USS WAKE ISLAND (CVE 65) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1102) on 6 February 1943 at Vancouver, Wash., by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Inc. ; launched on 15 September 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Frederick Carl Sherman, the wife of Rear Admiral Sherman; commissioned on 7 November 1943, Capt. Hames R. Tague in command.
Following commissioning, WAKE ISLAND received supplies, ammunition, and gasoline at Astoria, Oreg., and got underway on 27 November 1943 for Puget Sound and anchored the following day at Bremerton, Wash., where she continued to load supplies and ammunition. The escort carrier operated in the Puget Sound area conducting structural firing tests and making stops at Port Townsend, Sinclair Inlet, and Seattle before sailing south on 6 December. She arrived at San Francisco on 10 December; took on fuel; and, two days later, headed for San Diego, arriving there on 14 December for shakedown and availability. Before departing, the escort carrier took on board the personnel and planes of squadron VC-69.
On 11 January 1944, WAKE ISLAND got underway and steamed, via the Panama Canal, to Hampton Roads, Va., arriving at Norfolk on 26 January. Following availability, the escort carrier sailed on 14 February for New York in company with MISSION BAY (CVE 59), SWENNING (DE 394), and HAVERFIELD (DE 393).
On 16 February--after loading supplies and embarking Army and Navy officers for transportation--WAKE ISLAND set course for Recife, Brazil, the first stop on her voyage to Karachi, India. She arrived at Recife on 1 March and made stops at Capetown, South Africa; and Diego Suarez Harbor, Madagascar; before arriving at Karachi on 29 March. The escort carrier began her return trip on 3 April and arrived back at Norfolk on 12 May.
She spent the remainder of May and part of June undergoing alterations and an overhaul. She then took on board the planes and personnel of VC-58 and, on 15 June, set course toward Bermuda for duty as the nucleus of Task Group (TG) 22.6, a combined, air-and-surface, anti-submarine, hunter-killer group. The highlight of her cruise came on 2 July, when one of the carrier's Avengers intercepted the surfaced U-543 off the coast of Africa between the Canary and the Cape Verde Islands, making its way home after an unsuccessful patrol in the Gulf of Guinea. The torpedo bomber's pilot, Ens. Frederick L. Moore, USNR, braved heavy antiaircraft fire from the German submarine while making two bombing attacks which sank the U-boat. However, no evidence appeared to confirm the kill, so the escort carrier and her escorts spent the ensuing fortnight hunting the already destroyed submarine.
Task Group (TG) 22.6 began her next serious encounter with the enemy two minutes before noon on 2 August, when DOUGLAS L. HOWARD (DE 138) sighted a U-boat's conning tower some eight miles away. She and FISKE (DE 143) were detached to investigate, while all planes in the area were recalled. A "killer" TBM, armed with depth bombs, was catapulted at 1209. At 1235, a torpedo--apparently fired by a second submarine--hit FISKE amidships and broke her in two. The ships of the group managed to maneuver clear of two more torpedoes which were fired at the force. The first report of casualties listed 4 dead, 26 missing, and 55 seriously injured. FARQUHAR (DE 139) was detached to support DOUGLAS L. HOWARD and later to pick up survivors. As the group was preparing to avenge the loss of FISKE, heavy fog and rain stopped all operations.
On 4 August, TG 22.6 was dissolved and, four days later, WAKE ISLAND made rendezvous with Convoy UC-32 as it steamed westward. She left the convoy on the 11th and headed for Hampton Roads. She arrived at Norfolk on the 15th for alterations and repairs which lasted through the 25th. Following post-repair trials and a brief availability, the escort carrier sailed on 29 August for Quonset, R.I., to relieve MISSION BAY on carrier aircraft qualification operation duty which lasted through 30 October.
The next day, the escort carrier sailed for Norfolk with LEA (DD 118) and BABBITT (DD 128) as escorts and arrived on 1 November for a period of availability. On the 11th, she stood out of Norfolk in company with SHAMROCK BAY (CVE 84) and escorts bound, via the Panama Canal, for the west coast. The escort carrier entered San Francisco Bay on 28 November and moored at the Naval Air Station, Alameda, Calif., where she embarked two new aircraft squadrons before heading for Hawaii the following day. She moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, on 5 December; detached squadrons VC-9 and VPB-149; and disembarked personnel, planes, and equipment. Ten days later, WAKE ISLAND--her flight deck laden with cargo and unable to launch or receive planes--got underway for the Admiralty Islands with escorts RICHARD M. ROWELL (DE 403) and O'FLAHERTY (DE 340). She arrived at Manus on 27 December, discharged all cargo and passengers, sailed for the Palau Islands, and arrived at Kossol Reef Lagoon on New Year's Day 1945. Late that evening, she loaded ammunition from a barge and got underway at 0642, bound for the Philippines and the forthcoming invasion of Luzon, in company with a tremendous fleet which had gathered for the operation.
Two days later, WAKE ISLAND passed through Surigao Strait and launched both SNAP (antisnooper air patrol) and LCAP (local combat air patrol). On 4 January 1945, she was operating in the Sulu Sea and launched a three-hour SNAP. The American planes sighted a single-engine Japanese float plane on the water off the southeastern tip of Panay Island. It appeared to be in the hands of a salvage crew. Two of the scout planes made two strafing runs each and left the plane riddled and the salvage crew dispersed.
The Fleet entered Panay Gulf about 100 miles northwest of Manila. WAKE ISLAND's surface search radar was jammed by enemy transmission, and the escort carrier went to general quarters at 1714. One minute later, a Japanese single engine plane appeared overhead in a steep diving attack on OMMANEY BAY (CVE 79), some 4,200 yards away. Fire immediately flared from that carrier's flight and hangar decks; and, after 20 minutes, her crew abandoned OMMANEY BAY under a dense cloud of black smoke. She burned with explosions of ammunition and was finally scuttled astern of the Fleet by a torpedo from an American destroyer.
On 5 January, WAKE ISLAND received 19 survivors of OMMANEY BAY who had been rescued by MAURY (DD 401). The ship went to general quarters with bogies on the radar screen, but three threatened raids failed to develop. At 1502, eight LCAP fighters from WAKE ISLAND pounced upon a division of Japanese Army fighters. When the melee was over, the Americans claimed three certain kills and a probable without suffering any loss themselves. In all, WAKE ISLAND launched three LCAPs during daylight. At 1655, the ship again went to general quarters to repel an air attack and for the next hour was under severe attack. At one time, six single-engine planes were simultaneously diving on carriers off WAKE ISLANDâ€™s port side. Five were knocked down by antiaircraft fire, narrowly missing their targets, but one managed a hit on MANILA BAY (CVE 61). She caught fire and dropped behind, but her efficient damage control efforts enabled her to resume her position in the formation in only 51 minutes, with her flight deck out of commission. During the attack, at least 10 enemy planes splashed within 5,000 yards of WAKE ISLAND, and her own antiaircraft gunners claimed three.
On 13 January, two enemy planes attacked SALAMAUA (CVE 96), cruising about eight miles astern of WAKE ISLAND. One of the attackers was shot down, but the other scored a hit which briefly slowed that carrier. She soon regained speed and controlled a fire on her hanger deck without losing her position in the formation. Four days later, WAKE ISLAND was detached and left Lingayen Gulf in TG 77.14--a force consisting of eight escort carriers and their screen to retire to Ulithi, Caroline Islands. She anchored at Ulithi's southern anchorage from 23 to 31 January, undergoing availability and preparing for further operations. During this period, her home port was changed from Norfolk to Puget Sound, Bremerton, Washington.
On 10 February 1945, the escort carrier got underway to join TG 52.2, which had been established to provide air cover and support while escorting major units to the Volcano Islands and then to furnish naval gunfire spotting, and direct air support for landing forces. The following day, she steamed to an area off Saipan-Tinian where rehearsals for the invasion took place. On 13 February, WAKE ISLAND's commanding officer was designated OTC of Task Unit (TU) 52.2.1.
On 14 February, the escort carrier set course for Iwo Jima and, two days later, arrived at her operating area 49 miles from the southwestern tip of Iwo. Shortly after daylight, the heavy bombardment group began shelling shore installations on the island. Planes from WAKE ISLAND flew spotting sorties, attacked defensive works with rocket fire, and flew local antisubmarine patrols and hydrographic observation flights over the beaches. D day for the invasion of Iwo Jima was 19 February; and, on that day, WAKE ISLAND operated as before, flying 56 spotting sorties and firing 87 rockets.
BISMARCK SEA (CVE 95), a carrier in her group, was sunk by enemy air attack on 21 February. The next day, WAKE ISLAND was detached and ordered to proceed to a rendezvous point east of Iwo Jima. There, she was refueled on 23 February and set course to return to the operating area east of Iwo Jima. The following day, she took station some 35 miles from the southern tip of Iwo Jima and flew 55 spotting sorties, expending 205 rockets. In the ensuing weeks, WAKE ISLAND continued her operations supporting the marines who paid with pain and blood for each square foot of the bitterly defended island. On 5 March, she received a message of special interest from Commander, TU 52.2.1, Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague: "If your ship is as good as your Air Department and Squadron, it is a standout. I have seen nearly all the combat CVEsâ€™ work and I must say the Wake tops them all for efficiency, smoothness and good judgment. I hope we are together again."
After 24 consecutive days of operations, WAKE ISLAND retired on 8 March from her station off Iwo Jima and rendezvoused with SAGINAW BAY (CVE 82) west of the island. The next day, they headed for Ulithi and arrived there on 14 March.
The escort carrier spent the next five days at anchor preparing for another operation. She got underway on 21 March to supply air support for forces about to invade Okinawa. On 25 March, she arrived in the operating area roughly 60 miles south of Okinawa Jima and began sending flights over Kerama Retto beaches and Okinawa. WAKE ISLAND continued her support of the campaign through the initial landings at Okinawa on 1 April.
On the 3rd, the escort carrier was operating southeast of Okinawa. At 1722, she completed the landing of her fifth spotting sortie, and all her planes were back on board. Eight minutes later, she went to general quarters and enemy bogies were reported. At 1742, a violent wave hit the ship while planes were being moved for spotting on the flight deck. Two FM-2s were thrown off the flight deck into the water. Two fighters were flipped over on their backs, and two others received severe damage when tossed about.
At the same instant, two FM-2s broke loose from their lashings on the hangar deck and collided with major damage to both. At 1744, a Japanese single-engine plane plunged at the ship from a high angle and missed the port forward corner of the flight deck, exploding in the water abreast the forecastle. Thirty seconds later, a second similar plane whistled down on the starboard side at tremendous speed, narrowly missing the bridge structure and plunging into the water about 10 feet from the hull. The plane exploded after impact, ripping a hole in the shipâ€™s side below the waterline, about 45 feet long and about 18 feet from top to bottom and making many shrapnel holes. Parts of the plane were thrown onto the forecastle and into the gun sponsors. Various compartments were flooded, and the shell plating cracked between the first and second decks. Other shell plating buckled, and the main condensers were flooded with salt water, contaminating some 30,000 gallons of fresh water and 70,000 gallons of fuel oil. At 1824, salting made it necessary to secure the forward engine, and the ship proceeded on one propeller. Remarkably, there were no injuries; and, by 2140, corrective measures had been taken, and the ship was again steaming on both engines. The next day, WAKE ISLAND steamed to Kerama Retto anchorage with escorts DENNIS (DE 405) and GOSS (DE 444). While she remained there undergoing inspection by the fleet salvage officer, special precautions were taken to guard against possible Japanese suicide swimmers from islands of the cluster not yet secured.
The escort carrier set course for Guam on 6 April 1945 and, four days later, arrived at Apra Harbor for repairs in drydock which lasted through 20 May. The next day, the ship, in company with WANTUCK (APD 125), headed for Okinawa where she resumed her mission of supporting the troops on the island.
WAKE ISLAND was then detached on 2 June and escorted by RALPH TALBOT (DD 390), proceeded to Kerama Retto for replenishment. At Kaika Harbor, Kerama Retto, she loaded bombs, rockets, and dry and fresh provisions, despite many enemy aircraft in the vicinity. The escort carrier made rendezvous with COWANESQUE (AO 79) for refueling and, once her tanks were full, returned to the operating area off Okinawa on 6 June 1945.
The following day, WAKE ISLAND, as part of the task unit, engaged in strikes on Sakashima Gunto. NATOMA BAY (CVE 62) was hit by a suicide plane, and SARGENT BAY (CVE 83) was attacked by a second. WAKE ISLAND's support operations continued until 15 June when Rear Admiral Durgin landed on board the escort carrier for an official visit. In a ceremony held on the flight deck, he presented citations and awards to 16 pilots of VOC-1.
The following day, WAKE ISLAND and DENNIS were detached, proceeded independently for Kerama Retto, and arrived there on 17 June. She was replenished and then returned to the area southwest of Okinawa to resume flight operations. Two days later, WAKE ISLAND received a message detaching her from TG 32.1 due to battle damage received on 3 April and a subsequent finding by the Bureau of Ships that "pending yardwork, this vessel is considered unsafe for operations in a forward area." She headed for Guam and conducted firing practices and launched LASP sorties en route. Upon her arrival at Port Apra on 24 June, all personnel of squadron VOC-1 were transferred to Naval Air Base, Agana.
Between 25 June and 3 July, WAKE ISLAND, loaded with nine Hellcats, 24 Corsairs, 11 Avengers, and two Piper Cubs, made a round-trip to Okinawa and delivered aircraft with 46 ferry pilots to Tactical Air Force, Yontan Field, Okinawa.
Arriving back at Guam, the escort carrier unloaded ammunition and aviation spares and took on board 300 sacks of United States mail along with 10 Corsair and 20 Helldiver duds for transportation, then sailed for Pearl Harbor in company with CAPE ESPERANCE (CVE 88) and BULL (APD 78). On July 10th, she detached BULL and CAPE ESPERANCE and proceeded independently to Hawaii. A week later, the ship arrived at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, where she unloaded her cargo and took on board 138 enlisted men and 49 officers as passengers to the continental United States. On 18 July, WAKE ISLAND cleared the channel at Pearl Harbor, bound for southern California. She arrived at San Diego Calif., on 25 July and discharged her passengers and planes.
While moored at North Island, San Diego, the escort carrier took on board six Avengers, 10 Wildcats, 53 officers, and 13 men of squadron VC-75 for training and carrier aircraft landing qualifications off San Nicholas Island. She continued to conduct flight qualifications through December 1945.
This period was distinguished on 5 November when the first jet-propelled landing on an aircraft carrier was made on WAKE ISLAND. Personnel of VF-41 and representatives of the Ryan Company came on board during the morning, and the escort carrier got underway from the Naval Air Station, San Diego, in company with O'BRIEN (DD 725). For two days, she conducted tests and landing qualifications for the jet-propelled FR-1s (Fireballs).
With the new year 1946, WAKE ISLAND prepared for inactivation. She was decommissioned on 5 April; struck from the Navy list on the 17th; and subsequently sold for scrap to the Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md., on 19 April 1946.
WAKE ISLAND earned three battle stars during World War II.
CVE-65 U.S.S. Wake Island - History
It is Monday, 8 December 1941. On wake Island, a tiny sprung paper-clip in the Pacific between Hawaii and Guam, Marines of the 1st Defense Battalion are starting another day of the backbreaking war preparations that have gone on for weeks. Out in the triangular lagoon formed by the islets of Peale, Wake, and Wilkes, the huge silver Pan American Airways Philippine Clipper flying boat roars off the water bound for Guam. The trans-Pacific flight will not be completed.
Word of war comes around 0700. Captain Henry S. Wilson, Army Signal Corps, on the island to support the flight ferry of B-17 Flying Fortresses from Hawaii to the Philippines, half runs, half walks toward the tent of Major James P.S. Devereux, commander of the battalion's Wake Detachment. Captain Wilson reports that Hickam Field in Hawaii has been raided.
|Col Walter L. J. Bayler, reputedly "the last Marine off Wake" in December 1941, is the first to set foot on the island in 1945. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 133688|
Devereux immediately orders a "Call to Arms." He quickly assembles his officers, tells them that war has come, that the Japanese have attacked Oahu, and that Wake "could expect the same thing in a very short time."
Major James P.S. Devereux, Commanding Officer of the Wake Detachment of the 1st Defense Battalion (seen here as a POW at Shanghai, circa January 1942), was born in Cuba and educated in the United States and in Switzerland. Devereux enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1923. He saw service at home (Norfolk, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Quantico, among other places) and abroad (Cuba, Nicaragua, and China). He was awarded the Navy Cross for his leadership of the Marines at Wake. After his retirement, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, the senior officer on the atoll, Commander Winfred S. Cunningham, Officer in Charge, Naval Activities, Wake, learned of the Japanese surprise attack as he was leaving the mess hall at the contractors' cantonment (Camp 2) on the northern leg of Wake. He ordered the defense battalion to battle stations, but allowed the civilians to go on with their work, figuring that their duties at sites around the atoll provided good dispersion. He then contacted John B. Cooke, PanAm's airport manager and requested that he recall the Philippine Clipper. Cooke sent the prearranged code telling John H. Hamilton, the captain of the Martin 130 flying boat, of the outbreak of war.
Commander Winfield S. Cunningham
An unshaven Commander Winfield S. Cunningham, Officer in Charge, Naval Activities, Wake Island, and commander of the defense of Wake, was photographed as a POW on board the Japanese transport Nitta Maru, at Yokohama, Japan, about 18 January 1942. A member of the Naval Academy Class of 1921 and an excellent pilot, he had flown fighters and flying boats, and had been schooled in strategy and tactics. Contemporaries in the Navy regarded him as an intelligent, quick-witted officer who possessed moral courage. His long and varied experience in aviation duty had fitted him well for his independent duty at Wake. He would earn the Navy Cross for his leadership of the defense of Wake.
Marines from Camp 1, on the southern leg of Wake, were soon embarked in trucks and moving to their stations on Wake, Wilkes, and Peale islets. Marine Gunner Harold C. Borth and Sergeant James W. Hall climbed to the top of the camp's water tower and manned the observation post there. In those early days radar was new and not even set up on Wake, so early warning was dependent on keen eyesight. Hearing might have contributed elsewhere, but on the atoll the thunder of nearby surf masked the sound of aircraft engines until they were nearly overhead. Marine Gunner John Hamas, the Wake Detachment's munitions officer, unpacked Browning automatic rifles, Springfield '03 rifles, and ammunition for issue to the civilians who had volunteered for combat duty. That task completed, Hamas and a working party picked up 75 cases of hand grenades for delivery around the islets. Soon thereafter, other civilians attached themselves to marine Fighting Squadron (VMF) 211, which had been on Wake since 4 December.
|A May 1941 photo taken from the northeast, from a Navy Catalina flying boat, reveals the Wake Island coral atoll in the mid-Pacific beneath broken clouds. Wishbone-shaped Wake proper lies at left, as yet unmarked by construction of the airfield there. The upper portion of the photo shows Wilkes at right is Peale, joined to Wake by a causeway. National Archives Photo 80-G-451195|
Offshore, neither Triton (SS-201) nor Tambor (SS-198), submarines that had been patrolling offshore since 25 November, knew of developments on Wake or Oahu. They both had been submerged when word was passed and thus out of radio communication with Pearl Harbor. The transport William Ward Burrows (AP-6), which had left Oahu bound for Wake on 27 November, learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl while she was still 425 miles from her destination. She was rerouted to Johnston Island.
Major Paul A. Putnam, VMF-211's commanding officer, and Second Lieutenant Henry G. Webb had conducted the dawn aerial patrol and landed by the time the squadron's radiomen, over at Wake's airfield, had picked up word of an attack on Pearl Harbor. Putnam immediately sent a runner to tell his executive officer, Captain Henry T. Elrod, to disperse planes and men and keep all aircraft ready for flight.
Major Paul A. Putnam, a "model of strong nerves and the will to fight," is pictured at right in the autumn of 1941. One of his men, Second Lieutenant David Kliewer, praised Putnam's "cool judgment, his courage, and his consideration for everyone [that] forged an aviation unit that fought behind him to the end." Putnam had become commanding officer of VMF-211 on 17 November 1941 at Ewa, after having served as executive officer. Designated a naval aviator in 1929, he had flown almost every type of Marine plane from a Ford Trimotor to a Grumman F4F-3. He had distinguished himself in Nicaragua in 1931. One officer who had flown with him there considered him "calm, quiet, soft-spoken . . . a determined sort of fellow." He was awarded a Navy Cross for his heroism at Wake.
Meanwhile, work began on dugout plane shelters. Putnam placed VMF-211 on a war footing immediately two two-plane sections then took off on patrol. Captain Elrod and Second Lieutenant Carl R. Davidson flew north, Second Lieutenant John F. Kinney and Technical Sergeant William J. Hamilton flew to the south-southwest at 13,000 feet. Both sections were to remain in the immediate vicinity of the island.
(click on image for an enlargement in a new window)
The Philippine Clipper, meanwhile, had wheeled about upon receipt of word of war and returned to the lagoon it had departed 20 minutes earlier. Cunningham immediately requested Captain Hamilton to carry out a scouting flight. The Clipper was unloaded and refueled with sufficient gasoline in addition to the standard reserve for both the patrol flight and a flight to Midway. Cunningham, an experienced aviator, laid out a plan, giving the flying boat a two-plane escort. Hamilton then telephoned Putnam and concluded the arrangements for the search. Take-off time was 1300.
Defensive Mainstay: The M3 Antiaircraft Gun
At right, in the firing position, is an Army pattern M3 3-inch antiaircraft gun of the type that the 1st Defense Battalion had at Wake. Already obsolescent at the outbreak of World War II, this weapon was the mainstay of the defense battalions in the first months of the war. Twelve of these guns were emplaced at Wake.
As early as 1915, the U.S. Army, recognizing the need for a high-angle firing antiaircraft gun and resolving to build one from existing stocks, chose the M1903 seacoast defense gun and redesignated it the M1917. Soon after America's entry into World War I, however, the requirement for a mobile mount (one with less recoil) compelled the selection of the less powerful M1898 seacoast gun for conversion to the M1918. Development of both guns and mounts continued throughout the interwar years, leading ultimately to the standardization of the gun as the M3 on the M2 wheeled mount.
On the eve of World War II, each of the seven Marine defense battalions then activated had 12 3-inch guns in three four-gun batteries. Each mount weighed a little over six tons. The normal crew of eight could fire 25 12.87-pound high-explosive shells per minute. The guns had an effective ceiling of nearly 30,000 feet and an effective horizontal range of 14,780 yards.
Shortly after receiving word of hostilities, Battery B's First Lieutenant Woodrow M. Kessler and his men had loaded a truck with equipment and small arms ammunition and moved out to their 5-inch guns. At 0710, Kessler began distributing gear, and soon thereafter established a sentry post on Toki Point at the northermost tip of Peale. Thirty 5-inch rounds went into the ready-use boxes near the guns. At 0800, re reported his battery ready for action.
General quarters called Captain Bryghte D. "Dan" Godbold's men of Battery D to their stations down the coast from Battery B at 0700, and they moved out to their position by truck, reporting "manned and ready" within a half hour. The lack of men, however, prevented Godbold from having more than three of his 3-inch guns in operation. Within another hour and a half, each gun had 50 rounds ready for firing. At 1000, Goldbold received orders to keep one gun, the director, the heightfinder (the only one at Wake Island for the three batteries), and the power plant manned at all times. After making those arrangements, Godbold put the remainder of his men to work improving the battery position.
In January 1941, the United States Navy constructed a military base on the atoll. On 19 August, the first permanent military garrison, elements of the 1st Marine Defense Battalion  deployed to Wake Island under the command of Major P.S. Devereux, USMC with a force of 450 officers and men. Despite the relatively small size of the atoll, the Marines could not man all their defensive positions nor did they arrive with all their equipment, notably their air search radar units.  The Marine Detachment was supplemented by Marine Corps Fighter Squadron VMF-211, consisting of 12 F4F-3 Wildcat fighters, commanded by Marine aviator Major Paul A. Putnam, USMC. Also, present on the island were 68 U.S. Navy personnel and about 1,221 civilian workers for the Morrison-Knudsen Civil Engineering Company. The workers were to carry out the company's construction plans for the island. Most of these men were veterans of previous construction programs for the Boulder Dam, Bonneville Dam, or Grand Coulee Dam projects. Others were men who were in desperate situations and great need for money.  Forty-five Chamorro men (native Micronesians from the Mariana Islands and Guam) were employed by Pan American Airways at the company's facilities on Wake Island, one of the stops on the Pan Am Clipper trans-Pacific amphibious air service initiated in 1935.
The Marines were armed with six 5-inch (127 mm)/51 cal pieces, originating from the old battleship USS Texas twelve 3 in (76 mm)/50 cal anti-aircraft guns (with only a single working anti-aircraft director among them) eighteen .50 in (12.7 mm) Browning heavy machine guns and thirty .30 in (7.62 mm) heavy, medium and light water- and air-cooled machine guns.
On 28 November, naval aviator Commander Winfield S. Cunningham, USN reported to Wake to assume overall command of U.S. forces on the island. He had 10 days to examine the defenses and assess his men before war broke out.
On 6 December, Japanese Submarine Division 27 (Ro-65, Ro-66, Ro-67) was dispatched from Kwajalein Atoll to patrol and blockade the pending operation.
December 7 was a clear and bright day on Wake Island. Just the previous day, Major Devereux did a practice drill for his Marines, which happened to be the first one done because of the great need to focus on the island's defenses. The drill went well enough that Major Devereux commanded the men to rest on the Sabbath and take their time relaxing, doing laundry, writing letters, thinking, cleaning, or doing whatever they wished. 
On 8 December, just hours after receiving word of the attack on Pearl Harbor (Wake being on the opposite side of the International Date Line), 36 Japanese Mitsubishi G3M3 medium bombers flown from bases on the Marshall Islands attacked Wake Island, destroying eight of the 12 F4F-3 Wildcats on the ground  and sinking the Nisqually, a former Design 1023 cargo ship converted into a scow.  The remaining four Wildcats were in the air patrolling, but because of poor visibility, failed to see the attacking Japanese bombers. These Wildcats shot down two bombers on the following day.  All of the Marine garrison's defensive emplacements were left intact by the raid, which primarily targeted the aircraft. Of the 55 Marine aviation personnel, 23 were killed and 11 were wounded.
Following this attack, the Pan Am employees were evacuated, along with the passengers of the Philippine Clipper, a passing Martin 130 amphibious flying boat that had survived the attack unscathed. The Chamorro working men were not allowed to board the plane and were left behind. 
Two more air raids followed. The main camp was targeted on 9 December, destroying the civilian hospital and the Pan Am air facility. The next day, enemy bombers focused on outlying Wilkes Island. Following the raid on 9 December, the four antiaircraft guns had been relocated in case the Japanese had photographed the positions. Wooden replicas were erected in their place, and the Japanese bombers attacked the decoy positions. A lucky strike on a civilian dynamite supply set off a chain reaction and destroyed the munitions for the guns on Wilkes. 
Early on the morning of 11 December, the garrison, with the support of the four remaining Wildcats, repelled the first Japanese landing attempt by the South Seas Force, which included the light cruisers Yubari, Tenryū, and Tatsuta the destroyers Yayoi, Mutsuki, Kisaragi, Hayate, Oite, and Asanagi submarine tender Jingei, two armed merchantmen (Kinryu Maru and Kongō Maru), and two Momi-class destroyers converted to patrol boats that were reconfigured in 1941 to launch a landing craft over a stern ramp (Patrol Boat No. 32 and Patrol Boat No. 33) containing 450 Special Naval Landing Force troops. Submarines Ro-65, Ro-66, and Ro-67 patrolled nearby to secure the perimeter.
The US Marines fired at the invasion fleet with their six 5-inch (127 mm) coast-defense guns. Major Devereux, the Marine commander under Cunningham, ordered the gunners to hold their fire until the enemy moved within range of the coastal defenses. "Battery L", on Peale islet, sank Hayate at a distance of 4,000 yd (3,700 m) with at least two direct hits to her magazines, causing her to explode and sink within two minutes, in full view of the defenders on shore. Battery A claimed to have hit Yubari several times, but her action report makes no mention of any damage.  The four Wildcats also succeeded in sinking the destroyer Kisaragi by dropping a bomb on her stern where the depth charges were stored, although some also suggest the bomb hitting elsewhere and an explosion amidships. [ citation needed ] Two destroyers were thus lost with nearly all hands (there was only one survivor, from Hayate), with Hayate becoming the first Japanese surface warship to be sunk in the war. The Japanese recorded 407 casualties during the first attempt.  The Japanese force withdrew without landing, suffering their first setback of the war against the Americans.
After the initial raid was fought off, American news media reported that, when queried about reinforcement and resupply, Commander Cunningham was reported to have quipped, "Send us more Japs!" In fact, Cunningham sent a long list of critical equipment—including gunsights, spare parts, and fire-control radar—to his immediate superior: Commandant, 14th Naval District.  But the siege and frequent Japanese air attacks on the Wake garrison continued, without resupply for the Americans.
Aborted USN relief attempt Edit
Admiral Frank Fletcher's Task Force 14 (TF–14) was tasked with the relief of Wake Island while Admiral Wilson Brown's Task Force 11 (TF–11) was to undertake a raid on the island of Jaluit in the Marshall Islands as a diversion. 
TF–14 consisted of the fleet carrier Saratoga, the fleet oiler Neches, the seaplane tender Tangier, three heavy cruisers (Astoria, Minneapolis, and San Francisco), and 8 destroyers (Selfridge, Mugford, Jarvis, Patterson, Ralph Talbot, Henley, Blue, and Helm).  The convoy carried the 4th Marine Defense Battalion (Battery F, with four 3-inch AA guns, and Battery B, with two 5-inch/51 guns) and fighter squadron VMF-221, equipped with Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo fighters, along with three complete sets of Fire Control equipment for the 3-inch AA batteries already on the island, plus tools and spares spare parts for the 5-inch coast defense guns and replacement fire control gear 9,000 5-inch rounds, 12,000 3-inch (76 mm) rounds, and 3,000,000 .50-inch (12.7 mm) rounds machine gun teams and service and support elements of the 4th Defense Battalion VMF-221 Detachment (the planes were embarked on Saratoga) as well as an SCR-270 air search radar and an SCR-268 fire control radar for the 3-inch guns, and a large amount of ammunition for mortars and other battalion small arms.
On this day in aviation history, November 6, 1945, just a few months after the end of the war, the US Navy achieved the first landing on an aircraft carrier by a jet-powered aircraft when a Ryan FR-1 Fireball landed on the deck of the USS Wake Island (CVE-65), a Casablanca Class ship. Ensign Jake C. West, USN, was at the controls of the aircraft as part of the US Navy’s first jet combat squadron, VF-41, a unit that had trained in 1945 for deployment against the Japanese. The war ended before the first American Navy jet fighter could enter the conflict. Thus, the FR-1 squadron continued testing in the post-war peacetime force as the Navy’s leading experimental fighter unit. The goal of the squadron was to carrier qualify and test jet aircraft for shipboard operations. Thus, when Ens. West entered the pattern to land on the USS Wake Island, one would have expected that his landing had been a planned and carefully considered test — it was not. In fact, the first jet landing on an aircraft carrier was the result of an in-flight emergency.
FR-1 trials aboard USS Ranger, May 1945.
The Ryan FR-1 Fireball
The Ryan FR-1 was a fascinating aircraft, the result of an engineering solution to the challenges of early jets, which lacked reliability and range. The FR-1 was nearly unique in that it was a twin-engine aircraft — at the front was a reciprocating engine with a traditional propeller in the fuselage was a GE jet engine. The solution was creative — jet engines had excellent performance and speed, yet burned fuel quickly and had serious reliability problems. Further, jets were efficient at high altitudes and not down low, whereas propeller-driven aircraft were exactly the opposite. The solution was to launch with both engines, shut down the jet for low altitude performance, endurance and climb, but then start up the jet engine at high altitude where it was most efficient. Once entering into a dogfight, it was envisioned that the pilot would run both engines, giving unprecedented speed and acceleration, even if at a high cost in terms of fuel consumption.
The Ryan FR-1, however, suffered serious problems that went even beyond the difficulties and reliabilities of early jets. The landing gear were under-built and prone to failure. The wing structure was too highly engineered and suffered from cracking and structure failures. Whereas Ryan had excellent skills in developing Air Force aircraft, Naval carrier operations were not its strong suit — the best fighter planes of World War II in the Navy were built by Grumman, which had the in-house knowledge to produce a solid, well-constructed and highly maneuverable fighter plane for Naval use.
FR-1 Fireball of fighter squadron VF-66 at Naval Air Station North Island, California (USA), in 1945.
The Naval pilots too had a tendency, apparently based on their training, to land on the main gear to catch a wire. This worked perfectly with tail draggers, but the FR-1 was a tricycle gear aircraft with a nose wheel. When the pilots landed on the mains and caught a wire, the nose wheel would slam to the deck abruptly. Sadly, the aircraft suffered serious failures as a result, including nose wheel collapses — in one case, the plane broke into two parts, with the tail falling off onto the deck and the front skidding to a stop. Luckily, nobody was killed.
The First Jet Landing
Until November 6, 1945, all of the carrier landings had been made with the piston-engine running, not the jet. This made sense given that the jet was used for high altitude operations only. In the first months of landings, nearly half the planes had suffered major mishaps. By late summer, the Navy had shown the planes at major events, including in Washington, DC, highlighting the design features while studiously avoiding discussion of the flaws. Chief among the problems encountered was the reliability of the GE jet engine — this was common in all early jets, however, since the technology was so new.
Thus, when Ens. Jake C. West, USN, of VF-41 entered the pattern in his FR-1 Fireball, he intended to make a routine landing on board the USS Wake Island (CVE-65). As was standard protocol, the jet engine was shut down an he was operating the aircraft using power only from the reciprocating engine and propeller. It was, for all intents and purposes, a straight forward approach. Yet it wasn’t the jet engine that failed — it was turned off anyway — but rather the front reciprocating engine. Suddenly faced with a situation of a windmilling prop, Ens. West quickly feathered it to stop its rotation and reduce drag. Simultaneously, he was faced with a stark choice — ditching the plane in the water, bailing out, or trying to start the jet engine. He elected or the latter and commenced the 30 second long air start procedure as his plane descended toward the water.
A Ryan FR-1 Fireball in testing over Pax River, its front prop feathered during jet tests.
The jet engine responded perfectly with a successful air start. Pulling up to altitude, he declared an emergency and shot his approach, jockeying the power to manage his descent rate. With early jets, throttle response was incredibly slow, so he had to plan ahead for the delays in adding or taking off power. Nonetheless, despite his youth (he was still an ensign, after all), he established a relatively smooth approach line early on. This allowed him to smoothly descend toward the deck. He called the ball, did his line up check and shot a textbook perfect approach. Meanwhile, the carrier crew set up a barrier net to catch the plane since it was an emergency approach. As it was, Ens. West caught the last wire and would have made a perfect arrested stop except that the plane hit the barrier anyway.
A Ryan FR-1 Fireball in testing.
The Ryan FR-1 Fireball was a dead end for Naval aviation. With so many structural flaws, after some time it was removed from operational use. Eventually, all of the planes were scrapped. The Navy would never again acquire a mixed power (jet and prop) carrier fighter plane, despite its obvious advantages. Instead, they would turn to Grumman, which would produce the F9F Pantherjet, the US Navy’s first truly successful carrier borne jet fighter.
Today’s Aviation Trivia Question
What was the first PLANNED jet landing on an aircraft carrier, by what aircraft and on what date?
The table below contains the names of sailors who served aboard the USS Wake Island (CVE 65). Please keep in mind that this list does only include records of people who submitted their information for publication on this website. If you also served aboard and you remember one of the people below you can click on the name to send an email to the respective sailor. Would you like to have such a crew list on your website?
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There are 45 crew members registered for the USS Wake Island (CVE 65).
Select the period (starting by the reporting year): precomm &ndash 1944 | 1945 &ndash now
|Tenney, Max||1945 &ndash||I am actually the grandson of Max C Tenney and thought I would add his name to this list. Max C. Tenney Dec'd June 8, 2001|
|Conrad, Edward (Ed)||EM/3C||Sep 1946 &ndash Jan 1946||E||Came aboard from TADCEN Camp Elliot, San Diego with classmates from EM School, Bainbridgen, MD|
Select the period (starting by the reporting year): precomm &ndash 1944 | 1945 &ndash now
CVE-65 U.S.S. Wake Island - History
History of the U.S.S. CHAFFEE (DE 230)
Original copy from CMDR. A.C. Jones USNR given to Robert H. Christ SM 2/c to be distributed to all shipmates and any other interested parties.
Exactly one year after the presumptive date of Ensign David E. Chaffee's death as a result of enemy action in the Coral Sea, the destroyer escort, U.S.S. CHAFFEE (DE 230), was commissioned at the Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina. Commissioning ceremonies were held 9 May 1944 with Captain Guy E. Baker USN, placing the ship in commission and Lieutenant Commander A. C. Jones, DE?V(G), USNR, assuming command.
After joining the United States Navy's anti-submarine fleet, the U.S.S Chaffee along with the U.S.S. HODGES (DE 231), U.S.S. RUDDEROW (DE 224), U.S.S. DAY (DE 225), U.S.S. HOLT (DE 706), U.S.S. JOBB (DE 707) were to comprise Escort Division 74 with Commander Charles F. Hooper, USNR as escort commander. Extensive preparations were made in Charleston from 9 May to 31 May to ready the ship and her crew for a shakedown cruise to Bermuda. During this period the Chaffee underwent a series of pre?shakedown trails to test her structural and mechanical fitness for sea, including careful compensations and calibrations of her compasses and sensitive detection gear, an introduction to the mysteries of deparming and degaussing, full power runs at sea, and last, but by no means the least, the test firing of her main anti?aircraft batteries. At the end of this three week period the Chaffee, fully provisioned and carrying wartime ammunition in her magazines, was ready for sea.
The USS Chaffee set her first war cruising watch 31 May as she cleared the anti?submarine nets at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor and headed due east for the island of Bermuda. As the Chaffee headed out of the harbor and was going under the bridge all of the personnel on the deck watched a photographer hanging from a boatswain chair taking pictures of the ship as she headed out to sea. Favored with good weather and calm seas the Chaffee made an uneventful crossing, entering Great Sound, Bermuda on 2 June 1944. The shakedown training schedule included, anti?submarine exercise, torpedo problems, day and night firing both ashore and afloat, and the indoctrination of ship's company to the various organizational functions and problems of each department aboard ship. As happened with many ship's firing at a plane pulling a sleeve the Chaffee was no different as one of our gunners took heart and found the range of the plane was more to his liking than the sleeve. The message that came from the plane, over the radio as he dropped the sleeve and hit the throttle is still unprintable today. Formal closing of the shakedown program was highlighted by a material and personnel inspection conducted by Captain D.L. Madeira, USN, 29 June 1944.
Prior to leaving Bermuda we had to pick up a German torpedo and it was lashed down on the deck for delivery to the states. Taking her departure from Bermuda 29 June the Chaffee assumed the first of her many escort duties by screening the USS COWANESQUE (AO 79) bound for Norfolk, Virginia. After plowing through dirty weather and rough seas off Cape Hatteras the Chaffee arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on 1 July where she was detached from the USS COWANESQUE. The Chaffee proceeded independently to the USS NAVY Mine Warfare Training Station at the Solomons, Maryland where she delivered one of her most unusual cargoes - a captured German acoustic torpedo. During this trip up the bay the captain let one of the ship's crew come to the bridge so that he could see his home as we passed an island in the bay. Her mission completed the Chaffee departed for Charleston, South Carolina, arriving at the southern port on the morning of 5 July. Upon arrival the Chaffee embarked on a post?shakedown program of repairs and calibrations which kept her busily engaged until 14 July.
The 15th of July found the Chaffee enroute to New London, Connecticut in accordance with operation orders of COTOLANT. Arriving at New London on the early evening 17 July, the Chaffee learned she was to supplement a submarine training program under operational plans of ComSubLant. The Chaffee's new assignment was to act as a target ship for submarines conducting undersea calibrations involving torpedo problems, in other words we were to be a target ship. The program, already underway, was to furnish firing practice for new submarine crews and to provide refresher training for veteran combat crews stationed at New London. The exercises furnished the Chaffee's anti?submarine and combat information attack teams with valuable information and data on the underseas warfare.
On the afternoon 28 July, an incident occurred which may have reached disastrous proportions if the Chaffee had not quickly rendered her assistance. The USS SC 642, operating as a screen for several submarines engaged in making firing runs on the Chaffee, rammed the submerged periscope of the USS MARLIN (SS 202). The SC 642 suffered severe underwater damage to her hull from the collision, and was signaling frantically for assistance. The Chaffee, after ascertaining the USS Marlin's ability to surface, proceeded at full speed to assist the stricken SC 642. Coming abeam of the disabled SC the Chaffee made fast to the starboard side and quickly put four submersible pumps and two handy billies to work, checking the SC's grave loss of freeboard. In this manner the crippled vessel was towed into port by the Chaffee and maneuvered alongside State Pier, New London for repairs.
Completing her New London assignment the Chaffee was detached by ComSubLant 31 July, and ordered to proceed independently for Hampton Roads, Virginia. Upon arrival at Norfolk the Chaffee took part in a series of anti-submarine exercises which lasted throughout August. The Chaffee was assigned to a berth at the newly?constructed Convoy Escort Piers near N.O.B. Norfolk. At her new berth the Chaffee learned she was to serve as a training ship for pre-commisioning DE crews, operating under under orders of CotLant. During the month of August and the early part of September, the Chaffee contributed invaluable training to the visiting officers and enlisted personnel scheduled for DE service in the United States Navy. The Chaffee operated with the starboard or port watch on each day as the other side had liberty. It was during one of these days as the training crew was leaving the ship that we received orders to proceed at full speed in the company of two destroyers to act as a screen for the USS MISSOURI (BB 63). The destroyers were going at a speed they had no trouble with as we shaked, rattled and rolled to keep up with them. The Missouri engaged in fueling exercises which lasted two days and then everyone headed, at top speed for Norfolk, needless to say they all left us in a cloud and we were the last to enter port. As we docked the other half of the crew were waiting to board, and after three days in whites they were not so white and the first time some of them had beards. The next day the Chaffee started with new crews in the training program. Instructions programs, headed by members of ship's company, were quickly organized aboard the Chaffee to assist the quest officers and their crews in obtaining firsthand knowledge of the practical problems encountered aboard a warship. Drills and instructions underway added materially to their understanding of the various procedures necessary for the safe and competent operations of a vessel and it's intricate mechanical functions in time of war. On 29 August the Chaffee took temporary leave of her school ship assignment to act, in company with the USS HOLT (DE 706) as an escort for the USS WAKE ISLAND (CVE 65) bound for Narragansett Bay. Upon being detached by the Wake Island at the entrance of the swept channel to Narragansett Bay, the Chaffee and Holt rendezvoused with the USS MISSION BAY (CVE 59) escorting her on the return run to Norfolk, whereupon they were detached. The Chaffee returned to Convoy Escort Piers and resumed her school ship schedule. On the morning 15 September 1944, warnings of an approaching hurricane disrupted the Chaffee's training routine and forced her to put to sea. Lashed by one of the East Coast's gales, the Chaffee headed north skirting the edge of the storm to take refuge in a sheltered area near the mouth of the Rappahannock River until the storm blew itself out. On the way to this area it was one of the few time you could look up and see the waves breaking over the top funnel of the ship. No personnel casualties nor material damage were suffered during the hurricane, and the Chaffee returned to port 15 September.
Closing her school ship duties 18 September, the Chaffee was granted a stay of availability at Boston in the Navy Yard Annex, to which point she departed, in company with the USS Day (DE 225), on 19 September. The Chaffee's brief stay of upkeep availability ended in Boston 26 September, and she was ordered by ComFastSeaFron to proceed to New York. Passage through the picturesque Cape Cod Canal and the skyscraper-edged East River highlighted the inland voyage of the Chaffee to New York City. Early on the afternoon 27 September the Chaffee moored at Pier 8, Thompkinville, New York. At midnight 28 September the Chaffee threaded her way through New York's ship?congested harbor to join a M/V convoy bound for Hampton Roads, Virginia. The sixteen ship convoy was escorted by the USS Chaffee and the USS DAY (DE 225) to Norfolk without incident, arriving at that port 30 September. On the following day, 1 October 1944, the Chaffee in company with the ships of CordDiv74 departed from Norfolk as part of a screen for a great M/V convoy headed for Mediterranean ports. CortDiv74's screening duties were abruptly terminated on the next day when CinCLant detached the entire division and ordered it to proceed to New York for availability in preparation for an assignment to "distant shores". The division proceeded to New York at full speed, berthing at the US Naval Supply Depot, Bayonne, New Jersey 3 October. The Chaffee remained in New York waters until 14 October. Early evening 14 October found the Chaffee and the ships of CortDiv74 enroute to the Canal Zone as the screen for two AKAs and one AO. The Chaffee's first extended voyage was a pleasant one abetted by flawless weather. On 21 October the Chaffee arrived at the Atlantic approach to the Panama Canal berthing at the port of Christobal. Supplies were taken on board and the crew availed themselves of the stay to explore the historic city at the crossroads of the world. Passage through the great Canal 23 October proved to be a source of mechanical and scenic wonder for those aboard the destroyer escort. At Balboa the Chaffee moored at Pier 1, N.O.B. where she continued her preparations and minor repairs for an extended period at sea. The USS Chaffee's tour of Pacific duty began on 25 October when she rendezvoused with ships of CortDiv74 in the gulf of Panama preparatory to getting underway for their first fueling stopover - the lonely rocks of the Pacific, Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Group was reached 28 October where the ships of CortDiv74 refueled. Within a matter of hours the Chaffee was underway for the second stopover of her interesting Pacific itinerary, the island of Borabora in the lovely Societies. Refueling was completed in Fanui Bay, Borabora 7 November 1944, and the Chaffee headed west on the long, final leg of her voyage to Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea. The monotony of the long three week cruise was broken by gunnery exercises and the practice of various steaming formations by the ships of CortDiv74. During this period of time we had some contacts that sonar thought were submarines but these turned out to either be false reading as nothing developed. After a long night at the sonar station, the following morning at breakfast one of the sonar men said he had enough and was going home. Since he did have a habit of kidding, no one paid him much attention, topside after breakfast he took off his clothes and to everyone's surprise he jumped overboard and started to swim home. After a while the sailor was brought back on board, put in sickbay where he stayed for a few days. When he finally came out of it he wanted to know what he was doing in sickbay and he never remembered anything that happened. On 21 November the division of destroyer escorts filed into the great ship?filled natural harbor formed by the waters of Humbolt Bay. Here in the Southwest Pacific's great rearguard supply base, Hollandia, the Chaffee served in various capacities until 10 December 1944. Flotillas of LST's undergoing specialized training preparatory to the opening of new Philippine beachheads, were screened by the Chaffee off the shores of New Guinea. Time was found for extensive anti?craft gunnery practice and the preparation of torpedo attack maneuvers by the crew of the Chaffee during the stay at Humbolt Bay. On 10 December the Chaffee was ordered to proceed to Aitape, Dutch New Guinea where she was to assume an A/S and radar warning patrol at the harbor entrance. The patrol was maintained daily during the hours of darkness until 16 December when the Chaffee was relieved of her patrol duties and ordered to Hollandia. On the following day the Chaffee received orders for which the crew had long-awaited - a convoy run into enemy-visited waters. Sheparding her charges into orderly formation the Chaffee assumed her escort duties over a convoy consisting of seven LSMs bound for San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands. The convoy experienced no trouble during the trip to Leyte, despite the fact that it was within easy range of land based enemy aircraft on the island of Mindanao. The Chaffee was detached from LSM Group 19 in San Pedro Bay on 22 December. Within a few hours the Chaffee departed from Leyte as part of a screen for a M/V convoy enroute south to Hollandia. An air alert was in progress at Leyte as the convoy steamed from the bay, but the air attack failed to materialize. Two days out of Leyte, the Chaffee was detached from the convoy and ordered independently for Hollandia. An interesting sidelight of the return run to Humbolt Bay was the destruction of two drifting Japanese mines by rifle fire. The beginning of the New Year found the Chaffee at anchor at Humbolt Bay, New Guinea. The lull in the Chaffee's activities ended abruptly on the morning 8 January 1945. Signs of the intensification of the war against Japan were confirmed by the formation of heavily laden convoys in the waters off New Guinea. Prior to sailing supplies had to be loaded. The Chaffee was to join one of these great convoys, Assault and Resupply Echelon G?6 of the San Fabrin Attack Force in support of scheduled landings in Lingayen Gulf, that the Chaffee put to sea. Little did the crew realize what was in store for them. Two days out of Hollandia the Chaffee was temporarily detached from her screening duties with the San Fabian Attack Force and ordered by OTC to proceed at full speed for Mios Woendi to debark two hospital cases. Successfully transferring the patients the Chaffee rejoined the convoy on January 11. On the morning 15 January the Chaffee left her screening station to destroy an enemy mine with rifle fire. No further incidents occurred on the first leg of the run which ended in San Pedro Bay, Leyte on 15 January. Echelon G?6 was modified at Leyte by addition of fourteen ships, and the morning of 16 January the convoy reformed for the dangerous run to Luzon via Suriago Straits and the South China Sea. On the night 18 January in the Mindanao sea a bogie passed over the blacked?out convoy but did not make an attack. A condition of alertness, Condition I Easy, supplemented by dawn and dusk, general quarters was maintained throughout the final stages of the convoy run. Numerous unidentified aircraft were reported at many points along the convoy track, but the convoy arrived unmolested at Lingayen Gulf 21 January S Day plus 12. After being detached from Echelon G-6, the Chaffee was assigned to an A/S barrier patrol between Cape Verde and Point Lulu in Lingayen Gulf.
On the night 23 January, while the Chaffee was conducting her patrol, the harbor was alerted for a possible air-raid. At 2013, two unidentified aircraft were reported closing the anchorage area by the radar control unit. Carrying prearranged instructions the Chaffee closed the anchorage area to take advantage of the smoke screen being laid in the ship filled harbor. The enemy raid materialized and one of the enemy aircraft was seen plunging into the water north of the Chaffee. The second plane was tracked away from the harbor by the radar control unit and after it had disappeared at long range the "all clear" was sounded. During the early part of the raid, the Chaffee had three bogies on her radar screen at one time, although a third plane was not reported by any other ship. Since the all clear came over the loud speakers some of the areas started to secure from battlestations. The captain knew of the third bogie and ordered all hands to stay at battlestations. At this time the moon came out and the Chaffee was between the moon and the enemy aircraft. Radar suddenly picked up the bogie, on the starboard beam, range four miles, closing. The captain had ordered a slow turn to the right at this time, and immediately put over full rudder to head for the target. The few seconds warning from radar gave the ship enough time to turn, which probably saved the ship. The turn interrupted the firing run of a Japanese "Betty", and forced the plane to alter course, when the Betty was again in firing position she dropped her torpedo which struck the starboard bow, passing completely through the ship without exploding. The Jap, in adjusting his firing position, had arrived at a point so close to the Chaffee that the torpedo did not have a chance to arm. The dropping of the torpedo was so close to the ship that water came over the bridge when it hit the water. The forward five inch gun was not allowed to fire on the target since the path of its shell would have caused it to land in the harbor among the anchored ships. Despite the limited visibility and the suddenness of the attack, two 20mm guns and the forward 40mm were brought to bear on the 240 knot target. Wing hits were observed, but the plane was not sufficiently damaged to impede its flight. The port 20mm and the after 40mm had the best shots and hits were seen but again not enough to damage its flight to its base, presumably on the island of Formosa. The Chaffee stayed out on patrol and the next morning we could see all of the heavy weather jackets floating out of the hole. All during the night she was a bit heavy in the bow and hard to keep on course with the amount of water she had taken. The next morning the damages could be assessed and we found that she was three feet low in the bow. The commander of the force in the harbor came out to see what was going on as this was an unusual incident. After everyone had a look at the damage we anchored in the bay to make temporary repairs. Out of the bad some good always comes, from where you least expect it. The next day we sent two officers over to the battleship USS Pennsylvania for spare parts and they were greeted like royalty. Not knowing what was going on made them ask some questions and they found out, the personnel on board thought that the Chaffee on purpose, got between them and the Jap Betty and took the torpedo so that they would not be hit. Needless to say the officers did not open up and they ended up with all the parts and ice cream they could carry. Ice cream to us was important as we were the only ship in the division that had to crank it by hand and we very seldom had any. Repairs of a temporary nature were started on the damaged compartment by the repair crew of the USS CABLE (ARS 19) in Lingayen Gulf and were completed 2 February 1945. The anchorage area was subjected to several attacking raids by enemy aircraft during the Chaffee's stay in Lingayen Gulf but none of these occasions was the Chaffee a target for the enemy. The Chaffee returned to her A/S barrier patrol duties until relieved 8 February to take part in the screen of a M/V convoy bound for Leyte. Upon arrival in Leyte the Chaffee requested and was granted drydock availability to effect permanent repairs to her hull caused by the freakish incident in Lingayen Gulf. The next morning the officers were looking for the boat and could not understand how it had broken away. At the termination of drydock repairs the Chaffee was extended further availability alongside the USS MEDUSA (AR 1) until 25 February. The month of March brought a series of unsung landing operations by the Navy and Army in the Philippines. In bypassing Mindanao several behind?the?scenes campaigns opened a concentrated mopping?up drive by the combined forces of the Army and Navy. In this theater of the Philippine campaign the Chaffee centered most of her activities during the months of March, April, May and June. Beginning 10 March the Chaffee escorted a slow?tow convoy to Zamboanga acting as the OTC. Arriving in Zamboanga on the 14th of March, the Chaffee detached her convoy and assumed an A/S barrier patrol at the entrance to Basilan Straights. On 16 March the Chaffee escorted a group of landing craft across the Sulu Sea to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, arriving in Hondo Bay 17 March. Units of the 41st Division, US Army, were embarked on landing craft to support the Zamboanga operations on Minima. These units were safely escorted to Zamboanga beachhead 19 March. Early evening 20 March found the Chaffee enroute to Leyte as a screen for another landing craft convoy, arriving in San Pedro Bay two days later. Upkeep repairs occupied the Chaffee until 28 March when she formed part of a screen for a M/V convoy headed for Zamboanga. An enemy aircraft, tentatively identified as Japanese "Nick", enlivened the return trip, but disappeared without making an attack on the convoy which proceeded without further incident to Zamboanga. Upon arrival at Zamboanga the Chaffee assumed a dusk to dawn A/S patrol at the eastern entrance to Basilan Straights. On 5 April the Chaffee was detached from patrol duty and escorted an AOG to Puerto Princesa, arriving in Hondo Bay 6 April. Proceeding independently the Chaffee returned to Leyte 10 April, and spent a few days in upkeep and repair work. On April 19, the Chaffee began her most gruelling job of escort duties. Acting as OTC for a slow-tow convoy the Chaffee arrived at Parang, Mindanao on F-Day plus11 and was assigned A/S patrol duties. On 24 April found the Chaffee back at Zamboanga to escort more ships into Parang. Back at Parang 26 April, the Chaffee resumed patrol duties until 29 April when she departed for Morotai, Dutch East Indies as escort for a group of LSTs. Alert lookout and radar operations spotted three drifting mines during this trip, and all were destroyed by gunfire. After being detached at Morotai on 2 May, the Chaffee returned to Polloc Harbor. Pursuant to orders of ComPhibGroup8, the Chaffee departed from Parang to join a resupply echelon which was scheduled to make the first water-borne landing in Davac Gulf on 9 May. Upon arrival at Taloma Bay in Davao Gulf the Chaffee screened the unloading operations at the newly established beachhead, while fire?support was furnished by a nearby destroyer. At the completion of the unloading operations the Chaffee proceeded as part of a screen for the landing craft to a rendezvous point in Moro Gulf where the Chaffee was detached to join a convoy headed for Morotai, arriving at that port 11 May. Sailing independently, the Chaffee reported again to Zamboanga, where she escorted more shipping into Parang. Leaving Parang on 15 May, the Chaffee made a round trip to Puerto Princesa, arriving back on the 19th. Leaving immediately, the Chaffee then escorted two round trips to Davao, returning from the second trip 29 May. From Parang the next round trip was Macajalar Bay, Mindanao and after arriving there the second time 11 June, the Chaffee proceeding to San Pedro Bay for much needed rest and repairs. During the period above, from 13 April to 11 June, the Chaffee had been underway almost continually, escorting some 20 small convoys, and had become well acquainted with the southern Philippine ports.
On 17 June, the Chaffee departed from Leyte and proceeded independently for Mortai in accordance with orders of CTG 76.6, arriving in that port 19 June. The harbor at Mortai indicated large scale preparations for new landings in the Dutch East Indies. On 23 June, the Chaffee screened a full?dress invasion rehearsal which was under the command of Rear Admiral A. G. Noble. USN. The Chaffee in addition to her screening duties, left the large convoy early to be the first ship into the landing area and act as guide for the landing forces in the early morning rehearsal. On 28 June, the Chaffee departed from Mortai as part of the screen for reinforcement elements bound for Balikoapan, Borneo in the Netherland Indies. These supporting elements were to reinforce the initial landings 1 July, 1945. This large task organization reached its destination on the 3rd of July, F-Day Plus 2. Enemy aircraft were reported in Macassar Straights on two occasions, but the convoy proceeded to disembark its troops without incident. The Chaffee assumed a patrol station on the seaward side of the transport area. On 10 July, the Chaffee returned to Morotai where she reported to ComPhilSeaFron for duty via dispatch. The Chaffee returned to Leyte on 17 July where she replenished her fuel and supplies before departing for Casiguran Bay, Luzon, where she escorted a one ship convoy back to Leyte. On 30 July, the Chaffee was ordered to proceed independently for Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, arriving there on the morning 3 August, 1945. From Hollandia the Chaffee escorted two troop laden transports back to Leyte, detaching one of the APs at that port. The remaining AP the Chaffee escorted to Manila, arriving on 10 August. The Chaffee's return to Leyte was highlighted by the collapse of the Japanese war machine and the cease of hostilities throughout the world. In accordance with orders of ComPhilSeaFron, the Chaffee departed for Subic Bay on 22 August. At Subic Bay the Chaffee joined four other ships of the division to work with the submarine base there. After two weeks of patrol outside the harbor, plus escorting several submarines and a captured Japanese lugger, the Chaffee left Subic Bay for San Frenando, Luzon arriving on 10 September. From San Fernando, the Chaffee escorted a troopship, the AP 147, to Hagughi on the west coast of Okinawa. Returning from Okinawa, the Chaffee escorted an AK and AO to Leyte, arriving on 18 September. During the second part of September and all of October, the Chaffee spent most of the time at anchor, spending only one week at sea on patrol. On 22 October, Lt. Comdr. Ralph M. Thompson, Executive Officer, relieved Comdr. A. C. Jones as Commanding Officer. On 4 November, the Chaffee departed from Leyte to again join the division at Subic Bay. Early on the morning of the fifth, during a local thundershower with visibility zero, the Chaffee ran aground in San Bernardino Straights off Port Gubat, Luzon. After three days on the reef, the Chaffee was pulled clear and towed to Caluzs Roadstead where she went into drydock, ARD 20. The keel had been buckled throwing the main motor out of line in #1 Engine Room. During five weeks in drydock, the starboard propeller was removed entirely. The port tail shaft and screw replaced, and strengthening beams welded to the keel. On 19 December, the Chaffee went out on a trial run, which was satisfactory, having made good 18 knots on one screw. After anxiously waiting for news as to the ships disposition, with personnel getting dangerously low because of demobilization, the Chaffee put her bow to the east 10 January 1946 heading for Pearl Harbor, via Eniwetok, for further orders. Arriving in Pearl Harbor the Chaffee was moored for one week and the crew was given a long overdue liberty. The Chaffee then put to sea headed for San Francisco and arrived at that port 9 February 1946. The ship was going to be scraped due to her condition and all hands laid to removing her, gear. The second week in port it was decided to have a ships party, the first good one in almost two years. The ship was finally decommissioned 15 April, 1946 and the crew was transferred to Treasure Island for further orders. She was sold 29 June 1948.
A copy of this document was given to
Robert H. Christ SM 2/c, 7 June 1987 by Hugh Frith
From: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Volume II, 1963
Born in Hartland Township, Ohio, 5 May 1915, Davis Elliott Chaffee enlisted in the Navy 4 January 1941. He was appointed Ensign 6 September 1941, and naval aviator 1 October 1941. While serving with Bomber Squadron 5 based on Yorktown (CV-5), he was killed in action during the Battle of the Coral Sea 8 May 1942. He was posthumously awarded a Navy Cross for his courage in participating in an attack in which an enemy carrier was sunk.
(DE 230: dp 1,450 l. 306' b. 36'10" dr. 9'8" s. 24 k cpl. 186 a. 2 5", 3 21"tt, 8dcp., 1 dcp.(hh.), 2 dct. cl. Rudderow)
Chaffee (DE 230) was launched 27 November 1943 by Charleston Navy Yard sponsored by Mrs. L. C. Chaffee and commissioned 9 May 1944, Lieutenant Commander A. C. Jones, USNR, in command.
After operating on the east coast as a target ship in submarine training, and as a training ship for prospective escort vessel crews, Chaffee cleared Bayonne, N.J., 14 October 1944. She arrived Hollandia 21 November for operations in the New Guinea area screening LSTs, in gunnery and antitorpedo exercises, and on patrol at the entrance to Aitape.
Chaffee began her role in the liberation of the Philippines when she sailed from Hollandia 17 December 1944 to escort landing craft to Leyte. She cleared Hollandia again 8 January 1945 with reinforcements for the recently landed San Fabian Attack Force at Lingayen, where she arrived 21 January. Assigned to patrol in Lingayen Gulf, Chaffee underwent a unique experience 23 January, when a Japanese aerial torpedo passed through her bow without exploding, or causing any injuries to her crew. By 2 February, temporary repairs had been completed, and Chaffee returned to patrol duties. She continued to escort convoys in the Philippines, as well as conduct patrols, in support of the Mindanao operation until 29 April, when she cleared Parang for Morotai. She returned to the southern Philippines for escort duty 2 May. A week later, she guarded the landing of reinforcements at Davao.
Chaffee arrived at Morotai from the Philippines 19 June 1945 to train for the Borneo operation, and cleared 28 June to escort reinforcements which landed at Balikpapan 3 July. For the remainder of the war, Chaffee escorted convoys between Morotai and Hollandia and the Philippines. She aided in the establishment of the base in Subic Bay, conducted local patrols and escort missions, and escorted a troop ship to Okinawa in September, then returned to Philippine operation until 10 January 1946, when she cleared Subic Bay for home. She arrived at San Francisco 5 February, where she was decommissioned 15 April 1946. She was sold 29 June 1948.
Chaffee received two battle stars for World War II service.
I received the following information about what happened to our ship after decommissing. Wonder if you could add to the end of the ship's history.
Thank you Bob Christ
Thanks for your query concerning the former USS CHAFFEE (DE-230).
Yes, the CHAFFEE was transferred to the California Maritime Academy, as were some of its sister ships transferred to other maritime academies across the country right after the end of World War II.
Unfortunately, the ship did not have the capabilities to carry an entire class of Merchant Marine midshipmen on a training cruise, nor was the vessel suitable for training officers for the commercial maritime industry. And also because of the wear and tear of a war-time environment, the hull would have only been used as a stationery platform.
Thus, after stripping some engineering equipment off the ship for use in training our students, the hulk was sold and towed away for scrap. The proceeds from the sale of the old Destroyer Escort were used to purchase and build a metal "Butler" building to house a machine shop (with some of the machinery from the ship).
This metal ("Butler") building is still in use at the Academy, now as the auto shop for the cadets.
I hope this helps provide the final page of history on USS CHAFFEE (DE-230).
Thanks for your query.
California Maritime Academy
200 Maritime Academy Drive
Vallejo CA 94590-8181
The US Navy had studied the escort carrier concept in-termittently as far back as 1917. However, antisubmarine warfare in the Atlantic and small aircraft carriers received little attention during the pre-WW II period. During the 1930's and the period leading up to WW II, the Navy's eyes were on the Pacific and Japan's expansionist policies in SE Asia. The need, as the Navy saw it, was for large, fast, long range attack carriers with great sea keeping ability there was no interest in and no plans for small escort class carriers. However, as a former Asst. Secretary of the Navy, President Roosevelt was no stranger to naval planning and in 1940 he was carefully watching, indeed actively assisting, the British Navy's war against the U-boats in the Atlantic.
USS Long Island - First of the CVEs
The first step toward creation of the escort class carriers occurred in October 1940, a year before the United States entered the war. President Roosevelt directed the Chief of Naval Operations to obtain a merchant ship for con-version to an aircraft carrier the purpose of such a ship being to carry aircraft for convoy escort duty and anti-submarine operations. In January 1941, in response to President Roosevelt's directive, the Navy presented a plan, subsequently adopted, in which the Maritime Commission would make available the C-3 diesel ships Mormacmail and the Mormacland for conversion. Mor-macmail was converted at a cost of $1,500,000 at the Newport News Shipyard and commissioned on 2 June 1941 as USS Long Island, the first of the CVEs.
Mormacland was similarly converted and delivered to the British Navy as HMS Archer in November 1941. Four additional carriers of this class were built and transferred to the British Navy. The specifications for this class carrier are shown below:
Long Island Class - 5 built - C-3 conversions
|Displacement ||14,055 tons full load|
|Dimensions||465' wl, 102' ext.beam, 436' flight deck Machinery Single screw, 8,500 shp diesel, 1 catapult, 1 elevator|
|Fuel Capacity||1,429 tons|
|Armament||1-5"51, 2-3"50, 20-20mm|
|Air Complement||21 Aircraft|
Long Island CVE-1 was used extensively for experimental purposes and the tests indicated the need for a second elevator, longer flight deck, and increased anti--aircraft armament.
USS Charger - one of a kind
One of the C-3 conversions was returned by the British to the US Navy in March 1942 after having gone through further modifications and was commissioned as USS Charger CVE-30. USS Charger was scheduled to provide air cover for Operation Torch, the Allied North African landings in late 1942, but was replaced in that role by USS Santee before Operation Torch took place. Charger was then used as a training ship throughout the remainder of the war.
Charger Class - 1 of class
|Displacement ||15,126 tons full load|
|Dimension||465' wl, 111' ext.beam, 436' flight deck Machinery Single screw, 8,500 shp diesel, 1 catapult, 1 elevator|
|Fuel Capacity||1,295 tons|
|Armament||1-5"51, 2-3"50, 10-20mm|
|Air Complement||21 Aircraft|
The Bogue-class Carriers
The design of the Bogue-class carriers, based on the C-3 merchant hull, drew heavily on the operational experience gained with the Long Island. Propulsion was changed from diesel engine to steam turbine which gave a small increase in speed. Fuel carrying capacity was doubled, the flight deck length increased and a second elevator provided. However, the sheer in the C-3 main deck was retained which gave plane handling problems on the hanger deck.
Bogue Class - 44 built, (33 transferred to British Navy)
|Displacement ||13,890 tons full load|
|Dimension||465' wl, 111' ext.beam, 442' flight deck Machinery Single screw, 8,500 shp steam turbine, |
2 catapults, 9 arresting wires, 3 barriers 2 elevators
|Fuel Capacity||3,420 tons|
|Armament||2-5"38, 20-40mm, 27-20mm|
|Air Complement||28 aircraft max., 20-23 usual complement|
The Sangamon-class Carriers
The 1942 carrier program authorized 24 escort class aircraft carriers. However only 20 C-3 class hulls were available. Four Cimmaron-class fleet oilers were also converted to make up the difference. Sangamon, first of the oiler conversions, and Santee were commissioned in August 1942, followed by Suwanee and Chenango in Sept 43. These ships, almost twice the size of the Bogue-class carriers, made nineteen knots with twin screws. Two squadrons of aircraft could be carried.
The completion of the four Sangamon-class carriers was rushed so these ships could participate in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa late in 1942 during which they provided air support. During this operation, aircraft from Santee attacked and damaged the French submarine Meduse which was later beached aircraft from Suwanee sank the submarine Sidi-Ferruch.
Upon completion of Operation Torch, Suwanee, Chenango, and Sangamon departed the Atlantic for Pacific duty. The Santee remained in the Atlantic until early 1944 when she too was re-assigned to Pacific duty.
The Sangamon-class ships were considered highly successful as aircraft carriers and had sufficient numbers of oiler hulls for conversion been available the Kaiser-carriers (Casablanca-class) might never have been built.
Sangamon-class - 4 built
|Displacement ||23,875 tons full load|
|Dimension||525' wl, 114' ext. beam, 503' flight deck Machinery Twin screw, 13,500 shp, steam turbines |
1 catapult (2 after 1944), 2 elevator
|Fuel Capacity||4,780 tons|
|Armament||2-5"38, 8-40mm quads, 14-40mm twin, 21-20mm|
|Air Complement||2 squadrons, 30 aircraft|
The Casablanca-class carriers
Henry Kaiser, west coast shipbuilder, originally pro-posed directly to BuShips a new class of escort carrier capable of 20 knots which by using assembly line pre-fabrication welding techniques could be mass produced. While generally referred to as a "Kaiser design", the design was actually by Gibbs & Cox Naval Architects. Admiral King, who was at this time in command of all U.S. naval forces, opposed Kaiser's plan and the building of this class of ship. Getting nowhere with the Navy, Kaiser took his plan directly to President Roosevelt. The President intervened and directed the Navy proceed with the Kaiser proposal. After discussions between the Maritime Commission and naval planners it was decided the Kaiser-design was unsatisfactory and to proceed with a similar ship based on a modification of the S4-S2-BB3 merchant hull. Fifty ships were ordered to be built by the Kaiser yards in Vancouver, WA on the Columbia River. As they came off the ways, the hulls were towed down river to the commissioning yard at Astoria, OR. USS Casablanca CVE-55, first of the class, was commissioned 8 July 1943. The building program was completed 8 July 1944. During this period, fifty of the Casablanca-class carriers were built at an average rate of almost one ship a week.
The Casablanca-class carriers were notorious for their hard rolling characteristics. They were considered unsuitable for North Atlantic operations and most of these carriers were assigned Pacific duty. Of the fifty carriers of this class built, only five were assigned Atlantic duty and of these five only one, Mission Bay, remained on anti-submarine duty to the end of the war.
Casablanca-class - 50 built
|Displacement ||10,900 tons full load|
|Dimension||490 wl, 108' ext. beam, 477' flight deck Machinery Twin screw, 9,000 shp, Skinner Uniflow reciprocating steam engines |
1 catapult, 2 elevators, 9 arresting wires, 3 barriers
|Fuel Capacity||2,279 tons|
|Speed||19- 20 knots|
|Armament||1-5"38, 4-40mm quads, 20-20mm|
|Air Complement||1 squadron, 21-23 aircraft|
The success of the Sangamon-class carriers resulted in the decision to build an improved version with increased AA armaments for use in the Pacific war. Begun late in the war, few of these ships saw action. Of 35 ships planned, only 19 were commissioned of the remainder, either the hulls were not completed or the building plans cancelled at the end of the war in August 1945. None of these ships served in the Atlantic. However, CVE-106, the second ship of this class, was commissioned as USS Block Island, named after USS Block Island CVE-21 sunk in the Atlantic by U-549 in May 1944.
Commencement Bay-class - 19 built
|Displacement ||24,275 tons full load|
|Dimension||525' wl, 105' ext. beam, 502' flight deck Machinery Twin screw, 16,000 shp, steam turbines 2 catapults, 2 elevators|
|Fuel Capacity||3,134 tons|
|Armament||2-5"38, 12-40mm quads, 24-40mm twin, 20-20 mm|
|Air Complement||2 squadrons, 34 aircraft|
The Atlantic CVEs
Eighty six CVE's were commissioned in the US Navy dur-ing the war. Eleven of these ships were assigned to the Atlantic in the role of submarine hunter:
Block Island CVE-21
Santee, already deployed in the Atlantic, was joined by the Bogue and her in-class sister ships. Bogue arrived in Norfolk, VA for Atlantic convoy escort and anti-submarine duty in Jan 1943 followed by Card one week later. Core arrived in June 1943, Croatan in August, and Block Island in October 1943. These were the first of the American CVEs to fight the U-boats. In the period, May through December, 1943 these carrier groups, working closely with Tenth Fleet support, sank 27 U-boats.
The Atlantic sub hunters were joined by the Casablanca class carriers just beginning to enter service in late 1943. Mission Bay and Guadalcanal arrived in Norfolk about one week apart in January 1944 followed by Tripoli, Wake Island, and Solomons over the next two month period.
While the American escort carriers are associated primarily with "Hunter-Killer" operations in which a carrier task group roamed the central Atlantic hunting down U-boats, most of these carriers initially served as in-convoy escorts or operated removed from but in direct support of the convoys. The "Hunter-Killer" role evolved later and it proved to be an operational tactic in which the escort carriers excelled.
The 11 American Atlantic escort carrier task groups sank a total of 53 U-boats and captured 1 in the two year period from May 1943 to the end of the war in Europe, May 1945. One carrier, Block Island, was sunk with the loss of six lives by U-549 which was then itself sunk during the ensuing battle with Block Island's escorts.
William T. Y'Blood
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis
The Little Giants
William T. Y'Blood
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis
The Tenth Fleet
Richardson & Steirman, New York
The Atlantic Campaign
Dan van der Vat
Harper & Row, New York
Wake Island được đặt lườn tại Xưởng tàu Vancouver của hãng Kaiser Company, Inc. ở Vancouver, Washington vào ngày 6 tháng 2 năm 1943. Nó được hạ thủy vào ngày 15 tháng 9 năm 1943 được đỡ đầu bởi bà Frederick Carl Sherman, phu nhân Chuẩn đô đốc Frederick Sherman và nhập biên chế vào ngày 7 tháng 11 năm 1943 dưới quyền chỉ huy của Hạm trưởng, Đại tá Hải quân Hames R. Tague.
Đại Tây Dương Sửa đổi
Sau khi nhập biên chế, Wake Island nhận tiếp liệu, đạn dược và xăng máy bay tại Astoria, Oregon trước khi lên đường vào ngày 27 tháng 11 năm 1943 để đi Puget Sound, Washington, và thả neo vào ngày hôm sau tại Bremerton, Washington, nơi nó tiếp tục nạp tiếp liệu và đạn dược. Nó hoạt động tại khu vực Puget Sound, tiến hành thử nghiệm cấu trúc khi tác xạ, ghé qua Port Townsend, Sinclair Inlet và Seattle trước khi lên đường quay về phía Nam vào ngày 6 tháng 12. Nó đi đến San Francisco, California vào ngày 10 tháng 12, được tiếp nhiên liệu, rồi lên đường đi San Diego hai ngày sau đó, đến nơi vào ngày 14 tháng 12, nơi nó chạy thử máy và bảo trì. Trước khi lên đường, nó đón lên tàu nhân sự và máy bay của Liên đội Hỗn hợp VC-69.
Đến ngày 11 tháng 1 năm 1944, Wake Island khởi hành, băng qua kênh đào Panama để đi Hampton Roads, Virginia, đi đến Norfolk, Virginia vào ngày 26 tháng 1. Sau khi được bảo trì, nó lên đường vào ngày 14 tháng 2 để đi New York cùng tàu sân bay hộ tống chị em Mission Bay và các tàu khu trục hộ tống Swenning và Haverfield.
Vào ngày 16 tháng 2, sau khi chất hàng tiếp liệu và nhận lên tàu sĩ quan lục quân và hải quân để vận chuyển, Wake Island lên đường đi Recife, Brazil, chặng đầu tiên của hành trình đi sang Karachi, Ấn Độ. Nó đi đến Recife vào ngày 1 tháng 3, rồi có các chặng dừng tại Cape Town, Nam Phi và cảng Diego Suarez, Madagascar, trước khi đi đến Karachi vào ngày 29 tháng 3. Nó bắt đầu hành trình quay trở về từ ngày 3 tháng 4, và về đến Norfolk vào ngày 12 tháng 5.
Wake Island trải qua thời gian còn lại của tháng 5 và đầu tháng 6 để đại tu và cải biến, trước khi đón lên tàu máy bay và nhân sự thuộc Liên đội Hỗn hợp 58, vào ngày 15 tháng 6 đã lên đường hướng sang khu vực quần đảo Bermuda để hoạt động như là hạt nhân của Đội đặc nhiệm 22.6, một lực lượng hỗn hợp không hải làm nhiệm vụ tìm-diệt chống tàu ngầm. Cao trào của chuyến đi là vào ngày 2 tháng 7, khi một máy bay ném bom-ngư lôi Grumman TBF Avenger của nó đã đánh chặn tàu ngầm U-boat Đức 543 ngoài khơi bờ biển Châu Phi giữa các quần đảo Canary và Cape Verde, vốn đang trên đường quay trở về nhà sau chuyến tuần tra không thành công trong vùng vịnh Guinea. Bất chấp sự kháng cự kịch liệt bằng hỏa lực phòng không từ U-543, Thiếu úy phi công Frederick L. Moore đã ném bom hai lượt tiêu diệt được chiếc tàu ngầm. Tuy nhiên, do không có chứng cứ chắc chắn xác nhận, chiếc tàu sân bay và các tàu hộ tống trải qua hai tuần lễ tiếp theo truy lùng chiếc U-boat đã bị phá hủy.
Trận đụng độ tiếp theo của Đội đặc nhiệm 22.6 xảy ra hai phút trước giữa trưa ngày 2 tháng 8, khi tàu khu trục hộ tống Douglas L. Howard trông thấy một tháp chỉ huy tàu U-boat ở khoảng cách 8 nmi (15 km) nó cùng chiếc Fiske được cho tách ra để điều tra trong khi mọi máy bay trong khu vực được gọi đến. Một chiếc Avenger trang bị mìn sâu được chiếc tàu sân bay phóng lên lúc 12 giờ 09 phút. Đến 12 giờ 35 phút, một quả ngư lôi, rõ ràng được phóng từ một tàu ngầm thứ hai, đã đánh trúng Fiske giữa tàu khiến nó bị vỡ làm đôi. Các con tàu trong đội đặc nhiệm phải cơ động để lẩn tránh hai quả ngư lôi khác nhắm vào lực lượng. Báo cáo ban đầu cho thấy có bốn người thiệt mạng, 26 người mất tích và 55 người khác bị thương nặng. Tàu khu trục hộ tống Farquhar được cho tách ra để hỗ trợ Howard, và sau đó vớt những người sống sót. Khi đội đặc nhiệm chuẩn bị trả thù cho Fiske, sương mù dày đặc và mưa giông đã ngăn trở các hoạt động.
Vào ngày 4 tháng 8, Đội đặc nhiệm 22.6 được giải thể, và bốn ngày sau Wake Island gặp gỡ Đoàn tàu vận tải UC-32 trên đường hướng sang phía Tây. Nó tách khỏi đoàn tàu vào ngày 11 tháng 8 để hướng đến Hampton Roads, và đi đến Norfolk vào ngày 15 tháng 8. Công việc cải biến và sửa chữa kéo dài cho đến ngày 25 tháng 8, và sau một giai đoạn chạy thử máy và bảo trì ngắn, chiếc tàu sân bay lên đường vào ngày 29 tháng 8, để đi Quonset Point, Rhode Island, nơi nó thay phiên cho tàu sân bay hộ tống Mission Bay (CVE-59) trong nhiệm vụ huấn luyện chuẩn nhận phi công tàu sân bay, vốn kéo dài cho đến ngày 30 tháng 10. Sang ngày hôm sau, nó lên đường đi Norfolk, được các tàu khu trục Lea (DD-118) và Babbitt (DD-128) hộ tống, đến nơi vào ngày 1 tháng 11, nơi nó được bảo trì.
Thái Bình Dương Sửa đổi
Philippines Sửa đổi
Vào ngày 11 tháng 11, Wake Island khởi hành từ Norfolk cùng tàu sân bay hộ tống Shamrock Bay (CVE-84) và các tàu hộ tống, băng qua kênh đào Panama để đi sang vùng bờ Tây. Nó tiến vào vịnh San Francisco vào ngày 28 tháng 11 và thả neo tại Alameda, California, nơi nó đón lên tàu hai liên đội không lực mới trước khi tiếp tục hành trình vào ngày hôm sau để đi sang khu vực quần đảo Hawaii. Con tàu thả neo tại đảo Ford, Trân Châu Cảng vào ngày 5 tháng 12, cho tách các liên đội VC-9 và VPB-149, rồi chất dỡ nhân sự, máy bay và trang bị khỏi tàu. Mười ngày sau, khi sàn tàu chất đầy hàng hóa và không có khả năng cho cất hạ cánh máy bay, chiếc tàu sân bay lên đường hướng sang quần đảo Admiralty có các tàu khu trục hộ tống Richard M. Rowell (DE-403) và O'Flaherty (DE-340) tháp tùng. Đi đến đảo Manus vào ngày 27 tháng 12, nó chất dỡ hàng hóa và hành khách khỏi tàu trước khi lên đường đi sang quần đảo Palau, đi đến Kossol Roads vào ngày 1 tháng 1 năm 1945. Chiều tối hôm đó, nó chất đạn dược từ một sà lan và lên đường lúc 06 giờ 42 phút sáng hôm sau, hướng sang Philippines để gia nhập hạm đội và tham gia cuộc đổ bộ tiếp theo lên Luzon.
Hai ngày sau, Wake Island băng qua eo biển Surigao và tung ra các phi vụ tuần tra chống xâm nhập và tuần tra chiến đấu trên không. Vào ngày 4 tháng 1, nó hoạt động trong biển Sulu và tuần tra trong ba giờ họ phát hiện một thủy phi cơ một động cơ Nhật Bản trên mặt biển ngoài khơi mũi Đông Nam đảo Panay, đang được một đội trục vớt xử lý. Hai máy bay đã càn quét bắn phá, phá hủy chiếc máy bay và phân tán đội trục vớt đối phương. Hạm đội sau đó tiến vào vịnh Panay khoảng 100 dặm (160 km) về phía Tây Bắc Manila. Radar dò tìm mặt biển của Wake Island bị nhiễu sóng do đối phương, nên chiếc tàu sân bay chuyển sang trực chiến lúc 17 phút 14 phút. Một phút sau, một máy bay một động cơ Nhật Bản xuất hiện trên không rồi đâm bổ xuống Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) ở khoảng cách 4.200 yd (3,8 km). Lửa bao trùm sàn đáp và hầm chứa máy bay của chiếc tàu sân bay hộ tống, và sau phút thủy thủ đoàn phải bỏ tàu trong những luồng khói đen dày đặc do cháy xăng và nổ các hầm đạn bom. Ommaney Bay sau cùng phải bị đánh đắm bằng ngư lôi từ một tàu khu trục.
Vào ngày 5 tháng 1, Wake Island đón lên tàu 19 người sống sót từ chiếc Ommaney Bay vốn được tàu khu trục Maury (DD-401) cứu vớt. Nó lại chuyển sang trực chiến khi màn hình radar xuất hiện những tiến hiệu máy bay đối phương, nhưng ba đợt tấn công đã không diễn ra. Vào ban ngày, Wake Island đã tung ra tổng cộng ba đợt tuần tra chiến đấu trên không vào lúc 15 giờ 02 phút, tám máy bay tuần tra của nó đã tấn công một biên đội máy bay tiêm kích lục quân Nhật Bản, bắn rơi ba máy bay và có thể tiêu diệt chiếc thứ tư mà không chịu tổn thất nào. Đến 16 giờ 55 phút, con tàu lại báo động để chống trả một đợt không kích của đối phương, và trong một giờ đã chịu đựng những đợt tấn công nặng nề. Vào một lúc, sáu máy bay một động cơ đối phương đã đồng loạt tấn công bên mạn trái các tàu sân bay năm chiếc đã bị hỏa lực phòng không bắn rơi, đâm suýt trúng mục tiêu chúng nhắm đến, nhưng chiếc thứ sáu đã lọt qua và đâm trúng Manila Bay (CVE-61). Chiếc tàu sân bay bốc cháy và bị rớt lại phía sau đội hình, nhưng những nỗ lực kiểm soát hư hỏng hiệu quả đã giúp nó dập lửa, sửa chữa và quay trở lại đội hình chỉ sau 51 phút, cho dù sàn đáp của Manila Bay không thể hoạt động. Trong suốt cuộc tấn công, ít nhất mười máy bay đối phương đã bị bắn rơi trong phạm vi 5.000 yd (4,6 km) chung quanh Wake Island hỏa lực phòng không của bản thân nó đã bắn rơi ba chiếc.
Vào ngày 13 tháng 1, hai máy bay đối phương đã tấn công Salamaua (CVE-96), đang di chuyển khoảng 8 dặm (13 km) về phía đuôi của Wake Island. Một kẻ tấn công bị bắn rơi, nhưng chiếc kia đã đâm trúng khiến chiếc tàu sân bay hộ tống bị chậm lại. Salamaua nhanh chóng quay trở lại vị trí trong đội hình sau khi dập lửa đám cháy trong hầm chứa máy bay và lấy lại tốc độ. Bốn ngày sau, Wake Island được cho tách ra và rời vịnh Lingayen cùng Đội đặc nhiệm 77.14, một lực lượng bao gồm tám tàu sân bay hộ tống và thành phần bảo vệ, để rút lui về Ulithi thuộc quần đảo Caroline. Nó thả neo tại khu neo đậu phía Nam của Ulithi từ ngày 23 đến ngày 31 tháng 1, được bảo trì và tiếp liệu để chuẩn bị cho chiến dịch tiếp theo. Vào lúc này, cảng nhà của nó được chuyển từ Norfolk đến Puget Sound, Bremerton, Washington.
Iwo Jima Sửa đổi
Vào ngày 10 tháng 2, Wake Island lên đường gia nhập Đội đặc nhiệm 52.2, được thành lập để hỗ trợ trên không và hộ tống các đơn vị chủ lực đi đến khu vực quần đảo Volcano, cũng như hỗ trợ hỏa lực hải pháo, trinh sát và dẫn đường tuần tra chiến đấu để hỗ trợ lực lượng trên bờ. Sang ngày hôm sau, nó đi đến khu vực ngoài khơi Saipan-Tinian để tổng dượt cho cuộc đổ bộ, và đến ngày 13 tháng 2, Hạm trưởng của Wake Island được cử làm Tư lệnh chỉ huy tác chiến cho Đơn vị Đặc nhiệm 52.2.1.
Vào ngày 14 tháng 2, Wake Island khỏi hành đi Iwo Jima, đi đến vị trí cách đầu mũi phía Tây Nam Iwo Jima hai ngày sau đó. Ngay sau bình minh, đội bắn phá hạng nặng bắt đầu nả pháo chuẩn bị lên hòn đảo máy bay của Wake Island đã thực hiện các phi vụ trinh sát chỉ điểm pháo binh đồng thời tấn công các cấu trúc phòng thủ bằng rocket, cùng các phi vụ tuần tra chống tàu ngầm và trinh sát hải dương tại các bãi đổ bộ. Vào ngày đổ bộ 19 tháng 2, máy bay của nó thực hiện 56 phi vụ trinh sát và đã bắn 87 rocket.
Bismarck Sea (CVE-95), một tàu sân bay hộ tống thuộc đội của Wake Island, bị một cuộc tấn công của máy bay Kamikaze đánh chìm vào ngày 21 tháng 2. Sang ngày hôm sau nó được cho tách ra để đi đến một điểm hẹn về phía Đông Iwo Jima, nơi nó được tiếp nhiên liệu vào ngày 23 tháng 2 trước khi quay trở lại khu vực hoạt động về phía Đông Iwo Jima. Vào ngày 24 tháng 2, nó trực chiến ở vị trí cách mũi phía Nam Iwo Jima khoảng 35 dặm (56 km), thực hiện 55 phi vụ và tiêu phí khoảng 205 rocket. Trong những tuần lễ tiếp theo, chiếc tàu sân bay hộ tống tiếp tục hoạt động hỗ trợ cho binh lính Thủy quân Lục chiến chiến đấu trên bờ, hoạt động liên tục trong 24 ngày trước khi rút lui vào ngày 8 tháng 3, gặp gỡ tàu sân bay Saginaw Bay (CVE-82) ở phía Tây hòn đảo để cùng quay trở về Ulithi, đến nơi vào ngày 14 tháng 3.
Okinawa Sửa đổi
Wake Island được nghỉ ngơi năm ngày tại Ulithi nhằm chuẩn bị cho chiến dịch đổ bộ tiếp theo. Nó lên đường vào ngày 21 tháng 3, hỗ trợ trên không cho lực lượng sẽ tham gia đổ bộ lên Okinawa. Đến ngày 25 tháng 3, nó đi đến khu vực hoạt động khoảng 60 dặm (97 km) về phía Nam Okinawa, bắt đầu tung ra các phi vụ bên trên các bãi biển Kerama Retto tại Okinawa. Con tàu tiếp tục hỗ trợ các hoạt động tại đây cho đến ngày đổ bộ 1 tháng 4. Nó đang hoạt động về phía Đông Nam Okinawa vào ngày 3 tháng 4, và hoàn tất việc hạ cánh lượt phi vụ trinh sát thứ năm lúc 17 giờ 22 phút, khi mọi máy bay được thu hồi về tàu. Tám phút sau, con tàu chuyển sang trạng thái báo động do máy bay đối phương xuất hiện. Lúc 17 giờ 42 phút, một vụ nổ dữ dội làm rung chuyển toàn bộ con tàu. Hai máy bay tiêm kích Grumman F4F Wildcat bị đẩy khỏi sàn đáp và rơi xuống biển, hai máy bay chiến đấu bị lật ngược và hai chiếc khác bị hư hại nặng do bị hất tung. Cùng lúc đó hai chiếc Wildcat khác bị bung ra khỏi dây buộc trong hầm chứa máy bay, bị hư hại nặng do va chạm vào nhau.
Lúc 17 giờ 44 phút, một máy bay một động cơ Nhật Bản hướng về phía Wake Island từ một góc cao, đâm trượt góc sàn đáp phía trước mũi bên mạn trái rồi nổ tung dưới nước ngang phần trước con tàu. Chỉ trong nữa phút sau, một máy bay tương tự thứ hai bổ xuống bên mạn phải với tốc độ rất nhanh, suýt trúng cầu tàu và lại đâm xuống nước cách mạn tàu 10 ft (3,0 m) quả bom nó mang theo kích nổ dưới làm thủng một lổ 45 ft × 18 ft (13,7 m × 5,5 m) bên dưới mực nước cùng nhiều lổ nhỏ do mảnh bom. Mảnh vụn chiếc máy bay tung tóe lên sàn đáp phía trước và lên các bệ pháo phòng không. Nhiều ngăn của con tàu bị ngập nước, và các lổ thủng làm nhiễm nước biển cho khoảng 30.000 gal Mỹ (110 m 3 ) nước sạch và 70.000 gal Mỹ (260 m 3 ) dầu đốt. Nước nhiễm mặn khiến phải cách ly động cơ phía trước lúc 18 giờ 24 phút, và con tàu di chuyển chỉ với một chân vịt. Điều kỳ diệu là con tàu không chịu thương vong, và đến 21 giờ 40 phút công việc sửa chữa hoàn tất, cho phép nó hoạt động cả hai động cơ. Sang ngày hôm sau, nó cùng các tàu khu trục hộ tống Dennis (DE-405) và Goss (DE-444) đi đến nơi neo đậu tại Kerama Retto trong khi chờ đợi giám định các hư hỏng, các con tàu phải canh phòng chống người nhái tự sát Nhật Bản bơi đến từ các đảo chưa kiểm soát.
Wake Island khởi hành đi Guam vào ngày 6 tháng 4, đi đến cảng Apra bốn ngày sau đó, và được sửa chữa trong ụ tàu cho đến ngày 20 tháng 5. Nó lên đường vào ngày hôm sau cùng tàu vận chuyển cao tốc Wantuck (APD-125) để quay trở lại Okinawa, nơi nó tiếp tục nhiệm vụ hỗ trợ binh lính chiến đấu trên bộ. Chiếc tàu sân bay được cho tách ra vào ngày 2 tháng 6, được tàu khu trục Ralph Talbot (DD-390) hộ tống đi Kerama Retto để tiếp liệu. Bất chấp máy bay đối phương tiếp tục lãng vãng tại khu vực cảng Kaika, Kerama Retto, nó chất dỡ bom, rocket và các hàng tiếp liệu, gặp gỡ tàu chở dầu Cowanesque (AO-79) để tiếp nhiên liệu, rồi quay trở lại khu vực hoạt động ngoài khơi Okinawa vào ngày 6 tháng 6. Sang ngày hôm sau, trong thành phần một đơn vị đặc nhiệm, nó tham gia cuộc không kích lên Sakashima Gunto. Tàu sân bay Natoma Bay (CVE-62) bị một chiếc Kamikaze đánh trúng, rồi đến lượt Sargent Bay (CVE-83) bị tấn công bởi một chiếc thứ hai. Wake Island tiếp tục làm nhiệm vụ của mình cho đến ngày 15 tháng 6, khi Chuẩn đô đốc Calvin T. Durgin lên tàu cho một chuyến viếng thăm chính thức, và trao tặng huân chương cho 16 phi công thuộc Liên đội VOC-1.
Wake Island và Dennis được cho tách ra vào ngày 16 tháng 6 để độc lập đi Kerama Retto, đến nơi vào ngày hôm sau. Con tàu được tiếp liệu trước khi quay trở lại khu vực Tây Nam Okinawa, tiếp nối các phi vụ hỗ trợ. Nó nhận mệnh lệnh tách khỏi Đội đặc nhiệm 32.1 hai ngày sau đó do những hư hại phải chịu đựng vào ngày 3 tháng 4 và kết quả của việc thanh tra giám định, con tàu được cho là "Không an toàn khi hoạt động tại tuyến đầu, cho đến khi được sửa chữa." Nó đi đến Guam, thực hành tác xạ và tiến hành các phi vụ tuần tra chống tàu ngầm trên đường đi. Sau khi đi đến cảng Apra vào ngày 24 tháng 6, nhân sự thuộc Liên đội VOC-1 rời tàu để chuyển sang Căn cứ không lực hải quân Agana.
Từ ngày 25 tháng 6 đến ngày 3 tháng 7, Wake Island chất lên tàu chín chiếc Grumman F6F Hellcat, 24 chiếc Vought F4U Corsair, 11 chiếc Avenger và hai chiếc Piper L-4, thực hiện chuyến đi khứ hồi đến Okinawa, chuyển giao máy bay cùng 46 phi công cho Lực lượng Không quân Chiến thuật tại Yontan, Okinawa. Quay trở lại Guam, chiếc tàu sân bay chất dỡ đạn dược và phụ tùng máy bay khỏi tàu, nhận lên tàu 300 bao thư tín cùng 10 chiếc Corsair và 20 chiếc Curtiss SB2C Helldiver hư hỏng để đưa về sửa chữa, rồi lên đường quay trở về Trân Châu Cảng cùng các chiếc Cape Esperance (CVE-88) và Bull (DE-693). Vào ngày 10 tháng 7, nó tách khỏi Bull và Cape Esperance để độc lập đi Hawaii, và về đến đảo Ford, Trân Châu Cảng một tuần sau đó, nơi nó chất dỡ hàng hóa và đón lên 138 tàu thủy thủ cùng 49 sĩ quan và hành khách để đưa trở về lục địa Hoa Kỳ. Nó rời Trân Châu Cảng vào ngày 18 tháng 7, hướng đến Nam California, và về đến San Diego, California vào ngày 25 tháng 7, nơi nó tiễn hành khách rời tàu và chất dỡ số máy bay.
Sau chiến tranh Sửa đổi
Đang khi neo đậu tại San Diego, Wake Island đón lên tàu sáu chiếc Avenger cùng 10 chiếc Wildcat, 53 sĩ quan cùng 13 nhân sự thuộc Liên đội Hỗn hợp VC-75 để tiến hành huấn luyện và chuẩn nhận hạ cánh tàu sân bay ngoài khơi đảo San Nicholas. Nó tiếp tục hoạt động này cho đến tháng 12 năm 1945, và nổi bật trong giai đoạn này là vào ngày 6 tháng 11, khi một máy bay phản lực lần đầu tiên hạ cánh trên một tàu sân bay được thực hiện trên Wake Island.
Nhân sự thuộc Liên đội VFA-41 Black Aces cùng đại diện của hãng Ryan Aeronautical đã lên tàu vào sáng ngày 5 tháng 11, và Wake Island khởi hành từ Căn cứ Không lực Hải quân San Diego cùng tàu khu trục O'Brien (DD-725). Trong hai ngày, nó tiến hành thử nghiệm và chuẩn nhận hạ cánh FR Fireball, một kiểu máy bay sử dụng động cơ lai piston-phản lực. Thiếu úy J. C. West đã cất cánh từ Wake Island trên một chiếc Ryan FR-1 Fireball, nhưng nhanh chóng gặp trục trặc với động cơ piston Wright R-1820-72W Cyclone bố trí hình tròn. Trước khi động cơ piston ngừng hẳn, anh khởi động được động cơ phản lực General Electric I-16 và quay trở lại con tàu, do đó đã thực hiện cú hạ cánh đầu tiên trên tàu sân bay thuần túy bằng lực đẩy phản lực. 
Wake Island được chuẩn bị cho ngừng hoạt động vào năm 1946. Nó được cho xuất biên chế vào ngày 5 tháng 4 năm 1946. Tên nó được choh rút khỏi danh sách Đăng bạ Hải quân vào ngày 17 tháng 4 năm 1946, và lườn tàu bị bán cho hãng Boston Metals Company tại Baltimore, Maryland để tháo dỡ vào ngày 19 tháng 4 năm 1946.
Wake Island được tặng thưởng ba Ngôi sao Chiến trận do thành tích phục vụ trong Thế Chiến II.
Bodies of Japanese WWII Soldiers Found in Island Caves
One of the costliest battles of World War II began on September 15, 1944, when U.S. Marines landed on Peleliu, a volcanic island in the western Pacific ocean measuring only 6 miles long and 2 miles across. General Douglas MacArthur had pushed for the amphibious attack on the Japanese-controlled island and its airfield in order to diminish the potential threat to future Allied operations in the Pacific. Having learned from past attacks, however, the island’s Japanese defenders took a new strategy. They hunkered down in a vast network of underground caves connected by passageways and tunnels in an attempt to protect themselves from Allied bombardment and bog the enemy down in a protracted conflict that would yield massive casualties.
Though U.S. commanders predicted the battle for Peleliu would last only four or five days, it would stretch on for more than two months, as some 11,000 Japanese troops dug in and defended the island against 28,000 Americans. U.S. forces finally secured the island on November 27, after suffering the highest percentage of casualties of any battle in the Pacific: nearly 1,800 killed and 8,000 more wounded. As it turned out, Peleliu would ultimately prove to have little strategic importance, and would be remembered as one of the most controversial battles of the war.
The Japanese, of course, suffered even more casualties in the Battle of Peleliu. More than 10,000 soldiers were killed, many of them trapped inside their underground bunkers when U.S. forces exploded the caves during the battle. The bodies of some 2,600 Japanese soldiers were never found. In a stunning twist, a group of 35 soldiers survived within the caves of Peleliu, hiding out for some 18 months after the war ended before finally surrendering in April 1947. Two members of this group, both in their 90s, met with Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko last month and described their experience during the battle and its aftermath.
Now, in advance of a planned visit by the emperor and empress to Palau early next month, an international team has been painstakingly searching through some of the 200 long-sealed caves on Peleliu in the hopes of locating the remains of the lost Japanese troops. So far, they have discovered the bodies of six men in a cave located in an area on the island’s western coast known as the promontory.
USS Wake Island CVE 65
"Personalized" Canvas Ship Print
(Not just a photo or poster but a work of art!)
Every sailor loved his ship. It was his life. Where he had tremendous responsibility and lived with his closest shipmates. As one gets older his appreciation for the ship and the Navy experience gets stronger. A personalized print shows ownership, accomplishment and an emotion that never goes away. It helps to show your pride even if a loved one is no longer with you. Every time you walk by the print you will feel the person or the Navy experience in your heart (guaranteed).
The image is portrayed on the waters of the ocean or bay with a display of her crest if available. The ships name is printed on the bottom of the print. What a great canvas print to commemorate yourself or someone you know who may have served aboard her.
The printed picture is exactly as you see it. The canvas size is 8"x10" ready for framing as it is or you can add an additional matte of your own choosing. If you would like a larger picture size (11"x 14") on a 13" X 19" canvas simply purchase this print then prior to payment purchase additional services located in the store category (Home) to the left of this page. This option is an additional $12.00. The prints are made to order. They look awesome when matted and framed.
We PERSONALIZE the print with "Name, Rank and/or Years Served" or anything else you would like it to state (NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE). It is placed just above the ships photo. After purchasing the print simply email us or indicate in the notes section of your payment what you would like printed on it. Example:
United States Navy Sailor
YOUR NAME HERE
Proudly Served Sept 1963 - Sept 1967
This would make a nice gift and a great addition to any historic military collection. Would be fantastic for decorating the home or office wall.
The watermark "Great Naval Images" will NOT be on your print.
This photo is printed on Archival-Safe Acid-Free canvas using a high resolution printer and should last many years.
Because of its unique natural woven texture canvas offers a special and distinctive look that can only be captured on canvas. The canvas print does not need glass thereby enhancing the appearance of your print, eliminating glare and reducing your overall cost.
We guarantee you will not be disappointed with this item or your money back. In addition, We will replace the canvas print unconditionally for FREE if you damage your print. You would only be charged a nominal fee plus shipping and handling.
Check our feedback. Customers who have purchased these prints have been very satisfied.
Buyer pays shipping and handling. Shipping charges outside the US will vary by location.
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