, Jr. ARMlc C.F. KEILLY, ARM1c L.E. WALTERS, ARM2c R.J. DRAKE, AMM2c I.F. BEWLEY, AMM2c W.M. BENNETT, AMM2c Distinguished Flying Cross Lt. J.S. STEWART Lt. D.W. MULCAHY Lt. C.H. TURNER Lt.(jg) D.B. GALT, Jr. Lt.(jg) D.B. DRISCOLL Lt.(jg) V.A. RIEGER Lt.(jg) BOWIE Lt. H.H. SCALES Lt.(jg) W.G. ANDREWS Gold Star in lieu of second DFC Lt. C.H. TURNER Lt.(jg) A.R. HAWKINS Lt.(jg) D.B. GALT, Jr. Air Medal Lt. D.W. MULCAHY Lt. J.T. ANDERSON Lt.(jg) D.C. McLAUGHLIN Lt.0g) A.R. HAWKINS Lt. R.O. ZIMMERMAN Lt.(jg) J.M. BOWIE Lt.(jg) E. FREE Lt.(jg) D.B. DRISCOLL Lt .(jg) R.D. CONANT Lt.(jg) D.B. GALT, Jr. Lt.(jg) W.E. DUGGINS Lt.(jg) S.W. GODSEY Lt.(jg) C.W. DIETRICH Gold Star in lieu of 2nd Air Medal Lt. D.W. MULCAHY LT. S.G. KONA Lt. J.S. STEWART Lt. J.L. WIRTH Lt.(jg) D.B. DRISCOLL Lt.(jg) R.C. WILSON Lt.(jg) H.H. OSBORN Lt.(jg) W.G. ANDREWS Gold Star in lieu of 3rd Air Medal Lt. S.G. KONA Bronze Star Lt. W.M. HALL Lt.(jg) R. WERRENRATH, Jr.
The next day, the Cabot, along with TG 38.2 was on its way to Manila. A hit on Luzon was made 21 Sept., with VF pilot Ens. Maurice L. NAYLON missing, reported to have parachuted over Clark Field, where 16 enemy planes were shot down.
The VT strike made two torpedo hits on a large AO at the mouth of Subic Bay, and the ship was sinking.
On 22 Sept., the fighters encountered six "Vals" between Clark field and Lingayen field and were shot down. Twelve 500# bombs were dropped on a building, but the results were not seen.
Refueling was made 23 Sept., with the Cabot taking on 25,400 gallons of aviation gasoline and 224,091 gallons of fuel oil.
Strikes were made over Coron Bay 24 Sept. with VF pilot Ens. A SCHELLENBERG landing on the USS Essex (CV 9) with a damaged wing.
Other hits that day destroyed a VF on the ground at Lanog field while 15 others were strafed on the ground. Three SCs were fired on near the east coast of Burias and one DE was beached between Culion and Busuanga Islands.
The Cabot was headed to base on Saipan Island on 25 Sept., anchoring in 12 fathoms of water there on 28 Sept. Lt. William F. DOHME was granted emergency leave for 30 days upon arrival in the U.S., and on 30 Sept., the Cabot had left Saipan.
AIR GROUP 31 January-October 1944
Air Group 31
The Cabot returned to Ulithi on 4 Oct. 1944 and pursuant to the commanding officer's orders, Air Group 31 was detached and transferred to the USS Barnes (CVE 20), and Air Group 29 reported aboard.
Air Group 31 had compiled an outstanding record since the Marshall Islands action, but it was time for a new air group as it was Navy policy to relieve groups after six to nine months of duty.
The record of Air Group 31 was so outstanding that it helped win the Cabot the highest award presented a ship-the Presidential Unit Citation. Here is a recap of the first air group's performance:
Awards Not Recorded in the Ship's Log Distinguished Flying Cross Lt. (jg) Frank R. HAYDE Lt. Cmdr. Robert A. WINSTON Lt. Stewart E. HEDRICK Lt. Edward E. WOOD Lt. G. A. J. PAKENHAM Lt. John B. RUSSELL Ens. Richard G. MELLIN Thomas R. LEGETT Jr., ACRM Leslie E. WALTERS, ARM2c Ira F. BEWLEY, AMM2c Warren N. BENNETT, AMM2c Cornelius F. KEILLY, ARM2c Robert J. DRAKE, AMM2c Air Medal Lt. tg) Haig G. ELEZIAN Jr. Ens. Frank HANCOCK Lt. (jg) Frank R. HAYDE Lt. (jg) Malcolm L. LOOMIS Lt. (jg) Harold E. SWEATT Lt. Cmdr. Robert A. WINSTON Lt. Adolph MENCIN Ens. Maurice L. NAYLON Jr. Lt. (jg) Vincent A. RIEGOR Ens. Albert SCHELLENBERG Lt. (jg) Richard G. WHITWORTH Lt. (jg) Donald L. HORNBERGER Purple Heart Lt. (jg) Cornelius N. NOOY Ens. Robert A SHIELDS Milton W. HELM, ARM2c Navy Cross Ens. Jarnes JONES Jr. Navy and Marine Medal* Howard M. WEBSTER Jr., PhoMlc * for acts of heroism outside combat. This is the same medal President John F. Kennedy earned for saving the lives of some of his PT crew in the South Pacific.
1 Oct. 1944
Pilots of Fighting Squadron 31 shot down 147 enemy planes between 29 Jan. and 25 Sept. 1944 as folllows:
Name Score Type of Plane Remarks
Lt. J. T. ANDERSON (2) 1 Zeke, 1 Val
Ens. J. J. ARNOLD (0)
Lt. (jg) W. G. ANDREWS (4) 2 Zekes, 2 Vals
Ens. G. G. BARDIN Jr Killed 9/13/44
Lt. (jg) J. M. BOWIE (3) 2 Zekes, 1 Val Lt. (jg)
R. D. CONANT (2) 1 Zeke, 1 Tony
Lt. (jg) C. W. DIETRICH (2) .2 Zekes
Lt. (jg) D. B. DRISCOLL (5) 5 Zekes
Lt. (jg) W. E. DUGGINS (1) 1 Zeke
Lt. (jg) Edwin FREE (1) .1 Tony
Lt. (jg) D. B. GALT Jr (5) 5 Zekes
Lt. (jg) S. W. GODSEY (2) 2 Zekes
Ens. Frank HANCOCK (2) 1 Zeke, 1 Judy .Killed 7/4/44
Lt. (jg) A. R. HAWKINS (14) 5 Oscars, 4 Zekes, 3 Topseys, 1 Kate 1 Val
Lt. (jg) F. R. HAYDE (6) 4 Zekes, 1 Betty, 1 Judy.Killed 7/15/44
Lt. S. E. HEDRICK (0)
Lt. S. G. KONA (3) 1 Tony, 1 Zeke, 1 Val
Lt. (jg) M. L. LOOMIS (1) 1 Zeke
Lt. (jg) D. C. McLAUGHLIN (1) 1 Zeke
Ens. H. A. McMILLAN (0) Reported 8/14/44
Lt. Adolph MENCIN (6). .3 Zekes, 2 Oscars, 1 Tony
Lt. D. W. MULCAHY (8) .5 Zekes, 3 Topseys
Ens. M. L. NAYLON Jr Killed 9/21/44
Lt. (jg) C. N. NOOY (15) 7 Zekes, 3 Oscars, 2 Judys, 2 Tojos 1 Tony
Lt. (jg) H. H. OSBORNE (1) 1 Zeke
Lt. (jg) V. A. RIEGER (5) 3 Zekes, 1 Val, 1 Tony
Lt. H. H. SCALEs (6) 3 Tojos, 2 Zekes, 1 Judy
Ens. A. SCHELLENBERG (1) 1 Topsey Reported 7/6/44
Lt. J. S. STEWART (9) 4 Oscars, 3 Zekes, 1 Judy, 1 Tojo
Lt. (jg) H- E. SWEATT (1) 1 Zeke ..Detached 8/21/44
Ens. E. W. TOASPERN (4) 2 Tonys, 2 Oscars Reported 8/22/44
Lt. C. H. TURNER (6) .5 Zekes, 1 Nate
Lt. (jg) R. G. WHITWORTH (1) 1 Tony
Lt. Cmdr. D. J. WALLACE Jr (1) 1 Tony ..Reported 6/29/44
Lt. (jg) R. C. WILSON (6) 3 Judys, 1 Zeke, 1 Betty, 1 Tony
Cmdr. R. A. WINSTON (5) 3 Judys, 1 Zeke, 1 Betty.Detached 6/29/44
Lt. J. L. WIRTH (14) 8 Zekes, 3 Oscars, 2 Tojos, 1 Nell
Ens. J. L. WOLF Jr (1) 1 Tojo ..Reported 9/11/44
Lt. R. O. ZIMMERMAN (2) 1 Zeke, 1 Val
Combined Attack (1)
Total Shot Down (147)
Non-Flying Officers of VF 31
Lt. Cmdr, J. S. JEMISON, Jr. administration and operations officer
Lt. R. E. CARR air combat information officer
Lt.(jg) N. M. CHARITY, ordinance officer Non-Flying Officers of Air Group 31
Lt. Cimdr. W. H. REQUARTH, flight surgeon
Lt. S. S. TALBERT, communication officer
Lt. W. F. DOHME, recognition officer Enlisted Personnel of VF 31
AUSTIN, Russell G., AMM2c 633 4l 75
BLYTH, Charles D., AOMlc(T) 266 25 54
BLYTHE, Robert L., AOMlc(T) 659 l9 0l
BOYERj Robert E., PRlc 29l 78 37
CAVALLARO, Anthony (n), AMM2c 65l 63 44
FERTIG, Stanford N., ACRT(AA)(T) 552 82 28
HENNINGER, George A., Ylc 6ll 50 03
HUGHES, Vengie O., AMMlc 632 32 05
INGRAM, Francis M., ACMM(AA) 360 46 97
TRZASKA, Raymond A., ACRM(AA)(T) 410 99 28
WARMAN, George T., AMM2c 393 50 49
WILKINSON, Thomas E., AMM1c, 654 00 41
VT 31 List of Pilots
Lt. E. E. WOOD, commanding officer
Lt. G. A. J. PAKENHAM, executive officer
Lt. D. W. SMITH Lt.(jg) J. B. RUSSELL
Lt.(jg) R. P. McCHESNEY
Lt.(jg) W. F. FISCHER
Lt.(jg) J. T. HUNT Jr.
Lt.(jg) E. J. LARKIN
Lt.(jg) A. J. LAUBER
Ens. R. A. SHIELDS
Ens. H. A. BO
Ens. R. C. MELLIN
Ens. L. O. BACON
Ens. C. A. GEARHART
VT-31 Non-Flying Officers
Lt. J. S. LORD, III, ACI officer
Lt. C. W. McNAIR, Radar-radio officer
Rooster of Enlisted Men
ALLAN, John Martin AOM2c(CA), V-6 ..USNR 245-15-S1
ARWOOD, Clifton Laffette AMM2c(CA), V-6 ..USNR 663-06-55
BENNETT, Warren Niles AMM2c(CA), V-2 ..USNR 622-89-00
BERGHORN, Gerard Francis AMM2c(CA), V-6 ..USNR 647-35-71
BEWLEY, IraFreeman AMM2c(CA), V-6 ..USNR 616-62-79
BRANDT, Ralph LeDuc ..Ylc, V-6 ..USNR 386-42-09
BROTHERTON, Dale Doyle ..AMM2c(CA), V-2 ..USNR 562-56-67
BROWNLEE, Ervin Raymond .PR2c USN(SV) 859-07-96
DRAKE, Robert Jackson AMM2c(CA), V-6 ..USNR 670-86-13
ELLZEY, John Rudolph .AOMlc(CA), USN .268-70-91
EVANS, George Thomas .RT2c(CA) ..USN .243-92-85
FOWLER, HermanWilliam ARM2c(CA), V-6 ..USNR 669-60-26
HONEY, Keith Max ..ARM2C(CA), V-6 USNR 622-84-59
JOHNSON, Stig Arnie ..AMM2c(CA), V-2 ..USNR 603-41-37
KEILLY, Cornelius Francis ..ARM2c(CA), V-6 ..USNR 647-55-88
LA FORCE, Robert John ARM2c(CA) .USN .300-73-06
LARSON, Harold (none) ARM2c(CA), V-6 .USNR 638-45-31
LEANNARDAs Charles Albion ..AMM2c(CA), V-6 .USNR 603-39-48
LEGETT, Thomas Riley, Jr .ACRM(CA)(AA) USN .360-34-68
MccARTHys Clifford Joseph ..ACMM(PA) .USN .282-89-68
McGRATHs Vincent "A" .ARMlc(CA), V-6 .USNR 646-01-99
MULLINS, Richard Evans ..AOM3c(CA), V-6 .USNR 575-10-74
PARKERs William Scott ARTlc, V-6 USNR 624-60-69
PELLETIER, Armand Leo AOM2c(CA), V-2 .USNR 607-49-58
PENDER, Daniel Bernard, Jr ..ARM2c(CA), V-6 .USNR 666-69-81
SHERIDAN Charles John ..ARM2c(CA), V-6 .USNR 647-38-88
SHUMWAYs Murray (none) ..AEMlc, V-6 ..USNR 608-00-47
SLOCUM, George Edgar .ARM2c(CA), V-3 .USNR 611-27-67
VAN BLARICUM, Garrett Joseph ..AMM2c(CA), V-6 .USNR 626-58-31
WALTERS, Leslie Earl .ARM2c(CA) USN .202-33-60
WEBSTER, HowardMedford, Jr ..PhoMlc(CA),V-6 .USNR 611-37-04
WOOLSEY, Jack Keith ..AMM2c(CA), V-6 .USNR 660-53-23
YACKOVICH, Frank (none) .ARM2c(CA), V-6 .USNR 600-71-34
Combat Operations of Air Group 31
Marshall Islands Campaign 29 Jan. - 3 Feb. Results:
5 enemy planes destroyed in aerial combat 4 enemy planes damaged in aerial combat Radio building destroyed (Ennubirr Island) Block house destroyed (Roi Island) Radio and administration buildings damaged (Namur Island) Machine gun emplacement strafed (Roi Island)
Truk Operation #1 16 Feb. Results:
1 8,000-ton AEC sunk 13 Bettys destroyed on ground 21,000-lb. bomb hit Param Island Airfield
Palau Operation 30-31 March Results:
11 enemy planes destroyed in aerial combat 1 enemy plane probably destroyed in aerial combat 2 enemy planes damaged in aerial combat 1 7,000-ton seaplane tender sunk 1 enemy light cruiser strafed and beached l 10,000-ton AK strafed l 3,000-ton AK strafed Buildings on Anguar Island strafed Woleai Strike l April Results:
l enemy plane destroyed in aerial combat Hollandia Campaign 20-24 April Results:
12 enemy planes destroyed on ground 7 enemy planes damaged on ground l 700 to 1,000-ton AK destroyed 2 service buildings destroyed, service area strafed, Cyclops Airfield Dispersal area at Cyclops Airfield attacked, fires started Service dispersal and storage areas bombed and strafed with 2 fires started, Wadke Island Gun emplacements hit and installations bombed and strafed, Sawar Island
Truk Operation #2
29-30 April Results:
2 enemy planes destroyed in aerial combat 12 enemy planes destroyed on ground 12,000-ton tanker sunk 1 5,000-ton AK damaged 1 3,000-ton AK damaged 1 60-foot sampan sunk 4 barges strafed Eten Island hangars bombed strafed and damaged Radio buildings, Eten Island, damaged Barracks, Dublon Island destroyed and/or damaged Dispersal areas, Eten Island, bombed and strafed Fire started in building area, southwest side of Dublon Island Mariana Islands Campaign
11-23 June Results:
45 enemy planes destroyed in aerial combat 3 enemy planes probably destroyed in aerial combat 2 enemy planes damaged in aerial combat, with 2 destroyed on ground 4 direct hits causing fires and explosions on Chitose-class enemy CVL 2 direct hits causing fires on Kongo-class BB Probable damage to submarine Saipan Four buildings set fire Seaplane buildings set fire on Aslito Airfield Defense installations destroyed, Mutcho Point and ammunition dump exploded Tinian AA position destroyed 7 buildings destroyed at Ushi Point Field, with 2 more buildings damaged, AA positions silenced and oil dump destroyed Guam 3 gun positions destroyed 1 coastal defense position destroyed Fires started in buildings on Orote Point Rota Sugar mill damaged Fire started in buildings, north east coast l Fire and explosion in supply area, northwest coast 300-ft. AK strafed and set fire Pagan Island Strike
24 June Results:
11,000-ton AK damaged Barracks area damaged Strikes on Iwo Jima, Bonin Islands 4 July Results:
15 enemy planes destroyed in aerial combat with 2 probables and 4 planes damaged 1 2,000-ton AK left burning Fuel dumps set fire Hangars and radio station damaged NOTE: On 3 July, antisnooper patrol (1 TBM and 1F6F) sighted an "Emily", and with help of 2 more F6Fs, destroyed it.
Mariana Islands Campaign #2
7-22 July Results:
9 enemy planes destroyed in aerial combat at Rota Islands.
Cratered airfield, keeping runway inoperable Destroyed building and damaged two more at Rota Town Destroyed 1 building and damaged four others in serving area, Rota Airfield Guam Cratered runway Set fires in barracks and supply areas Destroyed building and set fuel dump ablaze at Green beach area Destroyed four buildings, and damaged four more, Agana Town Destroyed 1 warehouse north of Agana Town Gun positions destroyed and/or seriously damaged Ulithi and Yap Islands Operations
25-28 July Results:
Damaged radio station and weather station and set fires at supply area, Ulithi Damaged radio building, destroyed 4 warehouses and set administration building on fire, Yap Set fire and destroyed fuel dump, Yap Rvledium AK set afire l Zekes and 2 Vals destroyed on ground NOTE: Above is best damage estimate since results were not completely tabulated. 1200-ton AK destroyed 1 3,000-ton AK damaged 10 buildings damaged l oil dump destroyed Strikes on Haha Jima, Bonin Islands
4-5 Aug. Results:
Japanese light cruiser seriously damaged, probably sunk 2 small barges sunk 1 2,500 to 3,000-ton AK sunk l 2,500 to 3,000-ton AK seriously damaged 3 LCIs (50 to 60 ft.) burned and destroyed 1 Fubuki-class DD sunk Strikes on Palau
6-7 Sept. Results:
3 50-ft. power launches destroyed 9 AA positions destroyed 1 ammunition dump destroyed Other installations (i.e. loose stores, buildings service areas) strafed and bombed, damage not observed Strikes on Mindanao
9-10 Sept. Results:
2 inter-island steamers (500-800 tons) sunk 1 power launch (40-50 ft.) destroyed Undetermined number of buildings destroyed or damaged in burning of Davao Strikes on Visayans and Southern Luzon
12-14 Sept. Results:
25 enemy planes destroyed in aerial combat with 2 more probably destroyed and 4 damaged 8 enemy planes destroyed on ground, with 7 others damaged 1 3,000 to 4,000-ton AK destroyed 1 4,000-ton transport destroyed Support Mission - Palau
17 Sept. Results:
1 small fuel dump destroyed 1 large barge sunk 1 power boat (50-60 ft.) sunk Slit trench concentration destroyed Strikes on Luzon
21-22 Sept. Results:
35 enemy planes destroyed in aerial combat with 4 probables and 7 more damaged 5 enemy planes destroyed on ground and 3 more damaged 1 4,000-ton AK sunk 3 buildings damaged 2 AA positions destroyed Strikes on Visayans (including 340-mile strike against shipping at Coron Bay)
24 Sept. Results:
1 enemy plane destroyed on ground 1 7,000 to 10,000-ton AO sunk 2 5,000-ton AKs seriously damaged 1 1,000-ton gunboat damaged 5 SCs (150-ton) sunk 1 750-10,000-ton AK damaged 1 10,000-ton AK damaged 1 500-ton sea truck sunk Total Combat Sorties Combat Air Patrol (in combat zone)
Engaged in combat 971
In zone, not engaged S08
Total 1,479 Antisubmarine patrol (in combat zone) 404
Total patrol sorties 1,883
VF strike sorties 861
VT strike sorties 277
Total strike sorties 1,138
Total combat sorties (all types) 3,021
Recapitulation Planes destroyed in aerial combat 147
Planes probably destroyed in aerial combat 15
Planes damaged in aerial combat 23
Planes destroyed on ground 56
Planes damaged on ground 18
Airfields bombed and damaged 30
Shipping sunk ships 26 (48,050 tons)
Shipping damaged ships 22 (103,650 tons)
Buildings destroyed 24 (plus undetermined number at Davao)
Buildings damaged 48
Gun positions destroyed 21
Gun positions damaged 3
Fuel and ammunition dumps destroyed 9
1. Several target photographic missions were flown, but not indicated.
2. In addition to above damage, considerable miscellaneous damage was inflicted.
The Pacific Theater of World War II was won by fast carrier pilots such as the men from Squadron 31. Most of them in their early twenties, these pilots were the best trained in the world and had a degree of courage only found in youth. Our flyers weren't afraid of a dogfight with the enemy, and many battled one-on-one.
The American pilot never expected to lose as he fought to live, but the Japanese pilot fought to die. Of course there was tremendous courage on both sides, but the Japanese pilots of 1944 lacked our superior training, and their planes were decidedly inferior. Thus, we downed more than 10 enemy planes for every American loss.
Following are some press releases that were prepared for these heros' hometown newspapers.
The "Meat Axe Squadron"
More than 10 Japanese planes per man-that's the destruction record in aerial combat for the Hellcat pilots of the U.S. Navy's "Meat Axe Squadron", Fighting 31.
Lt. James S. STEWART of Beverly Hills Calif., has nine planes to his credit and led a four-plane unit during nine months of Pacific operations. Lt. John L. WIRTH, Gary, Ind. and Lt. (jg) Arthur R. HAWKINS, Lufkin Texas, have downed 14 each.
Lt. STEWART's division, the 6th, has suffered one loss,-Lt. (jg) Frank R. HAYDE of Kansas, City, Mo. HAYDE shot down six planes, one of the top squadron scores at the time. Ens. Jerome L. WOLF, Sedalia, Mo. who was with the division in its last action, shot down one plane.
The fighter pilot division amassed the bulk of their score in the first carrier attacks on the Philippines. In a single flight on 13 Sept., the division destroyed 12 Japanese fighters in the air, damaged several others and burned a twinengine bomber on the ground.
On a bombing mission several days later, the men managed to knock 10 Japanese aircraft down-including four twin engine planeswhile bombing and strafing targets.
Lt. Cmdr. D. J. WALLACE Jr. of Hoboken N.J., the second commanding officer of Air Group 31, said, "When Japs are in the air Stewart's men are always the first to jump them. It's uncanny-they often have every Jap in the air burning before other fighters reach the scene of action.
"On one attack, STEWART and HAWKINS ran into a flight of Jap fighters taking off to intercept our bombers," WALLACE continued. "HAWKINS shot down five and damaged three, and STEWART destroyed four in the air.
"They met the Japs under any conditions - down low where the highly maneuverable Zero had the advantage-or they followed through on head-on runs until they could literally see the whites in the Jap pilot's eyes. Once, STEWART engaged and destroyed an enemy fighter after his engine had been seriously damaged by a bomb blast, "WALLACE said.
The Battle of the Eastern Philippines gave the "6th" its first opportunity to meet the highlytouted Japanese carrier pilots. Intercepting the huge attacking force, the four Hellcats brought down 13 Jap planes, with Lt. WIRTH alone bagging four.
"Their total score looks pretty impressive, but there's more to it than the number of planes shot down." continued WALLACE. "For instance, while we were under torpedo attack off Truk, HAWKINS deliberately flew through all the ack-ack our Task Force could throw up to bring down a Jap bomber."
Ens. WOLF, the new division member, had shot down two planes before joining 31.
The 43 planes shot down by four members of STEWART's division help make up the 147 total destroyed in the air by the "Meat Axe Squadron", and that's a top record for any carrier unit its size.
WALLACE's & WINSTON's Air Group 31 also accounted for 26 ships sunk and 22 probably sunk or damaged during the nine months of active duty.
Lt. (jg) D. B. DRISCOLL After destroying five airborne Japanese planes, Lt. (jg) Daniel B. DRISCOLL, 23, of Westport, Conn., completed a nine-month tour of duty in the Pacific by joining in the recent carrier-based attacks on the Philippines. DRISCOLL is a Hellcat pilot of the U.S. Navy's "Meat Axe Squadron", Fighting 31 which participated in more than 15 fleet operations and supported landings on six Japanese-held islands.
DRISCOLL's first flight took place when he and 11 other Hellcats were assigned to the long pre-invasion fighter sweep over Tinian last June.
"Arriving over the target, we ran out into about 20 Zeros, and soon after the fight started a couple of them got on my tail. I fought them from 10,000 down to 3,000 feet, and I was hit several times on the way down." DRISCOLL said.
"Finally, I tricked the Zeros into overshooting and shot down one of them as he passed over. Climbing again, I met another Zero coming head-on, but my shots stopped him and he went down burning. Our 12 planes got 14 in all on the flight."
In the Battle of the Eastern Philippines DRISCOLL shot down one of the 27 attacking Japanese carrier planes which were destroyed by his squadron during the day.
"We met about 30 Zeros at a very high altitude. I opened up on one, and in a few seconds, his plane was burning and the pilot parachuted. When I looked for more enemy planes they were all in flames," DRISCOLL said.
DRISCOLL destroyed two other Zeros on 8 July in a fight of several seconds when planes of Fighting 31 intercepted a flight of nine Japanese fighters attempting to escape from Guam. The enemy pilots were caught by surprise, and before they could break formation DRISCOLL had two burning and other squadron members shot down the rest.
During the operations against the Philippines on 14 Sept., DRISCOLL made strafing runs against Japanese boats and parked planes. He was then hit by anti-aircraft and seriously damaged, forcing him to crash land 200 miles from his task force.
After several hours in a life raft, DRISCOLL was rescued and returned without injury to his ship.
DRISCOLL holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and Gold Star in lieu of a second Air Medal. He has participated in more than 25 bombing and strafing runs against enemy airfields, shipping and gun positions.
DRISCOLL's squadron culminated their operations in the Pacific by participating in carrier attacks against Luzon and other parts of the Philippines during the latter part of September. In these attacks, Fighting 31 shot down 29 enemy aircraft in one day and 26 another day. In addition, they took part in bombing attacks against Davao and Clark Field near Manila, as well as on many other Japanese airfields and anchorages in the Philippines.
Lt. (jg) D. B. "Salty" GALT, Jr. Twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down five Japanese Zeros in the Marianas, Lt. (jg) Dwight B. GALT Jr., 24 of Hyattsville, Md. is a Hellcat pilot of the Navy's "Meat Axe Squadron", Fighting 31. GALT received his first taste of aerial combat when 12 Hellcats from his squadron took part in the long pre-invasion strike over Tinian Island last June.
While the planes were enroute to the target the flight leader developed radio trouble and asked that GALT assume control of the flight. Holding the lead for the rest of the attack GALT conducted his 12 planes netting 14 Japanese Zeros.
"Over Tinian, we were attacked by about 20 Zeros hiding in the clouds above, and a long and violent dogfight followed. I got two of the Japs, one of the planes disintegrated in midair and the other crashed. Several of our planes were hit during the fight, but none of our pilots was lost," GALT commented.
In the Battle of the Eastern Philippines on 19 June, GALT destroyed one of the 27 attacking carrier planes downed by Fighting 31 that day. Later, in operations off Guam, he shot down two planes when his squadron sighted a flight of nine Zeros.
"I was the closest Hellcat to the Japs and attacked first," GALT said.
Besides receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Gold Star, and in lieu of a second GALT also holds the Air Medal. He participated in more than 20 bombing and strafing missions against enemy shipping, airfields and ground installations in all parts of the Pacific.
Last April, while on a strafing mission against the well-protected Truk, GALT's plane was so badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire that he was forced to make a water landing. His plane was hit after he had made four low-level strafing runs, but he managed to fly back to the Task Force where he landed in the water and was rescued shortly afterwards. Lt. (jg) A. R. HAWKINS A record of total aircraft tonnage shot down in one flight can probably be claimed by Lt. (jg) Arthur R. HAWKINS of Lufkin, Texas. The Hellcat pilot of Fighting 31 destroyed a Japanese bomber and three twin-engine transport planes in an air battle over the Philippines on 21 Sept.
In the action over Clark Field near Manila HAWKINS went down to strafe the airfield with other planes from the squadron, and in pulling up, HAWKINS joined in an attack on a bomber trying to escape. He headed into the bomber, fired and pulled away, missing it by a few feet. Looking back, HAWKINS saw the pilot parachute out. After turning away to return to his ship, HAWKINS sighted a formation of five transports.
"It was a fighter pilot's dream," he said."dove on them and cut my speed to stay behind. From a closer position, I started firing, and the nearest plane went down.
"1 turned to the next, and he also began to burn and crashed. Other Hellcats had joined in the attack and finished off the remaining planes.
"We again headed back toward our base when a Jap fighter came down on us from above. I turned into him, and he broke away with me chasing.
"In the middle of the chase, I saw another formation of transports larger than the first. left the fighter and continued my dive for the transports. My terrific speed kept me from settling behind the formation, but as I went past, I got good shots into one plane and brought him down in flames.
"Climbing again for a second attack, I ran across another Jap Zero. I fired on the Zero and he went into a cloud, smoking. I was too late for another shot at the transports-other Navy fighters had them all smoking and burning when I got back."
The day's bag of four brought HAWKINS' total score of planes destroyed in aerial combat to 14, one of the leading records for a Navy pilot.
HAWKINS' highest mark for one day came on 13 Sept., when he was escorting bombers on a mission against an airfield in the Central Philippines. When his formation was intercepted over the target, HAWKINS shot down five Zeros and damaged three more in the dogfight that ensued.
"I dove with the first Zero close to the deck and must have hit the pilot, as the plane went down without burning and bounced across the field," HAWKINS said.
"While banking around to see what happened, I was attacked from behind by two Zeros. I quickly turned into them and shot down one as I went past.
"As I climbed, I spotted Jap planes taking off from the field. I dove on one and he went back to the ground, burning. I regained my altitude and saw a Zero above, preparing to attack. I turned toward him and went up under his belly, firing until we almost collided. After we turned together for a short while, he fell out and crashed to the ground.
"I got the fifth Zero when he turned away from three Hellcats jockeying for a position behind him. I got a perfect shot, and the plane was riddled from stem to stern," HAWKINS continued. "During the melee, I saw my shots hit three other Zeros, but could not tell what became of them because of my violent speed and other enemy planes demanding my attention."
In the Battle of the Eastern Philippines HAWKINS shot down three of the 27 Japanese carrier planes that were destroyed by Fighting 31 in the day's fighting.
"We had heard all kinds of stories about the skill of Jap carrier pilots and this was our first chance to find out the truth," HAWKINS commented. "I was in a six-plane Hellcat division led by Lt. J. S. STEWART of Beverly Hills Calif. When about 50 miles from our task force, we intercepted more than 30 Zeros. They were above average Jap pilots, but in about five minutes, our six Hellcats had shot down l5 and other Hellcats had taken care of the rest. The sky was full of parachutes, burning planes and Hellcats were looking for something to shoot at."
Despite his high scores in other actions HAWKINS said shooting down a single plane during the raid against Truk was his toughest job. Launched during a torpedo attack HAWKINS flew through a heavy barrage of anti-aircraft fire thrown up by his own task force, and shot down a Japanese torpedo bomber penetrating the protective screen of the carrier force.
HAWKINS, who holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Flying Cross shot down one of nine Zeros trying to escape from Guam.. Meanwhile, other Fighting 31 pilots were destroying the rest.
In a long-range attack on enemy shipping in the Philippines, HAWKINS sank a Japanese coastal craft by strafing it.
In his nine months of combat duty in the Pacific, HAWKINS flew on more than 25 bombing and strafing missions against enemy airfields, gun positions and ground installations.
Lt. Adolph MENCIN Shooting down three Japanese planes in one flight and then repeating the accomplishment won a Silver Star award for Lt. Adolph MENCIN, 28, of Oglesby, III. He holds the position of executive officer of the U.S. Navy's recordholding "Meat Axe Squadron".
During the Pacific operations, MENCIN's ship ranged from Hollandia in New Guinea to the Bonin Islands, 650 miles from Tokyo. He participated in the Battle of the Eastern Philippines, where his squadron shot down 27 enemy planes. Later in the first carrier attacks against the Philippines, the "Meat Axe Squadron"
bagged 29 Japanese planes in one day and 26 on another day.
MENCIN took part in more than 15 naval engagements and flew on missions to support landings on six different islands, bombing and strafing enemy shipping, airfields, gun positions and buildings.
On a predawn attack over the Bonins, MENCIN's squadron ran into the cream of the Japanese air force stationed there to protect the home islands.
"This was our toughest fight; we were out numbered, and the Jap pilots and planes were the best we ever encountered," MENCIN said. "The Japs flew like something out of a circus but the Hellcats were too much for them. While they were doing acrobatics, we were shooting. set three afire and saw them crash, and probably got another while I saw it spinning down with his tail assembly broken up."
While leading a flight in the softening up of the Philippines, MENCIN repeated this feat by knocking down three Japanese fighter planes. MENCIN's flight of eight Hellcats destroyed 20 planes in a few minutes of aerial combat.
"During the fight, my wingman, Lt. (jg) H. H. OSBORNE of Wolf City, Texas, and I were left alone at high altitude to guard a formation of our bombers. We had to take on about 10 Japanese fighters, as they dove through toward the bombers. We would chase them off, or if they came close enough, we opened fire.
"OSBORNE did the spotting and protected my tail while I initiated the attacks," MENCIN said.
"On this flight, Lt. (jg) A. R. HAWKINS of Lufkin, Texas shot down five Japs, and Lt.STEWART of Beverly Hills, Calif. got four in the air," MENCIN continued. "A couple other pilots of Fighting 31 and I destroyed three each."
Over the Philippines in another attack, MENCIN tangled with one of the new in-line-engine Jap fighters. MENCIN fired into the plane which started smoking and went down, probably destroyed.
"Some of the boys had better luck on that flight," MENCIN said. "Lt. (jg) C. N. NOOY Long Island, N.Y., shot down five Jap planes while carrying a bomb, and later dropped it hitting and demolishing a building."
Lt. D. W. MULCAHY Japanese transport problems worsened considerably when Lt. Douglas W. MULCAHY 26, of Yonkers, N.Y. ran across a formation of five twin-engine planes over the Philippines. MULCAHY, a Hellcat pilot of the Navy's "Meat Axe Squadron," Fighting 31, and another Hellcat pilot, attacked the large transports. In less than five minutes, the planes were of no further use to the Emperor.
"I picked out the closest plane and opened fire at close range," MULCAHY said. "A few bursts from my guns into the engines and wings set them aflame. Turning to the next transport I repeated the process.
"The third plane I attacked was attempting to crash land in the swamp when I opened fire. He went down smoking, and after a few runs we had the remnants burning. In the meantime the other Hellcat had the other transport burning he said.
Among pilots who scrambled to intercept the attacking enemy carrier planes in the Battle of the Eastern Philippines, MULCAHY shot down two Zeros while his squadron accounted for 27 planes shot down during the battle.
In his first action against enemy aircraft over Roi Island, MULCAHY had his plane riddled by gunfire and was separated from other friendly aircraft when he saw a flight of five Zeros below. He dove into the fighters, shot the wing off one and scattered the others.
MULCAHY led his division of four Hellcats on the first pre-invasion fighter sweep over the Marianas. They were launched in the afternoon to fly almost 200 miles for a surprise attack. Entering a dogfight with many Japanese planes they shot down six. MULCAHY destroyed one while Lt. (jg) D. B. DRISCOLL of Westport Conn. and Lt. (jg) D. B. GALT Jr. of Hyattsville, Md. shot down two each. Twelve Fighting 31 pilots returned from action with a total of 14 destroyed and no losses.
MULCAHY's division repeated the score while on patrol near the Marianas. Intercepting nine enemy planes passing near his Task Force MULCAHY fired into the wings and cockpit of one plane, setting it ablaze. GALT and DRISCOLL again shot down two each. Other planes of the Meat Axe Squadron cleaned up the rest of the flight within three minutes.
"It was easy shooting this time, "MULCAHY said. "We had beat them to a frazzle in the Marianas, and they knew it. They had only one thing in mind-getting away. Our biggest danger was colliding with other Hellcats zooming around looking for more Japs."
In addition to aerial combat, MULCAHY using his plane as a bomber, led the division on more than 25 missions against enemy ground installations and shipping, and they flew in support of landing operations on six Pacific islands. "We found from strafing a Jap cruiser in the Bonins and bombing through the heavy antiaircraft while knocking out Truk that this kind of work can be hotter than fighting Zeros," MULCAHY said.
MULCAHY has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and Gold Stars in lieu of second and third Air Medals.
Lt. (jg) C. N. NOOY Shooting down five enemy planes and conducting successful bombing missions would be a good day's work for a squadron, but Lt. (jg) Cornelius N. NOOY of Smithtown, Long Island managed it alone.
A Hellcat pilot of Fighting 31, NOOY destroyed five fighters in aerial combat while on a bombing raid against Clark Field near Manila on Sept. 21. The day's work brought his score of planes destroyed in the air to 15, one of the highest records for a carrier-based pilot.
The pilot for the Navy's "Meat Axe Squadron" said, "When we arrived over Clark Field, the Zeros were waiting and the inevitable dogfight began. I saw a lone Hellcat from my squadron having some trouble with two Zeros and went to help. I opened fire on a Zero which was attacking the Hellcat from behind, and he crashed to the ground. Turning to the other Zero, I saw my bullets striking home, and he followed the first, burning and crashing.
"The next was one of the Jap's fast inline engine fighters, which I shot down after a chase of 10 miles. Returning to join other planes of my squadron, I engaged another Zero, which was destroyed when I came in firing, close enough to see the pilot's face. The last Zero accounted for after he escaped from several other Hellcats by heading into a cloud. I followed him in and opened fire close on his tail; soon, he was imbedded in a rice field below," NOOY said.
After the Japanese planes were cleared from the air, NOOY was still carrying his bomb and aimed it at the service area. He scored a direct hit and left a large hangar burning.
Nooy destroyed three more enemy planes over the Philippines on 13 Sept. After shooting down the first two, he attacked a third Zero from astern and was getting good hits when his guns went out. The Zero was badly damaged but still flying.
NOOY then pulled up over the Japanese plane and maintained altitude at 50 feet, trying to force the plane to crash. As they passed over an elevation, NOOY pulled up, barely missing the treetops. The Zero was left piled into the hillside.
On the 4 July strikes against the Bonin Islands, Fighting 31 ran into what they consider their toughest aerial opposition. NOOY destroyed four of 15 Japanese aircraft to be shot down by the squadron in a predawn fighter sweep, and probably accounted for another. After the fight, NOOY led an injured pilot and two lost planes back to the Task Force without the aid of a compass or radio.
NOOY, who holds the Navy Cross Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal received the Purple Heart when wounded in a strike against the Marianas. He saw his first action against the enemy in January in the Marshalls campaign, he was credited with saving his commanding officer from being shot down by driving away several enemy fighters, downing one and probably destroying another.
During the raid against Palau, NOOY shot down two of the nine attacking enemy bombers wiped out by Fighting 31. He also damaged two others, which were destroyed by other Hellcats after his shots started them downward with smoke trailing.
Besides holding one of the top places among carrier pilots for the number of planes downed in aerial combat, NOOY participated in more than 30 bombing, strafing and photo missions in all Pacific Fleet operations from the Marshall Islands campaign through the Philippine strikes in September. Lt. (jg) V. A. RIEGER A 22-year-old Hellcat fighter pilot, Lt. (jg) Vincent A. RIEGER of Denver, Col. became an Ace with five planes destroyed in aerial combat.
In addition, he scored a direct bomb hits on a large enemy transport and anti-aircraft positions during the September carrier-based attacks against the Philippines.
On a raid 12 Sept., RIEGER followed his division leader Lt. C. H. TURNER of Jacksonville, Fla., in a low-level bomb attack, when both made direct hits and left a Japanese ship in flames and sinking.
Then on another mission 22 Sept. over Clark Field near Manila, RIEGER again struck his target-a gun position he hit from low level after diving through much enemy fire.
Returning to ship, Hellcats of RIEGER's squadron sighted a formation of Japanese bombers. They attacked the bombers, and in a few seconds, all of the enemy planes were in flames. RIEGER shot down one bomber to bring his total to five.
The day before, over Clark Field, RIEGER had destroyed one of the 29 planes downed by his squadron that day. In a chase with a new inline-engine Japanese fighter, RIEGER dove several thousand feet after the plane until it finally burst into flames.
Among the pilots launched in the long pre-invasion fighter sweep over the Marianas on 11 June, RIEGER met his first enemy aircraft shooting down three Zeros. The 12 Hellcats of Fighting 31 ran into about 30 enemy planes shot down 14 and damaged others. RIEGER was probably responsible for saving one Hellcat by knocking a Zero off his tail.
For his part in various battles, RIEGER has earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Air Medal.
Lt. H. H. SCALES A former test pilot, Lt. Harrell H. "Push" SCALES of Ft. Smith, Ark. has put the Navy Hellcat fighter to practical purpose in recent action with Fighting 31 by shooting six enemy aircraft in aerial combat.
In one of the last missions leading a fighter sweep against an airfield in the Philippines 13 Sept., SCALES shot down two Zeros in a low level dogfight and destroyed a Japanese bomber on the ground.
"There were about 15 Zeros and 11 Hellcats in the air," said SCALES. "The fighting took place at very low altitude, sometimes at 50 feet. After shooting down two Zeros, I made a treetop strafing run on the field, and there - staring from the window of the operations tower - was a big fat Jap taking in the show. I laughed all the way back at the expression on his face," SCALES said, describing the action.
In that day's fighting alone, SCALES' squadron downed 26 Japanese aircraft in the air. Later, on 21 Sept., while his squadron was topping that score with 29 downed in a day SCALES got his sixth plane. He sighted it as it was making a dangerous attack on a friendly fighter. SCALES turned in to intercept the attack and after a hard chase, he brought the Japanese down, spinning and smoking.
SCALES was among the Fighting 31 pilots launched to help break up the enemy carrier based attack in the Battle of the Eastern Philippines.
"We sighted the bombers about 40 miles away from our Task Force, already formed into a column for the attack, " SCALES said. "Their formation contained about 15 bombers and 20 fighters.
"We dove through escorting fighters and gave the bombers priority on our shots. I opened up on a two-man dive bomber and as the plane exploded, the pilot and gunner bailed out.
"Climbing again for more altitude, I found myself in a perfect position for an attack on one of the Zeros. After I opened fire, he began to burn, and the pilot parachuted. That finished my fighting for the day; there was nothing in the air but Hellcats.
"Debris, oil slicks and smoke were all that was left of the powerful carrier air force that had trained two years for a chance to destroy the American fleet," SCALES said.
Like most Navy fighter pilots, SCALES is sure the Hellcat is the ultimate in fighter planes carrier-based or otherwise.
"The fine showing made by this squadron was due in my mind to very severe training, a fine spirit among pilots and the world's finest plane," he said. "Our squadron has always worked with one idea-attack and keep on attacking, and never give a sucker an even break."
In operations against enemy shipping on 14 Sept., SCALES led his four-plane division in what was probably the most distant carrier attack ever. Arriving over the target 350 miles away, his division strafed and set fire to four Japanese coastal vessels.
SCALES, holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal, got his first taste of aerial combat in the Marshalls when he shot down a Zero. In the Bonin Islands, he helped destroy a four-engine Japanese patrol plane snooping on our forces; and off Hollandia, he led his division in a strafing attack that destroyed an enemy tanker.
Lt. C. H. TURNER After becoming an Ace by destroying six Japanese planes in aerial combat, Lt. Charles H. TURNER of Jacksonville, Fla. rounded out his nine months of Pacific duty by scoring a direct bomb hit on a large enemy transport ship in the Philippines.
TURNER is a Hellcat fighter pilot in the Navy's "Meat Axe Squadron", and with his four-plane division, TURNER led his wingman Lt. (jg) Vincent A. RIEGER of Denver, Col. in an attack on the anchored ship. TURNER's bomb struck the starboard side of the ship while RIEGER's bomb landed amidship. The ship was last seen with the stern awash, sinking. On the same flight, Lt. (jg) H. H. OSBORNE of Wolf City, Texas, and a member of TURNER's division, bombed and helped sink a Japanese cargo ship.
TURNER, twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, has destroyed three Japanese fighters in one dogfight, and in another, he shot down two and two "probables."
Leading his division in the first fighter sweep to clear the Marianas for invasion, TURNER entered a melee of Hellcats and Zeros.
"When we arrived over the target, Jap planes were hiding in the clouds above, waiting. They came down making passes on the planes ahead of us," TURNER related. "As they lost their speed on the recovery, I was able to get on the tails of four, and I knocked them out of the fight. A couple went down burning. The other two began smoking after I saw my shots hitting. "In the meantime, my wingman, Lt. (jg) RIEGER had shot down three Japs," TURNER said. "The 12 Fighting 31 planes in the action destroyed a total of 14 Jap planes."
"But the Japs got in a few good hits also. Two members of my division were hit, Lt. (jg) Richard G. WHITWORTH of Athens, Ga. was shot down and was at sea for more than three days before being picked up. Lt. (jg) Richard D. CONANT of Brookline, Mass. was wounded during the fight."
In the Battle of the Eastern Philippines TURNER shot down three of the 27 enemy aircraft destroyed by the "Meat Axe Squadron" that day.
TURNER, in leading his division over Clark Field near Manila, shot down a Japanese fighter, and other members of his division got one each. Lt. (jg) R. C. WILSON Versatility of the Navy's Hellcat fighter plane was demonstrated when Lt. (jg) Robert C. WILSON of Los Angeles, left two Japanese ships wrecked on a 700-mile round trip attack over the Philippines on 24 Sept.
WILSON, a member of the Navy's "Meat Axe Squadron", Fighting 31 with a bomb on his plane, began attacking the anchorage, diving in for a low-level strafing of a gunboat. Her guns silenced by the attack, the gunboat started to burn and was beached on a reef.
WILSON then made a masthead bombing of a large cargo ship, scored a direct hit and started large fires. He made a second strafing run on both ships and left them useless.
Then on 21 Sept., WILSON brought his score of planes destroyed in aerial combat to six by shooting down a Zero after a successful bombing run on planes parked at Clark Field near Manila.
WILSON, who holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Air Medal, became eligible for the "Caterpillar Club" when he had to parachute to safety after his plane was hit on a 4 July attack against the Bonin Islands.
"In that predawn attack, we ran into some of the best pilots the Japs ever put up against us,"WILSON said. "Until our Hellcats thinned them out, the Zeros outnumbered us and had the altitude advantage. During the fight, I engaged seven Zeros, damaged two and helped destroy another. But one of them finally got on my tail down close to the deck and got in plenty of good shots. My plane was badly damaged and I was too low to bail out.
"All I could do was sit and wait for the Jap to finish me off, but in the nick of time, two planes from my squadron came down and knocked off the Zero.
"By some very strenuous operation, I managed to get the flying junk heap back to the Task Force where I bailed out and was immediately picked up by one of our destroyers. I learned later that my squadron commander, Lt. Cmdr. D. J. WALLACE Jr. and Lt. James T. ANDERSON, were the pilots that drove the Zero away. Lt. ANDERSON shot him down shortly afterwards," WILSON said.
During his nine months of combat duty in the Pacific, WILSON participated in more than 30 bombing, strafing and photo missions over enemy bases and shipping. These included all major fleet actions from the Marshall Island campaign through the Philippines raids in September.
WILSON was one of a four-plane Hellcat division sent out to intercept a flight of nine Japanese dive bombers which were attacking his Task Force last March during the first Palau operations. In a fight of a few seconds, he shot down three planes as the other Hellcats downed the rest.
As photographic officer of his squadron WILSON made low-level photo runs over many enemy-held islands and obtained pictures that were valuable in future strikes and landing operations.
Said Wilson, "The toughest one was over Truk last April. I had to go down in extremely bad weather conditions in the most intense antiaircraft fire we ever encountered."
Two days in succession, during the June operations against the Marianas, WILSON initiated attacks against twin-engine bombers scouting his Task Force. WILSON engaged one of them alone, and after several attacks, the large bomber flamed and crashed into the ocean. He led other Hellcats in an attack on other bomber, damaging it and helping destroy it. In his first combat mission over the Marshalls last January, WILSON shot down a Zero in a dogfight.
Wilson said of the enemy aviators, "I have a great deal of respect for their skill; however they seem to lack the aggressive and cooperative spirit of our pilots. For that reason, more than anything else, I believe we will continue to knock them down at a ratio of five to one or better."
Lt. J. L. WIRTH Recent dogfights over the Philippines have built up a score of 14 enemy planes destroyed by Lt. John L. WIRTH of Gary, Ind. He's a Hellcat fighter pilot of the Navy carrier-based squadron, Fighting 31.
Besides his high score of planes downed in the air, WIRTH, carrying bombs on his Hellcat fighter, made direct hits on a Japanese cruiser and a cargo ship during his nine-month tour of duty in the Pacific. His last engagement with enemy planes came 21 Sept. when he was assigned to take part in a strike on Clark Field near Manila. Planes of his squadron began diving to bomb the field and Japanese fighters came down to try to break up the attack.
"Several Hellcats climbed into the first formation of Zeros; I opened on the leader and before he could do any damage, my shots had him flaming," said WIRTH. "I jumped another Zero, which went into a steep dive to escape. We went through a series of violent aerobatics until I ended up on his tail, and a few burst from my guns finished him off.
"Going back to the fighting area, I spotted a two-engine bomber lumbering below, and after I made two passes, he crashed into the swamps. I got another Zero after returning to the dogfight."
In one flight over the Philippines, WIRTH strayed at high altitude to protect bombers going in to destroy an airfield. After chasing away several attacking Zeros, WIRTH engaged two and shot them down. He then dove on the field after the bombers, strafing and burning a multi-engine bomber on the ground, and climbed back to destroy another Zero continuing to attack.
In the Bonins and later in the Philippines WIRTH proved it's possible to be a good bomber and a top-notch fighter. He described the bombing of a cruiser in the Bonins as one of his most dangerous missions.
"My division leader, Lt. J. S. STEWART and I spotted the cruiser hiding in a cove near a mountain. It was necessary for us to attack blind from behind the mountain.
"As STEWART went down, the heaviest barrage of anti-aircraft fire I ever saw came up over the mountain. Skip-bombing at masthead height, he got a near miss on the cruiser," WIRTH continued.
"He called me on the radio, saying his plane had been seriously damaged, but he got through. I followed in a similar attack, and my bomb hit the stern. Debris flew up about 200 feet. As we pulled away, the ship was down by the stern and smoking."
Encountering the Japanese carrier pilots-reputed to be Japan's best-WIRTH shot down four planes in a single dogfight.
"In this fight, we were waiting with the altitude advantage when about 30 Zeros were spotted in formation below. In the first pass, I set two of the planes on fire. Pulling up to regain altitude, I came up under the belly of another, which also went down in flames. I got a fourth after we went through several turns together," WIRTH said.
"There were at least 15 Jap planes going down in flames at one time, and one of our pilots counted seven parachutes. After a few minutes, there was nothing left in the air but Hellcats milling around." WIRTH also shot down one of nine bombers destroyed by his squadron in an attack against Saipan. In the first strike on Palau, he shot down two Zeros and probably destroyed another.
WIRTH has been awarded the Navy Cross the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Air Medal. Lt. Edward E. WOOD, USNR Accounting for a third of the 30,000 tons of shipping sunk by his torpedo squadron, Lt. E. E. WOOD, 24, of Pittsburgh, was one of the youngest squadron commanders in the Pacific. WOOD took command of Torpedo Squadron 31 in December 1943 and flew his Grumman Avenger in every major Pacific campaign from occupation of the Marshalls in January 1944 to raids on the Philippines in late September.
WOOD struck his hardest single-handed blow at Chichi Jima in the Bonin Islands on 4 Aug. His plane was carrying a torpedo, and to get positioned for attack, WOOD had to fly into the mouth of the enemy harbor protected by murderous anti-aircraft crossfire and fire from ahead.
Nevertheless, WOOD kept going until he could be almost sure of a hit. He got it, and the Japanese were minus one more destroyer.
Speaking of the attack, WOOD commented "That anti-aircraft was the worst I've ever seen-even worse than the color show at the Jap Fleet attack. It came from all sides and from ahead. I still don't know how I got out of it without being hit. There were some ships outside the harbor, but some other planes had them under attack, so the ones inside were the only ones left for me. I saw how vicious the antiaircraft was, but I had to go in anyway. I guess it made the thud of that torpedo all the sweeter to me. "
This strike followed his brush with Nip naval power during the famous Battle of the Philippine Sea on 20 June. WOOD was one of the flyers who left their carriers late in the day to seek out the elusive Japanese fleet located at the extreme radius of the torpedo bomber's operation. It was a good day for WOOD and his squadron - he plumped two bombs squarely on a flat - top's flight deck, while wingman Lt. (jg) J. B. "Beast" RUSSELL of Huntington, W Va., put two more on the same carrier.
Lt. D. W. SMITH of Denver, another squadron mate, scored two more direct hits on a battleship. WOOD returned to land safely aboard his own carrier long after dark, with only five gallons of gasoline left.
"I was never so glad to see anything as I was when I saw all those lights from our own fleet,"WOOD said "It was like a big Fourth of July display, and a much nicer one than the display the Japs gave us.
"The Nips tried, though. They sent up all kinds of anti-aircraft-purple, red, green white. It looked like they were trying to knock us down with a rainbow."
The first Japanese ship to feel the impact of WOOD's bombs was an 8,000-ton cargo ship. During the first naval raid on the then formidable Truk Islands, WOOD spotted his quarry trying to escape the harbor.
Despite fierce anti-aircraft fire, WOOD went into his dive, corkscrewing his plane to keep sights on the maneuvering vessel. When he finally released his bombs, he scored two direct hits on the stern. The ship went under following two violent explosions.
During their nine months of combat WOOD's squadron sank more than 30,000 tons S of Japanese shipping and damaged more than 54,000 tons. NOTE: ln these press releases of October 1944 the Battle of the Eastern Philippines was the Battle of the Philippines Sea nicknamed the "Marianas Turkey Shoot". The Zero referred to was code named "Zeke" and was the same Japanese fighter plane.
For Casualty list of AG31 and for "Aces" of VF31, see appendix.
The ship was underway again on 6 Oct. for a strike on Nansei Shoto, furnishing both CAP and ASP for the fleet. On 12 Oct., the fleet made a high-speed approach on Formosa and used AA fire to down a Betty. The enemy then harassed the fleet all night, dropping flares and sending search planes to attack.
A sweep on 13 Oct. shot down one Topsy and strafed two Nicks and other Japanese planes on the ground. In addition, Cabot planes set fire to a hangar on Shinchito. Later, a fighter sweep was launched over Miyako Shima and damaged three Bettys on the ground.
That afternoon, the USS Canberra was reported struck by a Japanese torpedo in the aft engine room. (This cruiser was the first American ship to be named for a foreign city-Canberra, Australia.)
The Cabot was ordered to clear the disposition and form a separate Task Unit to protect the damaged Canberra. Japanese planes tried to finish her off, but out CAP shot down two Jills two Tonys and damaged others.
Later, the USS Houston was also torpedoed and the Cabot was joined by the Cowpens to protect the two cruisers. One VF fighter piloted by Lt. (jg) Benjamin J. HARRISON did not return. At 1914 hours, a large Japanese plane, identified as a Betty approached the starboard beam and was taken under fire. The target was big and the automatic weapons deadly accurate. The plane began to burn, and flames cast weird shadows on the deck as it passed over the ship. There was a tense moment as everyone wondered if it might fall on the ship, but the plane splashed into the water about 300 yards from the starboard quarter.
The USS Houston was under tow by th USS Boston and later by the USS Pawnee, and the USS Munsee towed the Canberra. Task Unit 30.3.2 consisted of the Cabot, Cowpens Wichita, Mobile and five destroyers, and operated north of the towing group to provide maximum protection. Enemy searchers were sent to try to locate the "cripples" and the two escorting carriers. The SK radar was nothing short of phenomenal; the Cahot was at times conducting intercepts of the missions when other ships had no radar indication at all. Fighter direction of the Cabot was excellent then and afterward and gained respect of other vessels operating with her.
The towing and escorting groups became known as "the Streamlined Bait" because the commander of the 3rd Fleet expected to draw the Japanese out of hiding so we could wipe them out with one clean stroke. The anxiety was terrific as the next day unfolded.
The speed of the towing group was about 4 knots on 16 Oct., and the position was about 75 miles east of Formosa. At 1325 hours, two large groups of enemy planes were spotted on radar about 70 miles away and coming from Formosa. The northern group was closing on a collision course while the southern group was on a parallel course about 50 miles away.
The enemy jammed radar for five minutes but stopped abruptly and the picture was clear: two fighter divisions from the Cabot were on CAP. A helpless feeling ran though everyone aboard and undoubtedly throughout the Task Group, as the raids were estimated to consist of about 60 planes each.
All available fighters were launched immediately. The Cowpens planes took the group to the south-evidently intended to attack the towing group-and Cabot's planes went to help their friends who were rapidly closing in on the enemy, then about 60 miles off.
At 1335 hours, the fighter director officer told the fighters, "Your target is at 12 o'clock five miles. Look up." At 1356 hours, the report was received, "Tallyho. Many, many bogies."
The formation consisted of almost every kind of Japanese plane, and there were between 60 and 75 of them. It looked like the enemy had sent everything available to kill off our ships.
Dive bombers and torpedo planes were in one group with the fighters above. It was suicidal for just eight fighters to attack that many planes, but they did. Radio traffic was almost at a garble when Lt. FECKE broke in and ordered the chatter stopped. Only vital information could be sent on the radio. Immediate compliance by the fighters was almost unbelievable in the face of what was happening. Strict radio discipline, however, did save at least one man's life.
On 16 Oct., two divisions of F6F planes were on CAP providing cover and protection for the damaged cruisers. The first division consisted of: Lt. Alfred J. FECKE Ens. Robert B. WILLIAMS Lt. (jg) Irl V. SONNER Ens. Robert L. BUCHANAN The second division included: Lt. Max G. BARNES Ens. Robert E. MURRAY Lt. (jg) Walter D. BISHOP Ens. Henry W. BALSIGER These Cabot fighter pilots were vectored out to intercept the approaching bogies estimated to contain 60-75 planes. The enemy wanted to finish off the crippled cruisers and thought they had enough force to do it.
The Japanese planes consisted of about 25 Jills (torpedo planes), a formation of Vals (dive bombers), 20 Franceses (twin-engine medium bombers) and 20 Zekes (A6M Eighters). The Jills and Vals were at 9,000 feet while the Franceses were 500 feet above the torpedo planes. The Zekes were on top to provide cover.
Lt. FECKE's division climbed to starboard to divert the enemy fighters, while Lt. BARNES's group rolled to port to attack the bombers.
To help the eight American pilots, six more fighters were scrambled at 1330 hours and diverted west toward the enemy force. The pilots were: Lt. Willard E. EDER, air group commander Ens. Emeral B. COOK, his wingman Lt. Uncas L. FRETWELL, division leader Ens. Melvin COZZENS Ens. Bernard DUNN Ens. William H. TURNER Another division of VF 29 fighters were on antisnooper patrol, and were also diverted by the ship's FDO to join the other fighters. In this division were: Lt. Pleas E. GREENLEE Ens. James J. GILZEAN Lt. (jg) Glenn E. ELLSTROM Ens. Frank W. TROUP The first eight fighters to contact the enemy force shot down 27 planes with only one loss. Ens. WILLIAMS was hit in the right eye, and his oil tank was punctured by three Zekes. His engine quit, and he made a water landing. Two hours later, WILLIAMS was picked up by a Seagull (SOC) and returned to the Cabot via the USS Wichita. The later groups of fighters shot down six planes making the total 33.
Historians have not saw fit to write much about this action, but considering, eight American pilots against approximately 70 enemy planes and destroying 27 of their aircraft to our one has to be among the most outstanding victories in U.S. Naval history. What's more, this remarkable feat was accomplished in less than 15 minutes, and three Cabot fighter pilots made "ace" on this day alone: Lt. Robert L. BUCHANAN, Lt. Alfred J. FECKE and Ens. Robert E. MURRAY.
The Marianas Turkey Shoot a few months earlier got the media attention when 395 enemy planes were shot down in one day, but one must remember there were 15 fast carriers involved in that action. On 16 Oct. 1944, just one carrier - the Cabot - got 33 planes, of which 27 were downed in 15 short minutes!
The pilots and their kills included:
Ens. Robert L. BUCHANAN 5
Lt. Alfred J. FECKE 5
Ens. Robert E. MURRAY 5
Lt. (jg) Irl V. SONNER 4
Lt. Walter D. BISHOP 3
Ens. Henry W. BALSIGER 2
Ens. William H. TURNER 2
Lt. Max G. BARNES 2
Ens. Robert B. WILLIAMS 1
Lt. Uncas L. FRETWELL 1
Ens. Melvin COZZENS 1
Ens. Bernard DUNN 1
Lt. Pleas E. GREENLEE 1
Action off Formosa:
The southern raid orbited as soon as the northern group was attacked and the Cowpens planes were dispatched. Twelve Japanese "Kates" were forming to attack the towing group. The American raiders shot down nine enemy aircraft, three broke away and pressed the attack home, but were shot down by antiaircraft fire from the towing group. At the same time, USS Houston received another torpedo hit. The large group of enemy planes retreated to Formosa. The "Bait" was as happy to see them leave as they must have been to get out.
16 Oct. was indeed a memorable day for Ens. R. J. MAGHAN and the Cabot. The pilot from Brainerd, Minn., was flying the monotonous antisubmarine patrol in an Avenger (TBM) over the disposition when two fighters chased a Zeke in front of MAGHAN. He turned slightly, lined up the target and reported, "Splash one Zeke." Returning to the ship, MAGHAN just said, "He got in my way." (VT 29) Aviation Action reports record this plane as a Tojo-the Japanese pilot parachuted out dressed in a black flying suit but appeared dead in the water.)
Many congratulatory messages were sent to the Cabot afterwards, including tributes from Admirals Nimitz and Halsey.
Cripple Division I (CriDiv) performed one of the most outstanding achievements in saving damaged ships. All men involved were given an unofficial certificate, "Society of Streamlined Bait" for their action off Formosa.
Early on 20 Oct., the Cabot was detached from Task Unit 30.3 with the salutation, "Your excellent cooperation and highly credible performance during your recent operation is greatly appreciated. Good luck."
Cabot was reassigned to Task Group 38.2 and rendezvoused and rejoined that morning. Upon arrival, the USS Independence sent the message, "Salutations to the return of the wandering hero."
The Task Group commander in his message said, "Understand you carried message to Garcia. Welcome home." And from the USS Hoggatt Bay, assigned to I take over the escorting job, the following was received: "Message for captain. Feel just like a Wave. Have released a man to fight." Task Group 38.2 operated east of the Visayan Islands on 21 Oct. to support troop landings there. The Task Group also searched for the Japanese Fleet, but was unsuccessful after a 300-mile radius was covered. Strikes from the Cabot worked over Cebu airfield, strafing and bombing available targets. Ens. Lyle E. EASTLING's Hellcat was hit by AA fire, and he crash landed on the USS Intrepid.
The Famous Battle of Leyte Gulf The Battle of Leyte Gulf is still regarded as the greatest in the history of naval warfare. It involved every type of ship including aircraft carriers, battleships, submarines, cruisers destroyers and PT boats. Without doubt, this battle will be discussed for generations, but what made it so important was that it finished the Japanese Fleet as a serious foe, thus shortening the war in the Pacific, which ended within a year. Between 23 and 26 Oct., a series of crucial surface and air battles took place. The aim of the Japanese Fleet (Center, Southern, Northern Forces) was to stop Gen. MacArthur's landings on Leyte in the Philippines. They knew if they lost these Islands they had lost the War.
In the Sibuyan Sea The Center Force's mission was to proceed through the Sibuyan Sea through San Bernardino Strait, turn south, and destroy the American troops that had landed on Leyte. A Cabot plane spotted this Force which had several battleships and reported this to the Third Fleet. Planes from the Third Fleet attacked the Japs and thought they had damaged them to the extent that they would retreat. We did sink the Musashi but the rest were able to fight they did turn back, but later resumed their mission. Over optimistic reports from our pilots convinced Halsey that he could leave this Force and find the Carriers.
In the Mindanao Sea The Southern Force of Admiral Nishimura and Admiral Shima entered the Mindanao Sea that night with the intentions of steaming through Surigao Strait and also hit the troops on Leyte. They were ambushed by the Seventh Fleet under Admiral Kincaid and totally destroyed.
Battle off Samar When Kurita broke out through the San Bernardino Strait into the Philippine Sea he met a force of small escort carriers which were no match for his large battleships. He could have completely destroyed them and proceeded to Leyte but at the last minute he turned around and missed the best opportunity of the Japanese Navy to set the War back many months.
Battle off Cape Engano Adm. Halsey did not know the carriers to the north were acting as decoys to pull his Third Fleet north so Kurita could break out. He went after them and sunk a number of the carriers and could have sunk the entire Force except he was ordered back south when the situation became desperate at San Bernardino Strait. Our sister ship USS Princeton (CVL 23) was sunk in the battle-the first and only CVL sunk in the war (and the only fast carrier sunk after the Hornet (CV 8) sank on 26 Oct. 1942).
On 21 Oct., Cabot was steaming along with TG 38.2 enroute to strike the Visayans (inner Philippine Islands). Our CAP shot down a Zero and a Jake on 24 Oct. Ens. Jimmy VAN I FLEET exploded a Betty after it was reported in the area by Lt. John BALLENTINE, TBM pilot.
At 0825 hours, the Task Group commander sighted four Japanese battleships, eight cruisers and 13 destroyers seven miles from the southern tip of Mindoro. This was Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's Center Force trying to clear San Bernardino Strait and swing south to destroy invading forces on Leyte.
First contact with the powerful Japanese Center Force was in Tablas Strait east of Mindoro. Planes from the Intrepid (CV ll) and Cabot found them a little past 0800 hours on the 24th.
Fighting Hellcats from the Cabot flew cover at 14,000 feet and at 16,000 feet for the torped planes. The Avengers from Cabot were directed to attack the leading battleship from the starboard side.
Lt. FECKE, Lt. THOMPSON, Lt. (jg) SONNER and Ens. BUCHANAN strafed enemy ships. Then Ens. COZZENS, Lt. FRETWELL Ens. DUNN and Ens. TURNER strafed other Japanese ships in the group.
Lt. WILLIAMS and his crew members James E. BOLAND, AOM2c and B. L. RACZYNSKI, AEMlc made a water landing and were seen waving from their rubber raft. Lt. McPHERSON led the TBM attack with Lt. ANDERSON and Lt. (jg) SKIDMORE in an attack on the leading Japanese battleships.
However, Cabot's shining hour of the battle came when she helped sink one of the world's largest battleships Japan's Musashi.
The Sinking of the Super Battleship Musashi 24 Oct. would have been a red letter date for the Cabot anyway, as she fought hard for control of Leyte Gulf. But as the day further unfolded, she was to help sink the Musashi, one of the two largest battleships in the world. (The other, Japan's Yamato, would also be sunk with Cabot's help on 7 April 1945 off the coast of Japan.)
The Cabot logs of 24 Oct. 1944 credit VT-29
with a torpedo hit on the Fuso-class battleship and a Kongo-class BB. (She can take credit for hits on the Kongo and the Musashi, but not on the Fuso-class-Fuso and Yamashiro-as they were not attacked by TG 38.2 planes. These latter two battleships were sunk on 25 Oct. 1944 by our battleships in Surigao Strait. During the war, many mistakes in identification were made. Pilots had to drop bombs or torpedos in the face of intense AA fire and had few seconds to count masts or gun turrets for positive ID.)
Lt. (jg) Howard SKIDMORE, a torpedo pilot, was in the first attack on the Japanese Center Force along with other TBMs and F6Fs. He made his run on the lead battleship, flanked by enemy cruisers and dropped his "fish". Then, his main concern was to get out of the heavy AA fire. He did take a direct hit on the starboard side of his aircraft, leaving a hole big enough to see the ocean below. He then flew into a path of tracer bullets from a cruiser, but jammed his stick forward and managed to take only a couple more hits. Someone from the Air Group radioed that a TBM was on fire. SKIDMORE didn't smell smoke, so he thought it was someone else. (Forty years later, his turret gunner, Don HAMBIDGE, told him it was his plane.) Danny McCarthy, the radioman, was hit by fragments of a five-inch shell from the battleship, but HAMBIDGE was able to give him first aid.
Because of the wounded crewman, the TBM was allowed to land on the Cabot before other returning planes. With oil on the windshield SKIDMORE could barely see the landing signal officer, but he did land safely with only three feet to spare from the port catwalk. His torpedo could have hit either the Musashi or the Yamato, he wasn't sure.
Another attack from the Cabot was made in the afternoon with two divisions of Hellcat fighter pilots including Lt. Edward VAN VRANKEN, Ens. Francis COLLINS, Lt. (jg) Joseph CHANDLER, Ens. Robert JANDA Lt. Max BARNES, Ens. Robert MURRAY Ens. Henry W. BALSIGER and Ens. Emeral B. COOK.
Bombs were dropped, and presumably much damage was done to the enemy, but positive identifications could not be made. Another Avenger was missing after the raid with Ens. Donald LAMPSON Jr. and crewmen William H. ODOM, ARM3c and Albert A. GRANGER, AMMH1c.
Meanwhile, Admiral Halsey was making what many historians consider a grave error: he left the San Bernardino Strait unguarded, and the enemy came through on the 24th. Halsey was told that this fleet had turned back due to heavy damage. He knew there had to be Japanese carriers in the area, so he left this action believing the 7th Fleet could thwart an advance by the Center Force if they decided to return through the strait.
The Japanese carriers Halsey so desperately wanted were commanded by Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa and were to the north, being used as decoys to pull Halsey away from the strait. This would enable Admiral Kurita to come through, swing south and let his super battleships halt the Leyte invasion.
All Kurita had in his way, was a group of CVEs, some destroyers and destroyer escorts. His battleships could have annihilated them, proceeded on south and set the war back many months. But for unknown reasons, Kurita let the opportunity slip. He thought the CVEs were the fast carriers of the 3rd Fleet. He turned back into the strait, and this part of the battle was over.
Kurita's decision is hard to understand. At times, the Japanese were so willing to commit suicide to destroy their foe. At other times, they were over cautious to the point of letting us out of a corner. At any rate, this was one of those times for which we can be thankful.
Halsey found the northern force under Ozawa. It was really a suicide mission, and he destroyed most of the carriers except the two hybrids that escaped. Halsey could have destroyed the whole fleet, but he was ordered by Nimitz to turn south for the breakout of Kurita at San Bernardino Strait.
At 1110 hours, 25 Oct., Admiral Halsey turned around to intercept the retreating Japanese ships. This was described as one of the saddest days of his long naval career, as he recorded in this dairy, "C/C 180°", meaning change course due south and away from the northern Japanese force" - just when he had them under his guns.
At the same time-1110 hours-the Cabot was on her way to intercept Kurita's withdrawing surface units.
Strikes were made and one VT did not return. Lt. (jg) C. F. NORTON and crewmen L. M. SVIBEN, ARM2c and A. R. PATON, AOM3c were aboard the Avenger. They were later picked up by Philippine natives and returned to the ship via Leyte.
During the three days of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the enemy lost 305,710 tons of ships, including four carriers, three battleships, 10 cruisers and nine destroyers. In contrast, we lost 36,600 tons including the Princeton, two escort carriers, two destroyers and a destroyer escort. In addition, both sides lost hundreds of aircraft, but the ratio was the usual nine to one in favor of us.
On 28 Oct., the Cabot was covering the invasion of the Philippines. A sweep over Luzon netted an Oscar, a Zeke and a probable Tojo.
Lt. H. E. LESLIE was hit by AA fire, and he made a forced landing in Laguna De Bay, a large lake near Manila Bay. LESLIE was seen climbing into his rubber boat near some sampans. A later inspection by fellow pilots revealed only an oil slick and the sampans. Ens. S. DEATH was also believed to be forced down in the Philippine invasion.
Strikes made over Clark Field on 29 Oct. resulted in destroyed buildings and planes. The Task Force reported an enemy plane crashed the USS Intrepid.
At 1858 hours on 29 Oct., a fighter crashed on the Cabot's deck, killing Lt. (jg) H. M. WAGSTAFF Jr. The fighter's pilot, Ens. E. B. COOK, was severely burned and later died. WAGSTAFF's and COOK's remains were committed to the deep at 1315 hours on 30 Oct. at latitude 15°55.2" north, longitude 125°38.2" east.
While on CAP, Ens. Robert B. WILLIAMS and Lt. (jg) Irl V. SONNER splashed a Frances.
On 4 Nov., Cabot was steaming in company with Task Group 38.2 east of Luzon and made strikes on the island.
At 1232 hours on 5 Nov., Thomas M. JONES, ACMM, was struck and killed by an airplane propeller while starting an engine. His remains were committed to the deep at latitude 14 deg 54.8" north, longitude 128 deg 44.S" east.
Lt. Paul ASHLEY, one of three doctors aboard at the time, tells of this tragedy.
"One morning during general quarters, and while the Cabot was launching antisubmarine patrol, a man got in the way of a propeller. He was slashed in the back and brought to the operating room and asked if anything hurt.
"He replied, 'no, but I feel a little cold and something wet on my back."
Dr. ASHLEY slid his hand under him and realized the man's spine was cut completely in half. He was given plenty of morphine and died in about three hours.
The Cabot proceeded on 9 Nov. to Ulithi Atoll and anchored there. The following changes were made in the complement:
- 9 Nov.-Cmdr. Herman P. SCARNEY, MCV(S) reported on board for duty as senior medical officer.
- 10 Nov.-Ens. Henry W. LOWE reported aboard for duty involving fighter direction and CIC operations. Cmdr. H. A. BLAISDELL, MC-V(S) was transferred off ship via USS Belleau Wood.
- 14 Nov.-Richard SPRINGER, GM2c was transferred off ship.
The Cabot was underway on 14 Nov. with strikes over Manila. On 19 Nov., Lt. J. H. BALLANTINE Jr. and crewmen W. K. BIYE AOM2c and W. J. HESSE, ARM3c were missing in a TBM that was part of a strike leveling buildings and destroying planes.
By November 1944, the Japanese High Command knew they had lost the war. Only a miracle could save their nation from unconditional surrender, but the "miracles" that might save them was the kamikaze (meaning "divine wind") pilots, the kaiten or one-man suicide boat, and the baka (meaning "fool") flying bomb released from a Betty.
Thousands of Japanese soldiers and sailors were willing to die and possibly cause the U.S. Navy such losses that we might settle for a negotiated peace. Indeed, nothing in our naval history had caused such fear as an enemy willing to crash into ships. It was beyond the American comprehension to imagine a man willing to commit suicide this way, and it was hard for the bluejacket to adjust to this threat. The Navy was worried because losses were mounting. They needed a proper defense - if there was one - to stop it.
The Navy censored all information about the effect suicide missions were having because they did not want the enemy to know how concerned we were. The American public was not told about the kamikaze until the day President Roosevelt died-13 April 1945. As hoped, the kamikaze made the back pages of most newspapers, leaving page one for coverage of Roosevelt. Primary targets of the kamikaze were fast carriers because their wooden flight decks were very vulnerable. The bomb would usually penetrate the deck and explode below, causing far more damage than if it exploded on deck. In response, the U.S. was developing armored flight decks for the new Midway-class carriers but the war was over before they were ready.
On 25 Nov. 1944, kamikazes attacked the Task Force. Gene MASUCCI, QMlc was on the bridge as quartermaster of the watch while Ole LANGSTED, QM2c was at the wheel.
The Cabot deck log of 25 Nov. reads: "1254-Enemy plane (Zeke) dove on ship hitting flight deck at frame 26 port side starting fire and causing extensive damage.
"1256-Second Zeke made dive on ship, hitting close aboard on port quarter, exploding under mount 6. Results of crashes: 2 six-foot holes in flight deck vicinity frame 25: six-foot hole on 03 deck frame 25; #2 gun tub and surrounding catwalk carried away; catapult out of commission with electrical control system destroyed; port after radio antennas out of commission; forward port gasoline system carried away; port side of hangar deck space from amidship to frame 60 riddled with shrapnel damaging many aviation spares stowed in hangar; vent ducts and uptakes punctured; fire main riser riddled, with six-foot section of fire main out; forward fire pump out."
In Ernie Pyle's book, Last Chapter, the episode is described by Lt. Howard SKIDMORE, who was seated in his TBF. SKIDMORE had been ready to take off when his plane was clipped by the Japanese suicider shearing off the TBF propeller.
Said Pyle, "SKIDMORE wasn't scratched and the close explosion didn't even deafen him or give him a headache."
Here's SKIDMORE's version of the day: "A large air strike on Luzon was taking off-16 fighters and eight torpedo bombers had been launched, with one TBF left. My plane, with a crew of Don HAMBIDGE and Danny McCARTHY, was the last to be catapulted. "Noticing the gunners firing aft, I saw two enemy aircraft flying low, crossing the Cabot's wake from starboard to port. Shortly after passing the wake of the Intrepid, the second plane did a 'right wingover' and dove into the Intrepid. By this time, there were many enemy planes flying in, around and over the formation.
"Just as I had taxied onto the catapult and was hooking up for the shot, the Task Force commander ordered all carriers to cease launching and turn starboard. I was not ordered to cut my engine, but I had slowed down the prop to a low RPM.
"By the sound of the 40MM and 20MM, I knew the enemy planes were close. I positioned myself in front of my armor plate, lowered my seat and adjusted my gear to give me as much protection as possible. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in a flaming furnace. I ordered my crew out and climbed out on the starboard side onto the flight deck.
*Last Chapter, Ernie Pyle, (Henry Holt & Co., 1946.)
"The kamikaze had crashed just ahead on the port side of the TBF. The bomb had exploded and the plane was burning. I ran aft through heavy smoke to a catwalk and ducked onto an ammo storage room when I heard the gunners open up again.
"Another Japanese plane was shot down close to the Cabot. It crashed into the port side amidship at the waterline, with much damage and loss to the gun crews."
Added SKIDMORE, "No doubt in my mind-The kamikaze had me in his sights and came close enough to knock off my prop and hub as he passed over." The kamikaze, who crashed through the flight deck, exploded in the catapult room, knocking a hole in the port side large enough to drive a Jeep through.
"Luckily," said SKIDMORE, "I had the protection of the TBF, even though it was loaded with four 500-pound bombs in the bomb bay. Shrapnel from the enemy aircraft struck the port wing underside and the fuselage. My helmet was charred on top, some hair singed and all my fingers on my left hand had blistered from the heat while I was in the cockpit. I was very lucky; 35 of our shipmates were killed by these two kamikazes."
Killed that day were:
Salvatore ANDREWS, S2c Gerald G. BENNETT, QM2c Gerald M. BIEDERMAN, S2c Everett H. DAGGER, BMlc Hjalmar M. DAVIDSON, AMM2c Raymond A. JOHNSON, GM3c Sgt. Major L. J. CAMP, USMC Those blown overboard and missing in action were; Lt. John T. WHEELER Ens. Frank J. LYONS Jason L. AUSTIN Jr., PhoM2c Samuel E. AXTELL, Slc James F. CLARK, Slc Howard R. EVANS, Slc Louis A. GUSLINE, S2c Ray GRYZB, S2c James A. JONES, Slc William KADAR, Slc Clement V. LAVIN, S2c Ceaser C. LEONELLO, S2c John E. MADDEN, S2c Arthur G. MARTINEZ, S2c James E. MERRELL Jr., S2c Robert R. METZ, S2c Francis X. McGEE, S2c Ramond N. MICHAUD, GM3c Richard D. MOORE, Slc Robert F. FITZGERALD, Slc George H. MORTON, Jr., S2c Bill C. NELSON, GM3c Ulyssess S. NONEMACHER, Slc Joseph F. PIEJA, S2c Henry M. PUCKE1T, GM3c Raymond N. SKEY, Slc Leonard J. STICKLER, GM3c Francis L. TUKE, Cox
Total men lost from the kamikaze attack 35.
On 28 Nov., the following were transferred to the USS Samaritan, a hospital ship. All would later receive the Purple Heart: Richard ARCHER, Slc Franklin C. ATKINS, Slc Francis A. BALLOUZ, PhM2c Peter T. BROWN, Slc Robert E. CRONIN, Slc Kenneth L. DICKEY, Slc James E. FRENCH, AMM2c Rene GRODIS, S2c Paul A. McDONALD Jr., Slc Joseph D. ROBERTS, Slc Manuel J. SUARES, S2c Charles W. TAYLOR, GM2c Reginald A. WHEELER, CY Edward T. BURRELL, Sgt. USMC William P. EISELE, Pfc. USMC Frank D. FABRIZIO, Pfc. USMC Charles S. SMITH, Pfc. USMC Dozens of awards were given by the captain to of officers and men who repaired the Cabot and kept her in the fight. One Lt. (jg) Earl HOEY the hangar deck executive officer, repaired more than 94 holes in the hull and was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts.
Another Bronze Star was awarded Jesse L. SISK, BMlc, "For heroic service as mount captain on board the USS Cabot in action against enemy Japanese forces off the coast of the Philippines on 25 Nov. 1944." In addition SISK was authorized to wear the Combat "V" on his Bronze Star ribbon.
Read the citation, "After most of his gun crew had been forced to seek refuge from the intense heat of an explosion during an attack by Japanese aircraft, SISK personally took charge of the gun and by manning various posts about the gun which enabled it to resume firing, took under fire two enemy planes attempting to strafe the vessel. His courage and devotion to duty in the face of grave hazards were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. "
It would be the last carrier strike in support of Leyte, but the Japanese had known we were coming. One kamikaze hit the Essex and the Hancock, another the Intrepid. The Cabot caught two. Clearly, something had tipped off the enemy, and this bothered Admiral Halsey. It was later learned that our radio traffic pattern was the problem. From then on, radio patterns were varied, enabling our fleet to surprise the Japanese in later actions.
Perhaps the best observation of the two kamikaze hits that day, though, are from Lt.Frank A ZIMANSKI, the gunnery officer.
"I vividly recall many details of that attack," he said. "We were at general quarters. The first plane appeared dead astern, two to three miles and closing very fast. It was horizontal at an altitude of about 100 feet. He seemed to be attached to a high wire strung to the center of our flight deck.
"We fired at him for a long time with the few guns aft that could bear directly astern, but he kept right on coming.
"With such an approach, he had but one target - our island superstructure - yet he never modified his course to the right a few degrees to accomplish that. I surmised later that he must have been dead or disabled," ZIMANSKI recalled.
"I stood precisely at his level in the open gun control station when he reached the island, and I peered intently into his cockpit. I was about 50 feet away, and his wing tip was almost within reach, but at his speed, he was no more than a blur.
"Then I recall how we suddenly became engulfed in flame, smoke and debris. We instinctively ducked until it all passed over in a few seconds.
"I later discovered tiny sear spots on my shirt from hot oil. Evidently, the left wing of the kam had snagged a TBF on our catapult ready for launching.
"The kamikaze then pitched into our port gun tube, where his bomb exploded. That caused most of our casualties. The guns and men were lost in the water. We buried many the next day with all honors. (Had the pilot not snagged our TBF, he would have continued his flight off the forward ramp where he was headed.)"
Continued ZIMANSKI, "Recognizing the distraction of the explosion on our gunners as well as the probability of future attacks, I repeatedly directed all stations, 'Guard your sectors! Guard your sectors!
"Sure enough, within a moment, a second kam appeared slightly to the left of dead ahead. He made a similar low-level attack, also aimed at our island. Only a few hundred yards from us, he suddenly lost control, banked sharply right and crashed alongside to port beneath the Marines' 20MM battery, where more casualties were sustained.
"In retrospect, the Japanese attack was well conceived and executed-a tribute to them indeed. Fortunately, our gunners defeated them by thwarting them in their objective to knock the Cabot out of the war.
"I am convinced that after the first kam struck us, only our forward #1 40MM mount remained in position to bear on the second kam and defend us. In this, they miraculously succeeded.
"Many of us were no more than five seconds from Eternity when Lt. 'Red' EADER and his gallant crew shot down the second kam. Many of us live on borrowed time, thanks to them.
We remain forever, if belatedly, grateful."
Said ZIMANSKI, "We of the Cabot have much to reflect on and contemplate. Recall that it wasn't long before this kamikaze attack that the Cabot was only a moment away from a gruesome and cataclysmic fate when the wild errant heavy cruiser, traveling at high speed threatened to cut us literally in two. "It is perfectly clear to me that only our Divine Lord could have and did spare us on those two occasions. Why Well, to ponder it is in vain. The answer is beyond any mortal.
"Finally, let me say that I have long felt obliged to make such an acknowledgment. To neglect such an obligation on my part would have put me in the same category with those nine lepers in Luke's Gospel. They were mercifully healed by our Lord Jesus, yet who never returned to thank Him. I feel like the 10th leper in that Gospel who also was spared on the same occasion. He did return to Jesus and thanked Him."
Frank A. ZIMANSKI, gunnery officer, 1944
Captain, U.S. Navy (retired)
Still another member of Cabot's crew, Fred DUDLEY, AOMlc, remembers that fateful day of 25 Nov.
"We were at battle stations during general quarters. My station was the port belting room almost directly across the flight deck from the island. (The room previously had been used-tobelt 50-caliber ammo for guns on the fighter planes. But for several months we had begun to receive this ammunition already belted.)
"While in the room, I felt a tremendous shock and heard a violent explosion. I stepped through the hatch and up a short ladder to the catwalk below and outside the flight deck to see if there was anything I could do.
"Immediately," DUDLEY recalls, "I noticed that a 40MM gun tub battery was missing-gone. While standing there, I saw another kamikaze approaching at about 10 o'clock. The Marine 20MM guns were pouring everything they had at him and were scoring as you could see by the tracer rounds. But he kept coming.
"Thoughts raced through one's mind at a time like that, and my first thought was that I didn't have a weapon of any kind not a rifle side arm, not even a bean shooter, and this I remember, was very frustrating because I would like to have thrown something at the enemy. This guy was trying to sink my ship.
"Realizing there was nothing I could do to help stop him, my next thought was that he was coming straight at me standing there on the catwalk over the water. No, what he was attempting to do was take out the island and I was in the path, so I decided to duck back in the port belting room.
"Having my helmet and life preserver on, I planted my head firmly against the bulkhead and held on to the ammunition belting steel table hoping to minimize the shock of explosion and keep myself from bouncing around on the deck.
"Then it happened. The Jap had finally lost control and banked into port side below the Marines 20MM gun tub, killing some of the men.
"I got up off the deck and ran back to the catwalk. There was a 7-to 8-inch hole in the grillwork where I had been standing. The Marine sergeant, obviously wounded, was sitting on the flight deck. I tried to help him, but he refused any assistance until all his men were taken care of. He died a short while later."
After the kamikaze hits, the Cabot stayed in the fight and struck Neilson Field, destroying Japanese planes and an oiler.
However, action on 25 Nov. wasn't over yet. A VF crashed on deck at 1621 hours and went over the starboard side. The pilot, Ens. W. H. TURNER, was not found by the destroyer that searched for him. He had been hit by AA fire on his port elevator, which contributed to his fatal landing.
On 26 Nov., funeral services were held and the following were buried at sea: Salvatore ANDREWS, S2c Gerald BENNETT, QM2c Everett H. DAGGER, BMlc Sgt. Mgr. L. J. CAMP, USMC Rayond A. JOHNSON, GM3c Two men killed 25 Nov. on board ship had been buried immediately. The rest of the casualties were blown overboard and never recovered.
Admiral Halsey made an official call on the Cabot on 30 Nov. at Ulithi. Although it cannot be substantiated, it is believed Halsey recommended the Cabot for a Presidential Unit Citation then. Later, the Cabot did receive the citation, the highest award to be given a ship.
While at anchor in Ulithi, several personnel changes took place. On 3 Dec., Lt. E. J. LANGHURST, athletic director was transferred off for another assignment. W. W. BLACKINGTON, S2c was transferred to the USS Solace for medical treatment. He returned on 9 Dec. Several Marine privates reported on board 4 Dec. to replace those killed or injured in the kamikaze attack. They were: Dan Y.VARLOW, Robert BATEY, Calvin BOYER James H. CAROTHERS and Charles E. COCHRAN.
It should be pointed out, however, that all the actions the Cabot was involved in during her 16 months at sea, none stand out for the crew more vividly than the "K" attacks of 25 Nov. 1944. The Japanese had gambled that desperate tactics such as the kamikaze attacks would change the outcome of the war, but they did not count on the courage of American sailors. The suicide missions did not work then any more than they do today in the Middle East. It just makes Americans more determined to protect our way of life in the greatest country on earth.
Thirty-five men gave their lives on 25 Nov. 1944 to protect our principles. Let no American forget their sacrifices.
President John F. Kennedy expressed what every Cabot veteran feels when he said:
"Any man who may be asked In this century what he did to make his life worth while, I think I can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: I served in the United States Navy."
December 1944 - February 1945 The next scheduled operation before landing on Luzon was to be MacArthur's assault on Mindoro starting 15 Dec. Because the island was close to Luzon, it was particularly important to maintain tight control over the Luzon airfield to avoid interference with the general's forces and supply ships coming up from Leyte. The Army was now in position to keep the peace south of Manila, but everything north of the city was the responsibility of Task Force 38.
The Cabot was underway on 11 Dec. in company with TG 38.2 and struck Luzon on 14 Dec. Lt. J. F. THOMPSON was hit by AA fire south of San Palac Point and reported missing.
Two F6Fs were also missing, piloted by Lt.(jg) Walter D. BISHOP and Ens. G. E. RECORDS. They collided midair while flying cover over airfields near Subic Bay. Both were seen in parachutes after the collision. The next day, Cabot pilots were attracted by a flashing mirror from the beach. They also saw "Cabot" written in the sand and spotted two white men and several natives waving to the planes. (Lt.BISHOP apparently did not survive but RECORDS did. Further information about the incident could not be found.)
On 15 Dec., a faulty engine forced a VT plane to make a water landing with Lt. (jg) C. F. NORTON and crewmen A. R. PATON AOM2c and R. F. SMITH, ACRM. SMITH picked up by the USS Swanson (DD 443), turned into sick bay with hand and foot lacerations.
The fighters and torpedo planes from Air Group 29 hit the Florida Blanca area and inflicted much damage, including destruction of an ammo dump. The Avengers were carrying I four 500 pound GP bombs each and the Hellcats one 1,000 pound bomb each. A big storm approached the 3rd Fleet on the 17th, and heavy seas prevented refueling.
The Devastating Typhoon of December 1944
An account by Hanson W. Baldwin entitled "When the Third Fleet Met 'The Great Typhoon"' in The New York Times Magazine of 16 Dec. 1951 describes the storm in almost biblical style, as the article began:
"It was the greatest fleet that had ever sailed the seas, and it was fresh from its greatest triumph. But the hand of God was laid upon it and a great wind blew, and it was scattered and broken upon the ocean more men lost, more ships sunk and damaged than in many of the engagements of the Pacific war."
Certainly the fleet was trying to dodge the typhoon on the 18th, but could not find the right course. The seas became mountainous and every ship was in trouble. A man in the water could be heard yelling for help from the Cabot's bridge, but could not be seen due to the driving rain and heavy seas. Life rings and smoke floats were dropped overboard to help.
Our sister ships, the CVLs, were experiencing more problems due to heavy rolling and loose aircraft. The Monterey (CVL 26) and USS Cowpens (CVL 25) had hanger deck fires. The Langley (CVL 27) reported a roll at 70°, and the San Jacinto (CVL 30) had planes adrift on the hangar deck.
A young ensign by the name of Gerald Ford lost his footing on the flight deck of the Monterey and slid across it. He did manage to hang on to a short rail until the ship righted herself. Ens. Ford later became our 38th president.
The Cabot pitched and rolled heavily, but she was well buttoned up and very well prepared for the storm. Countless times it seemed the Cabot would capsize, and at one particularly bad moment, Capt. MICHAEL made light of it by saying to the helmsman, "Watch it son, or we'll go into a snap roll."
Cabot weathered the storm well, though, and all hands breathed easier when the sea calmed. The Task Group commander complimented the Cabot with, "Congratulations on handling a tough situation." The only reference on the ship's log was at 1600 hours on 18 Dec: "Mustered the crew on stations due to possibility of having lost personnel over the side due to heavy weather Absentees none."
The Monterey had three men killed and 10 more critically injured. The San Jacinto fought to stay afloat, but there were no fatalities.
However, three destroyers were lost: USS Hull (DD 350), USS Spence (DD 512) and USS Managhan (DD 354). Adding to the disaster were 790 men dead and 100 planes lost. Historians have blamed Admiral Halsey and the inexperienced young officers commanding the destroyers for most of the losses.
The next two days, the fleet conducted a search and rescue mission, and about 100 men were picked up. The search ended the 22nd, and the fleet returned to Ulithi.
Still more bad-luck struck on 20 Dec., when Ens. Robert WILLIAMS crashed into the barrier. He suffered a fractured skull and shock. The Cabot's log while anchored at Ulithi reports:
"26 Dec. '44-Francis D. DOUGHTERY GM2c and Raymond C. MILLER, SKDlc were transferred to USS Hollandia for further transportation to the USA. Jesse 'L' SISK BMlc transferred to the USS General S. K. Sturgis for transportation to the USA.
"29 Dec. '44-Lt. Harry F. WHITMAN reported on board as CIC officer. Lt. John D. HALL (MC) transferred to the USS Samaritan for medical treatment."
In support of the Lingayen, Luzon operation the 3rd Fleet fast carrier Task Force made a thrust into the South China Sea. The main goal was to destroy any major Japanese units there.
Cabot's log records the ship steaming in company with TG 38.1, and entering the South China Sea at 0010 hours 10 Jan. On 12 Jan. VT#8 was missing with pilot J. P. WALKER and crewmen Lester COMPTON, ARM3c and W. F. HOLT, AOM3c.
Air strikes on 12 Jan. were made on the coast between Saigon and Camranh, destroying much shipping. One enemy convoy was entirely wiped out, and two others were severely mauled. The tally-41 ships sunk and 31 damaged. One hundred twelve enemy planes were destroyed while docks, oil storages and airfield facilities were heavily damaged. Air opposition had been negligible.
Formosa was struck on the 15th, while fighter sweeps and searches were made to Amoy Swatow, Hong Kong and Hainan. The 3rd Fleet was thrust into waters the enemy had until now considered their own. Some 3,800 miles were crossed in the South China Sea with no battle damage to out ships. No enemy aircraft had been able to approach the fast carrier task forces closer than 20 miles.
On 19 Jan., Ens. Herbert GIDNEY Jr. and Norman SOKOLOW, ARM3c reported for duty.
Al 2230 hours, the Cabot cleared Balimang Channel, leaving the South China Sea and entered the Philippine Sea again. Thus, Cabot was the first American carrier in the South China Sea and the last one out.
Admiral Halsey was especially wanting to find the two hybird carriers-Ise and Hyuga-that had escaped him in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. He had a special dislike for these converted carrier battleships and unfortunately for us they had fled south before he got to the South China Sea.
Following our trip to the South China Sea President Roosevelt sent the following message to Admiral Nimitz:
"The country has followed with personal pride the magnificent sweep of your fleet into enemy waters in addition to the gallant fighting of your flyers, we appreciate the endurance and superb seamanship of your forces. Your fine cooperation with Gen. MacArthur furnishes another example of teamwork and the effective and intelligent use of all weapons. To officers and men of all services who planned and have supplied the needs of the fighting forces through the years is due the credit for the situation which prompted the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy to send this message. To all officers and men, 'Well done'."
Formosa and the southern Nansei Shoto were again hit on 21 Jan., and heavy damage was inflicted on aircraft, shipping, docks and the industrial area at Takao. At 1206 hours, the Langley (CVL 27) was hit. A few minutes later the Ticonderoga (CV 14) was also attacked.
23 Jan. 1945 was an awards day. Presented were:
Navy Cross Lt. A. J. FECKE Ens. R. L. BUCHANAN Silver Star Lt. (jg) I. V. SONNER Lt. (jg) R. E. MURRAY Gold Star in Lieu of Second DFC Lt. B. D. JAQUES Distinguished Flying Cross Lt. M. G. BARNES Lt. B. D. JAQUES Ens. F. W. TROUP Lt. U. L. FRETWELL Ens. R. J. MAGHAN Ens. J. B. VAN FLEET Lt. H. W. BALSIGER Ens. R. E. MURRAY Ens. F. A. WIER Bronze Star Ens. E. F. DeVINE Gold Star in Lieu of 2nd Air Medal Lt. A. J. FECKE Lt. E. VAN VRANKEN Ens. M. COZZENS Air Medal Lt. M. G. BARNES Lt. P. E. GREENLEE Lt. (jg) J. L. CHANDLER Ens. B. D. COMBS Ens. R. L. BERTELSON Lt. A. J. FECKE Lt. B. D. JAQUES Lt. (jg) J. R. HERB Ens. M. COZZENS Lt. U. L. FRETWELL Lt. E. VAN VRANKEN Ens. H. W. BALISIGER Ens. B. DUNN
On January 1945 the following awards were presented:
Navy Cross Lt. Wm. ANDERSON ChBosn. Paul L. BOWEN Silver Star Cmdr. David WELSH Cmdr. A. L. GURNEY Lt. Leonard LEVISON Gunnery Sgt. Peter DeMARIA Grady CAMPBELL GM3c Air Medal Cmdr. David WELSH Presidential Unit Citation Edward VAN BRUNT CAerM
On 26 Jan. 1945, the Cabot was anchored at Ulithi Atoll.
On 5 Feb. more Awards were presented as follows:
Legion of Merit Lt. Cmdr. W. E. EDER Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) Lt. Cmdr. I. E. McPHERSON Lt. (jg) C. S. NORTON Lt. (jg) J. P. SPEIDEL Gold Star in Lieu of 2nd Bronze Star Lt. R. WERRENRATH Bronze Star Cmdr. A. L. GURNEY Lt. Cmdr. A. D. MASTERS Air Medal Cmdr. David J. WELSH Lt. Cmdr. W. E. EDER Commendation Letter with Ribbon Maj. E. J. JOHNSON Lt. P. J. MUELLER Lt. R. A. NEWCOMB Lt. J. M. WOSIK 1st. Lt. R. M. ERVIN Lt. (jg) H. R. ROOME Lt. (jg) W. G. PARKER Lt. (jg) D. L. MacDONALD Distinguished FIying Cross Lt. (jg) Howard H. SKIDMORE Lt. (jg) Stanley TINSLEY Bronze Star Cmdr. D. B. CANDLER Cmdr. Herman SCARNEY Lt. Cmdr. Frank ZIMANSKI Lt. Cmdr. Malcolm QUIGLEY Lt. Paul ASHLEY Lt. Guy BRANAMAN Jr. Lt. Sterling WRIGHT Lt. (jg) Burton ANDERSON Lt. (jg) Earl HOEY Lt. (jg) Jay SOREY Ens. Robert HASS ChGun John CARROLL Jr. Harry MOHLER, CEM Veryl TAYLOR, CSF Clarence HARRISON, Cox Louis SCHMIDHEISER, QM3c Charles DEVANEY, AMM3c John O'DONOVAN, PhM3c Henry NEUMEISTER, Slc John WIGMORE, Slc Commandation Letter with Ribbon Ens. R. E. HUFFMAN Ens. R. D. EDWARDS ChCarp M. D. LOWE F. K. FARMER, CFC E. J. SHANKS, CGM G. S. FRY, ACMM E. S. SHERWOOD, CWT C. A. RUSSELL, CPhM H. D. GINNIS, AOM3c J. H. SIMPSON, AOMlc P. F. WARREN, CMlc R. J. HENRY, AMM2c J. R. BARBER, AMM2c H. J. SCHNEIDER, CM2c F. KLAPPATOSK, Cpl. J. R. PITTMAN, AMM3c W. W. LITCHEGER, AOM3c W. F. KINGSTON, SF3c R. T. BROGDEN, Slc C. H. DECKER, Slc W. R. MURPHY, Slc R. A. SHARPE, Slc J. L. SULLIVAN, Slc Pfc. R. J. CASTIAUX Pfc. J. G. COLE Pfc. J. GRANGER Pfc. G. A. SMITH.
The commander of the Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet commended: Cmdr. Alfred GURNEY Lt. Cmdr. Alfred MASTERS Lt. Leonard S. LEVISON While anchored back at Ulithi Atoll, dozens of men were transferred to the Cabot for duty. Some of the names were: Harold L. SUTER S2c(PhoM), Clarence D. SMITH, F2c(WT), T. FLOOR, Flc(MoMM), Paul L. LASH S2c(FC), Alexander J. SOMOLI, S2c, Joe SUKLE, S2c(Y) and David AGUILERA, Slc(AMM). While at Ulithi, T. FLOOR injured his left hand between a whaleboat and the side of an LCI in line of duty. He was admitted to sick bay.
Ens. Philip S. MORAN and his crewmen Kenneth C. ROUND, AMM3c and James SMITH, AMM3c, reported on board for duty. Leonard JACOBS, AM2c transferred off ship to the Naval Air Station at Chicago. Arthur SPOONER, WT3c transferred to San Francisco for instruction. Ens. Lyle A ZEMANEK came on duty aboard for aviation duty. On 6 Feb., Capt. Walton W. SMITH, USN relieved Capt. S. J. MICHAEL as commanding officer. Now Commodore MICHAEL was to become the commanding officer of the Naval Air Station at Alameda, Calif. (When the Cabot returned to the U.S. in April, the commodore greeted his men at the base.)
During this period, the ship's log reads:
*5 Feb. 1945-Ulithi "Came on board to join VT 29: Lt. (jg) Robert E. MAHONEY, James F. THOMPSON, ARM3c Charles H. PLOTEZYK, AMM3c, John E. KELLY, AMM2c, Robert URBANSKI, ARM3c.
*8 Feb."Julian MILLER, S2c transferred to West Coast of USA.
*9 Feb."Machinist Edward F. BERRY was detached and was to proceed to West Coast of USA.
*10 Feb."Lt. Cmdr. R. A. ZIMANSKI, USN detached and awaiting further orders from BuPres."
On 9 Feb., Ernie PYLE, A-14 reported on board to gather news by authorization of the 1st Carrier Task Force, Pacific Fleet. PYLE's two weeks aboard was indeed among the highlights of the Cabot's history. Hundreds of newspapers from coast to coast carried his columns, this time dealing with life on a "flattop".
The Cabot would have become more famous had it not been for wartime security. The Navy would not let PYLE name the carrier or use the names of the crew at first, but PYLE raised such a fuss that he was allowed to use names and hometowns of the men. However, "Iron Woman" was all that would pass the censors in identifying the ship.
PYLE had a low-key style which made him popular worldwide. He discussed the day-today life and thoughts of the enlisted men as well as officers. He wrote about a dozen columns while on the Cabot, and many mothers were thrilled when their son's name were mentioned in the articles.
Having left Europe in August 1944, PYLE was physically and mentally exhausted. He decided he was through writing from the Front but the Navy put such pressure on him to go to the Pacific that he finally gave in and was flown to Guam. There, the Navy treated PYLE like a prima donna, and his columns lost their friendly style for a time.
PYLE asked to board a fast carrier on the first Tokyo strike and was assigned to the Cabot. Of course we would like to think he picked our carrier because of its outstanding war record, but this wasn't so. However, he did request a small carrier so he could get better acquainted with the crew.
On 10 Feb., the Cabot was with Task Group 58.4, headed for Tokyo when Lt. (jg) J. B. VAN FLEET crashed on takeoff in his Hellcat. He was rescued by the USS Franks (DD 554) and this was described in one of PYLE's columns.
Ernie PYLE scratched his shortest war "story" on a Zippo lighter enroute to Tokyo. The scuttlebutt from the galley to bridge was that something big was coming.
A halt hour before the operation orders were to be opened, a young officer pumped PYLE to find out where the ship was going. PYLE wasn't talking, but he asked the officer for his Zippo lighter.
"Stick this in your pocket," PYLE said "and promise not to look until the orders are opened." With the first blast of the boatswain's pipe, the young officer took the Zippo from his pocket. Scratched on the bottom was the word "Tokyo". The first all-out carrier assault on the Japanese homeland was to begin.
On 16 Feb., the fleet was speeding at 23 knots for the war's first naval strike on Tokyo. Carrier aircraft of the 5th Fleet attacked the city exactly one year after the first carrier strike on Truk.
Fleet Admiral Nimitz's communique announced the strike, stating, "This operation has long been planned, and the opportunity to accomplish it fulfills the deeply cherished desire to every officer and man in the Pacific Fleet."
During the strike an F6F, piloted by Ens. R. L. BUCHANAN of Clemanton, N.J. developed engine trouble and was forced to make a water landing north of O Shima just outside Yokohama. Members of his flight, led by Lt. FECKE, stayed overhead for an hour and a half. They contacted a rescue submarine the Pomfret (SS 391) and furnished air cover as she proceeded to rescue BUCHANAN. Visibility was very poor, and sight contact was being maintained only by the pilot's reflector mirror. The sub passed within three miles of O Shima on Tokyo Bay, but was not attacked.
As fuel ran low, Lt. FECKE sent the fighters home one by one, but he hung on. BUCHANAN was rescued in good condition and returned to the Cabot later.
TG 58.4, under the command of Admiral Radford included fast carriers Cabot, Langley Yorktown, and the newly arrived Randolph. Lt. John MONSARRAT was the Flight Director Officer on the Langley and he writes in his book Angel on the Yardarm:
"Our main assignment during the operation was to hit Tokyo and its nearby airfields, in order to prevent the Japanese from sending raids from Honshu down to Iwo Jima to attack our landing forces. While we were to strike Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima as part of the prelanding bombardment, this time the provision of air support to the Marines, once landed, was to be left mainly to the escort carriers accompanying the transports."
"No Navy planes had yet struck Tokyo although the Army Air Force had begun to hit it with B-29s from Guam and Saipan the enemy sent large numbers of fighters to intercept our strike planes but, probably because of the very bad weather, did not mount retaliatory strikes against the carriers so very close to the shore of Honshu. "For three days after the landings, we augmented the air support the CVEs were providing the troops, and each night retired a little farther from the island to ward off enemy air attacks. When they came, with great pyrotechnics the 'lamplighters' dropped bright magnesium flares on the western side of the carrier force.
"Then, for the first time in our experience the Japanese made good use of 'window'-small strips of metal foil cut to match the wave lengths of our radar and dropped in bundles just to the east of our ships. When the strips fanned out in the air and slowly floated down, their radar echos were so strong that they blocked out our radar vision in that particular sector. Thus with our ships brilliantly silhouetted against the flares and float planes to the west, and our radars blind to the east, the enemy torpedo planes had a golden opportunity to hit us with devastating effect. For some reason they did not take it Closer to the island, they did press home their attacks on our ships. We had lent the Saratoga to cover those forces with her night fighters. One night, she took no less than five bomb and torpedo hits. She survived, but limped away, never to return".
Since the Iwo Jima landing was set for 19 Feb., this attack on Tokyo was to give strategic cover by destroying air forces and bringing to the Japanese homefront an awareness of the war's progress.
Against a loss of 49 planes, 322 enemy aircraft were shot down and 177 destroyed on the ground. After the strike, the fast carriers returned toward Iwo Jima to give direct support for the landings.
At 1107 hours 23 Feb., Ernie PYLE left the ship. Less than two months later, 18 April, on Ie Shima west of Okinawa, he was killed by a shot from a Japanese machine gun as he raised his head from a ditch after jumping from a Jeep to take cover. A marker was placed there which reads, "At this spot, the 77th Infantry Division lost a buddy, Ernie PYLE, 18 April 1945." (A book, The Last Chapter by Ernie Pyle, contains a chapter, "Life on a Flat Top" which is about the Cabot. It is particularly interesting reading for anyone connected with the carrier.)
On 25 Feb., the Cabot and the fleet hit Tokyo again. A VF 13 piloted by Ens. J. P. CRAWFORD, failed to return from a sweep.
The carrier anchored back in Ulithi on 1 March. While in Ulithi for two weeks, many men and officers were transferred off ship and dozens more reported for duty. Lt. Cmdr. Charlie N. "Tex" CONASTER became the new air officer. He was a survivor of the Yorktown (CV 5) that was sunk in the Battle of Midway in 1942.
Also reporting aboard were Ens. William J. WALKER and Lt. (jg) John R. HERB, a replacement pilot for Air Group 29.
Dwight E. WARD, MoMMlc and William T. GODFREY, RDM2c(T) were transferred to the West Coast.
On 8 March, Lt. (jg) Harry A FIFIELD, ChC USNR reported on board as relief for Lt.Cmdr. Roderic L. SMITH, ChC, USNR. The crew welcomed the new "padre" and gave Lt.Cmdr. SMITH a rousing sendoff.
The evening of 11 March, the Cabot was anchored and a movie was being shown on the hangar deck. George N. DeLANGE, ACOM was on the flight deck when he saw a low-flying twin-engine plane with the "meat ball" insignia. It dove into the USS Randolph (CV 15) was hit by AA fire and was seen to disintegrate and crash over Miyazaki Air Field, Kyushu on 18 March.
The task group steamed northeast during the night, arriving off Shokoku the morning of 19 March. In the few hours before dawn, flares could be seen on the horizon.
The enemy knew how to make flares, and if you have ever seen a Japanese flare, you won't forget it. They hang there in the sky as if hooked to a cloud, and they brighten up a vast area of the water.
The cry of the director officers and the gun captains was, "Keep your eyes off that flare: Keep a sharp lookout in your own sector. "Night vision is immediately impaired - if not ruined - by flares.
At 0710 hours, a report was received that the Franklin (CV 13) had been severely damaged by air attacks. Radio indicated many casualties and at times, reports were conflicting, leading the task group to believe she was being abandoned. Franklin could be seen on the horizon with billows of smoke pouring out.
Two bombs reduced the Franklin to a burning hulk. A total of 832 crewmen were killed in what was the second worst disaster in U.S. naval history. She later claimed to have the most decorated crew in the Navy with two Congressional Medals of Honor (one for the chaplain), 19 Navy Crosses and 22 Silver Stars.
All were awarded for this action alone.
The Cabot's gunners sighted a plane off the horizon at about 0740 hours. It looked like a friendly fighter, since enemy fighters usually traveled in pairs.
A vapor trail could be seen, indicating the plane was climbing very high. It was first reported by the forward quad mount when it was sighted, and they tracked the target as it appeared through breaks in the clouds.
One of the gun crew reported the plane had entered a cloud on the Cabot's port quarter.
That fact was reported, and the quad trained on the cloud. When it reappeared, the director officer of the forward quad ordered the plane to be tracked.
The mount was powerless due to short circuits caused by seas breaking over the bow earlier, but they trained manually. The gun was made ready to fire, and the pointer had his foot ready to press the trigger. The pointer, trainer gun captain and director officer watched the plane, still sure he was enemy.
Suddenly, someone yelled, "He's diving for the Essex!" Before the first salvo had reached the target, the entire port battery of the Cabot blazed away at the plane, and then every other gun that could bear commenced firing.
The plane dropped a bomb, narrowly missing the flight deck, and splashed into the water off the starboard bow. The pilot then appeared to be pulling out of the dive, but the Essex's gunfire, aided by the Cabot and probably others did the job. The Japanese rolled and spun into the water off the Essex's port bow.
No sooner had the plane splashed, when another was reported diving on the Essex. She was on the port quarter of the Cabot at the time, and the plane dove from her starboard quarter, headed toward the island. The Cabot opened fire when the target came in range and ceased fire in time to prevent stray shots from hitting the Essex.
A bomb splashed short of the mark, sending up a big column of water close to the starboard bow. The plane looked as if it would surely hit the flight deck, but it twisted crazily and crashed into the water on the port bow of the Essex.
At 1300 hours, two more planes approached: one was shot down by the disposition before it would dive. The second plane had four Corsairs (F4Us) in pursuit, so the order was given to hold fire. The plane, a Zeke, came out of the clouds in a tight turn with the division of Corsairs right behind. The nearest plane to the enemy gave a signal, and the other three broke off and waited. The Zeke took a dive towards the water but could not shake the pursuer. As he pulled up again, a burst of tracers spurted forth: the Japanese seemed to have been grabbed by an unseen hand and cast into the sea. The strikes sent in on Kure Harbor were very successful. Bomb hits were scored on Kongo and Yamato - class battleships and damage was done to a Hayataka - class carrier and cruiser in strafing runs. Besides the damage to shipping docks were strafed and set fire, and a few small craft were damaged.
(NOTE: The Kongo battleship had been sunk earlier, so identification was wrong. This must have been the Haruna, a sister ship. The Hayataka carrier, known as the Junyo, survived the war.)
Patrols were thick in the air to splash any kamikazes. In early morning, a Myrt was chased, but the fighters could not catch it. They jettisoned their belly tanks, but the Myrt outran them. On returning, the pilots reported that they were at high altitude, making a ground speed of at least 400 knots, but still the plane opened on them and got away.
That afternoon, Task Group 58.2 was under attack by 15 to 20 planes. Although they were only 15 miles from this group, none of the attackers came through. The AA barrage could be seen clearly on radar and was reported by some ships as "window". About a half hour before midnight, enemy planes approached, dropping "window" for 60 miles all the way. The screen of the disposition opened fire and downed a plane, tentatively identified as a Judy. Flares were dropped over the formation, but no ships were damaged.
TG 58.3 was steaming east of Okinawa on 21 March. That afternoon, a large raid was picked up on radar. All carriers were ordered to launch fighter scrambles to reinforce aerial patrols. A half hour later, planes from TG 58.1 made a tallyho, reporting 21 bombers and 12 fighters splashed with the loss of just two of our fighters.
After planes were moved forward to make room for further recoveries, a fighter came in low, hit the ramp and sheared off the arresting hook. He then bounced over the barriers crashing into parked aircraft. One pilot was killed in a parked plane. The pilot of the crashing plane, however, was not injured. Six fighters were so badly damaged they had to be jettisoned.
Killed was Lt. (jg) Irl V. SONNER. His body was committed to the deep on 22 March at latitude 22° 29.5" north, longitude 133° 13.7" east.
On 25 March, Ens. Herbert A. GIDNEY Jr. and crewmen Norman J. SUKOLOW, ARM3c and Winfred J. BOND, ARM3c were forced to abandon their Avenger due to engine failure but were returned to ship on 26 March.
That afternoon, Task Force 58 was reorganized with damaged carriers assigned to TG 58.2. Task Group S8.3 then consisted of five carriers, the Essex, Bunker Hill, Hancock Bataan and Cabot, Battleship Division, Cruiser Division 17 the Indianapolis, Des Ron 62 DesRon 48, less the Abbot. The North Carolina was absent on detached duty. It was perhaps the largest task group of a fast carrier task force ever formed under one direct tactical command.
Later, all hands aboard were thrilled when told of the prospect of returning home. The Cabot had not seen the States since 1 Nov. 1943, and had not seen civilization since March 1944 when she was at Pearl Harbor. This was the first news that she would be going home soon. She had fought long, hard and dangerously, gaining the confidence and good wishes of the whole fleet.
The next day, the South Dakota, Washington and Indianapolis left the disposition with Destroyer Division 96 to bombard targets on Okinawa. Carriers launched strikes against enemy gun emplacements, barracks, air strips and pillboxes. The Task Force continued pounding Okinawa and softening up operations to clear the island for landings planned 1 April.
On the evening of 28 March, Japanese Fleet units were reported rounding the southern tip of Kyushu, so the Task Group steamed north to intercept.
Strikes were launched the next morning, but were unable to find any of the fleet, so an attack was made on Kyushu. the strike was not wasted; they destroyed eight medium-sized ships and 12 smaller vessels. They also bombed barracks radio stations, piers and hangars.
One torpedo plane did not return. While making a torpedo run, it was seen going into a steep dive and crashed on land. It is believed that the plane was hit by AA fire. The pilot was Lt. (jg) R. E. MAHONEY and crewmen J. E. KELLEY, AMM2c(T) and N. S. URBANSKI, ARM3c(T). Hellcat pilot Ens. D. KELLEHER was shot down over the target, but was picked up by rescue planes.
The next afternoon, a bogey was reported closing in on the disposition. The Cabot's aft deck was spotted, with torpedo planes loaded with bombs for a strike, being launched. An enemy plane started a bombing run on the ship from starboard quarter in a long, shallow dive.
A 20mm started popping away, so the enemy was close. The Task Group commander ordered an emergency turn to the right and the Cabot started into a tight turn.
The plane pulled out of the dive, dropping a bomb that hit the water close aboard on the port quarter. Water, seaweed and bomb fragments dropped on the flight deck, but no casualties were suffered.
At masthead height, the Japanese flew through the formation. Few ships fired, and he was finally splashed by the patrol 23 miles from the formation. The plane was reported to be a Judy by the fighter that shot it down.
1 April was to be landing day on Okinawa. All carriers launched strikes to support ground troops. Every plane from every carrier reported to the air coordinator, who directed them to bomb or strafe different targets.
The Army and Marines, pushing forward reported which positions were giving difficulty. The air coordinator then directed aircraft to remove the obstacles.
As one torpedo plane flew off the deck, the ship rolled to port. The plane went off the deck about 50 feet from the end of the runway, and the pilot fought for control. The right wing rubbed across the deck, and the left wing and wheels were in the air. Everyone sweated it out with him. and expected a crash, but Lt. Howard SKIDMORE managed to keep airborne by; skillful flying. Damaged, he landed aboard the Essex soon afterwards and returned to the Cabot the next day.
In the first support strike over Okinawa, one torpedo plane was forced down on land. The pilot, Ens. L. A. ZEMANEK, said his engine was cutting out and he had to find a spot to land. he landed wheels down in a rice paddy about a mile and a half from the western coast. He was unable to make it out to water, where he would have been much safer.
A fighter division circled overhead in case any Japanese came near. A Japanese farmer saw, but he was not hostile; he was scared and ran away. The downed fliers crossed the main highway, walked into the water, inflated their boat and paddled out to sea. A PBM rescue plane picked them up.
The next day, 10 fighters from the Cabot were joining up after hitting targets on Amami Gunto when they encountered enemy planes. Four of the Cabot planes were seriously damaged and one was shot down. The pilot, Lt. (jg) Melvin COZZENS, bailed out and spent the night in a rubber boat. There, he counted 10
enemy fighters landing on Kikai Airfield. This intelligence was used for later strikes on the Airfield. COZZENS was rescued by a PBM and later returned to ship.
On 5 April, Ens. David KELLEHER, shot down over a target and rescued, was delivered back to ship by USS Stembel (DD 644).
About noon on 6 April, two groups of bogies were picked up on radar 80 miles off and closing in from the north. Two divisions of Essex fighters under Cabot control were sent out, and soon afterward, another Essex division under Essex control followed.
The target was a lone Zeke, and a division of fighters stayed to work it over while the other two continued to intercept the second group. When the target was sighted, all three Essex divisions were in on the kill. Three Judys and 10 Zekes were splashed by the divisions under Cabot command.
A Judy, possibly part of those intercepted began a dive bombing run on the Cabot shortly afterward. The Cabot took him under fire, and on the way down, he dropped a bomb just short of the starboard quarter. Instantly, the Judy burst into flames and one wing came off. It looked as if he might hit the deck, and the guns pounded away. He came very close to the aft starboard corner of the flight deck. Burning fiercely, he stayed in the air and crashed off the bow.
An hour later, radar spotted two aircraft closing rapidly from 30 miles away. They both came within sight, and the North Carolina shot one down. The second plane flew over several ships without receiving heavy fire, and banked around into the sun.
The pilot selected the Cabot and pointed his nose for the middle of the deck. Several ships fired at him during the approach, and every gun the Cabot had that could bear picked up the target and started shooting. The kamikaze's approach was long and shallow and it looked certain the plane would hit the deck, but gun crews fearlessly kept shooting. The Zeke passed over the flight deck with a few feet to spare. His wing hit the SK radar antennae and he crashed into the water, very close to the starboard side. The deck was showered with shrapnel and pieces of metal from the plane.
The SG and SK radar were put out of commission. Sgt. Virgil SHROPSHIRE, a Marine was in the gun tub between the stack and near the SK radar, but the plane passed over him. Slightly wounded in the action were: E. H. FISHER, S2c; W. F. GERWIG, Slc; C. GRIMES, Slc; L. E. HIBBARD, EM2c; T. A. INTERLIGI, GM3c; C. B. WILSON, Cox. In addition, the Hancock (CV 19) lost 72 men while the Intrepid (CV 11) suffered 10 casualties when hit by suiciders.
All needed repairs were finished by the ship's force before 0900 hours the next morning.
The final tally was not complete, but the numbers reported were 85 enemy planes destroyed by the Task Group on 6 April. The Cabot got her two the hard way by repelling kamikaze attacks.
Search flights were sent out early on 7 April to locate Japanese Fleet units reported southeast of Kyushu. They were successful in the search, reporting sightings of a Japanese surface force including one BB, 2 CLs and 10 DDs.
The Task Group turned north to close the target, and the group commander ordered all torpedo planes be loaded as soon as possible. Two hours after the report was received, the strike from the Cabot joined with strikes from the other carriers and went out to strike the Japanese ships.
The secretly built Yamato-class battleships were the biggest ever constructed by anyone and they had the thickest armor to repel torpedoes and bombs. The Japanese built three such ships: the Yamato, Musashi and Shinano.
The Shinano was converted to a carrier before she was finished, but she was sunk by the USS Archerfish (SS 311) while on a shakedown cruise. The Yamato-class BBs were 68,000 tons and had 18.1-inch guns, compared to our Iowaclass ships at 45,000 tons with 16-inch rifles. The Yamato could fire a shell over 22 miles, and her speed was 27 knots.
The Japanese thought these superior battleships could dominate the Pacific war theater but the vessels were made obsolete by the fast carriers. Thus, the enemy would have been wiser to have built carriers.
In late March, the Yamato left Kure Harbor along with a cruiser and eight destroyers on a kamikaze mission with no air cover to Okinawa. They had enough fuel to go only one way, and there were faint hopes of getting to the destination to use their heavy guns on our troops invading Okinawa.
The Cabot and other fast carriers under Admiral Mitscher made sure the enemy did not reach the island with repeated torpedo and bomb attacks. The Cabot made five strikes against the Yamato and was credited with three torpedo hits by Lt. Jack ANDERSON and his Avengers.
The Yamato exploded and capsized. A total of 2,740 men went down with this mighty warship at 1423 hours, 7 April. A cloud of smoke could be seen for miles. Yamato joined her sister ship, the Musashi, at the bottom of the sea thanks to the Cabot and the other American fast carriers.
The light cruiser Yahagi was sunk also, and three of the eight destroyers were scuttled. The remaining ships turned back to Sasebo.
Lt. (jg) J. P. SPEIDEL, aboard the Cabot was worried about taking that trip to strike the Yamato. He was anxiously awaiting news of the birth of his first child.
Nevertheless, SPEIDEL's orders were to attack the Yamato, and although he didn't relish the idea, he made his approach directly on the beam, relating that the Japanese were shooting everything, including their main battery in a futile death struggle. He said they also used pyrotechnic displays and shot missiles resembling roman candles. He flew through one of them and felt nothing.
SPEIDEL squeezed the pickle and swerved as the torpedo hit the Yamato directly under the bridge, causing a terrific explosion.
When he returned to the ship, news arrived that he was the father of a baby boy. SPEIDEL's experience of the day was forgotten temporarily; he received the news he had wanted to hear.
NOTE: Plans to salvage the Yamato now 1,200 feet under the East China Sea were announced in June 1985. A group of Japanese businessmen, journalists and Yamato survivors - there were 276 - wish to reclaim the remains of crewmen so they may be properly laid to rest in Japan.
This planned operation came after the wreck was discovered in 1982 by some former Yamato crew members using a special underwater camera.
At noon on 8 April, an unidentified aircraft was reported closing in on the disposition, and a short while later, a Zeke attacked the Hancock then on the Cabot's starboard bow. The Cabot fired only a few bursts, and the Zeke crashed into the forward part of the Hancock flight deck causing a big fire. Within a half hour, the fire was under control, and the Hancock was later able to recover her aircraft.
Two hours later, radar tracked another target into the formation from 30 miles away. A Zeke began a run on the Cabot, and she took it under fire immediately. The plane swerved away from the AA, trying to crash on the Essex. However the AA shots were very accurate5 the plane went into a steep dive and crashed into the sea, well clear of the Essex.
As the war in Europe was winding down Prime Minister Winston Churchill wanted his fast carriers in on the defeat of the Japanese. The U.S. Navy didn't want or need British help because it would complicate logistics in the final push to defeat Japan, but Churchill insisted and Roosevelt-then very ill-gave in.
The British carrier Task Force was assigned to Admiral Spruance's 5th Fleet from 26 March to 20 April and again from 4 - 24 May. Carriers of their force were subjected to frequent attacks by suicide planes, but with their armoured flight decks, little damage was done.
An interesting story concerning the Cabot and the British was told by Joe COLE MoMM2c of the "A" division. A British life boat had run out of regular gas near where the Cabot was anchored. The British asked Cabot's officer of the deck, "Hi governor. Could we get a bit of petrol Our bloody tank has gone dry." Since they were allies, permission was granted to fill their 30 gallon tank. In the following days, the life boat became a steady customer.
On one trip begging for fuel, the captain of the Cabot witnessed the British approach.
"What do they want" he asked.
"Fuel, sir gas," replied a crewman.
"Has this happened before"
"Many times, sir."
"Give them aviation gas," the captain ordered.
"But sir," the crewman pointed out. "That's too rich and powerful a fuel for their motor."
The captain just smiled.
The British boat came alongside and its tank was filled with the high-octane aviation fuel. In the past, it had taken at least seven turns to start the motor, but when the aviation gas fumes filled the cylinders, the engine started on the second turn, and the motor came to life with a forceful bang. The small craft picked up speed; the carburetor was giving it too rich a mixture and smoke from the exhaust was filled with carbon scale as the motor overheated.
At 150 yards, paint was burning off the motor. All the boat crew were excited. They I shook their fists at us and never returned. The captain had taught the "Limeys" a lesson.
A Navy Flyer's Creed I am a United States Navy flyer.
My countrymen built the best airplane in the world and entrusted it to me. They trained me to fly it. I will use it to the absolute limit of my power.
With my fellow pilots, air crews and deck crews, my plane and I will do anything necessary to carry out our tremendous responsibilities. I will always remember we are part of an unbeatable combat team-The United States Navy.
When the going is fast and rough, I will not falter. I will be uncompromising in every blow I strike. I will be humble in victory.
I am a United States Navy flyer.
I have dedicated myself to my country, with it many millions of all races, colors, and creeds. They and their way of life are worthy of my greatest protective effort.
I ask the help of God in making that effort great enough.
On S Oct. 1944, the Cabot's log records:
"2020 hours, pursuant to orders of the commanding officer of the USS Barnes, the following officers and enlisted men of Air Group 29 reported on board for duty. References: (a) ComAir Center, Manus Island, dispatch dated 30 Sept. 1944, (b) CTF 38 dispatch dated 4 Oct. 1944:" Lt. Willard E. EDER, USN Commanding Officer, AG29 Lt. Pleas E. GREENLEE Jr., USN – VP Pilot Lt. Guy H. BRANAMAN Jr., MC - Flight Surgeon Lt. Harry E. LESLIE - VF Pilot Lt. Jules E. McNAIR - VF29 Lt. Alfred J. FECKE - VF Pilot Lt. Uncase L. FRETWELL - VF Pilot Lt. John F. THOMPSON - VF Pilot Lt. Bruce D. JAQUES - VF Pilot Lt. Max G. BARNES - VF Pilot Lt. Edward VAN VRANKEN - VF Pilot Lt. Irvin H. McPHERSON - VT Pilot & CO VT-29 Lt. John W. WILLIAMS, USN - VT Pilot Lt. William N. DULANEY Lt. William H. ANDERSON Jr. - VT Pilot Lt. John H. BALLANTINE Jr. VT Pilot Lt. James "H" HARZ Lt. (jg) Glenn E. ELLSTROM - VF Pilot Lt. (jg) Joseph L. CHANDLER - VF Pilot Lt. (jg) John R. HERB - VF Pilot Lt. (jg) Benjamin J. HARRISON - VF Pilot Lt. (jg) Hubert E. COPPER - VF-29 Lt. (jg) Walter D. BISHOP - VF Pilot Lt. (jg) William M. GRESSARD - Recognition Officer Lt. (jg) Howard H. SKIDMORE - VT Pilot Lt. (jg) Charles F. NORTON - VT Pilot Lt. (jg) Stanley D. TINSLEY - VT Pilot Lt. (jg) John P. SPEIDEL - VT Pilot Lt. (jg) Ralph A. MARSDEN - Air Combat Information Ens. Irl V. SONNER, Jr. - VF Pilot Ens. John P. NEWTON Ens. Henry W. BALSIGER - VF29 Ens. Stanley DEATH - VF29 Ens. Edmond F. DeVINE-Air Combat Information Ens. James B. VAN FLEET - VF Pilot Ens. Robert E. MURRAY - VF Pilot Ens. Robert L. BUCHANAN - VF Pilot En,s. Francis L. COLLINS - VF Pilot Ens. Franklin W. TROUP - VF Pilot Ens. Robert B. WILLIAMS - VF Pilot Ens. John F. CARNEY Ens. Lyle E. EASTLING - VF Pilot Ens. Franklin BERTELSON - VF Pilot Ens. Frank A. WIER Jr. - VF Pilot Ens. James J. GILZEAN - VF Pilot Ens. Bernard DUNN - VF Pilot Ens. Melvin COZZENS - VF Pilot Ens. Robert JANDA - VF Pilot Ens. Emeral B. COOK - VF Pilot Ens. Bobby D. COMBS - VF Pilot Ens. W. H. TURNER - VF29 Ens. Donald LAMPSON Jr. - VT Pilot Ens. Henry L. HARKER - VT Pilot Ens. Birton E. McMULLEN - VT Pilot Ens. James A. VASHRO - VT Pilot Ens. Robert J. MAGHAN - VT Pilot Jason L. AUSTIN Jr., PhoM2c John R. BARBER, AMM2c Jasper C. BLEVINS, AEMlc Alfred E. CARNEVALE, PRlc, USN John H. COLBERT, AMM3c Alva O. CULP, ACOM(AA), USN Harold F. DAVIS, AMMlc, USN Henry W. DeFOSSE, AMM2c Ralph G. FLOWERS Ir., ARTlc Ola H. FORREST, Ylc Gentry S. FRY, ACMM(PA), USN Robert C. HITCHCOCK, AMMlc Robert A. OBORNE Jr., AOMlc William T. SCHWABLAND, ARMlc(T) Elmer B. WILSON, AM2C Walter K. BIYE, AOM2c James E. BOLAND, AOM2c Raymond F. COX, Ylc Joseph W. FITZGERALD, ARM3c, USN James W. FLYNN, AMM2c Albert A. GRANGER, AMMHlc, USN William GROEPPER Jr., AOM2c(T) Joseph P. HAGGERTY Jr., ARM2c Donald T. HAMBIDGE, AMM2c Richard L. HOLLOWAY, AOM2c(T) Richard L. HANLON, AOM2c(T) William J. HESSE, ARM3c Harold E. JONES Jr., AMM3c Alfred J. JULEWICZ, ARM3c Alfred G. KERBY, ARM3c Harry P. KIMBALL, AOMlc George D. KRUS, ARTlc Daniel J. McCARTHY, ARM2c Roderique M. MICHAUD, AMM3c Joseph P. NEVIN, ARM2c William H. ODOM, ARM3c Robert D. OLLOM, AOM3c Herbert E. O'NEAL, ACOM(AA), USN Alister R. PATON, AOM3c Joseph W. PHILLIPS, ARM2c, USN Winston M. PIERCE, AOMM(AA)T Brealslaw L. RACZYNSKI, AEMlc Alfred G. SALMEN, ARMlc, USN Arthur H. SIDES Jr., AMMlc, USN Robert F. SMITH, ACRM, USN Lawrence M. SVIDEN, ARM2c Elmer C. THOMAS, AMlc, USN James J. WAGNER, PR2c Donald C. WASHBURN, AMM3c Fighting Squadron 29
This squadron was commissioned 21 Dec. 1942 at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk Va. The men participated in the invasion of North Africa from the deck of the USS Santee (CVE 29) in November 1942 and were then assigned to antisubmarine warfare from Racife, Brazil in the early months of 1943.
The squadron made three trips to Casablanca, French Morocco in the latter half of 1943 and returned to the Naval Air Station, Atlantic City, N.J. On 10 April 1944, Lt. Willard E. EDER became commanding officer.
The squadron reported aboard the Cabot in October 1944 at Ulithi Atoll.
The pilots shot down 112 enemy planes between 12 Oct. 1944 and April 1945:
Name Score Type of Plane Remarks
Lt. J. W. ADAMS .1 ..Jake .
Ens. H. W. BALSIGER 5 ..Betty, Frances, Val, Zeke, Frank
Lt. M. G. BARNES 5 ..Betty, 2 Frances, Oscar, Frank
Ens. R. L. BERTELSON ..6 ..Betty, Jill, Frank, 3 Zekes
Lt. (jg) W. D. BISHOP .5 Betty, Frances, 2 Vals, Zeke ..Killed 14 Dec. 44
Ens. BROOME .1 Judy
Ens. R. L. BUCHANAN 5 ..2 Jills, 2 Frances, Zeke
Lt. tg) J. L. CHANDLER ..2 2/3 l/3 Jake, 1/3 Judy, 2 Judy
Ens. F. L. COLLINS ..2 2/3 1/3 Jake, 1/3 Judy, Frances
Ens. B. D. COMBS 4 ..Jake, Jill, 2 Rufes
Ens. M. COZZENS 6 1/2 ..3 Zekes, 2 Tojos, I/2 Jill, Tony
Ens. S. DEATH 1 ..Kate ..Killed 29 Oct 44
Ens. B. DUNN 51/3 .I/2 Hamp, 2 Zekes, 1/3 Val, I l/2 Jills Tojo
Ens. L. E. EASTLING 3 ..Frank, Tojo, Rufe
Lt. Cmdr. W. E. EDER ..5 ..2 Judys, Tess, Tojo, Rufe
Lt. A. J. FECKE .7 ..5 Jills, 2 Frances
Lt. U. L. FRETWELL ..1 1/3 Zeke, 1/3 Val
Ens. J. J. GILZEAN .1 ..Jill Lt. P. E. GREENLEE .1 ..Jill
Lt. (jg) J. R. HERB 2 ..Frances, Frank
Ens. R. G. HINKLE ..2 Jake, Nate
Lt. B. D. JAQUES .4 1/2 l l/2 Frances, Jill, Tojo, Betty
Lt. H. E. LESLIE 1 Betty .Killed 29 Oct. 44
Lt. M V D MARTIN 2 Tojo, Judy
Ens. H. P. MISHLER .1 Zeke
Ens. R. E. MURRAY .101/3 1l/3 Betty, Frances, 2 Jills 3 Zekes, 2 Tojos, Tony
Ens. H. C. SKARBEK .1 Zeke
Lt. (jg) I. V. SONNER .5 2 Frances, Zeke, 1 Jills .Killed 22 Mar 45
Lt. J. F. THOMPSON 1/2..1/2 Hamp Killed 14 Dec 44
Ens. F. W. TROUP 7 Helen, Tojo, Frank, 2 Jacks Myrt, Jill
Ens. W. H. TURNER 3 1/3..2 Zekes, Jill, 1/3 Val .Killed 25 Nov 44
Ens. J. B. VAN FLEET ..2 Val, Betty
Ens. F. A. WIER .1/2..1/2 Frances ..Killed 13 Mar 45
Lt. E. VAN VRANKEN ..1 2/3..1/3 Jake, 1l/3 Judys
Ens. R. B. WILLIAMS 2 Zeke, Irving
NOTE: If two pilots shot down the same enemy plane each were given l/2 credit, if three, then 1/3 credit.
History of Fighting Squadron 29
5 October - 28 April 1945
Miscellaneous Statistics Combat Tour 5 Oct. 1944 to 9 April 1945.
Aircraft: Airborne Ground / Water Total Destroyed 112 48 160 Probably destroyed 7 3 10 Damaged 18 132 150 Total 137 183 320
II. Ratio of losses:
Total enemy aircraft destroyed 160: Our losses 17: Ratio 9/1
III. Enemy Shipping:
23 Ships sunk totaling 25,600 tons
45 Ships damaged totaling 65,600 tons
68 Ships for total of 91,200 tons
Small craft sunk 21; damaged 105
IV. Fleet Units:
1 Kongo class BB 2 - 1000-pound near misses - severely strafed
1 Ise-class BB Severely strafed
1 Hayataka CV Severely strafed
1 CL Strafed 1 DD 6 - 500-pound Near misses - severely strafed
1 DD 1 - 1000-pound bomb hit 2 - 100-pound near misses and severely strafed
2 DD Severely strafed
1 Minelayer Severely strafed
Total combat sorties (Engaged Enemy) 811
Total combat missions (Engaged Enemy) 112
Total hours flown 9,811.6
Total No. bombs dropped 457
Total tonnage of bombs 130
Total rounds fired .50 caliber 565,190
Total No. airfields attacked 44
Fighting Squadron 29 experienced the longest continuous period of intensive combat in carrier history-more than six months from 5 Oct. 1944 to 11 April 1945. Until that time, the longest period of continuous combat by an air group had been 41/2 months.
Action against the Philippines and the main inner ring of Japanese defenses were being accelerated as the squadron arrived and completed six successful operations. The only time out was for brief stays at Ulithi for fleet repairs and supplies. The itinerary of the actions reads like a Cook's tour of the Far East: visits to Japanese military and naval installations from Saigon, French Indo China (Vietnam), China the Philippines, Formosa, the Bonins, the Nansei Shoto and Tokyo.
The squadron boasted an amazing number of feats that cannot be duplicated due to several factors, namely the extensive period of operations, time of the operations and the fact that the Japanese Fleet, for all practical considerations, no longer exists. Among the firsts are:
-first carrier raids on the Ryukyus, Formosa, French Indo China, China, and Honshu and Kyushu, Japan;
-pre- and post-invasion support the Leyte Mindoro, Luzon, Iwo Jima and Okinawa landings;
-continuous support on and after "L" Day during landings on Okinawa in the Nansei Shoto.
-four strikes on the Japanese Fleet in three places: the Visayans, Kure Naval Base on Honshu, and south of Kyushu, Japan.
While striking 44 enemy airfields, 10 harbors and numerous cities, and military and industrial installations, 315 enemy aircraft were destroyed or damaged. Of these, 109 were shot down in aerial combat to give the squadron 10 aces. In addition, 68 merchant ships were destroyed and 105 damaged.
Bombing and strafing attacks were carried out successfully, despite heavy and accurate antiaircraft fire, on the four fleet attacks. Targets included two battleships, one light cruiser, a CV, four destroyers and a minelayer. Military industrial and transportation facilities were frequently attacked, with some of the major targets being an aluminum plant, a nickel smelter, four power plants, radio stations, factories including Tachikawa Engine Plant near Tokyo, numerous barracks, buildings, hangars airfield shops and other facilities. All were severely bombed and strafed.
Most of the action was carried out over the heaviest AA-defended areas in the Pacific: Manila, Clark Field, Takao, Kure, Kiirun Hong Kong, Okinawa and Tokyo. Except for October, operations took place when the enemy had discontinued large scale air attacks, which for our forces, often were like shooting sitting ducks. In fact, many of our kills were the kamikaze- type requiring prompt, skillful interception. Weather, especially during early 1945, was not conducive to flight operations. Typhoons, low ceiling and zero visibility at times helped make the operations extremely difficult. However, during this period, 112 combat missions comprising 811 sorties were flown with the original pilots averaging 300 combat hours.
In all, 457 bombs were dropped, totaling 130 tons, and more than 565,000 rounds of .50 caliber machine gun ammunition was expended. Numerous torpedo and bombing missions were escorted and protected, and during the whole period, no plane escorted by Fighting Squadron 29 ever sustained damage by enemy interceptors. The leader of the 10 aces had 12 planes to his credit. The tally for planes destroyed showed a very favorable ratio on our side - 9 to 1.
Early on, 16 Oct. 1944 the squadron was to escort two crippled cruisers to safety from a few miles off the Formosa coast. Two of our divisions, while on routine CAP, were directed to intercept a large enemy force. About 40 miles from the small squadron group, the eight fighters soon found the enemy-more than 75 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes.
Diving to attack, the enemy forces scattered and soon the sea was covered with wreckage of blazing Japanese planes. Learning of the enemy force, two more divisions were sent to help, but most of the action was over when they arrived.
In all, the fighters knocked down 32 aircraft damaged four and possibly destroyed another.
The pilots and their kills were:
Lt. FECKE 5
Ens. BUCHANAN 5
Lt. (jg) SONNER 4
Lt. (jg) MURRAY 4
Lt. (jg) BISHOP 3
Ens. TURNER 2
Lt. (jg) BALSIGER 2
Lt. BARNES 2
Lt. FRETWELL 1
Lt. (jg) COZZENS 1
Lt. (jg) DUNN 1
Lt. (jg) WILLIAMS 1
American losses for the afternoon consisted of one fighter forced to water land. The pilot was soon picked up and returned by a scout plane.
On 24 Oct., two strikes were sent against the enemy fleet off the Visayans during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Extensive bombing and strafing runs were made, and the squadron provided escort for torpedo bombers during the action.
These two actions consisted of the major events in the first operations.
Returning to Ulithi, the "29" scoreboard registered 66 planes destroyed in the air, seven probables and seven damaged; two planes destroyed on the ground with nine "possibles" damaged. In all, it was a very profitable "shakedown" cruise since the squadron had never before operated from a carrier.
The second and third operations were in the Philippine area. On the fourth operation, installations on Formosa, Luzon, the Nansei Shotos and French Indo China were visited. The Cabot, with Air Group 29, was the first fast carrier to enter the South China Sea for that operation, and the last one out. Additionally unfavorable weather conditions hampered flights made near Formosa.
The fifth tour opened with a raid against Tokyo.
Fighting Squadron 29 took part in the strike on Tachikawa Engine Plant which was left badly damaged. During this raid, Ens. BUCHANAN was forced down in the outer bay of Tokyo Harbor. Several of our planes immediately flew cover over him while a rescue sub was being contacted. The planes were forced to leave one by one as fuel ran low, and finally only Lt. FECKE and Lt. (jg) BERNER remained. It was a tricky job trying to guide a sub in mined waters and with several enemy fighter fields within sight. The sub did successfully pick BUCHANAN up, and the two remaining planes returned to the carrier hours overdue.
The sixth operation again found the squadron striking Japan on the Island of Kyushu. Also, a strike was sent against the Japanese Fleet in the harbor near Kure Naval Base. Then, the group left for pre-invasion support and "softening" of Okinawa.
"L" or Landing Day saw numerous support strikes carried out by the squadron. Later, a search was sent to find remnants of the Japanese Fleet, but nothing was found. Reports were received of several downed planes in a harbor on the southern tip of Kyushu, and two OS2Us were sent to rescue the pilots with the squadron providing a fighter escort.
While waiting for the Kingfishers to pick up the survivors, one division investigated a seaplane base on the coast and thoroughly strafed it. Ens. KELLEHER was hit by AA fire and just managed to get out and parachute into the bay. He was promptly picked up by one of the scout rescue planes he had been escorting, and soon was aboard with the squadron.
Lt. Cmdr. Willard Ernest Eder, USN Commanding Officer-Air Group 29 "Bill" Eder was born on a ranch near Buffalo, Wyo., 27 Sept. 1916. He was graduated with a B.A. degree from the University of Wyoming in 1938. Soon afterwards he entered naval flight training and received his wings and commission at Pensacola, 10 April 1940. Immediately upon graduation, he was assigned to a fleet fighter squadron and has remained in this type duty.
From May 1940 until January 1942 he was a member of Fighting Squadron 3 on the Saratoga and Enterprise. In January 1942 he was assigned to Fighting Squadron 3 on board the Lexington. While a member of this squadron, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his part in the battle of Bougainville. Later he participated in strikes on Lae and Salamaua. During April and May of 1942 EDER was a member of Fighting Squadron 2 and had a part in one of the key engagements of the Pacific for his work in the Battle of the Coral Sea, he received the Navy Cross.
In August 1942 he was transferred to Atlantic duty with Fighting Squadron 29. During his time in this squadron he has served in gunnery to operations as executive officer and on to commanding officer and commander Air Group 29. He accepted a commission in the Regular Navy in April 1943.
During the squadrons Atlantic duty, he was awarded the Silver Star for his part in the squadron's support of the occupation of French Morocco.
Bill EDER assumed command of the Air Group in April 1944. To him belongs much of the credit for directing the squadron's intensive training which enabled it to achieve so much in the Pacific Theatre.
Fighting Squadron 29
Citations and Awards Aside from those already mentioned in the history of the Cabot. Lt. (jg) Walter D. BISHOP-Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal Ens. Frank W. TROUP-Air Medal Ens. William H. TURNER-Distinguished Flying Cross Ens. James B. Van FLEET-Air Medal Lt. Harry E. LESLIE-Air Medal, Gold star in lieu of second Air Medal Lt. Edward Van VRANKEN-Gold star in lieu of second Air Medal Ens. Melvin COZZENS-Gold star in lieu of second Air Medal Ens. Robert B. WILLIAMS-Gold Star in lieu of second Air Medal, Purple Heart Lt. John F. THOMPSON-Air Medal Ens. Stanley (n) DEATH-Air Medal Ens. James J. GILZEAN-Air Medal Ralph G. FLOWERS, ARTlc-Purple Heart William T. SCHWABLAND, ARMlc-Purple Heart Ens. Bernard (n) DUNN-Air Medal (n) means the person had no middle name or initial.
TORPEDO SQUADRON TWENTY-NINE VGS-29
This squadron, called VGS-29, was officially commissioned in July 1942. In October 1942 the group was enroute to French Morocco for the invasion of North Africa, and in the early part of 1943 was based in Recife, Brazil searching for German U-boats and blockade runners. Later in the year they made three trips to Casablanca on the USS Santee (CVE 19) escorting convoys.
Training in torpedo tactics was held at Hyannis, Mass. in early 1944, and the group went by train to San Diego in July. The squadron left San Diego for Pearl Harbor and continued training on the island of Maui. From Hawaii they visited the Admiralty Islands and went on to Ulithi where they were assigned to the Cabot in early October 1944. They replaced VT-31 with Lt. Cmdr. I. H. McPHERSON as commanding officer.
Torpedo-Squadron 29 engaged in some of the heaviest fighting in the Pacific and took a major part in the famous Battle of Leyte Gulf. For their action, which spanned about seven months, they were awarded along with the Fighter Squadron the Presidential Unit Citation.
Following is a list of the actions and the men who so bravely risked their lives in our battle against the Japanese.
The pilot's name is listed first with the two crew members of the Avengers listed next:
10 Oct. 1944
Attack on a Picket Boat Williams, Boland and Raczynski 12 Oct. 1944
Attack on 7 Sea Trucks Axlderson, Hanlon and Haggerty 12 Oct. 1944
Attack on a Betty Ballantine, Hesse and Biye 12 Oct. 1944
Attack on 2 Bettys McPherson, Kimball and Krus 13 Oct. 1944
Attack on 2 Sea Trucks Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty 16 Oct. 1944
Attack on a Kate Norton, Paton and Sviben 16 Oct. 1944
Shot down a Tojo Maghan, Michaud and Julewicz 21 Oct. 1944
Attack on a Betty Williams, Boland and Raczynski 22 Oct. 1944
A Betty shot down J. W. Williams, Boland and Raczynski 22 Oct. 1944
A Betty shot down Ballantine, Biye and Hesse 24 Oct. 1944
Torpedo Attack on Jap Fleet A.M. Tablas Straight, P.I.
McPherson, Kimball and Krus Ballantine, Biye and Hesse Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Williams, Boland, and Raczynski P.M. McPherson, Kimball and Krus Tinsley, Flynn and Nevin Lampson, Odom and Granger 26 Oct. 1944
Torpedo Attack on Jap Fleet Sibuyan Sea
Ballantine, Biye and Hesse Speidel, Groepper and Kerby Norton, Paton and Sviben 29 Oct. 1944
Bombing Attack, Clark Field, P.I.
McPherson, Krus and Kimball Anderson, Haggerty and Hanlon Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Harker, Phillips and Holloway Vashro, Salmen and Washburn McMullen, Fitzegerald and Ollom Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud 19 Nov. 1944
Bombing Attack on W. Lipa Airfield Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Ballantine, Hesse and Biye Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Tinsley, Flynn and Nevin McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Harker, Phillips and Holloway Skikdmore, McCarthy and Hambridge 25 Nov. 1944
Strike, W. Lipa and Bstangas A.M. Airfields
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Harker, Phillips and Holloway Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Fisher, Gotthart and Jones P.M.
Grace Park Airfield, Luzon, P.I.
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Harker, Phillips and Holloway Walker, Compton and Holt Vashro, Washburn and Salmen 4 Jan. 1945
Karenko Harbor, Formosa
McPherson, Krus and Kimball Harker, Phillips and Holloway Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Fisher, Gotthardt and Jones Norton, Paton and Walker Vashro, Salmen and Washburn Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn 6 Jan. 1945
Grace Park Airfield A.M. Luzon, P.I.
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Fisher, Gotthardt and Jones Norton, Paton and Walker
Neilson Airfield, Luzon, P.I. PM
McPherson, Kimball and Krus Vashro, Salmen and Washburn Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Barnes, Foulkes and Sides 7 Jan. 1945
Clark Field, Luzon, P.I.
Anderson, Haggerty and Wagner Harker, Holloway and Phillips Norton, Walker and Paton Barnes, Foulkes and Sides 9 Jan. 1945
Suo Harbor, Formosa
McPherson, Krus and Kimball Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Fisher, Gotthardt and Jones Skidmore, Hambidge and McCarthy Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Norton, Walker, Paton and Marsden Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Maghan, Bishop and Julewicz 12 Jan. 1945.
Searches, South China Sea
McPherson, Kimball and Krus-No action Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn-Attack on AK Harker, Phillips and Holloway-Attack on AK Walker, Holt and Compton-Attack on Ak (hit and spun it) 15 Jan. 1945.
Takao Harbor, Formosa
McPherson, Krus and Kimball Vashro, Salmen and Washburn McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Harker, Phillips and Holloway Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud 16 Jan. 1945
Hong Kong Harbor, China
McPherson, Kimball and Krus McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Norton, Walker and Paton Fisher, Gotthardt and Jones Speidel, Kerby and Groepper 21 Jan. 1945
Takao Harbor, Formosa A.M.
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Harker, Phillips and Holloway Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Fisher, Gotthardt and Jones
Kiirun Harbor, Formosa P.M.
McPherson, Krus and Kimball Norton, Walker and Paton Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambridge McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Speidel, Sokolow and Groepper 17 Feb. 1945
Tachakawa Aircraft Engine Plant Tokyo, Japan
McPherson, Kimball and Hume Moran, Smith and Round Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk Gidney, Sokolow and Bond 18 Feb. 1945
Chichi Jima, Bonin Islands
Anderson, Hanlon, Haggerty and Marsden Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Harker, Holloway and Phillips Mahorley, Urbanski and Kelley Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Norton, Walker and Paton Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud 18 March 1945
Miyazaki Airfield AM
Kyushu, Japan McPherson, Hume and Kimball Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge McMullen, Fitzegerald and Ollom Moran, Smith and Round Mahoney, Urbanski and Kelley Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk Gidney, Sokolow and Bond
Omura Airfield, Kyushu, Japan PM
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Speidel, Bishop and Groepper Harker, Phillips and Holloway Norton, Walker and Paton Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Mahoney, Urbanski and Kelley Fisher, Gotthardt and Jones 19 March 1945.
Kure Naval Base Honshu, Japan
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Harker, Wagner and Phillips Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk 23 March 1945
Okinawa Island AM
McPherson, Hume and Kimball Moran, Smith and Round Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge Mahoney, Urbanski and Kelley Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Fisher, Gotthardt and Jones
Okinawa Island PM
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Harker, Phillips and Holloway Vashro, Salmen and Washburn Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Zemanek, Plotczyk and Thompson Speidel, Kerby and Groepper 24 March 1945
Okinawa Island AM
Anderson, Hanlon, Haggerty and Marsden Speidel, Kerby and Wagner Harker, Phillips and Holloway Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk Norton, Walker and Paton Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Moran, Smith and Round
Okinawa Island PM
McPherson, Kimball and Hume Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Norton, Walker and Paton McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Mahoney, Urbanski and Kelley Fisher, Bishop and Jones 26 March 1945
Okinawa Island AM
McPherson, Hume and Kimbell Gidney, Sokolow and Bond Moran, Smith and Round Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Mahoney, Urbanski and Kelley Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Fisher, Gotthardt and Jones
Okinawa Island PM
McPherson, Kimball and Hume Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Fisher, Bishop and Jones Gidney, Sokolow and Bond 27 March 1945
Okinawa Island AM
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Harker, Phillips and Holloway Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Tensley, Nevin and Flynn Vashro, Washburn and Salmen
Okinawa Island PM
Anderson, Haggerty and Hanlon Gidney, Sokolow and Bond Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk Mehoney, Urbanski and Kelley Fisher, Bishop and Jones Barnes, Foulkes, Sides and Marsden 28 March 1945
Manami Daito Island Harker, Walker and Holloway Gidney, Sokolow and Bond Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Barnes, Foulkes (only) Speidel, Kerby and Bishop Vashro, Salmen and Wagner Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk 29 March 1945
Torpedo strike - Yamakawako Kyushu, Japan
McPherson, Hume and Kimball Gidney, Dokolow and Bond Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Mahoney, Urbanski and Kelley Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Harker, Phillips and Holloway Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Fisher, Bishop and Jones 30 March 1945
Okinawa Island AM
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge Moran, Smith and Round McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Fisher, Gotthardt and Jones P.M.
Okinawa Island PM
McPherson, Hume and Kimball Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk Harker, Phillips and Holloway Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Moran, Smith and Round Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Gidney, Walker and Paton 31 March 1945
Okinawa Island AM
McPherson, Hume and Kimball Gidney, Sokolow and Bond Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Harker, Phillips and Holloway Skidmore, Hambidge and McCarthy Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Maghen, Michaud and Bishop
Okinawa Island PM
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Barnes, Wagner and Sides Moran, Smith and Round Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Maghan, Paton and Julewicz McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Fisher, Walker and Jones 1 April 1945
Okinawa Island AM
Anderson, Hanlon, Haggerty and Marsden Gidney, Sokolow and Bond Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Fisher, Gotthardt and Jones Zemanek, Thompson and Plotczyk McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Moran, Smith and Round
Okinawa Island PM
McPherson, Hume and Kimball Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud 3 April 1945
McPherson, Hume, Kimball and Marsden Harker, Phillips and Holloway Moran, Smith and Round Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Gidney, Sokolow and Bond Fisher, Walker and Jones 4 April 1945
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Skidmore, McCarthy and Hambidge McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud 6 April 1945
Kikai Shima Airfield
McPherson, Kimball and Hume Harker, Phillips and Holloway Vashro, Washburn and Salmen Skidmore, Hambidge and McCarthy Gidney, Sokolow and Bond Zemenek, Thompson and Plotczyk Tinsley, Nevin and Flynn Moran, Smith and Round Fisher, Bishop and Jones 7 April 1945
Torpedo strike against Jap Fleet S.W. of Kyushu, Japan
Anderson, Hanlon and Haggerty Speidel, Kerby and Groepper Barnes, Foulkes and Sides Skidmore, Hambidge and McCarthy McMullen, Fitzgerald and Ollom Moran, Smith and Round Norton, Walker and Paton Maghan, Julewicz and Michaud Fisher, Bishop and Jones
NOTE: For list of casualties of AG 29 turn to Appendix.
For list of VF 29 "Aces" turn to Appendix.
As the Cabot was limited to nine torpedo planes, they were kept very busy. The TBM/TBF replaced the Devastator (TBD) used earlier in the war. It was called other names such as "turkey" and "torpecker" but whatever it was called it meant destruction to the Japanese. Lt. Howard SKIDMORE was one of the outstanding pilots who flew this plane on over nineteen missions. Only a small percentage of the officers and men stayed in the military after the war but SKIDMORE remained and rose to the rank of Captain with an outstanding record after the war.
Capt. Howard H. Skidmore Howard Homer SKIDMORE was born 25 April 1920 in Villa Grove, Ill. Before entering the Navy, he attended Eastern Illinois University at Charleston, where he was a member of the basketball team three years.
SKIDMORE's hobbies were photography and softball having participated in the Illinois State Softball Tournament with an Army Air Corps team. Later in 1947-48, he was a member of the All Navy Softball Team.
SKIDMORE was commissioned an ensign and on 27 Nov. 1942 was designated a naval aviator. His flight training included stops at Naval Air Stations in St. Louis, Corpus Christi Miami, Jacksonville and Norfolk.
In April 1943 he flew the SB2U aboard the USS Charger (CVE-30) on his first carrier checkout. He joined VGS 29 in Norfolk and flew the SBD and TBF making three cruises to Africa on the USS Santee (CVE 29), and participated in antisubmarine duty in the North Atlantic.
SKIDMORE reported aboard the Cabot in October 1944 with VT 29 and flew combat missions over the Philippines, Formosa, Iwo Jima Japan and Okinawa as well as against the Japanese Fleet. Air Group 29 returned to the United States with the Cabot in May 1945 with an outstanding record that won them the Presidential Unit Citation.
SKIDMORE's naval career continued after the war with stops at the Naval Air Stations in New Orleans, Glenview, Key West, Corpus Christi and aboard the USS Antietam (CV 36)
in 1949. He attended General Line School Photographic Interpretation School and Armed Forces Staff College.
SKIDMORE was executive officer of Photographic Squadron VFP 62 and was later skipper of VF 41 and then VF 11, the "Red Rippers". While with the Rippers, the squadron was aboard the USS Independence (CV 62) flying the F8U Crusader. Earlier, SKIDMORE was "Air Boss" on the USS Lake Champlain (CV 39), which recovered America's first astronaut, Alan Shepard.
From 1961-65, SKIDMORE was in charge of special projects in the Office of Naval Intelligence, and from July 1965 to August 1968 was defense and naval attache in Copenhagen.
That year, was named assistant for administration and services at Naval Intelligence Command, Washington.
SKIDMORE was promoted to captain on 1
July 1963 and retired in May 1972. His decorations and campaign medals include:
Distinguished Flying Cross with two stars Air Medal with three stars Navy Commendation Medal Purple Heart Presidential Unit Citation with two stars American Area Campaign Service Medal European/African/Middle Eastern Theater with one star Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Service Medal with five stars World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal Kommandor of the Danneborg (Danish) Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Philippine Liberation Campaign Ribbon with two stars SKIDMORE married Lois A. Waage of Pompano Beach, Fla. in 1946. Their only daughter, Diana, was born in 1950.
The Cabot was going home now, and all ships put in bids like an auction for gear the Cabot would not need for the trip. One of the destroyers had a four-man band sitting on 5-inch gun turret pouring forth renditions of "Aloha", "California Here We Come" and other appropriate tunes. She also had a sign painted on the bridge, reading something to the effect, "See us for quick delivery service. We guarantee speedy delivery of everything from nuts and bolts to dunked aviators. " (Destroyers deliver all sorts of gear and personnel to larger ships.)
The Cabot was detached from Task Group 58.3 and joined Task Unit 58.3.10 under command of Capt. W. W. SMITH aboard the Cabot. The Task Unit also included the Hancock, Haynsworth and Stembel.
The Task Unit steamed to Ulithi Atoll and was dissolved upon arrival on 11 April. The Cabot remained at anchor for two days to replenish food and fuel, and on the 13th, under control of Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet departed for Pearl Harbor with the Hancock and Franks.
The Cabot was returning to the States for a much-needed overhaul, but the next day-14 April-the colors were halfmasted in mourning for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Navy had lost not only their commander in chief, but also a dear friend since the days he had served as assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1920.
FDR had believed in a strong Navy that could protect our interests in world affairs. Unfortunately our country did not share his views before World War II, and the result was a weak Navy the Japanese took advantage of at Pearl Harbor. Upon Roosevelt's death, the Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal issued this announcement:
"I have the sad duty of announcing to the naval service the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the President of the United States, which occurred on 12 April. The world has lost a champion of democracy who can ill be spared by our country and the allied cause. The Navy which he so dearly loved can pay no better tribute to his memory than to carry on in the tradition of which he was so proud."
"Colors shall be displayed at half mast for 30 days beginning 0801, 13 April West longitude date insofar as war operations permit. Memorial services shall be held on the day of the funeral to be announced later at all yards and stations and on board all vessels of the Navy, war operations permitting. Wearing of mourning badges and firing of salvos will be dispensed with, in view of war conditions."
Divine services were held on the USS Cabot on Sunday, 15 April 1945 in tribute to Roosevelt, with Capt. Walton W. SMITH Cmdr., David J. WELSH and Lt. Harry A. FIFIELD, Chaplain presiding.
On 21 April, the Cabot arrived at Pearl Harbor and moored at Ford Island. CinCPac sent the following message to her as she came up the channel, "Welcome to Pearl. Congratulations upon the completion of a long and arduous tour of combat duty. Officers and men of the Cabot may be well proud of their part in pressing the attack on the enemy."
Lt. Reginald WERRENRATH Jr., USNR the Cabot's superb fighter director, was detached to the Pacific Fleet Radar Center. In addition that day, the following awards were presented:
Lt. Cmdr. I. H. McPHERSON, Distinguished Flying Cross Ens. Franklin BERTELSON, Gold Star in lieu of 2nd Air Medal Ens. B. D. COMBS, Gold Star in lieu of 2nd Air Medal Ens. B. DUNN, Gold Star in lieu of 2nd Air Medal Ens. R. E. MURRAY, Air Medal The Cabot got underway from Pearl Harbor on 23 April and set course for San Francisco. At 1100 hours she passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, and upon arrival at the Naval Air station, at Alameda. Calif. and was serenaded by a Navy Band. Her former skipper Commodore S. J. MICHAEL, now commandant of the air station was on the dock to meet and welcome her home.
Air Group 29 disembarked with a record equal to the famous Air Group 31, and later was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation along with the ship.
Half of the ship's company were granted a much-deserved leave of 20 days, and when they returned, the other half departed on theirs.
Due to their experience, hundreds of the now expert battle - trained crew were transferred to other billets to lend their expertise to new ships. To fill the void, hundreds of new men - mostly untested in battle - were ordered to the Cabot from the giant U.S. Naval Training and Distribution Center at Shoemaker, Calif.
Among the hundreds reporting on board in May were W. J. TOBORG, S2c(RdM), D. C. DeDECKER, F2c and J. E. HUDSON, S2c(Y) going to sea for the first time. Cmdr. Albert O. VORSE Jr. reported aboard as air officer.
A few of the old salts transferred off were: R. A. ALBRECHT, GM3c; Bruce W. ARLISS Slc; C. L. MACKARAVITZ, Slc; K. M. DeFERRAI, RdMlc; R. E. MERRICK AMM3c; E. S. LOBODA, AMM3c; J. GODFREY, ACMM; R. CESINO, AOM3c; F. E. DUDLEY, AOMlc and T. W. D'ANGELO, AOM3c. Lt. R. A. NEWCOMB was detached to report to the USS Tuscaloosa (CA 37), and Lt.P. J. MUELLER and Lt. J. M. WOSIK were detached for assignment by the Bureau of Naval Personnel.
The carrier underwent a Navy yard overhaul at the U.S. naval drydocks at Hunters Point Calif. from 30 April to 20 June. Navy yard workmen labored 'round the clock with as many as 900 civilian employees aboard at one time. The Cabot was needed quickly for the invasion of Japan as soon as Okinawa could be secured, so time was of short essence.
In the overhaul, the ship received a second catapult and the radar was changed from SK to SK-2. Meanwhile, dozens of schools were attended by the crew such as fire fighters photography, rockets, gunnery with emphasis on 20mm and 40mm, gun direction, oxygen transfer equipment, and others. From the lowly seaman to the experienced officers, schools like these made us far better trained than our enemy in all phases of carrier warfare.
The Cabot was a good ship, but after being at sea for so many months, it was time for the men to let loose. Admiral Halsey once said, "I don't trust a sailor who doesn't smoke or drink." Certainly, Halsey could have trusted these boys in San Francisco, as many were returned to ship as drunk and disorderly, possession of liquor, AWOL from a few minutes to a few days, and so on.
It was tough, though, for crewmen under 21 the legal drinking age in California. Many sailors were in their teens, so date of birth on ID cards were altered. A good alteration job bought a drink, but a bad one brought you back by the Shore Patrol.
Ray E. BROWNLEE, PRlc of Air Group 31 managed to save a memo passed to all hands on 20 June. It read:
"1. On Sunday, 24 June 1945, the S. S. Ernie Pyle will be christened in honor of our late shipmate. A plaque will be presented to the new ship by a representative group from the Cabot, honoring Ernie who referred to the Cabot as 'My carrier.'
"2. Members of the crew have recommended that a collection be taken up from the crew at the pay line today and from the officers in the wardroom fro the purchase of a present to be selected by a committee and presented to the crew of the Ernie Pyle from officers and crew of the Cabot, in honor of our late good friend.
"3. Indications are that the battle record of the Cabot will be officially released in order to give nationwide publicity to this event.
"4. The collection will be strictly on a voluntary basis." D. J. WELSH, Cmdr. USN Executive Officer.
On 21 June, the Cabot got underway for post repair Trials off San Francisco, returning to port at the Alameda Air Station the 22nd. She remained at Alameda until 27 June. The next day passengers and aircraft were loaded and the carrier was underway for Pearl Harbor under orders of the Commander, Western Sea Frontier. On 28 June, we passed into international waters al 1450 hours.
The ship entered Pearl Harbor on 4 July and reported to ComAirPac, but a decision was made to drydock the ship. A leak in one of the compartments was detected, and to make repairs, all passengers disembarked and the aircraft unloaded.
On 11 July, Air Group 32 reported aboard for duty, and the next day, the Cabot joined Task Group 19.5 for training off Hawaii. Exercises were completed on 13 July, and the Cabot returned to Pearl Harbor and remained there until the 23rd.
Cabot joined Task Group 12.3 under command of Capt. W. L. MOSES, and she got underway to proceed to Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands. AA practice, radar calibration exercises and flight operations were conducted on the trip.
Leaving Pearl Harbor on 24 July to invade Japan, we all felt many of us would never return home. We realized the Japanese had thousands of kamikaze planes reserved to defend their homeland, and as a fast carrier Cabot was a prime target.
We left with the USS Pennsylvania (BB 38) heading west. Our companion ship was to be the last major vessel to receive extensive damage in the war. Pennsylvania was hit by a torpedo killing 20 men and wounding the admiral on 12 Aug. in Buckner Bay. (It was named for Gen. Simon B. Buckner, who was killed by an enemy shell on Okinawa.)
We were enroute to Eniwetok when VF 11 crashed 26 July into the water. However, pilot R. T. BARBOR was rescued. At 0614 hours 28 July, the Cabot crossed the International Date Line at Latitude 19° 19.3' northwestward bound. We newcomers were now entitled to the unofficial certificate, "Domain of the Golden Dragon".
On 1 Aug., Air Group 32 hit Wake Island.
This would be the last action by the Cabot against the enemy. We were promised a battle star for this action, but none was forthcoming and none was deserved.
After America lost Wake early in the war, we never tried to retake it. The island had become a favorite target for every ship returning from Pearl Harbor back to the war zone, and it is believed that's why we did not retake Wake. Even so, forces on the island could fight back as the USS Cowpens lost a pilot in an attack there a few months before we passed by.
At about this time, the Zippo Lighter Company sent the Cabot's crew hundreds of their famous lighters inscribed, "In memory Ernie Pyle 1945". These became keepsakes for the men receiving them.
It seems the owner of the Zippo company had become a good friend of PYLE through correspondence because Ernie spoke so highly of the lighter that "would not go out in the wind. Zippo periodically sent lighters to soldiers in Europe per Ernie's request, and perhaps PYLE asked for these lighters to be sent to the Cabot since he had a great fondness for the ship.
After leaving the States, the following personnel changes were made as the ship's log records:
"18 June-C. A. RUSSELL, CPhM, USN was transferred to receiving ship, San Francisco.
"25 June-Cmdr. H. W. DUSINBERRE relieved Cmdr. D. B. CANDLER as navigation officer.
"10 July-D. L. CAMPMAN, CY(T) USN reported on board.
"21 July-J. W. ADAMSON, ACMM reported on board.
Ens. A. G. MAYER reported aboard as relief for Ens. R. D. EDWARDS.
"23 July-Frank MILANE, Ylc, USN reported aboard for duty. James BAGLANIS GMlc reported on board for duty." At 1415 hours, 15 Aug. 1945, the Cabot received a dispatch from the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz to cease offensive operations against Japan. The War Was Over!!
The news was joyfully received by everyone. Those who had seen battle had no desire to see more, and those who had not seen action had heard enough to make them content not to see any.
Said Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King of the surrender: "Never before in the history of war had there been a more convincing example of the effectiveness of sea power than when a well-armed highly efficient and undefeated army of over a million men surrendered their homeland unconditionally to the invader without even token resistance." THE WAR WAS OVER!!
In a Pacific Fleet communique #252109 dated 25 Aug: "Powerful forces of the U.S. Pacific Fleet have been assembling in waters off the coast of Japan for operation in connection with the forthcoming occupation of Japan. The naval forces scheduled to enter Japanese waters in the first stage of the naval occupation of the Tokyo area of the enemy home islands are under the operational control of Admiral William F. Halsey, Commander U.S. 3rd Fleet in his flagship, the USS Missouri (BB 63). These forces and those in immediate support include the following ships: 12 battleships, 16 fast carriers (including the USS Cabot); 16 escort carriers, 20 cruisers, 91 destroyers, 24 destroyer escorts, 35 tankers, 10 fast transports, four transports, three cargo ships, eight ammunition ships, seven fast minesweepers, five seaplane tenders, six minesweepers, three hospital ships and other auxiliary ships."
However, the problems in North China prevented the Cabot from participating in the surrender ceremony. It was held on 2 Sept. while the Cabot was steaming for the Yellow Sea. Even before World War II broke out, there had been a civil war in China between the Nationalists led by Chaing Kai-Shek and Communists under Mao Tse-tung. But when the Japanese invaded China, the two factions had a common enemy to fight.
As the Emperor of Japan commanded his troops to surrender, the Communists wanted to accept it since they were nearer the Japanese; troops. Gen. MacArthur gave the order that the enemy troops were to surrender to officials of Chaing Kai-shek, however. But, representatives of Chaing, who were in southern China, needed time to reach the north. Meanwhile, unrest among the Red troops resulted.
U. S. Marines and a task force of carriers were ordered to keep the peace until MacArthur's orders could be carried out. The Marines landed, and the Cabot provided air cover until the situation was under control.
The morning of 16 Sept., all ships in Buckner Bay steamed out to sea to avoid a typhoon approaching the island. The Cabot was buttoned up tightly, and everything movable was firmly secured to the deck. The carrier began to roll heavily. Several times she rolled to 38 degrees and everyone aboard worried for the safety of the ship and themselves. She was caught in a heavy swell, rolling to 38 degrees when the sea filled gun sponsons on the starboard side and; white smoke poured from the stacks.
T. H. HANNA, Slc, was on watch on the lower signal platform when the water washed him into the sea. Smoke floats and life rings were dropped over the side immediately, and a voice radio message was sent to the group commander about the man overboard. The Cabot also asked for a course change since she was rolling more dangerously each time.
(The author was in CIC when news broke that a man was overboard. The scuttlebutt was that HANNA could not swim.)
A half an hour later, the USS Ordronaux (DD 617) sighted a man in the water and shortly afterward, retrieved him. By voice radio, she informed the Cabot that the man was HANNA.
Returning to ship, HANNA told his story. He was unaware that he was overboard until he had been in the water a few minutes, because he was tossed around by the ocean and was a little dazed. He removed his clothing to better stay afloat, and not being a swimmer at all, he quickly learned how to tread water.
A life ring close by gave him something to hold onto. Tearing open the package of dye which makes the sea around yellowish, HANNA waited and said all the prayers he had ever learned. The first thing he knew, he had his feet on a deck again. If there are miracles in this age this was surely one, for the sea was violent and visibility very poor.
Much to the relief of everyone, the wind and waves abated on the second day, and the Cabot returned to Buckner Bay.
Departing from Okinawa on 27 Sept., Task Force 72 steamed back into the Yellow Sea to support further landings in the area. A show of force was made over Shanghai the 28th and over Tsingtao the 29th.
Proceeding into the Gulf of Pohai, the Task Force gave air cover for occupation forces going inland from Taku to Tientsin and Peiping on 30 Sept. and 1 Oct. Flights were made between Ching Wan Tao and Tang Shan, where trouble had arisen with Chinese Communists and where a great number of Japanese troops were assembled.
The Task Group anchored in the Gulf from S to 8 Oct., and sent flights over Tsingtao the next day in preparations for landings set there. Landings were delayed one day, however, due to an approaching typhoon. News was also received that considerable damage was done on Okinawa by the weather.
The Cabot's aircraft covered the area from Tsingtao to Chefoo through 15 Oct., being prepared to take any action necessary to protect the Marine landings.
The Yellow Sea operations had no enemy opposition, but the sea was full of floating mines presumably broken loose in the bad weather. Task Force 72 encountered mines daily, and on one day alone, 34 were destroyed by gunfire from screening destroyers.
Right after the Japanese surrender, dozens of minesweepers went to work in all the bays and harbors around Japan. Apparently hundreds had been cut loose and floated into the Yellow Sea.
Bill MEIER, Slc was on lookout one day when the sea was up, and he saw a mine on top of a wave ready to crash into the Cabot. By some stroke of luck, it missed, and the destroyers were dispatched to blow it up.
Joining Task Group 72. 1, the Cabot set course for Guam. She had been ordered to report to Commander, Marianas Islands upon arrival and receive passengers for the East Coast. That news was happily received; to be going home was truly something to celebrate.
Cabot arrived in Guam on 21 Oct., was detached from Task Group 72.1, and reported to "ComMarianas".
Liberty was granted various sections of the crew at the recreation area of Gab Gab, Guam's answer to Mog Mog, where enlisted men got two hot beers and officers had a choice of scotch or bourbon. Hundreds of men who had their points were transported back to the US via the Cabot or "Magic Carpet" as it was called.
The carrier steamed out of Apra Harbor Guam on 24 Oct. enroute to Pearl Harbor and moored there on 1 Nov. She was out again on 3 Nov. for San Diego, where she arrived the 9th. All passengers were transferred off and the carrier got underway the 1 5th for Balboa, Canal Zone and moored 23 Nov. A short leave was granted the crew at Balboa, which catered to the pleasures of sea-faring men. There were many bars and a red-light district. Some visited the famous Villa Amour (House of Love) while others went to a section called Coconut Grove.
The men reported back on board with a few more tatoos and the Cabot passed the six locks in seven hours enroute to Philadelphia.
On 26 Nov., Haiti was sighted, then San Salvador Islands on the 27th. A full power run was made the 29th-31.6 knots (about 36 m.p.h.), which is the fastest speed recorded for a CVL.
The carrier anchored in Delaware Bay and moored in the Navy Yard on 3 Dec. Hundreds of crewmen had their "points" for discharge and were sent to separation centers.
Here, dozens of ships were placed in mothballs, a naval term for preserving them until needed. The Cabot's preservation was completed in April 1946 and she was placed "In commission, in reserve, Philadelphia Group 16th Fleet." She was part of the "zipperfleet" for two years and six months, and then she was recalled for active service.
The Cabot was unzipped and recommissioned on Navy Day, 27 Oct. 1948 with a formal ceremony. Two of her former captains were guests at the occasion - Rear Admiral Malcolm F. SCHOEFFEL and Rear Admiral Walton W. SMITH, with the new Commanding Officer, Capt. John W. KING.
Thus, the Cabot was the first fast carrier to be mothballed and the first unzipped. Like all else concerning the famous ship, the preservation was a success as she was able to continue her career as a member of the world's greatest Navy.
Preserving a ship such as the Cabot had taken several steps. Those unfamiliar with such vessels don't realize that most of her vital organs are below water level, so the basic task is to keep damp, salt air out of these labyrinths and out of all but the open topside decks. The goal is to cork the ship airtight, and then circulate comparatively dry air through the ship.
Like the circulatory system of the human body, ships such as the Cabot have fire - fighting water mains threading throughout. Water is removed from these mains, outlets and intake vents are cut in, air conditioning plants hooked up, and the ship is allowed to "breathe" dry and safe.
This is only the beginning, though. Every piece of machinery must be coated with preservative, each lead in the electrical system decommissioned and tagged with instructions for quick restoration, every exposed deck gun sealed in an moisture proof igloo, and so on.
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Editor for Asisbiz: Matthew Laird Acred
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