Uncle Don Wilson was a faithful correspondent when I asked questions about his WWII experiences. But he referred me to books a few times, such as the histories of the two carriers he served on, the USS Yorktown (CV-5) and the USS Hancock (CV-19).
He also had me read this book, about another terror they encountered while in combat aboard the Hancock.
Typhoon: The Other Enemy
As commanding officer of a ship that came close to destruction in the typhoon of December 1944, the author of this book was in an unparalleled position to document a tragic ordeal that claimed 778 men, 3 destroyers, and more than 100 aircraft. This penetrating account details for the first time the events surrounding the storm, its chilling onset and ferocity, as well as its controversial aftermath.
Captain C. Raymond Calhoun had a long and distinguished naval career, serving as CO of Navy ships Dewey, Lamberton, and Moale, receiving numerous naval service awards and medals. Following retirement from the U.S. Navy, he served as Vice Chancellor in the Minnesota State University System, originator and first editor of National War College Forum, and published in the US. Naval Institute Proceedings and Naval Review.
“The Hannah [USS Hancock CV-19] sortied Ulithi atoll on December 10, 1944, intent on knocking out enemy airfields in the Philippines. . . . Strikes on the 19th and 20th were cancelled due to a severe typhoon, which prevented refueling on the 17th. . . At the height of the storm, waves broke over the Hannah’s flight deck, fifty-five feet above the waterline.”
Task Group 38.2 was under the command of Rear Adm. Gerald F. Bogan. The carrier Hancock, flagship of Vice Adm. John McCain, was also a unit of TG 38.2.
The book is divided into four parts: Prelude to a Typhoon, The Struggle for Survival, The Aftermath (including The Court’s Findings, Opinions, and Recommendations), and Summary. Appendix A includes Notes on Stability, Appendix B is Third Fleet Task Organization, and C is Admiral Nimitz’s Letter.
This very thorough recording of the U.S. Third Fleet’s battle with a typhoon in the Philippine Sea 75 years years ago this month also includes Notes, a Bibliography, and an Index.
Donald Wilson’s older brother, Delbert, had a terrifying encounter with a typhoon in the Atlantic in late 1942.
I often wonder how it must hurt the soul to be second guessed after surviving events during wartime servicce.
Amen. Uncle Don defended Rear Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher for a bum rap at the hand of Rear Adm. Samuel Eliot Morison’s books shortly after the war. That certainly must have stung a very decent man.
I think being in a storm at sea would have to be one of the most terrifying non-combat experiences in the world.