Archive for July, 2013

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

It is the autumn of 1944, my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).

he U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-12) underway in September 1944. She wears camouflage Measure 33, Design 3a.

he U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-12) underway in September 1944. She wears camouflage Measure 33, Design 3a.

The Carrier’s World War II story continues but first I need to introduce her new Captain.  He took command of the USS Hornet (CV-12) on August 9 1944 and remained for a year until August 1, 1945.

doyle_austin_k

I searched the internet for a biography and found a wonderfully written accountant of his life an career compiled by Charles A. Lewis.  I am abstracting some highlights as the biography is over four pages.

Admiral Austin Kelvin Doyle, U.S. Navy. Served in WWI, WWII & Korea.  He entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, with the Class of 1920. As a Midshipman, in the summer of 1918 during WWI, he served in the USS Connecticut.  After graduation from the Academy in 1920, he served in the USS Orizaba, USS Utah, and in the USS McFarland. In July 1922 he reported to NAS Pensacola and received his wings as a Naval Aviator in December. He was assigned to Scouting Squadron One, attached to the USS Wright, in January 1923. Following that he returned to NAS Pensacola as an instructor for three years.

In July 1928 he joined Fighting Squadron Two, based in the USS Langley. The following June he reported as an instructor in the Department of Engineering and Aeronautics at the Naval Academy for three years. During that tour he coached the 1933 Navy baseball team.

Doyle returned to sea for the next two years, serving in the USS Lexington and the USS Idaho. In June 1935, he was assigned as Tactical Officer on the staff of Commander Aircraft, Battle Force, and was attached to the flagship USS Saratoga for one year. From June 1936 to June 1938 he had duty in the Plans Division, Bureau of Aeronautics, in Washington, DC.

He assumed command of Fighting Squadron Three of the USS Saratoga in June 1938. The following year he became Carrier Air Group Commander, remaining in the Saratoga. From July 1940 to August 1942, he again served in the Bureau of Aeronautics; first in the Personnel and later in the Training Division.

Captain Doyle fitted out and was then Commanding Officer of the USS Nassau (CVE-16), an escort carrier, from her date of commissioning, 20 August 1942, until 16 September 1943.   On 10 October 1942, Nassau arrived at the Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA, and loaded aircraft. Four days later she steamed for Pearl Harbor, HI, then to Palmyra Island, arriving 30 October. For the next four months, she operated between Palmyra; Nouméa, New Caledonia; and Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides.  Nassau returned to Pearl Harbor on 14 February 1943, embarked personnel and aircraft, and sailed on a ferry mission to Espiritu Santo on 21 February. She returned to Pearl Harbor in mid-March and then continued on to NAS Alameda. In April, she moved to San Diego and conducted flight training operations, after which she rendezvoused with Task Group 51.1 and steamed for Cold Bay, AK, with Composite Squadron 21 (VC-21) embarked.

On 4 May, Nassau got underway on a search mission and conducted flight operations with Task Force 51, providing air cover for the occupation of Attu Island from 11-20 May. She returned to San Diego in late May, arrived at Alameda on 8 June, and on-loaded 45 aircraft destined for Brisbane, Australia. She delivered the aircraft on 2 July and returned to San Diego via Nouméa, New Caledonia. In August, she trained off San Diego before ferrying planes to Samoa. Captain Doyle relinquished command of Nassau while she was in port in Samoa. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious service in that command in May 1943.  In September 1943, Doyle returned to the Navy Department and served on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet, until July 1944.

Captain Doyle’s next assignment was as Commanding Officer of the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CVE-12) from 9 August 1944 to 1 August 1945.  Much of the biography covers his success as Captain of the USS Hornet (CV-12) and since that information will be part of my main story, I have not included it here.

Captain Doyle

Captain Doyle

Rear Admiral Doyle became Commander Carrier Division 25 in August 1945. The following September he was named Inspector General, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean areas. In May 1946, he reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for duty as Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air). In April 1947 he was designated Deputy Naval Inspector General and in August he assumed duty as Commandant, Naval Operating Base, Bermuda. He served as Chief of Naval Reserve Training, NAS, Glenview, IL, from July 1949 until August 1951.

For the next year he was Commander Carrier Division Four. In October 1952, he became Commander Caribbean Sea Frontier with additional duty as Commandant, Tenth Naval District, with headquarters at San Juan, PR. On 7 May 1954, Doyle received his third star as a Vice Admiral. His next assignment, in June 1954, was as Chief of Naval Air Training, NAS, Pensacola. He was ordered to duty as Commander of the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command in March 1957.

Vice Admiral Doyle retired from the Navy on 1 August 1958 and was awarded the four stars of Admiral.

Major Medals & Awards:  Navy Cross (2 Awards), Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (2 Awards)

Navy Cross

Navy Cross

Navy Distinguished Service Medal

Navy Distinguished Service Medal

Legion of Merit

Legion of Merit

Captain Doyle’s one-year tour in command of the USS Hornet earned him two awards of the Navy Cross.

Honors:  Doyle was a recipient of the John Towers Memorial Award from the Aviation Commandery of the Naval Order.  He received an honorary Ph.D. in Engineering from Michigan Tech.

In 1992, twenty-two years after his death, Admiral Austin Kelvin Doyle was enshrined in The Naval Aviation Hall of Honor. A bronze plaque of Admiral Doyle and his contributions was cast and placed in Naval Aviation Hall of Honor located in the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola, FL. The Hall was established in 1980 to recognize those individuals who by their actions or achievements made outstanding contributions to Naval Aviation. Final approval is made by the Chief of Naval Operations.

In Retirement as a civilian, Doyle served as director of a bank, country club, and a sports association. He later taught History in the Florida public school system.

Admiral Austin Kelvin Doyle died in Florida on 12 July 1970. He was survived by his wife, Jamie (Reese) Doyle, of Pensacola, FL, and five children.
You can read his complete biography at this link: Admiral Austin Kelvin Doyle
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September 6, 1944 – Strikes against Palau Islands.

Palau (sometimes spelled Belau or Pelew), officially the Republic of Palau (Palauan: Beluu er a Belau), is an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is geographically part of the larger island group of Micronesia. The country’s population of around 21,000 is spread across 250 islands forming the western chain of the Caroline Islands. The most populous island is Koror. The islands share maritime boundaries with Indonesia, Philippines and the Federated States of Micronesia. The capital Ngerulmud is located in Melekeok State on the nearby island of Babeldaob.

The country was originally settled around 3,000 years ago by migrants from the Philippines and sustained a Negrito population until around 900 years ago. The islands were first visited by Europeans in the 18th century, and were made part of the Spanish East Indies in 1885. Following Spain’s defeat in the Spanish–American War in 1898, the islands were sold to Imperial Germany in 1899 under the terms of the German–Spanish Treaty, where they were administered as part of German New Guinea. The Imperial Japanese Navy conquered Palau during World War I, and the islands were later made a part of the Japanese-ruled South Pacific Mandate by the League of Nations.

During World War II, skirmishes, including the major Battle of Peleliu, were fought between American and Japanese troops as part of the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign. Along with other Pacific Islands, Palau was made a part of the United States-governed Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands in 1947. Having voted against joining the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979, the islands gained full sovereignty in 1994 under a Compact of Free Association with the United States.

USMC-IV-2

15 September 1944: The first wave of LVTs approach the beaches during the American assault on Peleliu (Palau Island).

15 September 1944: The first wave of LVTs approach the beaches during the American assault on Peleliu
(A Palau Island).

07-24 Sep 1944 – Strikes against Philippine Islands of Davao, Cebu, Minandao and Negros in preparation for General MacArthur’s invasion of Morotai.

My search of the internet for information on these islands in the Philippines turned up a formerly classified report dated September 20, 1944 about the prisoner of war camps on these islands.  The report was issued by the Military Intelligence Division and is titled Prisoners of War in the Philippine Islands.  The report was declassified in 1950.

air_philippines

The Battle of Morotai, part of the Pacific War, began on September 15, 1944, and continued until the war ended in August 1945. The fighting began when United States and Australian forces landed on the south-west corner of Morotai, a small island in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI), which the Allies needed as a base to support the liberation of the Philippines later that year. The invading forces greatly outnumbered the island’s Japanese defenders and secured their objectives in two weeks. Japanese reinforcements landed on the island between September and November, but lacked the supplies needed to effectively attack the Allied defensive perimeter. Intermittent fighting continued until the end of the war, with the Japanese troops suffering heavy loss of life from disease and starvation.

Morotai’s development into an Allied base began shortly after the landing, and two major airfields were ready for use in October. These and other base facilities played an important role in the liberation of the Philippines during 1944 and 1945. Torpedo boats and aircraft based at Morotai also harassed Japanese positions in the NEI. The island’s base facilities were further expanded in 1945 to support the Australian-led Borneo Campaign, and Morotai remained an important logistical hub and command center until the Dutch reestablished their colonial rule in the NEI.

LSTs landing supplies at Blue Beach, Morotai

LSTs landing supplies at Blue Beach, Morotai

30 Sep 1944 – For month of September, HORNET air wing has shot down or destroyed 55 aircraft, sunk 27 ships, probably sunk 22 more and damaged more than 128. -VF-2 had become the top fighter squadron in the Pacific with more total victories and more ace pilots than any other fighter squadron. Of 50 pilots on board, 28 were confirmed ACES.  I was impressed with these successes but I didn’t know what ACE meant until I looked it up.

An “ace” is a fighter pilot who shoots down 5 enemy aircraft during aerial combat.  Each country had a slightly different set of rules for claiming an enemy aircraft “kill”. For example, the rule may require that another pilot or person on the ground witness the event. Or some will allow two pilots take share the credit for a kill, thus each would get credit for 1/2. In World War 2, some U.S. commands also credited aircraft destroyed on the ground as equal to aerial victories. Soviets distinguished between solo and group kills, as did the Japanese.  The Allies (US) began to mount gun cameras on the aircraft that could help confirm an enemy aircraft shot down. Of course, if the enemy a/c dove out of the camera range before exploding then it was still in doubt.

Tonight while I was researching the material for this segment, I happened upon a website about a book that I am going to see if it is available on Amazon.  This 19 year old sailor aboard the USS Hornet (CV-12) secretly kept a diary and gives an account of the loss of his friend on September 23, 1944 from strafing of the carrier by Japanese planes.

carmencover1

I am so proud that my father was a part of everything that was the USS Hornet (CV-12).  Now according to the USS Hornet Museum website, Airgroup 2 will be leaving in October and Airgroup 11 will join up with the USS Hornet (CV-12).  Although I will need to write about this exciting recognition again as the war is not over yet, in honor of Airgroup 2 I am proud to report the following:

HORNET was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation
for the following operations:

Air Group 2 (VF-2, VB-2, VT-2, and part of VFN-76)

March 29 – May 1, 1944 — Palau, Hollandia, Truk.

June 11 – August 5, 1944 — Marianas, Bonins, Yap.

September 6 – September 24, 1944 — Philippines, Palau.

Air Group 11 (VF-11, VB-11, and VT-11)

October 10 – Nov. 22, 1944 — Ryukyus, Formosa, Philippines, Luzon.

December 14 – Dec. 16, 1944 — Luzon.

January 3 – January 22, 1945 — Philippines, Formosa, China Sea, Ryukyus.

Air Group 17 (VF-17, VBF-17, VB-17, and VT-17)

February 16 – June 10, 1945 — Japan, Bonins, Ryukyus.

You see the citation is for much more than the USS Hornet has experienced to date but I wanted to honor Airgroup 2.  What is special about this to me, is that among my father’s papers, I have the citation.

Hornet Presidential Citation

Since my last post, I have taken steps to obtain what ever records are available to me from my father’s files with US Navy.  If you need to do similar, here is the website that can help.

http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/

My hope is that I will get some information that I don’t already have.

This next image was created in 2005; however it is the USS Hornet CV-12) during World War II, and I really think it is awesome.

USS Hornet (CV-12), World War II. Overhead plan and starboard profile meticulously drawn by John Robert Barrett. Available from Navy Yard Associates (if you decide to purchase artwork from them please indicate that you heard about their work from NavSource).

USS Hornet (CV-12), World War II.
Overhead plan and starboard profile meticulously drawn by John Robert Barrett. Available from Navy Yard Associates (if you decide to purchase artwork from them please indicate that you heard about their work from NavSource).

In my last post, I told the story of the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot from late June 1944.  In today’s post, I will pick up the story of the USS Hornet (CV-12) in July and August 1944.  According to the ship’s log:

Jul-Aug 1944 – Strikes against Guam, Rota, Saipan and Volcano Islands in preparation for Guam/Palau invasions.

A starboard side view of USS Hornet (CV-12), with Air Group (CVG) 2 aboard, July 1944. Her dazzle pattern (Measure 33, Design 3A) was still in good shape then.

A starboard side view of USS Hornet (CV-12), with Air Group (CVG) 2 aboard, July 1944. Her dazzle pattern (Measure 33, Design 3A) was still in good shape then.

During this period of the war in the pacific, the carriers of Task Force 58 and their attached air groups bombarded these islands to allow for troops to come ashore.  So just where are these islands and what happened.

Saipan (June 15-July 8, 1944)

American planners debated how to attack The Marianas. The initial plan was to take peripheral islands and then attack Saipan. Admiral Nimitz vetoed this approach and decided to go right for Saipan.

battle_marianas75

Admiral Spruance, Admiral King, Admiral Nimitz, and Brigadier General Jarman at Saipan, Mariana Islands, 1944 Source   United States National Archives Identification Code   80-G-307861

Admiral Spruance, Admiral King, Admiral Nimitz, and Brigadier General Jarman at Saipan, Mariana Islands, 1944
Source United States National Archives
Identification Code 80-G-307861

The Americans decided to bypass Rota. Tinian was a smaller island 5-miles southwest of Saipan and thus combined in the Saipan invasion. The American invasion force was enormous. It was an armada of 535 ships with 127,570 U. S. military personnel. About two-thirds were Marines (2nd and 4th Divisions). Seven American battleships and 11 destroyers shelled Saipan and Tinian for 2 days prior to the landings. On the second day the initial force was joined by 8 more battleships, 6 heavy cruisers and 5 light cruisers. Saipan and Tinian were ringed by an incredible naval force which conducted one of the most intensive shelling of the War. Without planes and ships, the Rota garrison had no ability to threaten the American assault on on Saipan and Tinian. The main American invasion force went ashore on a 4 mile stretch of beach at Chalan Kanoa.

TBF-1C of Torpedo Squadron Two (VT-2) off USS Hornet (CV-12) pictured in flight near Saipan 1944

TBF-1C of Torpedo Squadron Two (VT-2) off USS Hornet (CV-12) pictured in flight near Saipan 1944

Despite the 2-day naval barrage, Japanese shore defenses were still largely intact. The Japanese destroyed 28 American tanks the first day. The Japanese had carefully prepared for the invasion. They had placed colored flags in the lagoon to indicate the areas in which howitzers in positions beyond Mt. Fina Susu has been ranged. The artillery fire proved deadly on the Second Marine Division which suffered 2,000 casualties.  Fighting continued for 24 days

2nd Marine Division, Saipan 1944

2nd Marine Division, Saipan 1944

smith_11

The Marianas was different than the previous islands invaded. Here they encountered Japanese civilians. This photograph was published in American newspapers on July 4, 1944. The caption read, "Jap women, children rounded up on Saipan: Japanese women and children whose husbands and fathers are opposing American troops on Saipan Island in the Marianas are guarded after being rounded upfor removal to a compound where they are now comfortably quartered. Source: U.S. Army Signal Corps. It is unclear why the wire service did not mention that the Japanese Army was incourging civilans to commit suicide rather than be captured and many did so.,

The Marianas was different than the previous islands invaded. Here they encountered Japanese civilians. This photograph was published in American newspapers on July 4, 1944. The caption read, “Japanese women, children rounded up on Saipan: Japanese women and children whose husbands and fathers are opposing American troops on Saipan Island in the Marianas are guarded after being rounded up for removal to a compound where they are now comfortably quartered. Source: U.S. Army Signal Corps. It is unclear why the wire service did not mention that the Japanese Army was encouraging civilians to commit suicide rather than be captured and many did so.

Rota

mariana

The Spanish when they forced the Chamorros on the larger Marianas islands of Guam, failed to do so on Rota because most managed to hide from the Spanish in the hills to avoid capture. As a result, the Chamorros on Rota are the least mixed of any on the Marianas. Rota was occupied by Japanese forces and heavily garrisoned. It was located half way between Saipan in the north and Guam in the south and became an important link in their air routes from Japan to the south Pacific. They built a single air strip on the highest elevation of the island. After the American air strikes, however, Rota was cut off and had no way of attacking the Americans. It became one of many islands on which Japanese garrisons were left isolated. It showed a major weakness in the Japanese war effort. Not knowing where the Americans would stroke they had to garrison large numbers of islands and were unable to concentrate their forces. Without planes and ships, the Rota garrison had no ability to threaten the American assault on on Saipan and Tininan. Nimitz decided an invasion was unnecessary. The Japanese having lost control of the sea had no way of meaningfully resupplying Rota. When the Japanese surrendered, the garrison was close to starvation. Bypassed by the United States, Rota came out of the war with little physical damage.

Guam

532px-Map_of_the_Battle_of_Guam,_1944

The Second Battle of Guam (July 21 — August 10, 1944) (the first was in 1941) was the American capture of the Japanese held island of Guam, a United States territory (in the Mariana Islands) during the Pacific campaign of World War II.

Guam is the largest of the Marianas, 30 miles (48 km) long and 9 miles (14 km) wide. It had been a United States possession since its capture from Spain in 1898 until it was captured by the Japanese on December 10, 1941, following the Attack on Pearl Harbor. It was not as heavily fortified as the other Mariana Islands such as Saipan that had been Japanese possessions since the end of World War I, but by 1944 it had a large Japanese garrison.

The Allied plan for the invasion of the Marianas called for heavy preliminary bombardment, first by carrier aircraft and planes based in the Marshall Islands to the east, then once air superiority was gained, close bombardment by battleships. Guam was chosen as a target because its large size made it suitable as a base for supporting the next stage of operations towards the Philippines, Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands; the deep-water harbor at Apra was suitable for the largest ships; and the two airfields would be suitable for B-29 Superfortress bombers.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress

Boeing B-29 Superfortress

The invasion of Saipan was scheduled for June 15, 1944, with landings on Guam tentatively set for June 18. The original timetable was optimistic, however. A large Japanese carrier attack and stubborn resistance by the unexpectedly large garrison on Saipan led to the invasion of Guam being postponed for a month.

Guam, ringed by reefs, cliffs, and heavy surf, presents a formidable challenge for an attacker. But despite the obstacles, on July 21, the Americans landed on both sides of the Orote peninsula on the western side of Guam, planning to cut off the airfield.

Two U.S. servicemen plant the American flag on Guam eight minutes after U.S. Marines and Army assault troops landed

Two U.S. servicemen plant the American flag on Guam eight minutes after U.S. Marines and Army assault troops landed

The 3rd Marine Division landed near Agana to the north of Orote at 08:28, and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade landed near Agat to the south. Japanese artillery sank 20 LVTs, and inflicted heavy casualties on the Americans, especially on the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, but by 09:00 men and tanks were ashore at both beaches.

Guam Liberation Day, July 12, 1944

Guam Liberation Day, July 12, 1944

The 77th Infantry Division had a more difficult landing. Lacking amphibious vehicles, they had to wade ashore from the edge of the reef where they were dropped by their landing craft. The men stationed in the two beachheads were pinned down by vicious Japanese fire, making initial progress inland quite slow.

By nightfall the Americans had established beachheads about 2,000 meters deep.   Japanese counter-attacks were made throughout the first few days of the battle, mostly at night, using infiltration tactics. Several times they penetrated the American defenses and were driven back with heavy loss of men and equipment. Lieutenant General Takeshi Takashina was killed on July 28, and Lieutenant General Hideyoshi Obata took over the command of the defenders.

Above, left, Lt. Gen. Takashina Takeshi was the commander of the Japanese forces on Guam at the time of Liberation. He planned the tactically-sound July 25-26 counterattack at the Asan beachhead, but the counter faltered and ultimately failed. He died on July 28 at Fonte Plateau, on what is now called Nimitz Hill, leading his troops in retreat. At right is Lt. Gen. Obata Hideyoshi, commander of all Japanese forces in the Marianas, Palau, and the Carolines. In Palau when Saipan - the location of his headquarters - was invaded, Obata took over Guam forces at Takashina's death. He committed suicide Aug. 11 in Mataguac, Yigo, as U.S. forces assaulted his command post.

Above, left, Lt. Gen. Takashina Takeshi was the commander of the Japanese forces on Guam at the time of Liberation. He planned the tactically-sound July 25-26 counterattack at the Asan beachhead, but the counter faltered and ultimately failed. He died on July 28 at Fonte Plateau, on what is now called Nimitz Hill, leading his troops in retreat. At right is Lt. Gen. Obata Hideyoshi, commander of all Japanese forces in the Marianas, Palau, and the Carolines. In Palau when Saipan – the location of his headquarters – was invaded, Obata took over Guam forces at Takashina’s death. He committed suicide Aug. 11 in Mataguac, Yigo, as U.S. forces assaulted his command post.

Supply was very difficult for the Americans in the first days of the battle. Landing ships could not come closer than the reef, several hundred yards from the beach, and amphibious vehicles were scarce. However, the two beachheads were joined up on July 25, and the Orote airfield and Apra harbor were captured by July 30.

Captured by 1st Brigade Marines, rebuilt by Marine engineers, and in full-scale operation, the Orote Peninsula airstrip is home to Marine Aircraft Group 21 and its Marine Fighter Squadrons 217, 225, and 321, and Marine Night Fighter Squadron 534. Taxiing down the strip are Vought F4U Corsair fighters, while parked off the runway are Grumann F6F Hellcats. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 92396

Captured by 1st Brigade Marines, rebuilt by Marine engineers, and in full-scale operation, the Orote Peninsula airstrip is home to Marine Aircraft Group 21 and its Marine Fighter Squadrons 217, 225, and 321, and Marine Night Fighter Squadron 534. Taxiing down the strip are Vought F4U Corsair fighters, while parked off the runway are Grumann F6F Hellcats. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 92396

The counterattacks against the American beachheads, as well as the fierce fighting, had exhausted the Japanese. At the start of August they were running out of food and ammunition and had only a handful of tanks left. Obata withdrew his troops from the south of Guam, planning to make a stand in the mountainous central and northern part of the island. But with resupply and reinforcement impossible because of American control of the sea and air around Guam, he could hope to do no more than delay the inevitable defeat for a few days.

Rain and thick jungle made conditions difficult for the Americans, but after an engagement at Mount Barrigada from August 2 to August 4, the Japanese line collapsed; the rest of the battle was a pursuit to the north. As in other battles of the Pacific War, the Japanese refused to surrender, and almost all were killed. On August 10, after 3 long weeks of bloody and ferocious fighting, organized Japanese resistance ended, and Guam was declared secure. The next day, Obata committed ritual suicide.

VT-2 Avengers returning to Hornet from a mission, August 1944. National Archives.

VT-2 Avengers returning to Hornet from a mission, August 1944. National Archives.rom them please indicate that you heard about their work from NavSource).

Although the USS Hornet (CV-12) was involved with strikes against the Volcano Islands in July and August 1944, the story of the battles for these islands from the fall of 1944 will be written about in a future blog post.

Source:  http://histclo.com/essay/war/ww2/camp/pac/marianas/w2pm-mi.html

Source:  http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Guam_%281944%29

26 Aug 1944 – Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher (CDR TF-58) aboard to honor ship for helping in conquest of Marianas Islands.

Hornet's flight deck and island taken while at anchor in Eniwetok Atoll, August 26, 1944. This was a ceremony in which Admiral Mitscher, Commander of TF-58, honored the ship, crew, and Air Group 2 for their part in the conquest of the Marianas Islands. The ship anchored off Hornet's starboard side is USS Essex (CV-9). The light carrier is believed to be USS San Jacinto (CVL-30). National Archives photo.

Hornet’s flight deck and island taken while at anchor in Eniwetok Atoll, August 26, 1944. This was a ceremony in which Admiral Mitscher, Commander of TF-58, honored the ship, crew, and Air Group 2 for their part in the conquest of the Marianas Islands. The ship anchored off Hornet’s starboard side is USS Essex (CV-9). The light carrier is believed to be USS San Jacinto (CVL-30). National Archives photo.

Must have been quite a visit.  The men deserved to be honored by Admiral Mitscher as they played a huge role in the success in the Marianas Islands.  Quite a success:  Great Marianas Turkey Shoot (Battle of the Philippine Sea), Battle of Saipan, Battle of Guam and many other bombardments.  Looking at this picture, of course I would be unable to identify any one person, but I know my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is standing there a hero.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

In my last post, I wrote that the USS Hornet (CV-12) was in the port of Majuro for change in command 29 May 1944.  It departed Majuro on June 6, 1944.

Good bow shot of Hornet in original form tied up at Majuro, May 29, 1944. National Archives photo # 80-G-242616.

Good bow shot of Hornet in original form tied up at Majuro, May 29, 1944. National Archives photo # 80-G-242616.

The Second Captain

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Sample

William Dodge Sample (9 March 1898–2 October 1945)

Captain William Dodge Sample

Captain William Dodge Sample

He ultimately was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and an Escort Carrier Division commander in World War II. He was the youngest rear admiral in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.  Sample was born in Buffalo, New York and graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in June 1918.

During World War I, Sample served aboard the transport Henderson. For meritorious service during a fire onboard Henderson, he received a letter of commendation from the Secretary of the Navy. Detached in August 1918, he served on several destroyers based at Queenstown, Ireland. He remained in the European Waters Detachment after the end of World War I.  In December 1921, Sample was transferred to the gunboat Pampanga in the Asiatic Fleet.  Sample attended flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida and was designated a Naval Aviator on 23 June 1923. Shortly thereafter, he served as Commanding Officer of Scouting Squadron VS-1. In the 1920s, he successively served in the Aviation Departments of the light cruisers Raleigh and Richmond, and battleships Arizona and New York.  Sample served on board the aircraft carriers Saratoga and Lexington, commanding Fighter Squadron VF-5 on the latter from 1932-1934. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander, Sample saw duty at the Bureau of Aeronautics from 1935-1937 followed by duty as Navigator on Ranger in 1938. In 1939, Sample was assigned as Air Operations Officer on Yorktown. His last duty before World War II was as Supervisor of Aviation Training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida.  At the outbreak of World War II, he assisted in the conversion of the oil tanker Santee into an escort carrier. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to Commander. Assuming command of Santee on her commissioning, he was awarded a letter of commendation for service during Operation Torch; the invasion of North Africa.  Captain Sample assumed command of Intrepid on 19 April 1944. In May 1944, he was transferred to serve as Commanding Officer of Hornet and in the ensuing months participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and a strike against the Volcano Islands.  In late summer 1944, Sample was promoted to Rear Admiral, planting his flag aboard the escort carrier Marcus Island as Commander, Carrier Division 27 (CarDiv 27), for the invasion of Palau. In October 1944, at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, his CarDiv 27 was part of Task Unit 77.4.2 (TU 77.4.2, otherwise known as Taffy II) at the Battle off Samar under Rear Admiral Felix B. Stump. In early 1945, Commander, CarDiv 27, and Marcus Island supported the Invasion of Lingayen Gulf, Philippines. For the Invasion of Okinawa, Sample moved his flag to CarDiv 22 and Suwannee.  During the Leyte invasion, Rear Admiral Sample “desired a better view of operations” and decided to hitch a ride in a torpedo bomber. He lay in the “tunnel gun” position and observed through the window below the tail. The plane was hit by antiaircraft. Sample was severely cut on the head and shoulders. James C. Edinger, ARM3c, USNR, of Foxburg, Pennsylvania), came down from the “blister” where he was manning a .50 in (13 mm) machine gun, and applied first aid. Edinger said that it took them more than an hour to return to Marcus Island, during which he kept kicking Sample in the face with his foot to keep the Admiral from passing out. Sample was a big man: Edinger was afraid that if they ended up in the water, he wouldn’t be able to get him out of the plane. Each time Sample would warn Edinger to make sure the .30 in (7.6 mm) machine gun in the tail was empty. He was afraid that when they landed the gun would go off. Later, in the state room Sample explained to Edinger that he could see the headlines in the paper, “Admiral lands upon carrier: shoots hole in deck”. According to the ship’s surgeon, Commander Lee,”the excellence of Edinger’s treatment helped prevent infection”. Admiral Sample was awarded the Purple Heart, and at Sample’s request, Edinger was promoted to Aviation Radio Man, Second Class.

On 2 October 1945, shortly after the war ended, Sample was listed as missing after his Martin PBM Mariner aircraft failed to return from a familiarization flight near Wakayama, Japan. Rear Admiral Sample was officially declared dead on 3 October 1946.

The remains of Sample, Capt. Charles C. McDonald of Suwannee (CVE-27), and the seven members of the flight crew were discovered in the wreckage of the aircraft on 19 November 1948, recovered, and returned to the United States to be interred together at Arlington National Cemetery on 17 May 1949.

For the purposes of my writing, William Dodge Sample was the Captain of the USS Hornet (CV-12) from 29 May 1944 through 9 August 1944.  In 1968, a ship of his namesake was commissioned the USS Sample (FF-1048), a frigate that served in Vietnam.  Of interest to my story is that my oldest brother had a brief period in the USS Navy in late 1970s/ early 1980s and served at one point on the USS Sample.  Interesting cross generational connection don’t you think.  I don’t think my brother knows this connection and I can’t wait to tell him about it.

In June 1944, the USS Hornet (CV-12) and the other participants in Task Force 58 continued to engage the enemy.

Aboard as HORNET’s lethal sting was Air Group 2, which had previous combat experience while assigned to Enterprise (CV-6). Air Group 2 included F6F Hellcats, TBM Avengers, and SB2C Helldivers. HORNET’s initial baptism under fire was participation in the Asiatic-Pacific raids and the Hollandia operations. In June 1944, HORNET began seven weeks of intensive air strikes in the Marianas Islands including the strategic islands of Saipan, Guam, and Tinian. During this period more than 3,000 sorties were flown from HORNET’s flight deck against Saipan. VF-2 would distinguish itself by splashing 233 Japanese aircraft.

F6F-3 Hellcats of VF-2 on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-12) June 1944

F6F-3 Hellcats of VF-2 on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-12) June 1944

June 12, 1944

Attacks by carrier aircraft on the Marianas were continued. Battleships conducted a day‑long bombardment of Saipan. Night of 12‑‑13 June: Destroyers bombarded Saipan and Tinian.

USS Hornet (CV-12) recovering an SB2C Helldiver from VB-2, June 1944.

USS Hornet (CV-12) recovering an SB2C Helldiver from VB-2, June 1944.

The next two photographs were taken within seconds of each other according to http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

"ENS F. T. Long from Torpedo 2 [VT-2] wrote off TBM-1C BuNo 45593" in June 1944. It looks like the landing gear collapsed, perhaps because the hydraulics of #93 had been shot out. This picture shows to good advantage the "Net" that the LSO dove into if there was a problem.

“ENS F. T. Long from Torpedo 2 [VT-2] wrote off TBM-1C BuNo 45593” in June 1944.
It looks like the landing gear collapsed, perhaps because the hydraulics of #93 had been shot out. This picture shows to good advantage the “Net” that the LSO dove into if there was a problem.

"ENS F. T. Long from Torpedo 2 [VT-2] wrote off TBM-1C BuNo 45593" in June 1944. Apparently #93, its engine and starboard wing ripped off, had already been hit some time earlier, as attested by the still unpainted fabric patch on its rudder.

“ENS F. T. Long from Torpedo 2 [VT-2] wrote off TBM-1C BuNo 45593” in June 1944.
Apparently #93, its engine and starboard wing ripped off, had already been hit some time earlier, as attested by the still unpainted fabric patch on its rudder.

 

June 18 – 20, 1944

The Battle of Philippine Sea – the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot

Map of Battle of the Philippine Sea

Map of Battle of the Philippine Sea

Here are a couple of videos to enhance the story:

http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/destroyed-in-seconds-marianas-turkey-shoot.htm

http://www.military.com/video/operations-and-strategy/second-world-war/ww2-great-marianas-turkey-shoot/1235886034001/

There were eleven US aircraft carriers involved in the Battle of the Philippine Sea (or the Great Mariana Turkey Shoot). They belonged to Task Force 58, under Marc Andrew Mitscher. Five of them were fleet carriers (USS Yorktown CV-10, Hornet CV-12, Enterprise CV-6, Lexington CV-16, Essex CV-9) and the six remainder were light carriers (Bataan CVL-29, Belleau Wood CVL-24, Langley CVL-27, Cowpens CV-25, San Jacinto CVL-30, Pinceton CVL-23). They were escorted and protected by seven fast battleships and several cruisers and destroyers. Each of the fleet carriers could carry up to 100 aircraft, which included fighters and dive bombers, such as the F6F Hellcat and TBF Avenger respectively.

Nearly every Japanese aircraft was shot down in the great air battles of 19 June that became commonly known as “The Marianas Turkey Shoot”. As the Japanese Mobile Fleet fled in defeat on 20 June, the carriers launched long-range airstrikes that sank Japanese aircraft carrier Hiyō and so damaged two tankers that they were abandoned and scuttled. Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa’s own flag log for 20 June 1944 showed his surviving carrier air power as only 35 operational aircraft out of the 430 planes with which he had commenced the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa

Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa

Aircraft from Japanese carrier striking force attacked our sea forces covering the Saipan operation in the first stage of the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The enemy attack continued for several hours. The Japanese aircraft were intercepted and a high percentage of them shot down. Enemy losses for the day: 402 aircraft, all but 17 of which were destroyed in the air; two carriers damaged. Our losses: 17 aircraft and superficial damage to two carriers and a battleship.

Aircraft from our carriers attacked the Japanese carrier striking force, in the second stage of the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Japanese losses: 1 aircraft carrier, 1 light aircraft carrier, 2 destroyers, 1 tanker sunk; 1 aircraft carrier, 1 destroyer and 1 tanker possibly sunk; 1 aircraft carrier, 1 or 2 light aircraft carriers, 1 battle­ ship, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 1 destroyer and 3 tankers damaged. 26 Japanese aircraft were shot down. Our losses: 93 aircraft (many of the personnel were rescued from these planes, a large percentage of which had been forced to land on the water in the darkness that night).  From this date until 7 July Guam and Rota were attacked each day by at least one strike from our carrier forces. On that day continued heavy surface bombardment‑coordinated with the air strikes‑began.

According to the ship’s log for the USS Hornet (CV-12)’s bombers were credited with sinking the Japanese carrier Shokaku and damaging another carrier and cruiser.  Hornet fighters splashed 52 Japanese planes in the “Marianas Turkey Shoot.”  Other sources credit U.S.S. Cavalla (SS-244), a submarine with the sinking of the Shokaku.

shokakusink

The Sinking of Shokaku

There were eleven US aircraft carriers involved in the Battle of the Philippine Sea (or the Great Mariana Turkey Shoot). They belonged to Task Force 58, under Marc Andrew Mitscher. Five of them were fleet carriers (USS Yorktown CV-10, Hornet CV-12, Enterprise CV-6, Lexington CV-16, Essex CV-9) and the six remainder were light carriers (Bataan CVL-29, Belleau Wood CVL-24, Langley CVL-27, Cowpens CV-25, San Jacinto CVL-30, Pinceton CVL-23). They were escorted and protected by seven fast battleships and several cruisers and destroyers. Each of the fleet carriers could carry up to 100 aircraft, which included fighters and dive bombers, such as the F6F Hellcat and TBF Avenger respectively.

Murderers Row US Aircraft Carriers of Task Force 58

Murderers Row US Aircraft Carriers of Task Force 58

Japanese ships under attack during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Photo Credit: US Navy

Japanese ships under attack during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Photo Credit: US Navy

The ships of Task Force 58 at anchor at Ulithi Atoll in the Pacific — one of the most powerful naval fleets ever assembled in history. Photo Credit: US Navy

The ships of Task Force 58 at anchor at Ulithi Atoll in the Pacific — one of the most powerful naval fleets ever assembled in history. Photo Credit: US Navy

turkey-42

The USS Hornet’s crew stands at attention during an inspection by Task Force 58 Commander Vice Admiral Mark A. Mitscher after the Battle of Philipines Sea, a victory that left Japan without carrier air power (National Archives)

Clearly June was a successful month for the USS Hornet (CV-12) and the entire Task Force 58.  The Battle of the Philipine Sea is among the top battles of the war in the Pacific.  Labeled as a carrier vs carrier battle, the Battle of the Philippine Sea was crucial in abolishing the Imperial Japanese Navy’s ability to organize large-scale carrier action.  While Japan suffered a heavier loss – three aircraft carriers, up to 645 aircraft, and hundreds of pilots – the training of US pilots and crew was accredited with a lighter loss for the United States.

I found a film by History Channel International about the USS Hornet (CV-12) which features the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.  I am linking to the website but not to the actual film as it is a wmv file which needs to be downloaded.  I haven’t been able to find it already uploaded to youtube.

CV12-BThttp://navy.memorieshop.com/Alongside/Hornet/

I am so proud of my father for his service in World War II.  As a member of the crew of the USS Hornet (CV-12) during this and many other battles, he provided a great service to America.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

According to the ship’s log for the USS Hornet (CV-12) http://www.uss-hornet.org/history/cv12/, offensive operations were conducted between March and May 1944 with targets in Caroline and Marianas Islands including: Palau, Yap, Ulithi, Woleai, Wadke, Sawar, Sarmi, Hollandia, Truk, Satawan, Ponape, Moen, Eton and Dublon.

According to US Navy Muster Rolls for the USS Hornet (CV-12), my father Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is on board during this period.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

The war in the pacific was a very complex operation.  I will do my best to write it correctly.  Much of what I post will be directly from other records.  I am currently reading a book to get a better understanding.

Costello, John The Pacific War 1941-1945 (New York 1981)

Costello, John The Pacific War 1941-1945
(New York 1981)

Caroline Islands

Source: http://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/C/a/Caroline_Islands.htm

Caroline Islands Copyright 2010 Kent G. Budge

Caroline Islands
Copyright 2010 Kent G. Budge

The Caroline Islands are a large archipelago located in the Western Pacific just north of the equator and extending some 1700 miles (2740 km) from the Palaus in the west to Kusaie in the east. To the north are the Marianas; the Gilbert and Marshall Islands are to the east; the Philippines are to the west; and New Guinea is to the south. There are actually 45 distinct groups of islands, including both atolls and high volcanic islands.  The latter include the Palaus and Truk, two important bases for the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1941, as well as Yap, Ponape, and Kusaie (Kosrae). Atolls include Ulithi and Woleai. There are a total of about 549 islands in the chain with a total land area of about 830 square miles (2150 km2). The large islands are heavily vegetated and almost all are surrounded by reefs.  The Carolines were originally seized from Germany by Japan in the First World War.  Japan received a League of Nations Class C mandate over the islands, and respected the terms of this mandate, which forbade the building of any military installations, until after Japan withdrew from the League in 1933.  Even then the pace of construction of military fortifications was slow.  But Japanese secretiveness about the Mandates promoted suspicions that heavy fortification had taken place.  The Carolines were largely bypassed by the Allied counteroffensive of 1944-1945. Truk was smashed by repeated raids in February-April 1944. Peleliu and Angaur in the Palaus were taken in September-October 1944 after a bloody struggle, and Ulithi was occupied without opposition on 22 September. The central and eastern Carolines were left to wither on the vine.

Marianas Islands

http://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/M/a/Mariana_Islands.htm

Marianas Islands Copyright 2009 Kent G. Budge

Marianas Islands
Copyright 2009 Kent G. Budge

The Marianas Islands are an island arc located about 1400 miles (2250 km) south of Japan. There are 15 islands in the chain, which extends about 425 miles (684 km) from Farallon de Pajaros in the north to Guam in the south. Most are mountainous, with elevations up to 2585′ (788 meters).  The islands have a total area of 402 square miles (1041 km2), of which over half (225 square miles or 583 km2) is from Guam alone. The islands have relatively fertile soil and are covered with mixed scrub and grassland, with a few mangrove swamps. Beaches tend to be narrow and backed by coral cliffs and there are reefs off many of the shore lines.

In late 1941, the southernmost of the Marianas, Guam, had been a U.S. possession since the Spanish-American War of 1898. The remaining islands belonged to Japan, which had seized them from Germany in October 1914, during the First World War, and developed them for sugar production under the auspices of the South Seas Development Company. By the time war broke out in the Pacific, the Japanese population of the islands outnumbered the indigenous population (Chamorros) by two to one.

Rota, just north of Guam, produced enough sugar to support two refineries and a distillery and had a population of 764 Chamorros and 4800 Japanese and Koreans. A small airstrip was constructed on the north part of the island during the war. Other important islands include Saipan and Tinian.

The naval disarmament treaties specified that these islands were not to be fortified, but with the lapse of the treaties in the early 1930’s Japan proceeded to build large airfields on Saipan, within easy range of Guam. The United States neglected the building of fortifications on Guam, which was considered too exposed to be held in the event of war. Japanese troops landed on Guam just two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor and easily conquered the island.

The Marianas were identified as an important objective in prewar planning (Plan ORANGE), but it was not until August 1943, at the QUADRANT conference, that a formal decision was made to invade the Marianas following the seizure of the Palaus. In December 1943, at the SEXTANT conference, the U.S. Army Air Forces forcefully argued for an early invasion of the islands so that they could be used as bases for the strategic bombing of Japan by B-29 Superfortresses. Seizure of the Marianas would also open a number of options to the Allies, since bases here would be within range of Palau, the Philippines, Formosa, or the Bonins. Invasion of the Marianas was given priority over the Palaus. However, the target date of 15 June 1944 was not set until 12 March 1944, and Nimitz assigned FORAGER to 5 Fleet (Spruance) on 28 March.

American carriers struck the Marianas repeatedly, beginning on 23 February 1944. This was the first good look at the Marianas in over two years, and the raiding aircraft brought back a wealth of photographic intelligence. The raid also destroyed 168 Japanese aircraft and sank 45,000 tons of shipping. Land-base aircraft of 5, 7, and 13 Air Forces, mostly heavy bombers conducting night raids, bombarded Japanese bases in the Carolines throughout March to ensure there would be no Japanese interference with FORAGER from the south. Starting on 18 April, photo reconnaissance aircraft (B-24s) from VD-1, VD-3, and VMD-254 from Guadalcanal began staging through Eniwetok to map the Marianas. These were joined by VD-4 based on Eniwetok itself.  Since Operation FORAGER began in June 1944, it will more than likely be part of one of my future blog postings.

_________________________________

Source: CINCPAC PRESS RELEASE NO. 707

At this link, the entire chronological listing of events of the war in the pacific for 1944 can be read.  For my posting I am trying to indentify the combat events that the USS Hornet CV-12 was or more than likely was involved.

NOTE:  References to 5th Fleet are referring to the forces that were part of Admiral Raymond Spruance’s Fifth Fleet, it bore the designation Task Force (TF) 58.  As written in my previous post, the USS Hornet (CV-12) became part of Task Force 58 upon arrival in Pearl Harbor on March 4, 1944.

29‑31 March 1944

Admiral Raymond A. Spruance

Admiral Raymond A. Spruance

In the deepest penetration yet made of enemy defenses, carrier forces under tactical command of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN, heavily attacked the Palau Islands with additional strikes at Yap, MIMI and Woleai in the western Carolines. The approaching force was detected, and many enemy ships, including heavy units, fled from Palau anchorages. However, on 20‑30 March, 29 Japanese ships were sunk at Palau: 3 destroyers; 2 large, 6 medium and 9 small freighters: 3 large, 1 medium and 1 small tanker; and 4 smaller vessels. 4 18 other vessels were severely damaged, some of them fired or beached, 114 Jap aircraft were shot down; 46 destroyed on the ground. Yap and Ulithi were hit on the 30th. At Yap, 1 small craft was sunk; at Ulithi, 1 sunk, 1 damaged. At Woleai on the 31st, 7 aircraft were destroyed on the ground, 3 barges destroyed. Installations at all four locations suffered heavy damage. Our losses were 25 aircraft lost in combat.

Strike photograph of raid against Palau taken by planes from the carrier Hornet (CV 12), 30 March 1944

Strike photograph of raid against Palau taken by planes from the carrier Hornet (CV 12), 30 March 1944

Strike photograph of raid against Palau taken by planes from the carrier Hornet (CV 12), 31 March 1944

Strike photograph of raid against Palau taken by planes from the carrier Hornet (CV 12), 31 March 1944

20‑23 April 1944

Forces of the 5th Fleet provided air and surface support for landings of Southwest Pacific forces at Aitape and Hollandia on the northern coast of New Guinea. 5th Fleet carrier aircraft bombed and strafed Japanese airfields at Wakde, Sawar and in the Hollandia area, 5th Fleet cruisers and destroyers bombarded Japanese airfields at Wakde and Sawar at night. Ground Installations, fuel and ammunition dumps were destroyed in these strikes. It is estimated that 5th Fleet aircraft whose operations were coordinated with those of the Southwest Pacific Air Forces‑destroyed 88 Japanese aircraft on the ground, 34 in the air; and 1 small cargo vessel and 6 small craft. 5th Fleet losses: 10 aircraft in combat.

An F6F-3 Hellcat of VF-2 is in flight. The squadron is assigned to USS Hornet (CV-12) April 1944

An F6F-3 Hellcat of VF-2 is in flight. The squadron is assigned to USS Hornet (CV-12) April 1944

21 April 1944

Under cover furnished by ships of the 5th and 7th Fleets, and shore‑based aircraft of the Southwest Pacific forces, troops under command of General MacArthur went ashore at Humboldt Bay and Tanahmerah Bay to secure Hollandia, and also at Aitape. Opposition was light. Beachheads were quickly secured and by the 28th, all airfields and airdromes at both areas were in hand.  This move effectively isolated at least 60,000 Japs of the Japanese 18th Army between Aitape and Madang, and made it possible to blockade them as enemy troops in the Solomons, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Marshalls were being blockaded.  In this operation the 5th Fleet units were under tactical command of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, USN, and the 7th Fleet units were under Rear Admiral D. E. Barbey, USN.

Admiral Marc Mitscher

Admiral Marc Mitscher

An American landing craft, loaded with troops, approaches the beach at Hollandia. In the background shell bursts from the preliminary bombardment. April 22, 1944

An American landing craft, loaded with troops, approaches the beach at Hollandia. In the background shell bursts from the preliminary bombardment. April 22, 1944

29‑30 April 1944

Returning from the Hollandia operation, 5th Fleet units under Vice Admiral Mitscher attacked Truk. Carrier aircraft heavily bombed and strafed ground installations, doing extensive damage. Other enemy losses 63 aircraft shot down, 60 destroyed on the ground; 4 small craft sunk. We lost 27 aircraft.

VF-2 pilots manning their F6F-3 Hellcats for a raid against Truk, May 1944.

VF-2 pilots manning their F6F-3 Hellcats for a raid against Truk, May 1944.

 

From the War Diary from the website Fold3:

Operations in the Western Carolina Islands.  As the ship began the return trip to Majuro, strikes were sent against Woleai the following day.  Little activity was found and the strikes were terminated earlier than planned.  The Task Group returned to Majuro for three days for a brief rest and replenishment period.  The Hornet then sailed with the Fleet to support the Southwest Pacific forces in their occupation of Hollandia on the Northwesterly coast of New Guinea.  The Task Group targets were the airfields at Wadke and Sawar and the Supply Depot at Sarmi.  Again enemy air opposition was not severe, but the fields, buildings and planes on the ground were severely damaged.  The returning three days were spent in strikes Truk, Satawan and Ponape.  After two days of continuous strikes, in which the Hornet’s group had also hit the Islands of Moen, Eton, and Dublon, a combination strike and bombardment operation was conducted against Ponape.

1 May 1944

Battleships of the 5th Fleet, supported by carrier aircraft, bombarded Ponape in the Carolines. Numerous buildings in Ponape town, the seaplane base, and the wharf area were destroyed. (Ponape and other Japanese bases in the Carolines had suffered increasingly heavy shore‑based air attacks during the months of March and April. Such attacks were further stepped up during May).

An F6F-3 Hellcat of VF-2 warming up on the flight deck of the USS Hornet (CV-12) May 1944

An F6F-3 Hellcat of VF-2 warming up on the flight deck of the USS Hornet (CV-12) May 1944

From the War Diary from the website Fold3:

A month of rest and relaxation.  A strike was launched on 1 May to gain control of the air and to stack airfields and gun positions at Ponape  prior to bombardment by the battle lines.  On the way from Ponape to Kwajalein, time was found for King Neptune to hold his court and initiate the vast number of Pollywogs on board, who had already crossed the Equator several times with impunity. (See my previous post for the Crossing the Equator event in March 1944).

The ship returned to Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, for five days and then proceeded to Majuro.  Here the ship received stores and conducted up keep and minor repairs.

Captain W. D. Sample, U.S.N., relieved Captain M.R. Browning, U.S.N. as Commanding Officer of the Hornet on 29 May , at 1038 (Details below).

29 May 1944

The USS Hornet (CV-12) arrived in port Majuro for Change of Command.

Good bow shot of Hornet in original form tied up at Majuro, May 29, 1944. National Archives photo # 80-G-242616.

Good bow shot of Hornet in original form tied up at Majuro, May 29, 1944. National Archives photo # 80-G-242616.

In my previous post where I introduced and wrote about the naval career of the ship’s first captain, Miles Browning, I told of an incident in the spring of 1944 that changed his career.  During a nighttime showing of a film on Hornet’s hangar deck, someone discharged a CO2 canister and triggered a stampede. In the chaos, two sailors fell overboard; one of them drowned. A board of investigation was ordered, which criticized Browning’s command. The ensuing ruin of his career, “one of the great wastes to the American prosecution of the war,” resulted, ironically, from nothing having to do with combat. Browning was removed from command of Hornet in May 1944 and reassigned to the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he taught carrier battle tactics during the final months of the war. Halsey was given command of the carrier-oriented Third Fleet during 1944-1945, but with his old chief of staff tossed onto the beach, he made grave mistakes that Browning might well have been able to help prevent.

I will write about the next captain in my next post.

In my previous posts, I wrote that my father, Seaman First Class, John T. Ryan enlisted in October 1942 and was received on board of USS Hornet (CV-12) on December 10, 1943.   At this point I have a whole in the story that will require more research which probably includes ordering Naval records. I know when he enlisted from his discharge papers and I know when he boarded the ship from the US Navy WWII Muster Rolls. I don’t know when and where he reported to boot camp and what else he experienced between October 1942 and December 10, 1943.  SEE UPDATE BELOW

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

Until I have my father’s information, here is a little about WWII Navy Boot Camp from the following source:

http://www.astralpublishing.com/wwii-navy-boot-camps.html

WORLD WAR II NAVY BOOT CAMPS
At the beginning of World War II the United States Navy had four Boot Camps at San Diego, CA; Bainbridge, MD; Newport, RI; and Great Lakes, IL. During the war they added three more camps at Norfolk, VA; Sampson, NY; and Farragut, ID.

Items Issued to an Enlisted Man In Boot Camp On entering Boot Camp during the World War II era, besides getting his shots and a buzz haircut, a Navy recruit discarded his civilian attire and possessions. He boxed his shirt, underwear, and pegged pants and shipped them home. Then after he stood shivering in the nude in a large room with hundreds of other young men, Navy Supply Clerks tossed at him the uniforms and other gear he would use during his period of enlistment. They piled on his arms uniforms, with little attention to size, that the recruit learned wear, not always the proper way at first. The Navy then gave him his sleeping gear. In the tradition of the old navy they issued him a hammock with a mattress, two mattress covers (sailors called them fart sacks), one pillow, two pillow covers, and two blankets. The Boot needed a place to store these items, so one of the first items issued to him was his Sea Bag. This cylindrical canvas sack of 26″ x 36″ had grommets on top through which the man wove a line to use as a draw string to close the bag and to hang it from a rack. As with everything else he got, he stenciled his name on the side of the bag. This bag was his and his only. It was his entire and unique identity as an individual among the mass of other men. When traveling, a sailor rolled his mattress and sleeping gear inside the hammock which he then wrapped around and secured to his sea bag. This pack he slung up on a shoulder and marched off with all he owned. Before rolling his mattress, however, a sailor laid out his bedding items on the flattened mattress in a specific order according to regulations.

Then the Navy issued the Boot his bible,The Bluejackets’ Manual. This book contained all the Boot would need to know to become a sailor and handle himself like one at his future stations either ashore or afloat. Training Program In Boot Camp Up and at em, drop em and grab em, fire drill, scrub down that deck, inspection, move it Boot. Now. I ain’t your mommy asking you. It’s me. I’m telling you.

These and other commands the Chief Petty Officer assigned to a Boot company shouted mostly in the middle of the night after a hard, tiring, long, ten hour day of marching, calisthenics, scrubbing clothes, rifle-over-your-head drills, pulling oars in a boat, loading heavy shells in a 5″ gun, and other training activities. The obvious reason for harassing the Boots was to get them accustomed to discipline, to respond to disagreeable orders, to function with little sleep, and probably to give the Chief his kicks, Whatever. It worked.

*****UPDATE*****

Through completing a form and as I am a direct descendant of the veteran, I was able to obtain a copy of his US Navy file.  I have gained a little more information by getting this file.  As stated before, my father, John Thomas Ryan enlisted in the United State Navy on October 28, 1942.  This is actually the date that he reported to the Naval Recruitment Center in Philadelphia.  On October 30, 1942 he was transferred to USNTS, Bainbridge, Maryland.  His rank was A.S., V-6.  (Apprentice Seaman).

SEAMAN–Performs ordinary deck duties in connection with the upkeep and operations of a ship. Stands watch as look-out, telephone talker, messenger, or simillar duty. Member of gun crew.

V-6 — Enlisted men required for mobilization in addition to other classes of Volunteer Reserve.

General View of Bainbridge (Md.) Naval Training Center

General View of Bainbridge (Md.) Naval Training Center

According to my research, this training center had been active only a month when my father arrived.  His commanding officer upon arrival was C.F. Russel, Captain USN.

Bainbridge Naval Training Station, Bainbridge. Capt. Russell's house. Architects: Eggers & Higgins

Bainbridge Naval Training Station, Bainbridge. Capt. Russell’s house. Architects: Eggers & Higgins

United States Naval Training Center, Bainbridge (USNTC Bainbridge) was the U.S. Navy Training Center at Port Deposit, Maryland, on the bluffs of the northeast bank of the Susquehanna River. It was active from 1942 to 1976 under the Commander of the Fifth Naval District, based in Norfolk, Virginia.

Located on the appropriated campus of the Tome School for boys, the training center sat between various important naval centers of World War II: about 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Baltimore, Maryland, and 75 miles (121 km) from Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was reached via Maryland Route 222, about halfway between US 1 and US 40.

Tome School for Boys

Tome School for Boys

The center was activated on October 1, 1942, and the first batch of recruits arrived 10 days later to begin “boot camp” training and indoctrination. They came in busloads from transportation collection points at Havre de Grace and Perryville, Maryland. The recruits were given a battery of tests to determine their educational and skill levels, then trained in indoctrination, ordnance and gunnery, seamanship, fire fighting, physical training, and military drill.

Halfway through boot camp, recruits had a “service week”, which generally included kitchen duty, peeling potatoes, mopping, picking up cigarette butts, etc. Recruits with desirable skills, such as typing, could end up on an office typewriter rather than in a kitchen.

Recruits were also trained in shipboard duties aboard the R.T.S. Commodore, a relatively large “ship” built on dry land. The trainer was equipped with most of the facilities found on a real ship, including deck guns, pilot house, davits with whaleboats, and mooring lines fastened to earth-bound bollards, so that crew members could learn casting off hawsers and other lines connecting the ship to its dock.

Recruits training on the "USS Neversail", USS Commodore (401B), at USNRTC Bainbridge.

Recruits training on the “USS Neversail”, USS Commodore (401B), at USNRTC Bainbridge.

USNTC Bainbridge--BARRACKS INTERIOR

BarracksBainbridgeRecruitBarracksInterior1954

By the end of World War II, the center had trained 244,277 recruits who transferred to various ships and stations throughout the world.

On January 26, 1943 while at the USNTS, Bainbridge, MD, John Thomas Ryan was promoted to Seaman Second Class (S2c, V6).

On February 22, 1943 when my father completed training in Bainbridge, Maryland, he was transferred to the Naval Shipyard in Long Beach, California.

The life of the Long Beach Naval Shipyard began in 1940 when, for $1, the Navy acquired 104 acres of oceanfront on Terminal Island from the city of Long Beach. Later, landfills and dredging increased the shipyard site to 396 acres. It was located at Terminal Island between Long Beach and San Pedro about 23 miles south of Los Angeles International Airport.  It opened in February 1943 with 300 workers.  It was established to repair and refurbish U.S. naval vessels. During World War II, the naval dry docks did routine and battle damage repairs to tankers, cargo ships, troop transports, destroyers and cruisers. It also served as a depot for fuel and supplies for U.S. Navy ships on their way to war or deployment.

On March 20, 1943, Seaman Second Class, John Thomas Ryan was received on board the USS Dashiell (DD659).  According to my research, this would be on the ship’s commissioning date.  According to the US Navy WWII Muster Rolls, he remained on board through October 17, 1943.

USS Dashiell (DD-659) Spring 1943, NA 80G60026.

USS Dashiell (DD-659) Spring 1943, NA 80G60026.

Although my father was only on board for a part of the USS Dashiell (DD-659) war history, here is a little about her.  You can read more about the ship at this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Dashiell_%28DD-659%29 or other internet sources.

The USS Dashiell (DD-659) was a Fletcher-class destroyer of the United States Navy, named for Robert B. Dashiell (1860–1899).  Dashiell was launched 6 February 1943 by Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J.. sponsored by Mrs. R. B. Dashiell, widow of Assistant Naval Constructor Dashiell; and commissioned 20 March 1943, Commander J. B. McLean in command.

In World War II, the USS Dashiell (DD-659) arrived at Pearl Harbor 24 July 1943 to join the Fast Carrier Task Forces for the raids on Marcus Island of 31 August to 1 September; Tarawa, 18–20 September; and Wake Island, 5–6 October. Arriving at Efate, New Hebrides, 5 November, she prepared for the invasion of the Gilberts and was one of the first to enter the lagoon in the assault on Tarawa 20 November. She passed into the lagoon under heavy enemy fire, took up position just off Tarawa’s reef, and opened return fire on shore batteries, enemy strong points and an ammunition dump to aid the troops ashore for three days. Following the cessation of hostilities on Tarawa, the Dashiell was sent to the US’ west coast for an overhaul.

On October 17, 1943, my father was transferred to C.O. RecSta, Pearl Harbor, T.H. FFT.  I don’t know what these abbreviations are but according to the papers from his file, he was granted 8 days leave in accordance with BuPers c/L No. 167-43 and additional orders to report to Recship at San Francisco, California which he did on November 7, 1943.

How did enlisted personnel get from one place to another during the war.  Nothing in the papers says how he traveled from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to San Franscisco, California.  Is it the reason for the leave?  Did the men have to find a means of transport?  If anyone reading this blog has the answer, I would like to know.

On November 19, 1943, my father reported to the station at Newport News, Virginia.  Again, how did he get there, clear across the country?  Was it the Recship mentioned above.  Could a ship get from California, down through the Panama Canal and up to Virginia in twelve days?

*****END OF THE UPDATE*****

Now I will begin writing the details of the aircraft carriers activity in WWII. Since my story of war will be more facts than personal accounts, I thought I would first add some insight into the life aboard an aircraft carrier during WWII and my search of the internet happened upon the most insightful film on the subject. I was blown away by this film so I feel it can tell the story I wanted to tell so much better. If you have about 100 minutes, I highly recommend watching the Fighting Lady which is available at no cost.

http://archive.org/details/FightingLady

About the film:

“The Fighting Lady,” directed by William Wyler, provides a portrait of life on a World War II aircraft carrier, a vessel that is “enormous, wonderful, and strange to us.” After profiling the various activities of the soldiers’ day and following the ship’s voyage through the Panama Canal, the film takes the audience through a litany of actual combat engagements. The Fighting Lady participates in a strike on the Marcus Islands, then defends itself against a surprise nighttime raid by Japanese fighters. Some of the photography comes from cameras set up in the cockpits of American planes, showing first hand what it’s like to be diving through enemy anti-aircraft fire. The film culminates in a major confrontation with the Imperial Japanese Battle Fleet. In this massive operation, later dubbed the “Marianas Turkey Shoot,” American pilots downed almost four hundred Japanese Zeros, while incurring only twenty-two losses themselves.

thefightinglady1944usna

It was called the Fighting Lady to keep the true identity of the carrier a secret.  When secrecy was no longer necessary, it was revealed that it was the USS Yorktown (CV-10).  She is also an Essex Class carrier (most were) so I think it is probably a pretty good match to my father’s life during the war.  I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did.

USS Yorktown (CV-10) June 1943

USS Yorktown (CV-10) June 1943

The First Captain (November 29, 1943 – May 29, 1944)

MilesRBrowningAccording to Wikipedia, Miles Rutherford Browning (April 10, 1897 – September 29, 1954) was an officer in the United States Navy in the Atlantic during World War I and in the Pacific during World War II. A pioneer in the development of aircraft carrier combat operations concepts, he is noted for his aggressive aerial warfare tactics as a captain on the USS Enterprise during World War II. His citation for the Distinguished Service Medal states: “His judicious planning and brilliant execution was largely responsible for the rout of the enemy Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway.” He is the grandfather of actor Chevy Chase.

In the spring of 1944, during a nighttime showing of a film on Hornet’s hangar deck, someone discharged a CO2 canister and triggered a stampede. In the chaos, two sailors fell overboard; one of them drowned. A board of investigation was ordered, which criticized Browning’s command. The ensuing ruin of his career, “one of the great wastes to the American prosecution of the war,” resulted, ironically, from nothing having to do with combat. Browning was removed from command of Hornet in May 1944 and reassigned to the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he taught carrier battle tactics during the final months of the war. Halsey was given command of the carrier-oriented Third Fleet during 1944-1945, but with his old chief of staff tossed onto the beach, he made grave mistakes that Browning might well have been able to help prevent.

Browning toured Japan in 1949, and stated that radiation damage from the atomic bombs was a “myth”. He pointed to gardens and a number of tall chimneys left standing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as proof that there were no long-term effects of the blasts.

Browning retired from active duty on January 1, 1947, just short of his 50th birthday, and was retroactively promoted to rear admiral (upper half). He was appointed New Hampshire’s Civil Defense Director in 1950, where he devised a plan wherein 500,000 displaced residents of Boston could be housed in New Hampshire private homes in the event of disaster. Browning resigned from this post in 1952.

On September 29, 1954, Browning died of systemic lupus erythematosus at Chelsea Naval Hospital in Boston. He was buried on October 6, 1954 at Arlington National Cemetery.

January 1, 1944 – First CAG 15 landing on Hornet by Commander Bill Drane.  I am sure this picture doesn’t specifically match this item in the ship’s log, however it is the USS Hornet CV-12 flight deck and it is 1944.  The source was a member of the Warbird Information Exchange http://warbirdinformationexchange.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?p=496931

Deck crewman aboard USS Hornet CV-12 disengages tailhook from the arresting gear while another chases stray ordnance that came loose during landing

Deck crewman aboard USS Hornet CV-12 disengages tailhook from the arresting gear while another chases stray ordnance that came loose during landing

USS Hornet (CV-12) underway in January 1944 during her shakedown in the Atlantic, before Air Group 15 came aboard. She is wearing Measure 33, Design 3A camouflage. There are only four radio masts on the starboard side of the flight deck, and the hangar catapult outrigger is in the stowed position. In place of a third Mk 37 director, a 40-mm quad mount was fitted at the same level as the flight deck. Note the hull number on the flight deck is unusually painted facing "the other" way — this was corrected before she entered combat. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

USS Hornet (CV-12) underway in January 1944 during her shakedown in the Atlantic, before Air Group 15 came aboard. She is wearing Measure 33, Design 3A camouflage. There are only four radio masts on the starboard side of the flight deck, and the hangar catapult outrigger is in the stowed position. In place of a third Mk 37 director, a 40-mm quad mount was fitted at the same level as the flight deck. Note the hull number on the flight deck is unusually painted facing “the other” way — this was corrected before she entered combat. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

From the War Diary found on the website Fold3:

The original plans for the Hornet’s shakedown would have taken her to Trinidad over a period of four weeks.  Instead the ship had a two weeks shakedown cruise to Bermuda and back.  During these two weeks flight operations were conducted and also exercising in fueling from taker and fueling destroyers.  Other miscellaneous drills were conducted.  The reason for this shortened shakedown cruise was to rush the Hornet into service with the Pacific Fleet.

 

February 1944 – Transited Panama Canal for the west coast.  There is great footage of a carrier transiting through the canal in the film I spoke about earlier.  The picture below is an aircraft carrier passing through the Panama Canal; however which carrier was not listed in the source.

US Carrier Going Through Panama Canal

From the War Diary found on the website Fold3:

Enroute from Norfolk, Va. to San Diego, California, Air Group Fifteen was disembarked along with its personnel and wrecked airplanes.  The ship then proceeded to the Norfolk Navy Yard for post-shakedown availability.  Air Group Fifteen embarked on 14 February, 1944 and the ship got underway enroute to Cristobal, Canal Zone.  The Hornet transited the Panama Canal and reported for duty to the Commander and Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.  Captain Browning was designated as Commander Task Group 12.1.  The run from the Canal to San Diego was without incident.  The ship left San Diego on 29 February, loaded to capacity with Marine Fliers, ground personnel, and Marine fighter planes.

March 4. 1944 – Arrived Pearl Harbor. Air Group 2 replaced Air Group 15. USS Hornet joins Task Force 58.

Task Force 58 (later renamed Task Force 38) – The Fast Carrier Task Force was the main striking force of the United States Navy in the Pacific Ocean theatre of World War II from January 1944 through the end of the war in August of 1945. The task force was made up of four separate task groups. Each task group was built around three to four aircraft carriers and their supporting vessels. The support vessels were screening destroyers, cruisers, and the newly built and faster battleships.

task58

Task Force 58

This photo was taken on March 4, 1944 as Hornet was tying up to the mooring at Fox 9 Ford Island, Pearl Harbor with Air Group 15 on the flight deck. The photo was taken from Essex (CV-9) who would soon be taking Air Group 15 aboard while Hornet would take Air Group 2 into her first combat with the Japanese. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

This photo was taken on March 4, 1944 as Hornet was tying up to the mooring at Fox 9 Ford Island, Pearl Harbor with Air Group 15 on the flight deck. The photo was taken from Essex (CV-9) who would soon be taking Air Group 15 aboard while Hornet would take Air Group 2 into her first combat with the Japanese. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

A close-up of Hornet's hangar deck catapult with Air Group 2 on the flight deck; 1944. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

A close-up of Hornet’s hangar deck catapult with Air Group 2 on the flight deck; 1944. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

March 18/25, 1944 – Crossing the Line.  According to the website http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm, the USS Hornet CV-12 crossed the Equator for the first time on March 25, 1944.  This card in my father’s papers has it as March 18, 1944.

JT Ryan Equator Crossing

This series of photographs from http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm were taken on board during a “Crossing the Line” ceremony (either the Equator or the International Date Line, or possibly both) in 1944.  The photographs were taken by Photographer’s Mate 2/Class Paul D. Guttman.  He happened to be on board the Hornet when she crossed both lines.  There were separate initiation ceremonies so it is possible these photographs are from two different events.  These pictures are quite humorous and I can understand the need to blow off steam especially knowing what these men will face in the future.

Crossing7 crossing6 crossing5 crossing4 crossing3 crossing2 Crossing1

From the War Diary found on the website Fold3:

The new Hornet arrived at Pearl Harbor on 4 March.  Again preparations were rushed.  Air Group Fifteen, which had been with the ship from the beginning was replaced by Air Group Two.  Two short training cruises off Pearl Harbor were successfully carried out, and †he ship left for Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands on 16 March to report to the Fifth Fleet.  On arriving at the atoll practically the entire active Pacific Fleet was found assembled and the Hornet became part of Task Force 58, assigned to the Task Group under Admiral Montgomery.

Vice Admiral Alfred Eugene Montgomery, US Navy

Vice Admiral Alfred Eugene Montgomery, US Navy

Admiral Clark, Commander Carrier Division Thirteen, had brought her from Pearl Harbor, and continued to make the ship his Flagship, but did not take tactical command of a Carrier Group until after the first operation.

Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan

Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan

Clark on the Bridge of the USS Hornet

Clark on the Bridge of the USS Hornet

The first operation included strikes and mine-laying at Palau, Caroline Islands and Woleai.  Palau, at that time seemed deep within enemy waters.  The long run south and westerly, skirting the coast of New Guinea, was uneventful except for occasional enemy snoopers, and at Palau, air opposition consisted of only a few enemy fighters and torpedo planes.  Mines were successfully laid; all enemy planes were destroyed and much damage was done to the ground installations in strikes on the 30th and 31st of March.  The ship drew her first enemy blood on this operation, beginning with a Betty destroyed by her Combat Air Patrol (CAP) on 29 March.  A total of five enemy airborne planes were destroyed during the remainder of the operation.

What is a Betty? The Allies had their own names for Japanese aircraft.  The Betty was the Mitsubishi G4M (or “Type 1 land-based attack aircraft”) was the main twin-engine, land-based bomber used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in World War II.

Mitsubishi G4M1 Betty

Mitsubishi G4M1 Betty

In my next post, I will pick up again in March 1944 where according to the ship’s log, the USS Hornet (CV-12) began to face the enemy.