The world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).
I recently accessed a war diary on the website Fold3. This war diary provides a narrative of the Hornet’s activities during each month. Most of my posts on this blog have been based on factual sources about the war in the pacific and where the Hornet was involved; however there wasn’t always something in those sources specifically about the Hornet. I plan to go back to some of my previous posts and add some of these pieces of information. Recently I added the January – March 1944 and the December 1944 information.
According to the ship’s log:
16 Feb 1945 – HORNET launches pre-dawn strikes on Tokyo to resume where HORNET (CV-8) had left off 34 months before.
Late Feb 1945 – Strikes in support of Iwo Jima invasion.
19 Mar 1945 – Strikes conducted against Kobe and Kure while HORNET cruised 40 miles off Japanese coast.
February 1 – 18, 1945
From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:
The personnel of the USS Hornet (CV-12) enjoyed a period of rest and relaxation at Ulithi up to the the tenth, on which day the ship once again got underway for major action. The sixteenth of February was D minus 3 days of the operations against Iowo Jima and the day of our first carrier plane attack against Tokyo. The weather proved a serious handicap and limited the amount of damage which might have otherwise been inflicted on grounded aircraft on the numerous fields around Tokyo. Strikes were launched against Chichi Jima on 18 February 1945 where Susaki Airfield and Omura Seaplane Base were attacked.
Direct air support of expeditionary forces which landed on Iwo Jima on the nineteenth were begun on 20 February 1945.
Upon a designated area near Iwo Jima, the Commander Control Unit (CTG 51.10) in the USS Eldorado (AGC-11) assigned specific targets or target areas to strike leaders. It was the observation of flight leaders from the Hornet’s Air Group that this system of attach functioned well and that the ship-air communications were generally satisfactory throughout this phase of the operation.
For the next two days strikes were made on Chichi Jima and Haha Jima during the continuing air support of the Iwo Jima invasion.
The Task Group proceeded from here to make strikes on Tokyo for the second time. The first strikes were launched on 25 February 1945 but weather conditions proved an insuperable obstacle to the mission and only one strike reached the assigned target. After the fourth strike was launched further offensive operations were cancelled. Task Group 58.1 in company with Task Group 58.2 and 58.3 continued steaming towards the vicinity on 28 February 1945 from which point strikes against Okinawa were to be launched the next day.
Task Group 58.1 Composition (Source: http://home.grandecom.net/~cvproj/tg-fast.htm)
THE BIG PICTURE
While the war diary focused on where the USS Hornet was during this important battle of the war, I thought I’d step back and provide some information on Battle of Iwo Jima as a whole. The following is a brief synopsis with the assistance of the following source http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-pac/iwojima/iwojima.htm
On 19 February 1945 U.S. Marines stormed ashore on Iwo Jima, a small volcanic island half way between the Mariana Islands and Japan. These landings opened more than a month of extremely bloody ground fighting between three Marine divisions and more than 20,000 Japanese defenders.
The Iwo Jima invasion began on 16 February 1945, when a formidable U.S. Navy armada started three days of pre-landing preparations. As minesweepers and underwater demolition teams cleared the nearby waters, warships and aircraft methodically tried to destroy the island’s defenses. However, given the abundance of well-concealed strong points and deeply buried underground facilities, this was not nearly enough.
Thus, when the Marines landed, they confronted intense opposing fire from the landing area and from flanking positions on Mount Suribachi in the south and the rugged terrain of northern Iwo Jima. Securing Mount Suribachi and the rest of southern Iwo Jima required more than four days of intense combat. Another week’s bloodshed brought the Marines into the middle of the desperately defended north, where the bitter fight to eliminate organized Japanese resistance took nearly four additional weeks.
For the U.S. Marines, Iwo Jima was the most difficult of World War II’s many tough fights. It remains an enduring demonstration of the essential role of infantry when ground must be captured, even when seemingly overwhelming air and sea power is present. The abundant heroism of the attackers was recognized by the award of twenty-seven Medals of Honor, more than half given posthumously.
In American hands, Iwo Jima soon became an important base for the air campaign that ended with Japan’s August 1945 capitulation, thus justifying the blood spilled to take it. Had the war continued, its role would have been even more critical.