1967 Intrepid ‘Trap Record’

I was a rather naive 20 year old (I turned 20 the day I arrived) when I went to boot camp and pretty much took everything they told me seriously and to heart.  It was drilled onto us that “loose lips sink ships” and we were never to tell anyone where we were or what we were doing.  This included writing home, and keeping diaries or journals being a big no-no.  So the event I am about to relate is lacking detail for dates or specific numbers…This is how I remember it:

We were on our second scenic cruise of the tropical Gulf of Tonkin in 1967.  Working in V-3 Division, pushing planes and brooms, kept everyone on the hangar deck busy. Sometime during the cruise I was trained to operate the center-line aircraft elevator located forward also known as Elevator #1 or El-1.

During launches, El-1 was secured and locked in place on the flight deck.  During recoveries, if there was room on the hangar deck, the first planes trapped would be taxied to El-1 and brought down to the hangar before flight deck blue shirts started stacking planes on the bow.  This was the standard operating procedure and happened on most recoveries. And then there was the standard respotting between flight ops.

One warm and muggy morning, we had launched almost every capable bird on the ship, save the angels and “Operation Bear Claw” ready aircraft.  I don’t know what the number of aircraft were given that designation, but it was a very low number.  And, of course the queens were left behind.  Neither do I know how long it took to launch everything but there didn’t seem to be a big rush to get them off the deck.  I do know, from the cruise book, we had (4) A-4 squadrons, (2) A-1 squadrons, (2) F-8 squadrons, plus an E-1 and some UH-1 Angels.  This is 90+ aircraft as the Navy likes to say in ship specifications.

After the launch was complete, the hangar deck crew was assigned the normal “busy” duties.  It would never do to have an NCO or above see a blue shirt idle for more than five minutes.  We all had a trusty broom or rag and Brasso in hand and either pushing dust and salt around or polishing everything made of brass.  And there was a lot of brass.

After the deck was swept a couple of times, word came down that the squadrons were returning all together and some of the planes were pretty low on fuel.  We had to do some major shuffling to get ready for them.  Everything on the hangar deck was moved as far back into Bay 3 as possible.  What was left on the hangar deck did not fill Bay 3.  I was told to man my elevator all three hangar deck blue shirt crews were told to stand by in Bay 1.

aircraft trap‘Trapped’ Aircraft

 As the first recovered aircraft was released from the wire, it was directed ‘hot’ to El-1. Once on, Fly-1 raised the flight deck stanchions and gave the all clear through our sound powered phones for me to drop the elevator.  With the elevator at hangar level, Crew 10 climbed on and started pushing the plane to Bay 3.  As soon as they cleared the elevator, it was on its way up for the next bird.  Before Crew 10 had gotten the first one to Bay 3 and tied down, Crew 11 was climbing on the elevator to push the second one off.  Crew 10 was on their way back when Crew 12 was pushing the third one off.  Until we were about mid fill in Bay 2, as soon as each crew had the current plane tied down, they were at a dead run to return to El-1 for the next one.  This continued until the entire hangar deck was completely filled.  A lot of hustling…I mean a lot of hustling.  The flight deck blue shirts took over from there and stacked the bow.

Once we secured from flight ops, the 1MC came alive with the bos’n’s pipe and a “Now hear this!”.  The skipper (I don’t recall if it was still Captain Fair or Captain McVey who took command in June) came over the speakers and congratulated us for a job well done and I have a vague recollection of him saying he was proud to be commanding such a fine crew. We had broken a service wide record.  He went on to tell us how many aircraft we had ‘trapped‘ in whatever the time frame was.  No other carrier in the past had accomplished such a feat.  But keeping with my training, I did not write down the specifics.  Perhaps someone out there who was on that cruise has a better memory than I or maybe kept a journal (as I am now aware that others did) and can fill in the blanks.

FCM Fred Woods, AN, AMS striker, at the time of the event, CVS/A 11. Email:xfredwwoods@yahoo.com

FCM Obituaries

Updated: September 4, 2019


Former USS Intrepid Crew Member Obituaries – 2012 – 2013

Aguirri, Phillip – Almquist, ‘Bill’ E. – Allred, Samuel – Anastasia, Frank – Anderson, Gerald – Anderson, Herbert ‘Herb’ Franklin – Anderson, Malcolm – Andrew, Harry F. – Angel, James –Anthony, Frederick H. – Arnett, Bob ‘Bobo’ H. – Baisley, Daniel – Balch, Allen –Baldessari, Irvin – Ballantine, Jr., Macon Robert – Barna, George J. – Baum, Roger – Bentley, Jack, Jr. – Berry, Eugene R. – Berry, JohnBerube, Henry C. – Bloch, Donald– Bonesteel, Warren E. – Boyer, Roger O’Neil – Britcher, Warren E. – Broll, Jr., Arthur G. – Brown, Sherman – Brown, William A. – Brugger, Frank –Bryce, John ‘Jack’  B. – Buehrle, Raymond W. –  Butler, Michael A. – Butt, Robert –Byers, Carl – Cafferty, Doane – Call, Sr., Duane – Caputo, Joseph –Chase, Carroll – Cantwell, Clay – Carman, John ‘Jack’ – Carr, RichardCaswell, Richard C. – Centner, Charles ‘Chuck’ – Chisolm, John K. – Clark, Arthur – Clipper, Lawrence J. – Collamore, Russell H. – Colleary, John J. – Cook, Ralph W. – Cox, JosephCrasilli, Peter – Crodic, William J. – Cutter, Stephen – Daniello, Peter – Davidson, Emmett – Davidson, James – Davis, Rondell – Davis, Dennis “Tank” – Deffer, Bruce –DeLong, Howard G. – Dertien, Donald – Diehl, Wilbur O. – DiSalvo, Thomas – Dressel, Robert ‘Bob’ H. – Dubinsky, Maurice – Edwards, Sr., Richard E. – Edwards, Alden –  Ehlers, Walter –Englebright, Harry – Esposito, Michael T. –Evans III, Thomas B. – Fagan, Sr., RobertFarrell, Raymond – Fiechtl, Herman – Franz, Richard – French, Alfred –Galvin, Richard J. – Gardner, Frank – Garner, EdwinGibson, Clifford W. –  Gibson, Clyde – Girouard, Joseph A. – Gooding, John ‘Skip – Greenfelder, Donald – Grimsley, William –Grace, Jr., Anthony ‘Tony’ – Green, Ben – Grimsley, William – Guerrero, ManuelHarrison, Harry H. – Hartline, Robert F. – Hasty, Charles – Haylock, Charles – Herman, PhilipHobbs, Robert A. – Hogencamp, James – Hogue, Charles S. – Holehouse, Gerald – Hollenbeck, Howard E. – Hollingsworth, Elmer T., Jr. – Hrina, John – Hurff, Jack C. – Ingram Sr., Alex – Ingram, James D. – Janicki, Walter R. – Jansen, Eugene – Johnson, Elwood ‘Al’ – Jones, Ronald – Kampmann, Tom – Kaszubski, John J. – Kearney, William – Keefe, Arthur A.- Keith, Samuel B. –   Keller, Bruce – Keyser, Edward – Kinder, Hurcle – Kistler, Kirt –Kofnovec, Robert – Kollisch, Peter – Komara, James – Krasley, Michael – Kroll, Gunther – Lana, Richard – Lavey, Jr., John – Lessard, Norman – Liekweg, Jr., Dr. William G. – Magrone, Frank – March, John L. – Marcy, Robert M. – Marshall, Stephen – McDerby, Eugene – McGee, Terry – McKinley, Dennis – Miller, Harry – Miller, Robert –    Miller, William – Moore, Jack – Nawn, Jr., Leo J. – Nusbaum, Jr., Bertram – Oberndorfer, James – Pacovich, Robert – Patton, Robert – Pizzemento, Sr., Joseph – Purcell, Stuart – Redden, Harold Roy – Rives, William – Romans, Richard – Ross, Maurice – Sallada, William, Capt. –Sapp, Stanley – Siders, Sr., Carl –Smetana, Lousi C. – Smith, Calvin – Smith, Raymond –Smith, Stanley – Sotherland, Eskel – Tator, William – Tutor, John H. “Harvey” – Walters, Gary – Weckter, Norman L. – Weddle, Lloyd D. – Wilhelmi, Quentin – Wood, Wayne – Kaszubski, John J. – Yandell, Brian.

For Details on Burial at sea, go to: https://www.navy.mil/navydata/questions/burial.htm

Former Crew Member (FCM) Locator

If any former U.S.S. Intrepid (CV, CVA, CVS-11) Crew Member (FCM) is searching for a former shipmate,  contact U.S.S. Intrepid Association, Inc. Past President (’03-’05) FCM John Simonetti, AMS3, V-6 Division ( ’61 – ’62 ) at cv11texfcm@gmail.com 

When inquiring please provide your name/rating/rank/division/squadron/time onboard the Intrepid/email address, and every effort will be made to try and locate your former shipmate. Only City, State, Zip Code and Rating will be provided.


Thank you – John


Note: This Blog is not affiliated with the NEW USS Intrepid Former Crewmember Association

Any *NEW USS Intrepid Former Crew Member Association inquiries must be sent to the  Membership Chairman at memberscvs11@gmail.com

*Prior Association Name was – The USS Intrepid Association, Inc.

Navy Yarns



Navy Yarn Pic

Army Special Order 625-10-5

When I arrived in BuPers in 1950, people were still laughing at the Army’s Special Order 625-10-5, recently promulgated over the signature of General Omar Bradley, Chief of Staff. It dealt with “Administrative and Training Positions in the Women’s Army Corps“.

The first paragraph provided for the assignment of women officers to such billets.

The second read: “The nine officers designated a Women’s Army Corps Staff Advisor for the six armies, the Military District of Washington, and the overseas commands may be used by the commanding general concerned in any other positions which he deems necessary”.

The day after that order appeared, General Bradley received a note from Admiral Louis Denfeld (USNA ’12), Chief of Naval Operations. It read: “How about standing up in a canoe!”.

Author: Captain Roy C. Smith III, U.S. Navy (Ret) – Captain Smith was an accomplished author, former editor of Shipmate magazine, and former Director of the U.S. Navy Museum. Source: United States Naval Institute Naval History magazine, June 1997


– Figurehead –

MastHead pic

Archaeologists have found evidence that man has been decorating his ships and boats for several millenia. Among the artifacts found associated with the burials of pharaonic Egypt are craft with eyes painted on their prows. along with other decorations. In some areas of the maritime world today, eyes continue to appear, giving the craft both personality and, it is hoped, the ability to find their way in safety.

Between 1650 and 1750, bows, sterns, and even sides were adorned with magnificent examples of the woodcarver’s craft, often painted in brilliant colors or blinding with huge amounts of gold leaf. Such vessels were intended to awe other nations’ leaders with the wealth and power such displays implied.

A principal element of this decoration was that placed at the bow, under the bowsprit, usually a statue in Greco-Roman style of heroic proportions that, directly or indirectly, symbolized the ship’s name. When skillfully done and dramatically colored, it could inspire its ship’s company with pride in their ship and a belief in her power. And when seen by an adversary, it was hoped it would inspire awe and dampen opposition.

Such opulent decoration is rarely seen today, but memory of it lingers on, especially among our nonprofit cultural organizations, which often resort to inviting a well-known personality to e titular leader of the organization, even though that person may totally lack skills related to the organization’s purpose. That person, like the statue of earlier times, is said to be a ” figurehead.


Death of the Japanese Fleet – Part VI

Death of the Japanese Fleet – continued

A hungry Task Force 58

American submarines had been shadowing the tiny fleet, and Hackleback reported her location. Next morning the Japanese were tracked as they came in circular formation zigzagging into battle…Adm. Mitscher’s search planes were out.

At 0823 that morning an Essex plane found the Japanese and sent a report on their course and speed. Admiral Mitscher told Admiral Spruance, who asked Adm. N.L. Deyo if he wanted to take the ships. So few were they, so little the risk to the Americans, that it was like playing a game. It was nothing like the battles of Leyte. There was something languid, and a bit supercilious even, about the American approach to the problem. One could not blame them; their superiority was such that the issue was not in doubt from the moment the Japanese ships sailed. The only question was who was going to dispose of these gnats.


Admiral Mitscher’s boys were hungry. Task Firce 58 began to put forth its strike planes, and here is the story of what happened next from the report of Air Group 10 aboard the Intrepid, one of Admiral Radford’s carriers.

“The air groups of Task Group 58.1 and Task Group 58.3 approached the target abeam of each other about 6,000 feet- the ceiling. The Japanese fleet was sighted at 4 miles with only part of the enemy taskgroup visible through broken clouds a 2,500 feet. Task Group 58.3 planes were directed to orbit clear of the target.

After investigating the enemy formation and finding it in a circular disposition with the Yamato as the center, the planes of Task Group 58.1 were directed to attack. At the completion of their attack the Agano (type cruiser) was practically dead in the water, listing to port and burning astern of the formation with one DD to protect her. The planes of Task Group 58.3 were directed to attack, all VT (torpedo bombers) and VB (dive bombers) on the Yamato and the VF (fighters) on the DDS, except the Bataan VT were ordered to attack the Agano and VF the escorting DD.”

In other words, it was a well coordinated, patient attack. The Japanese were below; there were hundreds of American planes o attack them, and the only thing to be feared was the Japanese antiaircraft fire. As early in the war off Singapore and at Pearl Harbor it had been learned that airplaes could indeed sink battleships, the lesson was told again sharply this day against the mightiest ship in the world.

Here is a bit of the account from the report of the bombers of Air Group 83:

“Planes were loaded with 1,000 lb general-purpose bombs. Fighters initiated the attack, preceding bombers and torpedo planes; Ltjg Gibbs scoring the first hit on the Jap battleship Yamato forward of the superstucture on the port side. Ltjg Scheiss hit a cruiser amidships; Ens Comstock 10 ft off the bow of one of the destroyers; and Ens. G Harris 10 feet off the starboard beam of another destroyer…”

They parceled the targets out, Yamato and the other ships twisted and turned and fought back as gamely as they knew how. Squadron 83 left her smoking slightly and still under way. The torpedo planes all went in on Yamato and began to get hits.

Here is part of Torpedo 83s report:

Lt. Beeson’s division approached from the Yamato’s port bow and entered into the torpedo run just a short interval of time and distance behind…As the Yamato swung to the staroard, its port beam was presented in full and all 4 pilots declared afterwards that it gave them the best target they ever had at any time in their torpedo training exercise. Lt. Beeson, Ltjg Roe and Ens Shranger all claim hits; pilots and crewmen among them saw at least 2 torpedo explosions. Ens. Baas was out of position and he observed his torpedo wake pass astern, run under a Terutsaki (destroyer) off the BB’s starboard quarter, and then disappear.”

Ensign Barrett, another pilot, also missed Yamato, but it was his luck that his torpedo ran hot and straight into the port side of a destroyer on the Yamato‘s starboard quarter, exploded- and the Japanese destroyer sank.

That is the way it went.

It seemed that the Americans could do nothing wrong that day, and the Japanese nothing right. If they had been sent out to show how brave me could accept slaughter and overwhelming odds, they did jst that. At the end of it, with the hundreds of planes having struck, the Americans lost just 10 planes and 12 airmen.

The Japanese force died in agony…Five torpedo hits in the port side of Yamato made a death trap of the engine and boiler rooms; they had to be flooded, and the flooding caught the engine room crews, who had no chance.

All in all there were 5 waves of attack, and each one did more damage than the last, until by 1620, having fought the fight of her life without hope since just after 1230, the Yamato suffered several internal explosions and went down. Three hours later, assessing the damage, Admiral Mitscher reported to Admiral Spruance that they had sunk Yamato, a cruiser, a light cruiser, 2 destroyers, and had damaged 3 or 4 others that got away. Four destroyers went home, limping, with some survivors. But Yamato lost 2,400 of her 2,700 officers and men that day. The cruiser Yahagi lost nearly 500,the cruiser Asashimo lost over 300, and on the 7 destroyers some 400 men were killed.

After Okinawa was secured, Admiral Spruance departed and soon the Third Fleet was on the rampage, doing what Admiral Halsey love3d best and what he did best, hitting the enemy hard where it hurt most.

This time, in the summer months of 1945, the place to hit and hurt most was the Japanese homeland, and it was here that the last bitter end of the Japanese surface navy was played out.

On July 24, the Third Fleet was off the coast of Japan. and the pilots of the task force were smashing Japanese installations, with so little oppositionthat it was hardly believable. Of course there was reason. Japanese aircraft factories were still functioning, Japan was still fighting the war, but she was saving everything for those last desperate hours on the beaches, when her leadeers expected the blood of the invaders to turn the water red.

Continued to steam in Task Group 38.4 toward the operating area“, said the laconic report of Yorktown for July 24.

Sweeps and strikes began at 0445 against our prime target, which was combatant shipping in the vicinity of Kure naval base”.

Yorktown finished 120 combat sorties, and although damage was difficult to assess Yorktown pilots “poured it on” the AG (transport) Settsu, the cruiser Oyodo, the light cruiser Hosho, and the cruiser Tone, and scored additional heaqvy damage to a minimum of about 14,000 tons of shipping, as well ast to 6 airfields.

There was virtually no airbone opposition, except over Bungo Suido where 10 to 12 Franks and Jacks were encountered. Yorktown pilots shooting down one Jack and damaging one l. On the On the airfields, 4 unidentified aircraft were destroyed on the ground and 9 unidentified were damaged. In addition, 3 locomotives were destroyed and 2 damaged, plus other attrition to miscellaneous installations.

On the 25th the Third Fleet struck again, and on the 26th and 27th replenished, and on the 28th played out the last of the drama of the naval forces of Japan. On that 28th again the pilots hit the Kure area.

According to Halsey’s records, “An assessment of the damage for the day revealed that Yorktown claimed a number of hits and near misses on the Haruna, the Oyodo, the Tone, and old cruiser, and a destroyer or destroyer escort. Photographs showed the main deck of the Haruna completely blown off for a distance of about 65 ft astern of the Nol. 4 turret, wile the Oyodo was last seen by pilots listing heavily to starboard in an extensive oil slick“.

Admiral Halsey‘s Third Fleet did as much damage in the two air raids on Kure naval base as if they had engaged in a dangerous naval battle at sea. ( major capital ships were sunk or put out of action.

There is was…the end of the Japanese fleet, and the end of the carrier war. Just a few days later came Hiroshima, and the end of it all.

Source: THE CARRIER WAR, Author: Edwin P. Hoyt – Avon Books 


Death of the Japanese Fleet – Part V

Death of the Japanese Fleet – continued

Operation Kikusui

Planes of the fast carrier force did much damage in Japanese waters and to shore installations now.

On March 19th, carrier Ryuho was hit so hard in a raid on Kure by planes of the task force that she was in-operational for the rest of the war.

Seeing such damage, and knowing what was happening, that the Japanese navy was being swallowed inch by inch, Admiral Toyoda and the high command planned Operation Kikusui, named for the 14th century Japanese patriot Masashige Kusunoki, who led his soldiers to certain death in the battle of Minatogawa so that Japan’s spirit might survive.

Kikusui was to be a series of operations, ten of them in all, largely involving the Kamikazes at Okinawa, where the Americans were expected to land next. But there was a new coordination; the navy would send its fairest flowers out to fight this time on a suicide mission similar to tat of the Kamikazes. It was planned that way.

The Americans did land on Okinawa on April 1. The naval force consisted of so many ships it would be almost too much to have expected the Japanese to believe them if thy saw them. The gunfire and covering force of big ships alone consisted of 10 battleships, 11 heavy cruisers, and a fleet of destroyers. The escort carriers numbered 14, with a swarm of destroyers, and there were no fewer than 17 fleet carriers and light carriers, with all the new battleships and the cruisers and the scores of destroyers. This was just to defend the landing forces against whatever the Japanese might put up.

What the Japanese proposed to put up were the 700 airplanes they had available for attack on the american forces right the, and the strength of the fleet in nland waters.

On paper the Japanese fleet was still a formidable weapon. As of the first few months of 1945, the americans thougt it consisted of 4 battleships and the carriers Unryu (sunk), Amagi, Katsuragi, and Ryuho.

What the Japanese acually did have in home waters were the battleship Haruna, the battlesip – carriers Ise, Hyuga, the battleship Nagato, and the superbattleship Yamato. The carrier Amagi was afloat, and so were Katsuragi and Hosho.

Of the cruisers there were Aoba and Ashigara, Tone, Kitagami, Yahagi, and Oyoda, Sakawa and Kashima.

Admiral Toyoda and his staff had placed Yamato, Yahagi, and 8 destroyers in a command unit, the Second Fleet. And on April5, after the Americans had landed at Okinawa, the Japanese were sending a battleship and cruiser and 8 destroyers on a suicide mission.

The Japanese naval reasoning is very specious here, but the idea generally was to attract the enemy air to the Yamato, as flies to honey, and thus take the attention off the island so the proud army defenders could counterattack during this time and wipe the Americans off Okinawa.

When the operational orders were read to the skippers of the 10 ships, only the captain of Yamato failed to object. The others all had the same idea: why destroy a fleet and its men simply for such an object?

This operation does not offer us a proper place to die,” objected Capt. Kiichi Shintani. “A more fitting place will present itself when we can engage the enemy in hand to hand combat as we oppose his invasion of the homeland. The proposed plan is idiocy!”

Another captain suggested that Combined Fleet staff come out of its air raid shelter at Hiyoshi and fight the battle itself – which was about as close to mutinous talk as one ever heard in the Imperial navy, particularly when voiced in front of the chief of staff of Combined Fleet, as the captain’s suggestion had been.

When the word was out, the seamen aboard the ships began sharpening their bayonets, for they had been told that if they once got among the American ships and did their job, then they might get ashore and join the army fighting for the defense of the homeland. They did not know that they would first have to swim through some 1,200 American ships. That night the crew got sake and salty biscuits called sembes, and celebrated the coming heroic operation.

That night they also jettisoned everyting burnable and not needed on this last voyage of the fleet: wooden objects, paints, canvas, even the ship’s boats. A group of midshipmen, straight out of the naval academy, were sent ashore objecting fiercely that they too should be allowd to give their lives for their country.

Aboard the Yahagi, Adm. Keizo Komura entertained his captains with sake, and they drank many bottles, and threw them into the sea, singing patriotic songs from their naval academy days, and thinking of the morrow.

And on the morrow, at 1500, there sailed from the Inland Sea the strongest force that Japan could put together at that moment, with Nagato under repair, 2 cruisers in the south, and Haruna repaired. For 2 days Yamato had moved to avoid snoopers but now, as they moved out, they were snooped by B-29s and by enemy submarines going through Bungo Suido.

The fleet moved on majestically, past Tanegushima and Yakushima, and a 0600 entered the open sea. At the same time, the Japanese Kamikazes were harrying the American fleet off Okinawa, and hitting a dozen ships with varying degrees of destruction.

Operaton Kikusui was in full-sway, and oddly enough the Japanese seemed to have learned nothing from the failure of Kurita at Leyte.  But Tokyo, perhaps, hoped to distract Americans. Tokyo was also interested in maintaining the Japanese fighting spirit to the end, and it was through such sacrifices as this one, tat seem so needless to the Western mind, that the Japanese would accomplish their aim.

Early on the morning of April 7 a few Japanese planes circled the fleet, but soon they were gone, alone with the seaplanes of Yamato and Yahagi. Planes, as potential Kamikaze weapons, were too valuable to be wasted. In this topsy-turvy world of Japan’s only the greatest battleship in the world could be wasted needlessly. 

…continued with Part VI (A hungry Task Force 58)

Source: THE CARRIER WAR, Author: Edwin P. Hoyt – Avon Books


Death of the Japanese Fleet – Part IV

Death of the Japanese Fleet – continued

Redfish Records

0130 – Convoy is pulling away from us and only a miracle will bring it back.

0134 – The miracle arrives! Heard two separate explosions far enough apart to be two torpedo hits. Aircraft carrier slows down. Gives a big zig toward. He must be hurt! This attack, if made by a submarine, came as a complete surprise to us and we had been searching without success for radar interference ahead in the hopes there was someone up there to turn the convoy toward us.

0137 – Another explosion

0139 – Another explosion

0140 – Another explosion

0142 – Aircraft carrier is now dropping well astern of the other ships and we are closing fast.

0156 – Carrier has speed up to 12 knots angle on bow 110 range. 2900 commenced firing 6 air torpedoes forward, at least one of which made an erratic circular run.

0158. 10 – Heard and saw one terrific hit in carrier – also saw destroyer passing between carrier and us on opposite course. He was just coming back to screen carrier from battle-ship group when we started firing.

0159.30 – Another explosion. Flash seen from bridge, but unable to tell whether it was a torpedo hit in carrier.

Between 0201 in the morning and 0211 there were no fewer than 7 explosions heard by Redfish, and her captain began working around for more shots at this convoy. He wanted to sink the damaged carrier.

By 3 am Redfish was having difficulties. She was nearing the 100-fathom curve off Nagasaki; that would mean minefields inside, and visibility was growing much too good. also, the carrier was not hurt as badly as she might have been and still had plenty of speed. The destroyers were very, very wary.

Twenty minutes later Redfish attacked, fired 10 torpedoes, and heard 3 explosions. And then a little more than an hour later Redfish intercepted a message from the Plaice that said she had been the other submarine attacking from the other side. Whether she hit the carrier or destroyers or both was not determined just then. But what was determined was that the wofd pack had got the Junyo. Another Japanese capital ship was damaged so severely that she was out of the war.

It has been quite a night”, said the captain of Redfish. “Feel bad about not sinking that carrier, but maybe he’ll blow up before he hits port“. He did not blow up, but he did not go out again, either, and Redfish had her moment of glory a few days later off the China coast.

At about 4 pm, Redfish sighted masts.

Just before 4:30 the captain saw 2 destroyers and a carrier. He did not know it, but it was the Unryu…He moved in.

1629 – Target has zigged toward angle on bow 30 starboard – changed speed to 1/3 – flooded bow and stern tubes. Can make out 3 escorting destroyers. One ahead and one on each bow of target.

1635 – Commenced firing 4 torpedoes from bow tubes (all we had forward)…

1635.45 – First torpedo hit causing target to stop, list 20 degrees to starboard, and commence burning aft. Target opened fire just prior to being hit, with all guns on starboard side…

The starboard escort came around astern. Redfish fired several torpedoes but did not know if she got a hit. Then she was too busy to notice much because the destroyers came after her. But they milled around and did not find her, so she got into position and fired an electric torpedo, hitting aft of the carrier’s island.

Torpedo hit carrier at point of aim. The sharp crack of the torpedo explosion was followed instantly by thundering explosions apparently from magazine or gasoline stowage, probably the latter. Huge clouds of smoke, flame and debris burst into the air completely enveloping the carrier. When Executive Officer looked several seconds later he still could not see the ship due to the smoke. They began changing course to avoid the milling destroyers.

1656 – Looking through the camera of No. 2 periscope, the executive officer saw the target listing heavily, stern submerged, with many planes on deck….So Unryu, another proud carrier, had gone to the bottom with her deckload of planes.

..continued with Part V (Operation Kikusui)

Source: THE CARRIER WAR, Author: Edwin P. Hoyt – Avon Books


Death of the Japanese Fleet – Part III

Death of the Japanese Fleet – continued

Was Shikoku prepared?

Even before she had loaded all her equipment, Shinano was dispatched to Shikoku, which was the central training center of the Combined Fleet. She was trained, or they siad she was, and was made ready to rush into battle. With Yamato and the lesser ships that could be assembled, and with Ise and Hyuga (which were under repair), Japan theoretically cold mount a formidable fleet, particularly if the enormous threat of Shinano was added. No one knew what she might do in battle.

On the evening of November 28, Shinano set out, accompanied by 3 battle-weathered destroyers, on her maiden voyage. She was only traveling from Yokosuka to Osaka Bay. Three years ago, even one year ago, this had been sacrosanct water, and an American submarine that dared enter risked the life of every man without much hope of accomplishing any thing in exchange. But times had changed; American submarines were everywhere, it seemed, and an American submarine found Shinano and her escorts. The submarine was the Archerfish, and her captain was Comd. J. F. Enright, who was stationed on lifeguard patrol to aid and comfort the B-29s that were flying from the Marianas over Japan these days. He was basically stationed 100 miles south of Tokyo Bay, but on this day he had been given a holiday (no bombing raids scheduled) and he was roaming around looking for excitement.

Shinano, and destroyers Hamokaze, Isokaze, and Yukikaze were steaming out on this cold evening under a bright chilled moon when just before 9 pm they were sighted by Archerfish. They were nervous enough already; an hour before there had been a submarine alert, and the ships were zigzagging and alert. This was no accident, no carelessness, but the confrontation of 2 deadly weapons, the carrier and the modern submarine of the day.

Commander Enright surfaced and chased the fast-moving gorup – they were making at least 20 knots and the only reason he could keep up and then gain was that they were zigzagging on a base course, which cut down their forward speed.

And then the submarine alert ended, and the group resumed its southern course – with a change that brought it right into the tubes of Archerfish. Capt. Toshio Abe could not have been more unlucky. Captain Enright could not have had better luck.

On they came to a point 1,400 yards away from Archerfish, which only had to lie there and shoot, then dive deep to escape the expected depth-charging.

Four torpedoes struck home, tearing a great hole in the Shinano‘s center on the port side. No pumps could stop the water, no mattresses or shoring could rebuild that shell. And then, although she could and did steam south at 20 knots for a way, the watertight compartments gave way, or were not dogged properly, or leaked – because Shinano settled and listed, and it became apparent that she was going down.

Lieutenant Sawamoto heard the order to abandon ship, but instead of rushing to the side he took the Emperor’s portrait from the captain’s quarters and gave it to a seaman in the water. Lieutenant Sawamoto was not seen again.

Captain Abe stayed on his bridge, and near him stayed Tadashi Yasuda, the top graduating man in his class of 1943 at the naval academy. Both went down on the bridge.

It was just as well for Captain Abe, because he had believed too well what the designers told him about the carrier’s unsinkability. He might have made port and saved his ship, but he did not believe she could sink – until 8 hours after the torpedoing, on the morning of November 29th, when she went down, carrying him and 500 men who did not get off. Shinano never launched a single plane.

And then there was Junyo, that survivor of the Marianas turkey shoot. Just after mdnight on December 8, 1944,the U.S.S. Redfish, a submarine, was chasing a convoy and was sighted by one of the escort vessels. Sea Devil was on the other side and apparently firing, because Redfish heard 2 explosions just efore the time came to move away. The chase of the destroyer was not long, but by one o’clock in the morning Redfish was far enough away that only a zig by the convoy would help put her in position to fire torpedoes.

 …continued with Part IV (Redfish Records)

Source: THE CARRIER WAR, Author: Edwin P. Hoyt – Avon Books

Death of the Japanese Fleet – Part II

Death of the Japanese Fleet – continued

Sarawak’s 2nd attempt

On March 19th, Sarawak was loaded with diesel oil. She joined a convoy of 5 other ships and 6 escorts. There were 3 tankers, and other ships loaded with supplies. They began bravely, but just outside Singapore, Sarawak -in the main channel near Horsaburg light, struck another mine, which put a hole in the engine room. Towing began, but she sank on the way and was total loss. Thus, not one of that convoy of 10 ships sent from Japan ever returned. And as for the rest of that convoy – not one of the ships wver arrived in Hong Kong. All, tankers, cargo ships, and escorts, were sunk off the coast of Indo-China. It was the last convoy from Singapore.


Militarily speaking, the Japanese continued to do a considerable amount of damage to American ships all during the rest of the war, by far the greatest part of it accomplished by the suicide craft. *For example, on Octoer 29th, the carrier Intrepid was hit, and on the 30th the Franklin and Belleau Wood both suffered serious damage from Kamikazes. A month later, 4 American carriers were badly damaged by suicide planes.

The Third Fleet continued to harry Japanese shipping (and when it was not the Third Fleet it was the Fifth Fleet – same ships and same planes, but different fleet commanders). It was the Third Fleet that caused the almost total destruction of Captain Kawamura‘s convoy in January in Formosan waters. And they were doing the same everywhere they could. Here is a paragraph from the carrier reports of January 12, 1945, which gives some indication of what was happening in Asian waters.

” No major ships of the enemy were found, but the air strikes of 12 January on the French Indo-China coast achieved more shipping destruction. One enemy convoy was entirely destroyed and 2 others severely mauled; the shipping tally totalled 41 ships (127,000 tons) sunk and 28 (70,000 tons) damaged; among ships sunk were 2 cruisers, 1 Japanese (Kashii) and 1 French (Lamotte Picquet), partially dismantled, at Saigon; docks, oil storage, and airfield facilities were heavily damaged; 112 enemy planes were destroyed, the Indo-China coast was left a shambles. Air opposition was negligible, the CAP destroyed practically all of 50 enemy reinforcing planes ferried in on the afternoon of the 12th…”

On January 13th and 14th the Americans destroyed 38,000 tons of Japanese shipping.

On January 16th the planes destroyed 88,000 tons of shipping. They hit Formosa again, but they noticed that when they came within the inner Empire or fought off the Philippines where the Japanese were still puting up strong aerial resistance, the Americans took a series of blows from the Kamikazes.

On January 21st the fleet hit Formosa and destroyed 200 Japanese planes. This was of course felt in the Philippines. It narrowed the pipeline through which planes were ferried. But the Kamikazes got to Ticonderoga and Langley and the destroyer Maddox, and Ticonderoga and Maddox had to be sent back to the base at Ulithi for repairs.

On January 22nd, Third Fleet became Fifth Fleet with the advent of Admiral Spruance as commander, but the destruction of Japanese ships and navy went on. Fifth Fleet – Third Fleet; that is the way it alternated until the end of the war, and little by little, one by one, the carrier groups and land-based air-power sought out the remnants of the Japanese fleet, and destroyed those ships one by one.

Many of the Japanese ships fell to submarines. One big Japanese ship to go that way was Shinano, the world’s super-carrier, a ship on which the optimistic among the Japanese still managed to place an almost miraculous hope for the future of ending the war.

Shinano was first planned as a superbattleship of the Yamoto class. But after the Battle of Midway, when Japan lost 4 big carriers, Admiral Yamamoto and others of the air admirals persuaded the navy to change over the design and plan to produce the supercarrier. That was in 1942.

What with the change in plans and the exigencies of war and shortages of steel that began building up with the success of the American submarine effort, Shinano was not finished until November 1944. She was everything promised: with a special flight deck and a capacity of 70 planes, she displaced 71,000 tons and bristled with machine guns and anti-aircraft guns. Her flight deck was compositon of steel and concrete tht was supposed to resist any aerial attack, no matter how strong or prolonged.

On November 11th – Armistice Day – ironic as it may seem  – Shinano was launched in Tokyo Bay, and although usually several months were devoted to fitting out a carrier, or any other ship, she was quickly commissioned and thrown together with a green crew, many of whom had not been to sea before in any vessel. The admirals were grasping at straws. Perhaps this great carrier, impervious, they said, to air attack, could sail bravely out and engage the terrible American task force that now had its way around the Japanese islands when it appeared. Perhaps Shinano could sink Halsey and Spruance and Mitscher and all the rest of those hate Americans, sink them and send them to the bottom forever to rot among the sands.

…continued with Part III (Was Shikoku prepared?)

Source: THE CARRIER WAR, Author: Edwin P. Hoyt – Avon Books

Death of the Japanese Fleet – Part I


December 7, 1941. Dawn had broken on a beautiful Sunday morning. The blue waters of the Pacific and sky above had never looked clearer. All was quiet at the U.S. Navy base in Hawaii’s Pearl harbor…and then hell broke loose.

When one looks at the losses of the Battle of Leyte the disparity is so great that it is remarkable the Japanese admirals could have any hope left at all for anyting. Japan lost 3 battleships, a fleet and 3 light carriers, 6 cruisers, 4 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers in the four forces that took part in the battle.

Now it became for the American carriers a question of tracking down and destroying the units of the Japanese fleet as they found them, and the emphasis naturally had to turn to tankers, supply ships, and other shipping because there was (with one great exception) to be no further Japanese naval effort on the sea. The Japanese navy fliers in the Philippines, for example, became troops or Kamikaze pilots.

October 1944 marked a high point in American aerial attacks on Japanese shipping and caused the Japanese to change their manner of protecting shipping between the outer fringes of the Empire and Japan proper.

By November, the results of the Leyte battles had brought about a basic change in the convoy system. Convoys had been routed from Southeast Asia along the Philippines to Japan, but now they hugged the Asiatic coast instead. The convoys became smaller, and the number of destroyers and escorts were increased. There was even an occasional cruiser along. Japan absolutely had to have oil above all, and there was only one source of supply to her, the Netherlands East Indies.

The story of just one convoy at the end of the year is indicative of what was happening to Japan’s forces at sea in these last terrible days.

Capt. Chuji Kawamura was the commander of the tanker Sarawak, a 5,000 ton ship that plied between Singapore and Japanese ports bringing oil and aviation gasoline. Between November 20, 1943, and the summer of 1944 she made 3 trips to Singapore and back; then on the 4th trip sixty feet of the ship’s bow was blown off and she was towed to Manila. In August 1944 the ship was taken to Japan, and in the middle of December repairs were completed there. Captain Kawamura sailed from Yokohama on December 31, bound again for Singapore to bring back gasoline. There was a decided difference this time.

There were 10 merchant ships in the convoy and 8 escorts. This was hardly an economic way to use shipping, but Japan was desperate for petroleum products.

The speed of the convoy was 12 knots, sailing out of Moji. When it was learned from convoy command that U.S. Task Force 58 was in the South China Sea, plans were changed, although the convoy was ready to hug the China coast. It was diverted to Takao. On January 8 the first ship was sunk by a submarine off Keeling, Formosa. Then, in Takao, in harbor no less, the convoy was attacked by Task Force 38’s carrier planes on January 9, and 3 more ships were sunk. One ship also suffered engine trouble and was lost to the convoy here. The air attack began in the morning, and came over in 4 waves that day – the Japanese estimated 300 planes in all. They sank or damaged 2 other ships in the harbor besides those of the convoy, dropping perhaps 100 bombs and then strafing. A ship 200 yards from the Sarawak was sunk. Captain Kawamura’s men manned their 12 machine guns – there were 50 navy men in his crew these days. The American bomb marksmanship was not very good, but perhaps that was because of the terrible weather in Takao that day; it was so cloudy that the Japanese in their ships could not see the Americans until just before they dropped their bombs – and, of course, it worked both ways. They were flying in at 600 feet to drop.

On January 10, the convoy was now reduced to 5 tankers and cargo ships, plus the escorts. It sailed from Takao, followed the China coast in shallow water past Hong Kong, and was passing outside Hainan Island – or beginning to. When the convoy reached a point just north of Hainan, the leader had news that Task Force 58 was moving north again through the China Sea, and so the convoy turned and headed for Hong Kong. It reached the harbor on January 13. But on the 15th and 16th the carrier planes came in again and attacked the convoy in Hong Kong harbor, sinking 4 of the 5 cargo ships in the convoy. Three hundred  planes a day came in. At the end of the raid, of the cargo ships and tankers only Sarawak was still afloat, and 6 escort vessels had been damaged.

At the end of the 2nd day, Captain Kawamura’s ship had only about 200 rounds of antiaircraft ammunition left. He consulted with the convoy commander, and they discussed what the next day might bring. If the task force planes came back, almost certainly the ship would be sunk. Perhaps, said the commander, it would be a good idea to fill the ship’s tanks with water to make it appear that she was half sunk. That way the Americans might ignore her and concentrate on other vessels. But the staff of Task Force 58 figured they had cone enough damage to Hong Kong in 2 days’ bombing, and moved on.

On January 17 Sarawak and 4 escorts left the harbor and proceeded down the China coast, north of Hainan, following Hainan’s coast to the port of Yulin, stopping there and then going on the next day. The ships cut directly across to the Indo-China coast that day, hugging the shore and shallow water to keep submarines off at least one side. Down they went to Saigon, then to Pointe de Camau, the southernmost point of Indo-China, and then back across to the Malaya coast – all this to avoid attack. What happened?…

Just off the coast of Malaya the convoy was attacked by a submarine, and one escort ship was torpedoed. It was January 24th. The escort fell out, and the 3 other escorts and the Sarawak went on toward Singapore Straits, where they anchored on the night of January 26.

That night B-29s dropped mines in the Straits, near the anchorage, and the next morning when trying to get into port, Sarawak hit a mine. Not only was she damaged, but she had to sit and wait 4 days for the navy to come and sweep the channel, so she got into harbor on January 31. It was mid-February before she was in drydock, and March 15 before she was repaired and ready to sail. One ship of ten had made it back to Singapore to pick up supplies for the Island Kingdom on this voyage!

…continued with Part II (Sarawak’s 2nd attempt)

Source: THE CARRIER WAR, Author: Edwin P. Hoyt – Avon Books


OUR  MEANS  OF  SURVIVAL  AT  HOA LO – By Gerald Coffee, Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret)


The dismal echo of the door to my new cell clanging shut merged with the sharp slap of the guard’s sandals as he made his way with short, rapid steps out of the cellblock.

I heard the thud of another door shut and lock, then another, each one distantly punctuating my sense of desolation. Finally all that was left was silence, the harsh, pounding silence I’d endured for four long months of solitary captivity since being shot down on a Navy reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam in February 1966.

Silence like I had never known before. Silence I’d futilely tried to fill with thoughts of home, of my wife, Bea, and our children back in California, of other captured U.S. airmen I knew must be here, somewhere, confined in the grim reaches of Hanoi’s Hoa Lo prison.

Isolated, desperately alone, I was in a strange faraway place where I was the enemy. I’d had only two fleeting encounters with other American POWs. The first was with Colonel Robinson Riser after I’d heard him softly whistling “Yankee Doodle” in the courtyard outside my original cell. He identified himself as senior officer at Hoa Lo. Quickly the guards had approached…and that was the last I saw of Risner.

Late one night I heard them dump a badly injured pilot in the next cell. He moaned and wept deliriously as I pounded the wall. “Hang on!” I shouted. At dawn his voice faded, his breathing stopped with a heaving, rattling sigh. Later I caught the stench of bleach as the guards sluiced out the cell. Probably bled to death. A raw fury built within me. Kneeling in a fading slash of morning sunlight, I prayed for him, and for my own survival. They there was that letter I’d written.

When”Rabbit”, a young Vietnamese officer, had offered me the chance to write home, I’d been secretly elated, but suspicious. I’d learned my captors never gave anything away. “But Co“, he’d said, smiling reproachfully as he used the odd Vietnamese shorthand for my name, “do you not wish to inform your loved ones in America that you are safe?”

When I’d finished, Rabbit looked the letter over, “But wait“, he remarked smoothly, arching his brow and feigning offense, “what about our humane and lenient treatment?” My foot, I grunted to myself. It’d taken over a month to set my fractured right arm. Now that the grotesque swelling had subsided, the cast rattled around loosely like a giant bracelet; I’d stuffed paper and rags down it to keep the bone rigid. Still, I scrawled out another laborious, left-handed draft, including the bit about humane and lenient treatment. Bea will see right through it, I figured.

But Co“, clucked Rabbit this time, tossing his head like an imperious schoolmaster, “there is nothing here of your blackhearted imperialist crimes against my people.” I refuse“, I shot back, slapping down the pencil stub. “I’d rather not write“.

Rabbit’s face reddened to scarlet. He flew out of his chair and tore the letter to pieces as the guards hauled me back to my cell, where they flung me in a heap and administered a few blunt kicks to my ribs for good measure.

At midnight that night I was awakened by my cell door being jarred open. For the first time I glimpsed the ominous ropes and heavy iron bar with which I was soon to become so familiar, and it was in the ours near dawn, after they’d dislocated my shoulder and my hips, that I heard myself sobbing through, the violence and pain, “I’ll write it! I’ll write it! Oh, God, please let me write it!”.

Now, a month later, I was still punishing myself for my weakness. If only I had someone to talk to maybe I could shake this beast of shame. I glance around my new quarters and wondered what part of the prison they’d moved me to this time. Like all the others, this cell fairly reeked of human misery.

There was a dim, grimy light bulb dangling from the ceiling. A discolored slab of concrete served as a bed. At its end were ankle stocks and a roughly formed manacle. Lengthwise the cell could be spanned with three shuffling steps. I noticed some bloodied scraps of bandage in the shadows and reclaimed them from the rat that was gnawing on them, shoving them down my frayed cast for support.

And there, carefully etched in the wall, was the ever-present diagram, a neat little grid of letters and numerals. Since my first day I’d noticed them everywhere throughout the prison. Obviously they were put there by English-speakers. But why? What strnge things to see in a North Vietnamese jail. I couldn’t figure them out.


I eased myself onto the slab, trying to protect my arm, and wondered what had happened to Risner and the others. It was siesta time for the Vietnamese. As I drifted off into a half-dream about a Fourth of July picnic back home in Modesto, a sharp, distant whisper pierced my reverie: “Man in cell six with the broken arm, listen up!”.

Was I delirious? I shot up and cocked an ear….”New man, can you hear?”

That voice…it was Risner’s!…”I hear you, Colonel. It’s me, Lieutenant Coffee.” The words leapt from my lips. The unfamiliarity of my own voice startled me.

Welcome to Heartbreak Hotel, Jerry, Try not to talk so loud. Communication is forbidden. The man in cell one is clearing for us by watching under his door for the guard’s shadow. If you hear a single cough or thump on the wall, stop talking immediately.”

Sir, how many of you are…”…”About forty in Heartbreak. Listen, Jerry, talking is very dangerous. You must learn to communicate by tapping on the walls It’s called tap code.”

The code is the only link we have,” Risner continued imperatively. “Look for a square of letters comprising the alphabet – except we use c for k – and numerals running along the top and one side.. To get the letter you want, simply tap the number of the row, then the number of the column.”…SO…THAT was what those maddening little diagrams were all about….Cough. THUMP.

Risner stopped in mid-whisper. I heard the door at the end of the cell-block rattle open and the guard shuffle in. I could sense his suspicion through the dimness of the passageway. There would be no more talk today.

I was ecstatic to be in touch with the others – finally. It was as if I’d tumbled out of a long, black tunnel. Over the next few days we had sufficient clearing for me to become adept with the code. I told of events back home. Men in other cells tapped in and out of the “conversation,” eager to know who won the World Series or what politicians were saying about the war. One thing still haunted me, though – that letter. Finally I told Risner.

Jerry,” he tapped back, “we have all been made to do things here against our will. The folks back home can see through the propaganda. All the Code of Conduct asks is that you resist to your utmost, make them fight you for what they get, and give them as little as possible. You fought.” “But I can’t forgive myself,” I tapped.

You must. It’s how we recover that counts. That’s how we get back at ’em. Remember, whatever they do to us, we have the code. We have one another. None of us could have made it this long otherwise.”

Day-to-day survival, I found, depended on the code. We’d spill a little water under our doors in the morning; the reflection would alert us to an approaching guard. A crude alarm system was devised by dropping bits of rice to attract the rats; they’d squeal off a the first sign of trouble. When we couldn’t use the walls, we’d signal by coughing, or flashing our fingers, or tapping our feet. In the worst of times we’d yank threads from our clothes and tie tiny knots that corresponded with the code. The nature of the code forced us to be direct and honest. We’d argue, we’d commiserate, we’d comfort, we’d joke, we’d tease, we’d tap out hymns, we’d pray…Always…we prayed through those grim walls, prayed for strength, for hope, for our families back home, but mostly for one another.

Nothing infuriated our captors more than to discover we’d been transmitting messages, especially to men in solitary like Robbie – Colonel Risner – who spent years in isolation and months in total darkness. They were not sopisticated enough to stop us – besides, nothing could have – but Rabbit would undertake periodic campaigns to break us. Then the torture would start as they fried to find out about our communication methods, or chain of command, who was telling whom what.

We did our best to resist, and some men died from the brutality. But nothing was more anguishing, not even the hated ropes themselves, than to be carried back to your cell after a session and have to tell a man what you implicated him in some way in the communication network. It sometimes happened, and we understood, we forgave. As long as you made them fight you for it. It’s all we asked of one another.

One night a man was brought back after a couple of days’ absence. I’ll call him Eddie. I could tell by is grunts and moans as they heaved him on his slab that he’d been through it. I immediately tapped in: “Welcome home, Eddie.” There was no answer. I tapped again. Still no response. For hours I tried. I didn’t want to lose him. “Stay with me, fella,” I tapped. Then, late into the night, he tapped back weakly: “I’m so sorry, Jerry. They wanted names. I gave them yours.”

My name!!!!…I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know if I could stand the ropes another time, the agony of torn muscle and cartilage, of twisted limbs. I’d be next, and nothing was worse than waiting for it.

Eddie kept tapping “I’m sorry,” over and over. But I was thinking about faith. And about the code. What is this inextinguishable need we humans have to communicate, to reach out and be reached, to share faith? If there was one thing Hoa Lo had taught me it was that faith was never a more powerful instrument of survival than when it was shared.

Finally, urgently, forcefully, I tapped back…”Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of my enemies.” A minute later Eddie responded, his tapping now stronger, more confident, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.”

They came for me at dawn. Eddie switched from tapping to coughing Psalm 23. Others were able to signal too. I tried to tear my mind away from reality. I thought about Bea and the children, and dredged the back-waters of my memory to summon up the kindest moments of my life to cling to. I could feel the strength of the others reaching through the dimness, and I knew that when I returned, numb and battered, my brothers in the cellblock would be checking under their doors to see if it was safe to start tapping out support, to gather close and bring me back with love and prayer from the abyss we had all faced.

It would be seven years before I’s taste freedom, seven bleak years of uncertainty. There were times I thought I couldn’t hold on any longer. Then those gorgeous, curious little diagrams I’d puzzled over for so long save me.

Thinking back on my years in Heartbreak hotel, I am reminded that human communication is a never-ending source of comfort and strength. Through the dark, impenetrable prison walls of Hoa Lo, the code kept us in touch with our faith and with one another…and kept us alive.


I’ve found that the worst experiences in our lives can often be put to use later, even in the most unexpected little ways. For instance, the first Christmas I was home, my family and I spent the holidays at a ski resort in Sun Valley, Idaho. It happened that Navy Commander Ted Kopfman, with whom I’d shared many an hour on the wall at Heartbreak Hotel. was staying in the suite above us. On New Year’s Day we were both in our rooms watching the Rose Bowl football game between the Pacific Eight champs and the Big Ten. Ted was a Big Ten man and naturally I favored the Pac Eight. Right before kickoff I heard a knock from above…The Code!!!…It was Ted rapping out a good-natured taunt: “The Pac Eight will fall.” To the kids’ utter astonishment I leaped on the bed and began knocking back: “We will never be defeated!

Source: GUIDEPOSTS – August 1990

Submitted by: Former Crewmember John Postick

John and this *editor, were neighbors in Collingwood, NJ and sad to say, John is no longer with us.

Former  Intrepid  Crewmembers  Will  Never  Forget  Those  Who  Have  Gone  Before  Us

*John Simonetti, Past President, USS Intrepid Association, Inc.

Hitler’s heavy aircraft carrier

By NÚRIA PUYUELO GISPERT  |  Bank of Bermuda Fundation  |  December 2012 

The German Kreigsmarine never really embraced the use of aircraft carriers in WW2. Hitler showed little interest in this type of Naval vessel and its operation. The chief of the Luftwaffe, Herman Goering, was always jealous of his command over all forms of aircraft, and did all in his considerable power to stymie Admiral Reader’s plan to build up to four aircraft carriers.

In 1935, Hitler announced a plan for the Navy to acquire aircraft carriers. Two keels were laid down in 1936, and in 1938, Grand Admiral Erich Raeder produced his Plan Z, a grand scheme to build four Carriers and complete them by 1945, but in 1939 this was scaled back to just two.

It was Naval policy to not actually name a ship until it was launched. The first laid down Carrier was designated Aircraft Carrier A, to be named Graf Zeppelin at her launch in 1938. The second, Aircraft Carrier B, was never launched.


Come May in 1941, Raeder informed Hitler that Graf Zeppelin, about 85% completed, would be finally finished the next year. But Herman Goering was no help, he told both Hitler and Raeder he was unable to supply the Navy with aircraft for Graf Zeppelin until the end of 1944.

His delaying tactics worked: Aircraft Carrier B was abandoned, and broken up.
By 1943 Adolf Hitler was not too interested in anything Navy, and the frustrated Raeder asked to be relieved, he was accommodated by Hitler, and Karl Donitz, the Submarine chief took charge. He was not at all interested in seeing an aircraft carrier gaining more focus than his beloved U-Boat arm, and all work stopped on Graf Zeppelin, notwithstanding she was 95% completed. The ship had her armament stripped out of her, and sent off to Norway for coastal battery use. 

At war’s end in 1945, to ensure this ship did not fall into Russian hands, Graf Zeppelin was scuttled in shallow water at Stettin in Poland , on April 25th. 1945.
Under the terms of the Allied Tripartite Commission, Graf Zeppelin should have been destroyed or scuttled in deep water by August 15th. 1946. But not so: the Russians decided to repair the Carrier and she was refloated in March 1946, no doubt loaded with loot from the conquered Poland .
It was unsure post WW2 what had been the fate of Graf Zeppelin until the Soviet archives were opened up. 

It appears the carrier was towed from Poland to Leningrad , unloaded and designated PO-101 ( ie. floating base Number 101 ) the Russians wanted to repair the ship at Leningrad as all the repair facilities at Stettin had been destroyed. But this did not happen, and again Graf Zeppelin was towed off to the Polish coast.

On the Polish coast on August 16th 1947 the ill fated carrier was used as target practice for both Soviet aircraft and Naval ships. After taking 24 bombs and projectiles the ship was still afloat. Finally two torpedoes did the job, and the carrier sank.

The actual position of her sinking was unknown for many years, but in 2006, a Polish Oil Company ship Petrobaltic found a 265 metre long wreck close to the port of Leba . On July 27th. 2006, the Polish Navy survey ship ORP Arctowski confirmed the find was indeed the wreck of Graf Zeppelin, sitting at 264 feet below the surface.
Crew from Polish Survey vessel ORP Arctowski identified the wreck of Graf Zeppelin July 27th 2006.

 The grand plan of Grand Admiral Erich Raeder never ever came to fruition, Germany did not produce a completed Aircraft Carrier in WW2.

A proud ship, never destined to be commissioned, post WW2, was merely used as target practice by a previous enemy.
A sad end for such a ship, once part of a scheme for the German Navy to get its wings.

For extended information, go to…