• VT-17 Historical Report by W. M. Romberger (Part 1 of 7)

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    This is section 1, covering sheets 1 through 10 of 65 pages from the archives of the U.S. Navy in a declassified document.

    TORPEDO SQUADRON SEVENTEEN
    c/o Fleet Post Office
    San Francisco, California

    DECLASSIFIED

    27 June 1945

    From: The Commanding Officer.
    To: The Officer of Naval Operations, Aviation History Unit (OP-33-J-6).
    Via: Commander, Carrier Air Group SEVENTEEN.
    Subject: SQUADRON HISTORY, transmittal of.
    Reference: (a) Aviation Circular Letter No. 74-44, OP-33-J-6-JEJ, serial 356333, dated 25 July 1944.
    (b) Manual for Historical Officers, NavAer 00-25Q-26.
    (c) Aviation Circular Letter No. 23-45, OP-33-J-6-JEJ, serial 89133 of 27 February 1945.
    (d) OPNAV Letter OP-33-J-6-JEJ, serial 118433, dated 14 March 1945.

    Enclosure: (A) HISTORY OF TORPEDO SQUADRON SEVENTEEN.

    1. In accordance with references (a) through (d), the HISTORY of TORPEDO SQUADRON SEVENTEEN is herewith submitted.
    /signed/ W.M. ROMBERGER.



    VT-17
    HISTORICAL DATA
    PART ONE
    * * *
    CHRONOLOGY


    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    DATA on original VT-17 Page 1
    VT-17 Log Page 2
    Roster of Officers Page 4
    Roster of Enlisted Men Page 5
    Personnel Losses Page 9
    Personnel Injured Page 10
    Ships VT-17 Was Aboard Page 11
    History Narrative Page 12
    VT-17 Combat Summary Appendix I
    VT-17 Combat Calendar Appendix II
    Principal VT-17 Strikes Appendix III
    Pilots’ Personal Achievement Appendix IV
    Shipping & Aircraft Damage Assessment Appendix V
    Sorties Aboard HORNET Appendix VI
    Bombs & Torpedoes Dropped on Enemy Targets Appendix VII
    Ordnance Recapitulation Appendix VIII
    Awards Appendix IX
    Rescue Appendix X
    Radar Appendix XI
    Engineering Appendix XII
    Comments By Commanding Officer Appendix XIII
    CAG-17 Yearbook Enclosure A
    * * *


    CHRONOLOGY

    Jan. 1, 1943 – Torpedo Squadron SEVENTEEN commissioned at NAS, Norfolk, VA., under ComAirLant, by authority of Chief of Naval Operations.
    July 13, 1943 – Assumed ship-based status aboard USS Bunker Hill.
    Sept. 26, 1943 – Arrived San Diego. Came under authority of ComAirPac.
    Sept. 28, 1943 – Left San Diego for Pearl Harbor.
    Oct. 2, 1943 – Arrived Pearl Harbor.
    Oct. 3, 1943 – Shore-based at Kaneohe, Oahu.
    Oct. 17, 1943 – Departed Pearl Harbor.
    Nov. 5, 1943 – Arrived Espiritu Santo Island.
    Nov. 7, 1943 – Underway as part of Task Group 50.3 (This was the “Southern Attack Force lead by Rear Admiral Alfred E. Montgomery aboard the USS Essex)

    Combat

    Nov. 11, 1943 – Raubaul.
    Nov. 25, 1943 – Kavieng.
    Jan. 1, 1944 – Kavieng.
    Jan. 4, 1944 – Kavieng.
    Jan. 29, 1944 – Kiwajalein.
    Feb. 1, 1944 – Eniwetok.
    Feb. 2, 1944 – Eniwetok.
    Feb. 16, 1944 – Truk.
    Feb. 22, 1944 – Tinian.

    Feb. 25, 1944 – Enroute to U.S. (Quit U.S.S. BUNKER HILL at Pearl Harbor).
    March 10, 1944 – Arrived NAS, Alameda, on USS ESSEX.

    * * *

    Commanding Officer of VT-17 was Lieut. Comdr. Frank M. Whitaker, San Diego, Cal., who was lost in a mid-air collision over Eniwetok. He was succeeded by Lieut. G.N. Owens.

    The purpose of the squadron since its origin has been to operate as a torpedo bomber carrier-based squadron in Air Group SEVENTEEN.

    * * *

    Note:
    A list of citations and awards for personnel in VT-17 from the time of commissioning until the squadron was re-formed 18 April 1944 is not availabl to this command. What information could be obtained with current records on hand would be inadequate and inaccurate. The same is true in connection with narrative material of the squadron during the period from 1 January 1943 to 18 April 1944. Complete records of the squadron during that period were not inherited by the command which took over on 18 April 1944.

    – 1 –


    CHRONOLOGY
    VT-17 LOG

    Reformed NAS, Alameda 4-18-44
    NAS Alameda 4-18-44 to 5-29-44
    NAAS Monterey 5-29-44 to 7-17-44
    NAAS Vernalis 7-17-44 to 7-24-44
    NAAS Monterey 7-24-44 to 8-14-44
    NAS Alameda 8-14-44 to 8-16-44
    USS Takanis Bay (Qualification) 8-16-44 to 8-18-44
    NAS Alameda 8-18-44 to 8-27-44
    NAAS Vernalis 8-27-44 to 8-31-44
    NAS Alameda 8-31-44 to 10-2-44
    NAAS Arcata 10-2-44 to 10-19-44
    NAS Alameda 10-19-44 to 10-27-44
    USS Ranger (Qualification) 10-27-44 to 10-29-44
    NAS Alameda 10-29-44 to 11-2-44
    Aboard Train to San Diego 11-2-44 to 11-3-44
    San Diego 11-3-44 to 11-3-44
    USS Hollandia 11-3-44 to 11-10-44
    Pearl Harbor 11-10-44 to 11-10-44
    USS Cumberland Sound 11-10-44 to 11-12-44
    NAS Hilo, Hawaii 11-12-44 to 12-15-44
    Transport to Pearl 12-15-44 to 12-16-44
    Pearl Harbor 12-16-44 to 12-16-44
    USS Nassau 12-16-44 to 12-28-44
    NAB Agana, Guam 12-28-44 to 1-28-45
    USS Jasaan Bay 1-28-45 to 1-29-45
    Ulithi 1-29-45 to 2-1-45
    USS Hornet (Ulithi) 2-1-45 to 2-10-45
    (USS Hornet) At Sea 2-10-45 to 3-4-45
    Ulithi 3-4-45 to 3-14-45
    (USS Hornet) At Sea 3-14-45 to 4-30-45

    – 2 –


    CHRONOLOGY
    VT-17 LOG

    Ulithi 4-30-45 to 5-9-45
    (USS Hornet) At Sea 5-9-45 to 6-13-45
    Leyte 6-13-45 to 6-19-45
    At Sea, Enroute to U.S. via Pearl Harbor 6-19-45 to (6-26-45)

    * * *

    – 3 –


    CHRONOLOGY
    VT-17

    ROSTER OF OFFICERS

    Lt. Cdr. William M. Romberger, 610 First Street, Coronado, California
    Lt. Thomas C. Durkin, 67 Wall St., New York City, N.Y.
    Lt. Charles D. Livengood, P.O. Box 470, Powell, Wyoming.
    Lt. James A. Tew, 200 Avacado Avenue, Sanford, Florida
    Lt. Henry E. Clark, 1127 N. 25th Street, Billings, Montana
    Lt. John A. Martin, 5043 W. Adams Street, Chicago, Illinois
    Lt. Raymond M. Roland, Jr., 16565 Kentfield Avenue, Detroit, Michigan.
    Lt. Steven G. Sullivan, Rt. #2, Box 234, Tulare, California
    Lt. Richard C. Reed, 16 34th Street, Des Moines, Iowa.
    Lt. John E. Murphy, 217 Scenic Avenue, Mt. Allen, Covington, Kentucky.
    Lt. (jg). George A. Hill, Jr., 40 Elm Street, Concord, Massachusetts.
    Lt. (jg). William H. Morrissey, 314 E. Arrellaga Street, Santa Barbara, California.
    Lt. (jg). Arnold C. Traxler, 2012 Tiffin Road, Oakland, California
    Lt. (jg). Harlan W. Foote, 772 Poli Street, Apt. D., Ventura, California.
    Lt. (jg). Francis M. Smith, 305 S. 15th. Street, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
    Lt. (jg). Thomas J. Coghlan, 669 S. Poplar Avenue, Kankakee, Illinois.
    Lt. (jg). Ivan R. Beisel, P.O. Box 168, Inglewood, California.
    Lt. (jg). John S. Cooke, 60 Douglas Road, Glen Ridge, New Jersey.
    Lt. (jg). Walter D. Nielsen, 1523 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood, California.
    Lt. (jg). Kenneth B.C. McCubbins, Rt. #1, Box 135, Dallas, Oregon.
    Lt. (jg). Hugh C. Johnson, 201 E. Lake Street, Waupaca, Wisconsin.
    Lt. (jg). Ralph V. Johnson, Benton City, Missouri.

    – 4 –


    Lt. (jg). Jules J. Bungus, 145 W. 55th Street, New York, New York.
    Lt. (jg). James F. Monaghan, 18-11 Murray Street, Whitestone, Long Island, New York.
    Lt. (jg). John E. Strickland, Warsaw, North Carolina.
    Ensign Joseph Behl, 442 E. Mt. Airy Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
    Ensign Harry D. Jones, 1500 Fallowfield Avenue, Apt. F, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    Ensign Walter F. Nickel, 428 N. “J” Street, Dinuba, California.
    Ensign Harold J. Rogers, Box 94, Bonners Ferry, Idaho.
    Ensign Robert S. Hanlon, 14625 Forrer, Detroit, Michigan.
    Ensign Frederick B. Tschudin, 4487 Laclede, St. Louis, Missouri.

    * * *

    VT-17
    ROSTER OF ENLISTED MEN

    AKERS, Charles N., ARM2c(T), 2312 Avenue “U”, Lubbock, Texas.
    BARKLAY, Budd N., AOM2c(T), 125 Massachusetts Avenue, Detroit, Michigan.
    BELL, Vern K., ACMM(AA)(T), Route #1, Box 138, Reno, Nevada.
    BERRYHILL, James H., ARM1c(T), 1706 30th Street, Sheffield, Alabama.
    BOBBITT, Paul M., AMM1c, Route #6, Box 511-A, Ft. Worth, Texas.
    BRAUCH, Paul (n)., AOM1c, 1922 E. 22nd Street, Wichita, Kansas
    BREZOVSKY, Philip S., AMM1c, 6431 N. Greenview Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
    CANADA, Herman R., ARM3c, Elbridge, Tennessee.

    – 5 –


    CHRONOLOGY
    VT-17

    ROSTER OF ENLISTED MEN

    CHASE, LeRoy C., AMM2c(T), 53 B Central Lane, N. Tonawanda, New York.
    CIMINSKI, Frank (n)., ARM3c(T), 266 Twickenham, Los Angeles, California.
    COLOMBINI, William (n)., S1c, P.O. Box 434, Castroville, California.
    COLP, William E., ARM3c, 2209 Maryland Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri.
    CONSTANTINE, Pete (n)., ARM3c, 6924 Fulton Street, San Francisco, California.
    CROPP, Fred R., ARM2c(T), E. 18 Fourth Avenue, Spokane, Washington.
    FEURT, Donald R., AOM1c(T), Hereford, Colorado.
    FIELD, James J., Y1c(T), 441 So. Jefferson Davis Parkway, New Orleans, Louisiana.
    FITZGERALD, Fred J., AMM1c(T), 2 Earl Avenue, San Jose, California.
    FORBES, Ray D., AOM1c(T), 3416 9th Avenue, Tampa, Florida.
    FRIEZE, Robert A., ARM2c(T), 4007 E. Sixth Street, Los Angeles, California.
    FUCHS, Ernest P., AOM1c, 3023 Feasler Avenue, Erie, Pennsylvania.
    GEORGE, Philip W., AOM1c(T), Lebo, Kansas.
    GEYER, Jack L., AOM1c(T), 2039 Termon Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    HAND, George C., ART1c, 45 N. Corona Avenue, Valley Stream, New York.
    HELGESON, Helge KL., ARM3c, Box 259, Nashua, Montana.
    HERZING, Ivan J., ACOM(AA)(T), 340 Washington Street, St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania.
    HILBERT, Bruce M., AMM3c, 126 N. 4th Street, Emmaus, Pennsylvania.
    JENSEN, Norman C., AOM1c(T), 1048 Chicago Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois
    JONES, Robert J., S1c, 2222 W. 13th Street, Chicago, Illinois.
    KEENER, Frank W., AOM3c, Rt. #1, Box 1-B, Sanger, California.
    KEFFER, Theodore (n)., AOM1c(T), Cheswick, Pennsylvania.

    – 6 –


    CHRONOLOGY
    VT-17
    ROSTER OF ENLISTED MEN

    KELLETTE, Walter B., ACEM(AA)(T), 1291 58th Avenue, Oakland, California.
    KLUNDER, Robert “E”., ARM1c(T), 8 Denman Place, Cranford, New Jersey
    MANNING, Victor (n)., AMM2c(T), 2505 Humphrey Street, E. Elmhurst, New York.
    MAZUR, Walter (n)., ACMM(T), 130 Hale Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
    McFARLAND, Carl W., AMM3c, 1833 Vinton Avenue, Portsmouth, Ohio.
    MEYER, Jack T., AOM2c(T), 310 Logan Boulevard, Altoona, Pennsylvania.
    MULLIS, William B., S1c, R.F.D. #4, Xenia, Ohio.
    NELSON, Glenn L., ARM3c, 301 11th Street, Sheldon, Iowa.
    NICHOLSON, James N, ARM1c(T), c/o General Delivery, Harrison, Arkansas.
    NIEDZWICK, Theodore J., AOM1c(T), 225 S. Ann Street, Baltimore, Maryland.
    PARKER, Frank G., ARM1c(T), 1706 30th Avenue, San Francisco, California.
    PODOLAK, Paul G., ARM2c(T), 5619 Damen Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
    REDMON, Joseph H., ARM1c(T), 5827 S. Artesian, Chicago, Illinois
    REIGER, Robert E., ARM, Wauzeka, Wisconsin.
    ROBSON, Donald W., ARM3c, 329 1/2 Glady Avenue, Long Beach, California.
    ROELFSON, Roy O., ARM2c, 3740 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.
    ROUSH, Randall C., ACEM(PA), 21 Valley Lane, Skyway Park, Osborne, Ohio.
    SARTORY, Joseph G., AM1c, 111 Meade Avenue, Bellview, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    SCHNELL, Frederick P., AMM2c(T), 301 Highland Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin.
    SENNETT, Walter M., AOM2c(T), 9121 Falcon Avenue, Detroit, Michigan
    SHUTTLEWORTH, Frank (n)., ARM3c, 9627 Traverse Avenue, Detroit, Michigan.
    SIMONS, Paul E., ARM2c(T), 1271 Bosworth Street, San Francisco, California.

    – 7 –

    (continued)


    VT-17 Historical Report by W. M. Romberger : Click – Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7

  • Iwo Jima – Naval Aviation Video

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  • Sinking of IJN YAMATO – Assorted Video Clips

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    Photographs and crew interviews of IJN Yamoto – YOU MUST CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO VIEW THIS VIDEO (opens in new window)

    View Secrets of the Battleship Yamato a/k/a Sinking the Supership


  • April 7, 1945 – Sinking of the Battleship Yamato

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    There are many stories about the sinking of the Japanese battleship Yamato. Below are some of those stories and some links to other web sites with more stories about the ship and it’s final day, April 7, 1945.

     

     (Follow paragraphs from Wikipedia as of 10/14/2009)

    Yamato (大和), named after the ancient Japanese Yamato Province, was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Flagship of the Japanese Combined Fleet, she was lead ship of the Yamato class. She and her sister ship, Musashi, were the largest and heaviest battleships ever constructed, displacing 72,800 tonnes at full load, and armed with nine 46 cm (18.1 inch) main guns.

     

    Constructed from 1937 – 1940 and formally commissioned in late 1941, Yamato served as the flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto throughout 1942, first sailing as part of the Combined Fleet during the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Throughout 1943, Yamato continually transferred between Truk, Kure and Brunei in response to American airstrikes on Japanese island bases. The only time Yamato fired her main guns at enemy targets was in October 1944, but was ordered to turn back after attacks by destroyers and aircraft of the “Taffy” light escort carrier task groups managed to sink three heavy cruisers during the Battle off Samar.

    (portions removed)

     

    On 1 January 1945, Yamato, Haruna and Nagato were all transferred to the newly reactivated 1st Battleship Division; Yamato left drydock two days later.[1] When the 1st Battleship Division was deactivated once again on 10 February, Yamato was reassigned to the 1st Carrier Division. On 19 March 1945 Yamato came under heavy attack when American carrier aircraft from Enterprise, Yorktown and Intrepid raided the major naval base of Kure where she was docked.[25][26] Damage to the battleship, however, was light,[25] due in part to the base being defended by elite veteran Japanese fighter instructors flying Kawanishi N1K “Shiden” or “George” fighters.[1][26] Led by the man who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor, Minoru Genda, the appearance of these fighters, which were equal or superior to the F6F Hellcat in performance, surprised the attackers, and several American planes were shot down.[26] Heavy antiaircraft defensive fire and the heavy upper-deck armour plating on Yamato also prevented any significant damage to the vessel. On 29 March, Yamato took on a full stock of ammunition, in preparation for combat off Okinawa in Operation Ten-Go.[1]

     

    Operation Ten-Go was a deliberate suicide attack against American forces off Okinawa by Yamato and nine escorts, beginning on 6 April 1945. Embarking from Kure, Yamato was to beach herself near Okinawa, and act as an unsinkable gun-emplacement—bombarding American forces on Okinawa with her 18.1-inch heavy-guns. Yamato carried only enough fuel to reach Okinawa, as the fuel stocks available were insufficient to provide enough fuel to reach Okinawa and return.[27] While navigating the Bungo Strait, Yamato and her escorts were spotted by the American submarines Threadfin and Hackleback, both of which notified Task Force 58 of Yamatos position.[1][5]

     

    At 12:32 on 7 April 1945, Yamato was attacked by a first wave of 280 aircraft from Task Force 58, taking three hits (two bombs, one torpedo).[1] By 14:00, two of Yamatos escorts had been sunk.[5] Shortly afterward, a second strike of 100 aircraft attacked Yamato and her remaining escorts. At 14:23, having taken 10 torpedo and 7 bomb hits, Yamatos forward ammunition magazines detonated.[5] The smoke from the explosion—over 4 miles (6.4 km) high—was seen 100 miles (160 km) away on Kyūshū.[28] An estimated 2,498 of the 2,700 crew members on Yamato were lost, including Vice-Admiral Seiichi Itō, the fleet commander.[1]

     

    (Following from PBS Television “Sinking of the Supership“)

     

    The final phase of the Pacific war during World War II saw a terrible new tactic: massed kamikaze attacks on American ships by Japanese planes. But the biggest kamikaze attack of all was the suicidal mission of the super battleship Yamato, the largest, most advanced warship of the day. In this program, NOVA joins an international team exploring the grave of this magnificent vessel to learn the secrets of her design, her final mission, and the violent events that brought her down.

     

    Yamato lies on the floor of the East China Sea, 200 miles north of Okinawa, blown apart by one of the most massive explosions ever to occur at sea. Altogether, more than 2,700 men went down with the ship or drowned after it sank, making the loss of the Yamato one of the greatest naval disasters of all time. Despite the destruction, the majesty of the ship is unmistakable, symbolized by a six-foot-wide chrysanthemum crest, icon of the Japanese imperial family, still gracing Yamato‘s prow like a figurehead.

     

    NOVA interviews two survivors of the sinking, who had to meet the most stringent requirements in the Japanese navy to be chosen for the crew. Also interviewed is an American dive-bomber pilot who took part in the attack.

     

    Aircrews were astonished at the size of the ship, which had seen very little naval action during the war. Built in total secrecy and launched just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Yamato may have been almost twice the size of her American counterparts, with the largest guns ever mounted on a warship.

     

    Most of her engineering drawings have disappeared and few photographs survive, making Yamato‘s exact dimensions and design a mystery. One of her junior designers tells NOVA he was completely in the dark about the scale of the vessel that he was helping to create: “I was building the biggest ship in the world, and I didn’t even know it until after the war.”

     

    Japan’s secrecy was due to her inability to match U.S. naval power ship for ship. Instead, military leaders decided to build a secret weapon that could engage many enemy ships at once. Her main guns were designed to attack at an unprecedented distance of 25 miles, well beyond the range of American battleships.

     

    Had Yamato ever encountered an Allied battleship group, she could have floated safely out of range, while destroying each ship in turn. Instead, Yamato was obsolete the day she was launched, as the Japanese themselves proved at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere by sinking Allied battleships with airpower. World War II would see the aircraft carrier emerge as the key to naval supremacy, supplanting the battleship.

     

    Forced to wait out much of the war due to her vulnerability to air attack, Yamato was committed in a last, desperate gamble during the Battle of Okinawa in April 1945. As waves of kamikazes took to the sky to defend the island, Yamato was ordered to sea on a mission to emulate the suicide planes and take out as many American ships as possible.

    -read more-

     

    Of the just over 3,000 men aboard the Yamato on the morning of April 7, 1945, fewer than 300 were alive at day’s end. In the interviews below, meet two Yamato veterans still haunted by memories of the battle that took most of their comrades’ lives.

    Read Japanese Survivor Stories 

    Japanese Battleship Yamato - minutes before sinking

    Japanese Battleship Yamato - minutes before sinking

     

    Timeline of Battleship Yamato sinking on 7 April 1945

     

    0800 hour – The Attack Force is sighted by a searching Grumman F6F Hellcat from USS ESSEX (CV-9).  The Attack Force briefly sights seven “Hellcat” fighters, but they are not seen by the escorting Zekes.

     

    1000 hour – The Attack Force sights two large Martin “Mariner” PBM flying boats. The Japanese also spot the HACKLEBACK trailing the Attack Force. YAMATO turns towards the planes and opens fire unsuccessfully as does cruiser YAHAGI. While YAHAGI jams their sighting messages, YAMATO receives a report from a Japanese scout plane that Task Force 58 has been located east of Okinawa, 250 nautical miles from the Attack Force. The aircraft are lost behind the clouds. Both ships cease firing. The Attack Force turns towards Sasebo.

     

    1100 hour – YAMATO’s Type 13 air search radar operator reports contact with a large aircraft formation at his set’s maximum range of 63 miles. He reports the formation at bearing 180, heading north, and splitting into two groups. All ships increase speed to 25 knots and commence a simultaneous turn.

    A report that had been delayed for 25 minutes by ransmission and decoding, is received finally. It says that the Kikaigashima Island lookout station saw 150 carrier planes heading northwest. Just then, eight F6F Hellcats appear and begin circling over the force to maintain contact until the main formation arrives. YAMATO and YAHAGI open fire, increase speed to 24 knots and commence a series of sharp evasive maneuvers.

    Air search reports two groups of aircraft, range 44 miles, closing at high speed. The sky is still overcast and visibility is poor. Then radar reports the closing aircraft have turned towards the force. The Attack Force resumes zigzagging. The Attack Force turns to course 205, towards Okinawa.

     

    1200 hour – A lookout spots three Japanese troopships on bearing 0250 heading for Amami-Oshima.

    A lookout spots American planes 25 degrees to port, levation 8, range 4,375 yards, moving to port. This is the first wave of 280 aircraft (132 fighters, 50 bombers, 98 torpedo planes) from Task Group 58. 1’s USS HORNET (CV-12), HANCOCK (CV-19), BENNINGTON (CV-20), BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24) and SAN JACINTO (CVL-30) and from Task Group 58. 3’s USS ESSEX (CV-9), BUNKER HILL (CV-17), BATAAN (CVL-24) and CABOT (CVL-28).

    Lagging behind the main force, destroyer ASASHIMO is attacked and sunk by aircraft from SAN JACINTO.

    YAMATO opens fire with her two forward main turrets and AA guns. YAMATO stops zigzagging and increases speed to 24 knots. Her nine 18.1-inch guns firing Sanshikidan beehive shells, twenty-four 127-mm. AA guns and one hundred fifty-two 25-mm AA guns all open fire. The American planes release their bombs and torpedoes and strafe the bridge with machine-gun fire. YAMATO is hit by two AP bombs. Smoke rises from the vicinity of the mainmast and a bomb explodes in the same area. The aft secondary battery fire control, secondary gun turret and the air search radar are knocked out.

    The Attack Force changes course to 100 degrees. Helldivers from BENNINGTON and HORNET attack from port. At flank speed, YAMATO commences a right turn but two 1000-lb AP bombs hit her. The first explodes in the crew’s quarters abaft the Type 13 radar shack. The second penetrates the port side of the aft Command station and explodes between the 155-mm gun magazine and main gun turret No. 3’s upper powder magazine. It starts a fire that cannot be extinguished and rips a 60-foot hole in the weather deck. One Helldiver is shot down, another is damaged badly.

    A group of five low-flying Avengers (VT-17) from HORNET (CV-12) start a torpedo run from the port, bearing 70 degrees. YAMATO, at 27 knots flank speed, heels to starboard in evasive action. The Avengers drop three torpedoes. One strikes her port side near the forward windlass room. One Avenger is shot down.

    Fourteen F4U Chance-Vought Corsairs from BUNKER HILL strafe and rocket YAMATO but cause only minor damage. Thirty-four Hellcats, 22 Helldivers and one Corsair attack YAMATO’s escorts. DesDiv 17’s HAMAKAZE takes a near miss on her starboard quarter that disables her starboard shaft. A torpedo strikes HAMAKAZE starboard, aft of amidships and she jackknifes. SUZUTSUKI takes a 500-lb GP bomb hit to starboard, abreast her No. 2 gun mount. Two dud rockets hit FUYUTSUKI.

    The first attack wave retires. Destroyer SUZUTSUKI wreathed in black smoke, burns furiously. The light cruiser YAHAGI, without headway, drifts helplessly behind the main force. YAMATO, despite hits by two bombs and one torpedo, maintains flank speed.

     

    1300 hour – YAMATO changes course to 180 degrees, due South. Her remaining air search radar reports the approach of a second attack wave. The Attack Force changes course due south to 180 degrees. Fifty aircraft from ESSEX and BATAAN are sighted approaching from the SSW, range 18.5 miles. YAMATO increases speed to 22 knots.

    A Corsair from ESSEX drops a 1000-lb GP bomb that hits the superstructure in the port bow area. Twelve Helldivers claim several hits near the bridge and main gun turret No. 3. Five Helldivers are damaged by AA fire. Another 110 aircraft from Task Group 58. 4’s YORKTOWN (CV-10), INTREPID (CV-11), LANGLEY (CVL-27) engage the Attack Force. This time all the attacks are concentrated against the battleship. Twenty Avengers make a new torpedo run from 60 degrees to port.

    YAMATO starts a sharp turn to port but three torpedoes rip into her port side amidships. Her auxiliary rudder is jammed in position hard port. YAMATO has taken a total of four torpedo hits. She ships about 3,000-tons of seawater. She lists about seven degrees to port. Damage Control counter-floods both starboard engine and boiler rooms and almost entirely corrects the list.

    YAMATO starts a turn starboard to course 230 degrees. One of her lookouts spots the tracks of four torpedoes approaching. The first torpedoes pass by harmlessly, but the remaining two strike her port amidships. She takes on a heavy list to port and her speed drops to 18 knots. Armor-piercing and other bombs make a shambles of her upper works.

    YAMATO turns hard to port. She continues to throw up a screen of desperate flak fire. One Avenger is shot down but her barrage is largely ineffective because each AA battery fires independently without coordination. The escorts cannot defend the flagship either.

     

    1400 hour – Three bombs explode port amidships, five minutes later a torpedo hits her starboard side amidships. Ten minutes later, two more torpedoes strike her port side. YAMATO’s list increases to about 15 degrees and her speed slows to 12 knots.

    Executive Officer Nomura Jiro reports to Captain Aruga that his damage control officers are all dead and that counter-flooding can no longer correct the list. He suggests the order to abandon ship be given. The Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Ito, orders the mission cancelled and directs the remaining ships to pick up as many survivors as possible.

    Light cruiser YAHAGI, hit by 12 bombs and seven torpedoes sinks exactly one minute after the last bomb hits. LtCdr (later Captain) Herbert Houck, the leader of 43 TBM Avengers of VT-9 from YORKTOWN, detaches Lt Thomas Stetson’s six Avengers in a final torpedo attack from the ship’s starboard side. Stetson’s crewmen reset their Mark 13 torpedoes’ running depth to 20 feet. Listing heavily to port, YAMATO’s exposed hull is hit by several more torpedoes. She rolls slowly over her port side on her beam ends.

    YAMATO’s No. 1 magazine explodes and sends up a cloud of smoke seen 100 miles away. She slips under followed by an underwater explosion.

    YAMATO sinks at 30-22 N, 128-04 E.

     
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    Vice Admiral Ito and YAMATO’s skipper Captain Aruga and 3,055 of 3,332 crewmen are lost. 276 men are rescued including Rear Admiral Morishita Nobuei, Chief of Staff, Second Fleet (and former YAMATO skipper). Aruga receives a rare double promotion posthumously to Vice Admiral on the request of Admiral Toyoda. Later that day, the battered destroyers ISOKAZE and KASUMI are scuttled and sink. 1,187 crewmen of DesRon 2’s light cruiser YAHAGI and the four destroyers are also lost.

    The Imperial Japanese Navy ceases to exist as a fighting force. The Americans lose 10 aircraft and 12 crewmen.

    (Source: www.combinedfleet.com)

    ##

  • The Men of Torpedo Squadron Seventeen

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    What was to become the FIST of the FLEET was conceived on September 15, 1941, when the keel of the USS BUNKER HILL (CV-17) was laid. On January 1 1943, VT-17 was formed under the command of LCDR Frank W. “Silver Fox” Whitaker. In those previous fifteen months, the US Navy was busy recruiting, training, and purchasing the aircraft and thousands of items the squadron would need when the USS Bunker Hill was commissioned on May 24, 1943.

    CVG-17 was also formed on January 1, 1943. This air group became CVBG-17, then CVBG-5 in 1946 and redesignated CVG-6 in 1948. It became CVW-6 in 1963 and was disestablished on April 1, 1992. Numerical designation of air groups began in 1942, many numbered according to their assigned ship (CV-17 .. CVG-17) and each ship had a distinctive graphic design for its aircraft. Aircraft assigned to USS Bunker Hill were identified with a vertical arrow on the tail.

    The “Fist of the Fleet” began as Torpedo Squadron 17 (VT-17) at NAS Norfolk (Virginia), initially assigned TBF-1 then TBM-1C aircraft as part of Air Group 17 (CVG-17). The TBM Avenger was the same as the Grumman designed TBF, but built by Eastern Aircraft, a division of General Motors. The squadron moved to NAAS Chincoteague (Virginia) for training, away from the flight activity and intense scrutiny at Norfolk (Virginia).

    The Men of Torpedo Squadron Seventeen (VT-17)

    As of September 1944 — updates noted next to entry when known.

    Officers

    • Lt. Cmdr. William M. Romberger – Coronado, California
    • Lt. Cmdr. Thomas C. Durkin – New York, New York
    • Lt. Charles D. Livengood – Hardin, Montana
    • Lt. James A. Tew – Sanford, Florida
    • Lt. Henry E. Clark – Billings, Montana
    • Lt. Steven G. Sullivan – Tulare, California
    • Lt. Richard C. Reed – Des Moines, Iowa
    • Lt. John E. Murphy – Covington, Kentucky
    • Lt. (jg) George A. Hill – Concord, Massachusetts
    • Lt. (jg) William H. Morrissey – Santa Barbara, California
    • Lt. (jg) Arnold C. Traxler – Oakland, California
    • Lt. (jg) Harland W. Foote – Ventura, California
    • Lt. (jg) Francis M. Smith – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
    • Lt. (jg) Thomas J. Coghlan – Kankakee, Illinois
    • Lt. (jg) John S. Cooke – Glen Ridge, New Jersey
    • Lt. (jg) Kenneth B. C. McCubbins – Dallas, Oregon
    • Lt. (jg) Hugh C. Johnson – Waupaca, Wisconsin
    • Lt. (jg) Talmadge Westmoreland – Berkeley, California
    • Lt. (jg) James F. Monaghan – Whitestone, Long Island, New York
    • Lt. (jg) Walter D. Nielson – Hollywood, California
    • Lt. (jg) Jules J. Bundgus – New York, New York
    • Lt. (jg) John E. Strickland – Warsaw, North Carolina
    • Lt. (jg) Ralph V. Johnson – Benton City, Missouri
    • Ensign Joseph Behl – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Ensign Harry D. Jones – Carlisle, Pennsylvania (updated 2009)
    • Ensign Robert S. Hanlon – Detroit, Michigan
    • Ensign Walter F. Nickel – Dinuba, California
    • Ensign Harold Rogers – Bonners Ferry, Idaho
    • Ensign Fred Tschuden – Saint Louis, Missouri

    Transferred

    • Lt. John A. Martin – Chicago, Illinois
    • Lt. Raymond M. Roland, Jr. – Detriot, Michigan
    • Lt. (jg) Ivan R. Beisel – Inglewood, California

    Missing

    • Ensign William E. Hooton – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    Support Crew

    • Charles N. Akers, ARM 3/c – Lubbock, Texas
    • Vern K. Bell, ACMM – Reno, Nevada
    • James H. Berryhill, ARM 1/c – Sheffield, Alabama
    • Paul M. Bobbitt, AMM 1/c – Fort Worth, Texas
    • Paul Brauch, AOM 1/c – Wichita, Kansas
    • Philip S. Brezovsky, AMM 1/c – Chicago, Illinois

    (remaining list is still to be transcribed)