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

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Comments
  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Impressive!

  2. Reblogged this on IF I ONLY HAD A TIME MACHINE and commented:

    For today’s “What Happened on June 19th” I am reblogging a post from my other blog. A major part of this story of June 1944 was the Battle of Philippine Sea otherwise known as the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot which was June 18 – 20 1944. If you have never read my other blog, I encourage you to read it from by beginning. There is a link on the left of the screen.

  3. Very Interesting! It isn’t easy to find quality stuff.

  4. If you have already read this post, I wanted to let you know that I made an update. I found a film about the Hornet that was broadcast by History Channel International. I added a link to the website where the film can be downloaded (its a .wmv file)

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