The Battle of Leyte Gulf – Conclusion

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St. Lo exploded after a kamikaze attacks.
Photo Credit: US Navy – http://www.navsource.org/archives/03/063.htm

A significant epilogue to the Battle of Leyte Gulf came on Oct. 25, the day when the Japanese assaulted the Seventh Fleet with a new weapon – Kamikaze suicide pilots made up entirely of volunteers led by Lieutenant Yukio Seki. Kamikaze which means “divine wind” was the name chosen by Captain Inoguchi for the new suicide unit.

While sea fighting had been raging all around the Philippines since the early morning of Oct. 25, a message from First Air Fleet headquarters urged the kamikaze units organized by Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi to attack without waiting, until contact with the enemy had been established: there were so many American naval groups at sea that it should be possible to discover at least one of them.

Six planes from the Yamato unit took off from Cebu at sunrise and…

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Dec. 8 – A significant date for Filipinos

Remember the Fallen at Pearl Harbor and the Second Pearl Harbor!

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In the Philippines, December 8 is the Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception where festival honoring the Virgin Mary are taking place in several towns. This is celebrated with evening processions, supplemented by cultural presentations, beauty pageants, and fireworks.

December 8 is also marked as the Second Pearl Harbor. Due to International Date Line, where Pearl Harbor is remembered in the United States on Dec. 7, in the Philippines it was actually Dec. 8 when ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, “another Pearl Harbor” of even more devastating consequence for American armed forces occurred in the Philippines, forty-five hundred miles to the west.

On December 8, 1941, 196 Japanese Navy bombers and fighters crippled the largest force of B-17 four-engine bombers outside the United States and also decimated their protective P-40 interceptors. The first Japanese bombs to fall on Philippine soil hit Camp John Hay in…

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The Battle of Leyte Gulf – Part 5

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A boat on a body of water

Description automatically generated
Gambier Bay and her escorts laying a smoke screen early in the battle.
Photo Credit – U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation

Kurita emerged unopposed from San Bernardino Strait and was racing southward heading for Leyte Gulf. At daybreak on Oct. 25, American carriers were sighted on the horizon. Kurita thought he had caught Halsey’s fast carriers with most of their planes down. In fact, Halsey was 300 miles to the north and his planes were taking off to attack Ozawa’s Northern Force. Ozawa radioed Kurita that he was under attack but Kurita never received the message.

What Kurita had come upon was Rear Admiral Clifton A.F. Sprague’s Taffy 3, one of three groups of escort carriers from Kinkaid’s Seventh Fleet assigned to provide air cover and antisubmarine patrol for the Leyte landings, not to attack enemy warships.

When one of his pilots reported seeing enemy forces closing in…

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The Battle of Leyte Gulf – Part 4

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Vice Adm. Shoji Nishimura – Photo Credit – Wikipedia

At the same time that Halsey was chasing Ozawa’s decoy carriers, the second arm of the Japanese pincers, Vice Admiral Nishimura’s Southern Force, was approaching Surigao Strait, the southern entrance to Leyte Gulf. Although he knew that Kurita had been delayed and would not be able to keep the dawn rendezvous in Leyte Gulf, Nishimura steamed ahead on schedule.

Aware of Vice Admiral Shoji Nishimura’s Southern Force but ignorant of the gaping hole of the San Bernardino Strait, Kinkaid ordered Rear Adm. Jesse B. Oldendorf to deploy the U.S. ships in preparation for a night engagement. They would be waiting for Nishimura. As Nishimura’s force steamed single file into the southern approaches of Surigao Strait, it was ambushed by several groups of American PT boats, which had been lying motionless in the water so as not to leave wakes that would…

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Veterans Day 2019

To all the veterans: Thank you.

Pacific Paratrooper

For each and every veteran – Thank You!!

For All Our Todays and Yesterdays

Armistice Day Becomes Veterans Day

World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The actual fighting between the Allies and Germany, however, had ended seven months earlier with the armistice, which went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918.  Armistice Day, as November 11 became known, officially became a holiday in the United States in 1926, and a national holiday 12 years later. On June 1, 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.

For their loyalty

War Dog Memorial on Guam.

US Military dog insignia

The Things That Make a Soldier Great

The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die,

To face the flaming cannon’s mouth…

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The Battle of Leyte Gulf – Part 3

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Admiral Halsey’s pilot reported that four of Kurita’s battleships had been severely damaged, that nine cruisers and destroyers had been sunk or heavily damaged, and that the remains of the armada were retreating westward. Halsey assumed that the Center Force was no longer a threat. On the contrary, air attacks by Halsey’s carriers, though damaging to the Japanese fleet, were not the knockout blows reported by the pilots.

Meanwhile,
Admiral Ozawa artfully coaxed Halsey to chase him. Desperate to lure the
Americans, Ozawa directed his pair of ships that were half-battleship and
half-carrier, the Ise and the Hyuga, to run south and find the
hostile fleet. U.S. planes scouring the area finally spotted the pair around
4:00 pm on Oct. 24.

At
about 5:30 pm, one spotted the carriers of Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa’s Northern
Force 300 miles to the north of San Bernardino Strait. Now, Halsey regarded the
Northern…

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The Battle of Leyte Gulf – Part 2

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The bridge of Musashi

The messages from the Dace and the Darter, warning of the advance of Kurita’s fleet, began arriving in Flag Plot aboard USS New Jersey at 6:20 am on Oct. 23. Halsey and his staff pondered the significance of the sightings by the two submarines.

Halsey
was not the only fleet commander tracking the Japanese movements. The Seventh
Fleet - “MacArthur’s Navy” – of old
battleships and small “jeep” carriers floated off the invasion beach,
supporting the landings with gunfire and strafing and bombing runs. Aboard his
flagship at anchor in Leyte Gulf, Adm. Thomas Kinkaid, the commander of the
Seventh Fleet, weighed in with his prediction. In a message to all commanders
(MacArthur, King, Nimitz and Halsey) sent shortly after 10:00 am, Kinkaid
suggested that the Japanese warships were headed to the Philippines to stage
what Kinkaid called a “magnified Tokyo Express.” Kinkaid suggested that…

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