Y E S! Where were you on that Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941? Asleep, weren’t we all? . . . Some of us rushed down to enlist immediately, others waited to see what would happen; no matter what our reactions were, we were all plenty fighting mad and eventually through one means or another decided upon a naval career. Induction, Boot Camp, training school and then orders to new construction. A Destroyer, the TAYLOR—that’s what our orders read. But what is she? What does she look like? These were questions we were all asking ourselves.

The U.S.S. TAYLOR DD468 is a 2100-ton destroyer of the FLETCHER class. She was authorized, by congress, in 1934. The keel was laid in Bath, Maine, at the Bath Iron Works in April of 1942. In August of that year she was launched and christened the USS TAYLOR in honor of Rear Admiral William R. Taylor, World War I hero. The TAYLOR is 376 feet long and proudly supports five 5-inch 38 caliber guns, two five-tube torpedo mounts, five twin barreled 40 millimeter and seven 20 millimeter anti-aircraft machine guns, and fifty-six depth charges. Our four boilers turn twin screws propelling the ship at speeds greater than thirty-five knots.

Our active career started on the 28th day of August, 1942, when we made the 130 mile trip from Bath, Maine, to Boston for the commissioning ceremony. On the trip down the ship was put through routine tests; engines wound up, guns fired, and the ship generally worked over by her crew of naval yard personnel and members of the crew sent to Bath to man her. Upon arrival in Boston our original crew went aboard and witnessed the commissioning ceremony at which time Commander B. I. Katz assumed duties as our first commanding officer.

On the 16th, after a two-week fitting out period, we were under way for Newport, Rhode Island, via Cape Cod Canal to pick up our torpedoes. Then back to Boston, Portland and Casco Bay for a training period; and what a training period—drills, drills, drills. We would wake up in the morning to the sound of an abandon ship drill, go to bed at night with a fire drill. Liberty? Yes, we had liberty, but more than liberty we remember those long boat rides in the icy cold weather to and from the beach.

On the 12th of October after a surprise inspection by the local authorities, we set out for Boston and thence to New York. Our first official assignment followed shortly afterwards when we escorted the transport Merak to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and from there to Kingston, Jamaica. The Island of Jamaica was a delightful spot situated in the heart of the tropics, with an average temperature of 130 degrees. Liberty on shore was quite an affair; all of the natives were Negroes and our liberty consisted mainly of visiting the local USO situated near the edge of the dense jungle. From Jamaica we went eastward to the colorful island of Bermuda. Port Royal was our port of entry. After fueling, we received orders to return to Norfolk, Virginia, for general repairs. We spent five days alongside a tender in Norfolk, then got underway and headed towards New York. A week alongside the 39th Street Pier with liberty for all and we were off again on the biggest operation of the war to date. Our formation of forty-two ships rendezvoused at the mouth of the Hudson River. As we headed eastward, all hands knew that something big was in the wind. The scuttlebutt said Africa. Africa it was, the invasion of North Africa near the city of the now famous Casablanca. This was the beginning of our offensive against the Germans which eventually brought them to complete surrender.

The trip was one none of us will ever forget. Right from the start the weather was against us. At times the wind and sea were so strong passage fore and aft was impossible; our constant companion was the life jacket. The threat of German subs was ever present, though the weather did tend to reduce their menace. Fueling at sea under this weather was a strain on all hands, but somehow we managed to accomplish the task eventually brought them to complete surrender. Morning and evening readiness was always observed as a precaution against submarines. On the night of November 28th several small lights were picked up by an alert lookout and the ship went to general quarters to investigate. The contact proved to be the Spanish merchantman S.S. Montesoja. Early the next morning another merchant vessel was sighted on the starboard bow. Failing to halt when hailed, we were forced to fire a shot across her bow; she was another Spanish ship, the S.S. Darro. A boarding party of six men boarded her; and after an inspection four men remained aboard to seal her radios and escort her to Gibralter.

The next day we rendezvoused with Task Force 38 just 10 miles off the coast of Africa; upon joining this outfit, we reversed course and started back for the good old U.S.A. A week later we went to general quarters on an underwater sound contact believed to have been a German submarine. An attack followed with a full depth charge pattern dropped; no damage or further contact occurred. On December 11th we pulled into New York Harbor just ahead of the U.S.S. ARKANSAS after 28 days at sea. Truck loads of mail and a 48-hour liberty awaited us as we hit the docks.

Four more days of liberty and we were off again, this time our destination was the South Pacific.

We approached the Panama Canal on the afternoon of December 24th, whereupon a party of two officers met the ship making a routine inspection. Soon afterward the pilot came aboard to take us through the locks. A little after noon we left the dock extending from the Gatun locks and took aboard the steel cable from the electric donkey that would tow us through the locks. Our ship’s own power was used only on the short runs between the series of locks. The huge gate closed behind us and we were on our way. We arrived alongside the Balboa dock on the Pacific side early Christmas morning and immediately began loading stores. We spent the day moored to the dock and the traditional dinner was served.

December 26th we departed from Balboa for strange parts of the far flung Pacific. The pilot directed us into the channel and we were on our own. We joined company with Task Force 13, composed of merchantmen, jeep carriers, cruisers and a destroyer screen and headed for Nouméa, New Caledonia.

The next three weeks were full of numerous sound contacts from underwater sources and bogies on the radar screen from unidentified aircraft. The seas were calm, the skies blue, and the days were taken up with countless drills to put the crew in shape for what was to come. The drills consisted of everything; general quarters, firing practice on various targets, torpedo runs, battle drills, and damage control problems. Plane guard was another duty of ours. While the carriers were launching and recovering their planes, it was our duty to cover them in event of a mishap.

Two events marked this journey to foreign ports; the first, when we were honored with a visit from his Royal Majesty, King Neptune. He came over the bow the afternoon of December 30th, using the anchor chain for a ladder. Accompanied by his court he said that we had a disgustingly large number of Polywogs aboard, and that he could not let us enter his royal domain under those conditions. The loyal shellbacks aboard lined up the Polywogs with their summons before Neptune’s court, and the fun was on. The first victim was our skipper. He was tried and found guilty and thus sentenced to wear heavy cold weather clothing plus a shallow water diving helmet while conning the ship. Following him came the officers who had never entered the realm of Neptune, and then the crew members. Each stepped up to the court and was heard, but none could prove his innocence, so each was duly sentenced to the following torture: they proceeded down the deck through grit and grime to the Royal Barber who cut their hair in artistic designs. From the chair they had the privilege of walking or running through the second leg of the deck made hazardous by the necessity of bucking a shooting salt water hose. After slipping and sliding through this obstacle course, they reached the fantail where they found the sow’s pen awaiting them. This little device was made of all things slimy and greasy. After wallowing through this, they were greeted by the Royal Pharmacist Mate who checked up on their ills. Upon recovering from his kill or cure dose of things bitter and medicinal, they were escorted to the bath by the Royal Guards and here thoroughly ducked and ducked again until they were cleansed of their sins of having been a Polywog. All emerged full-fledged Shellbacks of good standing in King Neptune’s Court. The day was closed as darkness dropped like a curtain and the beep beep of the general alarm went off, calling us to our battle stations for the evening alert.

Until the 6th of January everything was routine, that is to say, drills, drills, drills. That evening just before sunset-the general alarm went off sending us scurrying to our battle stations. The surface radar had picked up unidentified contacts dead ahead and we were ordered to investigate. They proved to be friendly; the damaged cruiser CHESTER screened by the damaged tincan CLARK enroute to the States for repairs.

On the 13th of January, 1943, came our second break of the trip which was becoming just a little monotonous. We left the task force at midnight to escort a transport to Tutila Harbor, Samoa. We dropped the hook in the morning in a beautiful little harbor; an emerald in a blue setting of rolling hills that came right down to the water’s edge. After several liberties and loading of more stores we were off again screening the transport to Nouméa. Four days at sea, which were only three, for we crossed the International Date Line at midnight and we were at our destination, Nouméa.

We passed through Tara Reef, entrance to the outer anchorage, in the early morning of the 20th, and made the long, slow trip up the reef-studded channel to the anchorage where we fueled. It was not until late that afternoon that we entered Dumba Bay, Nouméa’s inner harbor.

After mooring, all hands turned to on ammunition which was followed by a movie on the fo’cs’le, We all had liberty which consisted of visiting the small French Village near the shore of the bay. Between dodging their small automobiles and trying to understand their language, we unanimously decided that there is no place like home.

0500 the 25th of January saw us underway once more, in company with Task Force 66.8, consisting of the CVEs CHENAGO, SWANEE [SUWANNEE], and SANGAMON, the cruisers CHICAGO and MONTPELIER, with the screen of destroyers including the TAYLOR, LA VALLETTE, and CHEVALIER. We were bound for Havannah Harbor, Éfaté; arriving there late in the afternoon of the 25th. Two days, one of which was spent on an anti-submarine patrol and we were off again, this time with Task Force 18, including the cruisers CHICAGO, WICHITA, LOUISVILLE, MONTPELIER, CLEVELAND, and COLUMBIA, and a screen of six destroyers, including the TAYLOR, CHEVALIER, LA VALLETTE, CONWAY, EDWARDS, and WALKER. Our mission was to meet and destroy any and all Japanese vessels that might be operating in the area southwest of Guadalcanal.

On the 28th and 29th the days were filled with long tiresome drills, which were put to good use on the evening of the 29th. In the vicinity of Rendall Island, while covering the troop transports headed for the bloody beaches of Guadalcanal, we underwent our first air attack. Word was passed that it was expected that we would remain at general quarters most of the night and our evening alert would be postponed until the last minute. Air attacks were expected; but we never dreamed they would come when and as suddenly as they did. The formation was steaming along with the cruisers in two columns and the destroyers in a circular screen around them. As dusk slowly settled over the fleet and the sky began to grow dim, a Jap plane came shooting out of nowhere and skimmed across our bow headed towards the cruisers. The CLs opened fire, their automatic weapons leaving tracer trails that seemed to come straight at us, and in truth almost took our radar off the mast. The first wave of torpedo bombers had gone by now with little or no damage to our formation. Night began to close about us as the second wave came in for the attack. A log of the attack might run as this: “1938 second attack, all ships firing, enemy planes again repelled with no damage to task force. 1941 surface radar has fast moving contact on port bow believed to be low flying torpedo bomber. 1944 formation opened fire on the third wave of planes. A terrific explosion occurred that rocked the entire task force. 1945 second explosion followed by a large fire lighting the entire area. The heavy cruiser CHICAGO has been hit to starboard. 1946 CHICAGO slews out to right, falling out of formation.” Far astern a tiny fire broke out on the water as the attacker was shot down; small consolation for the loss we felt. Shortly afterwards the formation broke up as the CLs, with the TAYLOR and several other destroyers went northward as the CAs and their escorts went eastward. Two destroyers were assigned to cover the CHICAGO and give her any assistance possible. The number of enemy planes was unknown and we still had to be on the alert, for the Japs might have had submarines or surface forces in the area to back up their air attacks. The lull in the attack lasted until 2033 when two planes closed fast from astern. Everything was dark with the exception of the water which was cut to pieces with the twisting white wakes of the ships turning and maneuvering at high speeds avoiding the enemy planes. While taking the two planes under fire, the EDWARDS swung between us and our target during her evasive maneuvers and forced us to cease fire. The second plane swept over the EDWARDS enroute to bigger game, the cruisers. The next hour the Japs attempted to drop flares about us so their planes could see their targets as they came in. At 2147 the Japs attacked the cruisers from the port quarter. We opened fire, but had to cease as we again were blocked by one of our own destroyers. 2230 two contacts picked up on the CHEVALIER’S port bow. She opened fire with five-inch, but with no results. After an hour of peacefulness, we started in again. Shortly before midnight four ships were picked up about six miles dead ahead. The CHEVALIER was designated to investigate and as she approached challenged them by flashing light and TBS. Receiving no answer, she opened fire. One salvo brought the target to life, and she identified herself as the remaining part of Task Force 18 which thereupon joined us. Still later that night we were sent out to investigate another contact which also proved to be friendly. As dawn came we got our first look at the CHICAGO. She was listing heavily to starboard leaving a long, wide oil trail across the rolling Pacific. She had taken a torpedo on her starboard side near the engine room, but her crew had the ship under control and she was limping slowly home.

At 0555 that morning we secured from general quarters, after 10 hours and 49 minutes of excitement, heartbreak, and nearness to death. Our first action and the shock had not as yet begun to wear off, but as we wearily headed for our bunks we again heard the beep beep of the general alarm. Once again we were rushing to our battle stations. Word was passed, “Planes sighted, closing fast, identity unknown.” As our guns came to bear they turned away and with a sigh of relief we identified the planes as friendly. Once more we secured from general quarters and the ships headed southward. We took our last look at the CHICAGO with the LA VALLETTE and two other destroyers screening her. It was the last time we saw her, as later in a daytime raid, enemy planes put two more. “fish” into her and sent her to the bottom. The LA VALLETTE in an attempt to protect the CHICAGO, took a torpedo amidships and almost broke in half. Tied together with cables and chains, she limped toward port, making the last lap towed behind a salvage tug after she had run out of fuel. Task Force 18, minus the CHICAGO and three “cans” screening her, steamed southward for Havannah Harbor, arriving at Éfaté late in the afternoon of the 31st with no further trouble.

Early in the morning on the 1st of February we proceeded out of the harbor to take up the usual stand off the entrance and patrol back and forth, back and forth, all day long. At sunset the cruisers poked their bows out into the rolling swells of the Pacific, and once more we were off to the wars. This was a combined Task Force 18/69. In 69 were the battleships MISSISSIPPI and NEW MEXICO, and our own force consisted as before of cruisers and destroyers. We patrolled the area between Guadalcanal and Espiritu Santos for several days. On the 15th we made contact with Task Force 67. The TAYLOR along with the CHEVALIER, STRONG, and JENKINS, joined this group composed of the cruisers ST. LOUIS, NASHVILLE, HONOLULU, and HELENA. We returned to Espiritu Santos on the 14th only to return to our patrolling the following day. On February 17th we all had a busy day to break the routine of shipboard life. The ST. LOUIS reported a periscope and the CHEVALIER dashed to the spot to drop depth charges. No results were observed. This was quickly followed by a report from the HONOLULU sighting a raft. We rushed over to give aid only to find that it was a large log. Later in the day the formation received an emergency turn signal because of a suspected submarine. The TAYLOR was ordered to investigate. As we plowed through the seas to the given location we spotted a huge whale exhaling a spout of water. We started to turn to rejoin when there came a call from the lookout. “Periscope on the port bow.” Away we went once more to be disappointed again, for it was only a sunken log with a limb protruding from the water resembling a periscope. One well aimed shot from a five-inch gun destroyed that illusion and we rejoined the formation. The finale came just at sunset when the CHEVALIER got a sound contact and dropped depth charges. We made our own contact a few minutes later and laid two ash-cans on the target. No results were observed from either attack and our day closed without further excitement. On the 23rd we returned again to Espiritu, and it was not until the 3rd of March that we got underway again. One cruiser plane was forced down and we rescued the pilot, destroying the plane by gun-fire. We steamed into port early on the morning of the 12th with orders to be ready to leave at 1630 that afternoon. We fuel; took on ammunition and stores and were ready to depart at the designated time.

Early on the 15th the destroyers TAYLOR, NICHOLAS, STRONG, and RADFORD left the formation headed for Tulagi Harbor. After fueling we formed column on the NICHOLAS and were off again proceeding up the slot, the nickname for the area between Guadalcanal and Bougainville. Midnight of the 15th we to general quarters in preparation for our bombardment of shore installations on Kolombangara Island..All four boilers were lighted and the engineers told to stand by for 35 knots. At 0100 an unidentified plane was picked up by our radar, but was soon lost over land. 0145 we Kula Gulf and came to firing course and speed. 0200 all four destroyers opened fire with five inch batteries. 0212 Jap shore emplacements opened fire on our formation, but failed to inflict any damage. 0230 several flares dropped by enemy planes, but no attack followed. 0600 secured from general quarters. Total of 401 rounds of five-inch ammunition thrown at the Nips in this short period of time. Late that evening we rejoined the task force and headed towards Tulagi.Harbor. We arrived in Tulagi on the morning of the 20th, but left shortly for Espiritu Santos arriving there on the 22nd. Four days of recreation and much needed rest, then we were off again to Tulagi with one tanker and several smaller craft.

The strain and toil of fighting a war was slowly descending upon us after four months in the Pacific. Day by day we were becoming more experienced in the art of warfare against the Japanese and we were beginning to feel like veterans from the old school. Many of the boys were really anxious to get in there and get it over with, while others were really worried of what was coming in the months to follow.

Leaving Espiritu Santos on March 26th, we were assigned to escort the tanker Kanawha, the net tender Aloe,and six APDs to the Guadalcanal area. On arriving at Tulagi Harbor on March we awaited the Kanawha to discharge her cargo before returning to Espiritu. Tulagi, like any other port in the Southwest Pacific, was nothing but a few scattered islands occupied in part by the army with a suitable anchorage for the navy. Except for a few natives it was as remote as a mountain in the Himalayas. This spot of green was to be our new home for a good many months to come.
   The weather in Tulagi was very similar to July in Kansas, hot and dry, but none of us seemed to mind very much as we were getting used to the torrid climate down SoPac way. We looked upon the morning sunrise as the beginning of another hot and dull day of waiting. Yes, men in the navy, from boot camp to actual combat, must grasp the virtue of patience abide by it, because navy life is actually 25 percent waiting. However, it was not to be in vain.

No sooner had we anchored at Tulagi, when we were assigned to Task Force18 to accompany them in their sweeps up and down the now famous “Slot,” searching for enemy forces. This we did for three days, but to no avail. The Japs weren’t ready to fight, so on direction from the Task Force Commander we returned to Tulagi and again resumed our Policy of Watchful Waiting.

On April 7th, we were designated to return to Espiritu with the tanker Kanawha. This was a pleasure indeed. Returning to Santo meant recreation and movies along with a ration of mail and rest for already war-shattered nerves. Never did we suspect that the way out of Tulagi was to be an experience long to be remembered by the TAYLOR and her crew.

We had received word previously that an enemy air attack was imminent, but such warnings in the past were usually false. However, all seemed to have a premonition of some sort, and we kept on the alert.

The word came that afternoon, “All hands to general quarters to repel enemy air attack.” We knew they were really coming this time because our skipper had already changed course to make way out of Tulagi, and was cutting figures of eight to throw the dive bombers off course when they came in for a run. The quartermaster at the helm was told to use a shallow zig-zag and make for the open sea. The first plane was sighted dead ahead at 1507, and as our cook “Chicko” exclaimed, “There they are, boys, the Rising Sun.” Ninety-eight bombers and fighters came in over Tulagi. We opened fire at 1509 and kept firing at the maximum for over 28 minutes. An admiral on the beach at Tulagi wanted to know what anti-aircraft cruiser was present after seeing the five-inch burst the TAYLOR was firing. The Kanawha had hoisted anchor and was making way out when the attack occurred, but unfortunately she never made it. A JAP bomber flew through our barrage and made a direct hit. We tried to assist, but seeing that she was beyond help we increased speed to 30 knots and left Tulagi Harbor via Sealark Channel. The planes began to thin out and only a few remained to keep us on the alert. Fighters had come from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, and between us we accounted for thirty-eight planes. The TAYLOR received credit for five.

We regained radio communication with Task Force 18 soon afterward, and were ordered to join Task Unit 32.4.1 for escort duty to Espiritu, arriving there on April l0th. Our stay in Santos was short and sweet. After a one day overhaul alongside the destroyer tender DIXIE and a ration of mail, we left Epiritu escorting a convoy back to Guadalcanal. This trip, however, was not quite as exciting as the last, no enemy action was encountered and we returned to Santos once again.

Our short stays in Espiritu were always look upon as a means of getting away from the war. There we received the greatest piece of morale building tissue known to any sailor serving in the Pacific, MAIL. Mail from home, good or bad, had an influence on each and everyone of us. A small amount of recreation was provided on Aore Island where we could play ball, swim, or drink our ration of two beers.

After another much-needed tender overhaul we rejoined Task Force 18. On May 5th we left Espiritu to seek new exploits with the Japs. This time our job was a little more difficult. We were to screen a number of mine layers which were to sow a mine field right in Tojo’s back yard. This mission was accomplished without incident and later reports showed it was a complete success. Within a period of 48 hours the mines the mine layers had sown had destroyed three enemy destroyers and several non-combatant vessels of the Imperial Navy.

Our job of driving the Japs from the Solomons was only beginning. Later we left Espiritu on another mine-laying mission, this time the TAYLOR herself was to lay, not a few mines, but a few shells in Tojo’s lap. Our targets were to be the Jap positions on Villa, Baroke Harbor and Enogoi Inlet, a tough and dangerous job. The Japs were to have fortified all three places with heavy guns and there was always danger of torpedo boats and mines.

The moon was high as we sped up the Slot that night, and we made an easy target. However, the navigator timed the moon set perfectly, and we entered the narrow channel between Villa and Kolombangara just as the moon was disappearing behind the mountains. That night the Japs received a bombardment that they will long remember. Their shore batteries were soon silenced, and all targets were destroyed or damaged. The mine layers at the same time were sowing another area of Jap waters on the other side of Kolombangara. Both missions were accomplished without casualty and we returned to Espiritu on May 14th.

Leaving Espiritu on June 5th, we were assigned to escort the troop transport Munargo to the 180th meridian. How we wished that we could take her to her final destination, the U. S. A. But the fun was only beginning and we had to stay, so back to New Hebredes we went to await reassignment.

Waiting for orders to get underway, to go anywhere or do anything, was always the hardest part of fighting the war. The scuttlebutt was always thick and heavy during our vigils in Espiritu, as to the next operation. This time we were not kept waiting long.

We were on our way again, as the month of June rolled around. On the night of the 10th we were caught off San Cristobal, by a number of Jap bombers. Their objective was the convoy of reinforcements and supplies that we were escorting to Guadalcanal. The Japs were tricky in their night bombing attacks, but we managed to keep a jump ahead of them. They were handicapped by the darkness and their main hope was spotting a ship firing, but this mistake was never made, so their missions were usually unsuccessful. Upon completion of our escort duty, we returned to Santo for further assignment.

From time to time in Santo there was always a change or two. More anti-aircraft guns, new officers and men, new facts and figures and new equipment. Still there remained the strain of trying to accomplish a great deal of work in such a short time. However the tender overhauls we received periodically helped greatly.

Following a tender overhaul from June 15th to 2Sth we left Espiritu on what was to be one of the greatest assignments in the history of the TAYLOR. We were to act as part of the anti-submarine screen for the, SANGAMON, a converted aircraft carrier. At the time she was furnishing air coverage for convoys enroute to and from Guadalcanal. However, our stay with the SANGAMON was only temporary. On July 6th, we received an urgent message from the commander of Task Force 18, to proceed to Tulagi at our maximum speed. The Japs were on the prowl again and all ships were needed to repel the attack.

Enroute to Tulagi with all four boilers on the line, we met with a stroke of hard luck. One of our screws went out of commission and we had to slow down. This casualty kept us from participating in one of the major battles in the Solomons, the First Battle of Kula Gulf. The cruiser HELENA had been sunk and a number of ships from our own squadron had been damaged.

We were all a bit disappointed when we learned what had happened. Most of us had been set for real action, but Lady Luck was against us. No sooner had we anchored than another urgent message came to us. The Japs were coming back again, to reinforce their positions on Vella La Vella and Munda. Our job was to intercept and destroy this enemy Task Force. We left Tulagi with other undamaged ships of our squadron along with the cruisers of Task Force 18, and steamed up the Slot at 35 knots with the hope of reaching Kula Gulf in time to stop the enemy fleet.

The Task Force arrived in the Gulf a little past midnight. The Japs had not arrived as yet, but our sources of information revealed that they would hit Kula Gulf at 0100. So we waited. All battle stations were manned and ready. Everyone was tense and excited. Here we were to meet the notorious Tokyo Express face to face. With four boilers on the line, plenty of ammunition and torpedoes ready, we started in. Contact was made with the enemy at 0127. Our radar screen showed two big fellows, possibly cruisers, and six smaller vessels, probably destroyers.

With a speed of thirty knots we started the attack on our designated target, a Jap cruiser. In the middle of the run the cruiser’s searchlight found the TAYLOR and she opened fire. The Jap vessel stopped directly in the TAYLOR’S path and our torpedoes were released. The fish and five-inch projectiles had found their mark and the enemy cruiser went down. The other ships in our task force had engaged their targets and in no more than eight minutes two cruisers and four destroyers from the Imperial Japanese Navy had gone to the bottom. Our forces suffered only slight damage. The Second Battle of Kula Gulf had reached a successful conclusion. The rest of the Tokyo Express was finished off and the path was open for the landings at Munda and Vella La Vella.

Most of the ships began to withdraw from the Gulf, but we were ordered to remain and search the area for the two surviving Japanese destroyers and pick up any survivors, which was a policy totally unknown to the Japs. We nosed around the various inlets hoping to catch something. We did. Two hours after the battle, we were searching the lower end of the gulf when one of Hirohito’s submarines surfaced. Possibly the same sub that had sunk the destroyer STRONG a few nights before. She was sailing along, never suspecting the presence of American ships. Here was a chance of a lifetime, a large Jap sub right within range of our five-inch guns. After several salvos from our main battery the sub disappeared from the radar scope. As a matter of policy we covered the area with depth charges and a strong odor of oil appeared on the surface; we were sure of a victory.

We reached Purvis Bay, an anchorage on the other side of Tulagi, late that afternoon, all hoping for a rest after that terrible night in Kula Gulf. Much to our disappointment, little time was afforded us even to take on ammunition, torpedoes and provisions. Back up the Slot we went.

Another Japanese force was reported to be on the way down to work over our positions on Russel Island, and we were dispatched to stop them. Although tired and overworked, we tightened our belts, loaded our guns and set out. For once during our fighting career in the Solomons we didn’t feel like meeting the Japs. Some of the fellows’ prayers were answered, because the Jap Task Force turned around and went back to their base. It was on this particular patrol the TAYLOR was nicknamed “THE TERRIBLE ‘T’ “.

There is one incident that happened in the life of the TAYLOR that week that will live in our memories forever. It happened the day after we returned from our wild goose chase up the Slot on the night of the 12th. We were all tired and hoped to have an overnight stay in Purvis Bay, but there was another job to do, a mission of mercy to accomplish. No sooner had we fueled and anchored, than we were ordered to get underway immediately and proceed up the Slot. Word had been received that a number of the HELENA’S crew had survived their holocaust, and were marooned on the Jap-held island of Vella La Vella. Our job was to offer coverage for a group of APDs that were going in to rescue them. A tough and difficult job. I don’t suppose anyone ever witnessed as dark a night as this particular night of July 15th. It’s hard to say that any of us felt like sneaking in that narrow channel to get the HELENA’S survivors, but when we realized that it might have very easily been us under Tojo’s nose, we grimly set about the task. Every man was rescued and we returned to Purvis Bay.

We were all beginning to feel at home in Tulagi or Purvis Bay, while spending a day or two there between operations. Although no physical or mental recreation was provided, swimming was always encouraged in the crystal clear waters of the bay. Perhaps we saw a movie at night, that is if “Washing Machine Charlie,” the Japanese pilot with the thrashing machine engine, didn’t appear. The vow of the entire American Army and Navy was to have revenge on “Washing Machine Charlie.”

As the month of July passed, most of our days and nights were taken up by high speed runs up the Slot to bombard enemy positions. Most of the bombarding took place at night and nothing was visible to the human eye. However, we had our chance to see the Japs take a pounding on the morning of the 25. Our job was the memorable bombardment of Munda airstrip prior to the invasion. We steamed in that fine morning and gave the Japs their final working over. There are still many doubts, as to whether or not a single square foot of Munda airdrome was left untouched by our shells. Approximately one thousand rounds of five-inch shells were thrown at the Nips by the TAYLOR that morning. An average of two hundred rounds per gun. Seven destroyers took part in this bombardment, a total of seven thousand rounds.

The narrow channel, lagoon and gulf between Vella La Vella and Kolombangara were as familiar to us by now as our own Purvis Bay. We frequented these waters not only on bombardment missions or in the process of routing enemy forces, but on missions of mercy similar to that of the rescue of the HELENA’S survivors. On the nights of the 27th and 28th of July, we participated in the evacuation of wounded personnel from Enogai Inlet in Kula Gulf. Then there were always the odds and ends to be taken into consideration. Supplies had to be taken in to our forces, sometimes passing strong enemy-held positions. Whatever it was that had to be done, it seemed as if the TAYLOR was always selected, rain or shine, night or day.

As August came into the picture, our job of driving the Japs from the Solomons was slowly drawing to a close. Getting away from the Slot, Guadalcanal, Purvis Bay or Tulagi, once again was more than a relief for all of us. After that trying month of July we were certainly near the point of exhaustion. On July 30th we departed from this area as an escort for a troop transport on our way to Nouméa, New Caledonia. We thought at last that we were going to get a little rest, which we all needed. While enroute a small catch was added. We were told to report to Commander Task Force 37 at Havannah Harbor in the Hebredes for duty.

At Havannah, we found some of the other ships of our squadron also attached to Task Force 37. Something was brewing again and we were in on it. We waited for orders until the 11th of August. They were, “Destination Unknown.” Was it the States, or back to the wars? The usual unreliable scuttlebutt was going around. Our destination turned out to be the Slot again. Were we to experience another month like the last? There was still work to be done in the Solomons, to keep the Japs from holding the islands, but now our job was to catch them in the process of abandoning them.

It was learned that the Japs were planning to evacuate their remaining troops on Vella La Vella and Barakona. Our specific job was to intercept and destroy any and all evacuation forces. The first part of the plan was to put troops ashore to force the enemy’s hand. On August 15th, the TAYLOR acted as coverage for our troops landing on Vella La Vella and Barakona Islands. These troops forced the Japs out on August 17th. Jap barges came out by the hundreds. Each one filled to capacity. The engagement was one-sided for the barges were no match for our rapid-firing five-inch guns. The Nips had a plan of their own, and it was put into effect at 0200 on the morning of the 17th. Three enemy destroyers appeared on the radar screen. The barges were forgotten for the moment and the TAYLOR’S main battery concentrated on the three destroyers. The four destroyers of Destroyer Division 41, including the TAYLOR, NICHOLAS, O’BANNON and CHEVALIER sank two of the destroyers and heavily damaged the other one with torpedoes and gun fire. The plan was more than successful for the evacuation forces were destroyed and His Majesty lost three destroyers from his Imperial Fleet.

Tulagi was now a first class base. Ammunition, torpedoes, food, clothing, and all the supplies needed to run a fighting ship were available. The strain of inadequate supplies was over. When we steamed in we gave our order to the base officials, they supplied the articles and we were ready for another hunting trip.

The Japs always had a trick up their sleeves. They were usually ineffective, but one in particular had a striking effect on us all. On the night of the 19th, during one of the hunting expeditions, we were preparing to destroy more evacuation barges, when we were suddenly illuminated by flares. It was supposed that we had destroyed most of their surface vessels; now they were using night bombers. It was usually our custom to hold fire during a night air raid because the Jap pilots couldn’t locate us except for our gun flashes. The barges had to be destroyed so we abandoned our policy and opened fire on the barges. With each salvo fired from our guns, bombs would answer the challenge, but the Jap bombardiers failed to hit any of their targets. All of the barges were destroyed without a casualty to our forces.

It seemed as if the Japs were licked in the Solomons, for they abandoned all attempts to evacuate their marooned personnel. The remaining Nips were left to die or be killed by our advancing land forces. As a matter of precaution, their entire escape area was mined.

Before the Kula Gulf operation the TAYLOR was promised a rest and recreation period in Sydney, Australia. Each time we hoisted anchor the scuttlebutt said that we were going to Sydney, but we always headed in the wrong direction. On August 28th, the TAYLOR’S first birthday, the word was passed that we would proceed to Nouméa for a tender overhaul and then shove off for Sydney. A complete change of atmosphere engulfed the ship. Dress blues began to appear on the line, there were more smiles and less complaining about the chow. Everyone, from the Captain on down, was planning on making this trip a complete success.

On September 12th the TAYLOR moored in Sydney. The next ten days supplied the best morale building entertainment and recreation the men of the TAYLOR had enjoyed since they left their homes to take part in the fight for freedom. The ship sponsored a dance for her personnel and their guests. All in all, an unforgettable time was had by all hands in the famous “Land Down Under.”

After our pleasant sojourn in that land of paradise, our gang was champing at the bit for action. The TAYLOR spent a few days in Nouméa recuperating before departing for Guadalcanal and the Slot, our old stomping grounds. Most of us felt that we were in for a change of duty after our rest; maybe New Guinea or a crack at the mighty Fifth Fleet, but evidently the Slot was DesRon 21’s brand. We returned to Purvis Bay, or better known as “Sleepless Lagoon.”

We were not long in waiting for the call to action. No sooner had we completed fueling in Tulagi than the TAYLOR was assigned to screen an APD group loading supplies at Guadalcanal. That evening the TAYLOR, FOOTE, JENKINS, TERRY and CONVERSE took screening stations and proceeded at 20 knots for landings on Vella La Vella. This was the one remaining Jap-held island of the Now Georgia group. At 1500 our unit overtook five slow LSTs and joined forces. With the exception of reports of unidentified aircraft, the landings were uneventful. It wasn’t until our return trip that the enemy showed his hand.

Divebombers and Zeros commenced strafing and bombing our beached LSTs, resulting in a direct hit on one. Our fighter planes and anti-aircraft batteries soon disposed of the menace. The TAYLOR finally made Tulagi where a little sleep was uppermost in everyone’s mind.

On the afternoon of October 2nd, an urgent message came in, stating that enemy barges were attempting to evacuate troops from Kolombangara. The same old routine started. Over the PA system, “This ship will get underway immediately, all divisions make readiness reports to the executive officer on the bridge.” The crack of safeties letting off steam, both boats being hoisted, testing main engines, and finally the whine of the windlass as the anchor is slowly heaved in. It was a scene of orderly confusion and to each man aboard it is a silent thrill as to what new adventure lies ahead in the trip to follow.

We steamed in company with the RALPH TALBOT and TERRY, proceeding up the all too familiar Slot. The hazy blue islands that covered the horizon will remain in our minds forever. The sea in this area is possibly the most calm in the world, for the only motion we felt was the throbbing of our engines churning out a creamy white wake.

As night closed in, all hands manned their battle stations as we commenced our patrol, waiting for the barges to stick their noses out from Kolombangara. Our snooper planes, Blackcats, were constantly reporting the position of the enemy barges until darkness obscured their visibility.

At 2110 the fun started. The RALPH TALBOT reported a barge in sight. The squadron commander executed various courses and speeds until we maneuvered within six thousand yards of the target. By now numerous barges, large and small, were sighted. As we opened fire with the main battery, it seemed as if the waters were full of enemy small craft. Control and plot were tracking them at 7 knots, plus the fact that they were loaded and cumbersome craft, they were easy prey for our gunnery department. For the onlookers it simulated a shooting gallery. We were lobbing them in with slow fire, taking our time, and making sure of the results. A few flares dropped by our planes for illumination, disclosed that our first attack had the Japs in utter confusion. Their escorting destroyers had fled at the first shot, abandoning the barges.

Twice we steamed through the remaining landing craft using our automatic weapons. They were so close at times, that by the flash of our guns we could see the barges clearly. The Nips were trapped and they knew it. They were yelling frantically and firing with rifles and machine guns. Some falling shrapnel hit our decks, but was only picked up by our repair parties for souvenirs.

According to later reports, it was stated the approximately fifty barges were destroyed in the encounter, representing a large number of troops annihilated. The three destroyers were ordered by the Squad Dog to give chase to the fleeing Jap escorts. Our radars had their range at seventeen thousand five hundred yards, and the word was passed to stand by for a torpedo run. All engines went ahead to 30 knots and the range closed rapidly. At twenty-two hundred yards the order to “fire” was given, and with a sharp crack, ten deadly tin fish were away. We opened fire with our after guns to cover our retirement. Later reports stated that one enemy ship was sunk. As our attack group returned to the scene of the barges, more surface contacts were picked up and destroyed by gun fire. At 2358 surface radar reported clear of all contacts and at 0430 we returned to our base at Tulagi.

When we say returned to base, it by no means meant a rest. With all the ammunition fired and the torpedoes expended, the first job was replenishing. A long and tedious task which required all hands. The torpedomen worked all night loading the fish and putting them in readiness for another emergency. Then came fueling, a routine duty upon entering port and possibly the loading of stores. There was just no time out. When a chance for sleep did come it was closely followed by the order, “Station all the special sea detail” and up the Slot we would go, with general quarters and so forth. This is exactly what happened the next morning.

On October 4th, our next trip up was a false alarm. In company with the SAUFLEY five hundred yards astern, our after fire room lost oil pressure. The next few minutes were exciting. Our speed dropped rapidly as the SAUFLEY bore down on us at 27 knots. But for the alertness of the SAUFLEY’S officer of the deck the TAYLOR’S fantail would have been split between the depth charge racks, for she swerved to port, narrowly missing the stem of the TAYLOR.

Another all night general quarters, and a fruitless sound contact ended the search for the enemy barges, and we retired to our base the next morning.

One of the most familiar sights to all hands on the TAYLOR was the oil begrimed ERSKINE PHELPS. I doubt whether a stranger looking ship ever floated. Now converted to a yard oiler, once upon a time she was a four-masted schooner. Nothing but ten foot stumps remained of her mast and held no possible resemblance to a sailing vessel. All the Slot destroyers fueled from the ERSKINE at one time or another, and she always had the welcome mat out. With no motive power the PHELPS sat out many air raids on Tulagi and accounted for four Jap planes with her main battery of 20 millimeter machine guns.

On the morning of October 6th, after fueling from the PHELPS, the TAYLOR proceeded to Guadalcanal to screen more loading APDs. At 1035 the TAYLOR, LA VALLETTE and RALPH TALBOT, screening the APD group, left for Vella La Vella as a supply echelon. At a speed of 23 knots our group overtook the NICHOLAS and one LST. CDS 21 ordered the TAYLOR to exchange stations with the NICHOLAS and escort the lone LST. Later in the afternoon the main body slowed to eight knots for the TAYLOR and her ward to rejoin the formation.

During evening readiness, the TAYLOR, RALPH TALBOT and LA VALLETTE were directed to join the O’BANNON, CHEVALIER and SELFRIDGE west of Vella La Vella and destroy enemy forces encountered. All four boilers were put on the line and we maneuvered astern of the TALBOT at a speed of 30 knots. At 2055, the RALPH TALBOT reported engine trouble and ordered us to proceed ahead at our best speed. Knifing through the water at 35 knots, the TAYLOR was fast putting the miles behind her. At 2130, we received another message ordering us to slow to 20 knots to allow the TALBOT to catch up. Half an hour later the TALBOT was again at the head of the formation, making her best speed of 26 knots.

At 2208 all hands were called to battle stations, and ten minutes later we sighted several flares dead ahead on the horizon. Lookouts observed heavy gunfire and large explosions in the area of the flares. It was evident that we had arrived too late. The attack had already been made, and what was left of the enemy force was in full retreat behind a smoke screen. The CHEVALIER, O’BANNON and SELFRIDGE were damaged and reports came that the enemy had consisted of two groups of four DDs each.

We were now approaching our crippled ships and were told to stand by for anything. At 0151 the TAYLOR was designated to assist the damaged SELFRIDGE. In the dark we passed two sinking enemy destroyers and steamed among rafts and men in the water. The rafts were occupied by Japanese sailors. We were ordered to circle the SELFRIDGE before going alongside. We observed that the bow of the SELFRIDGE had been blown off just forward of the bridge. It was later learned that the damage was caused by an enemy torpedo. While we were approaching the SELFRIDGE word came in by radio that the CHEVALIER was slowly sinking. We came along the SELFRIDGE’S port side and a splendid job was done by our deck force and repair party. Working in the dark under difficult conditions, they had five lines over immediately.

The Commodore on the SELFRIDGE radioed Tulagi for tugs to assist the damaged ships to port. All hands were reported to be off the CHEVALIER and she was still sinking slowly; she was to be finished off later if need be. By this time the SELFRIDGE reported she could make 5 knots and was doing so. We had our prow over amidships and began taking wounded personnel aboard. Commodore Walker transferred to our ship and directed operations from the bridge. All personnel from the SELFRIDGE were removed except those who were to bring her into port.

During the action, the CHEVALIER was hit in identically the same place as the SELFRIDGE. With considerable way on, the stricken ship was rammed on her starboard side amidships by the O’BANNON steaming at 25 knots, flooding the CHEVALIER’S engine room, thus the coup de grace. Part of the O’BANNON’S bow was torn off, but she proceeded to port unassisted. The LA VALLETTE was ordered to sink the CHEVALIER with torpedoes. The CHEVVIE died in a large explosion.

The war was never brought so close to everyone aboard the TAYLOR as it was the next few days and nights. Our ship was crowded with the SELFRIDGE’S personnel. Their wounded men were in officers’ country, the wardroom, and crews’ quarters. The doctors and pharmacist mates did a miraculous job, but many of the fellows died. All of our crew pitched in with clothes, toilet articles and a good word to help the unfortunate wounded.

By now we were under way and taking screening stations with the RALPH TALBOT to escort the damaged SELFRIDGE to Tulagi. She was a sorrowful sight with torn metal, mess tables, and a gun barrel for a bow, pushing the sea like a snow plow. Just after morning twilight, Japanese planes were picked up closing in on us, but our fighter coverage engaged them and we witnessed a first class air show.

We steamed all that day and night. On the afternoon of October the 8th we made Tulagi and discharged all survivors. After this last tiring excursion the TAYLOR dropped the hook and rested for five days in Tulagi. On October 13th the TAYLOR, NICHOLAS, SPENCE, THATCHER and STANLEY escorted six LSTs to Vella La Vella as a supply unit. The mission was uneventful and we returned to port around noon of October 15th.

On October 17th Destroyer Division 41 proceeded to Guadalcanal to screen unloading transports at Koli Point. All day the TAYLOR patrolled at ten knots. At twilight the transports got underway and sailed-until daybreak and then returned to their berths. Jap planes would sneak in at night and strike at our anchored transports. We witnessed a Liberty ship loaded with lumber blown up. To foil the Japs, all ships got underway at night. After two days of patrol, the TAYLOR returned to Tulagi, unloaded ammunition, then returned to the patrolling grind. On October 20th we departed from the Guadalcanal area and escorted a troop transport convoy to Éfaté, New Hebredes Islands.

The TAYLOR spent several days in Havannah Harbor, Éfaté, taking aboard fresh provisions, ammunition, and in general continuing with ship’s work. All hands enjoyed beer parties and sports in the recreation area ashore, plus trips to the Army canteens where cases of coke, boxes of cigars and bait were bought.

The TAYLOR’S commanding officer was presented the Navy Cross medal on October 23rd for interception and routing of four JAP DDs and many barges the nights of July 17th and 18th, 1943.

We escorted the ammunition ship LASSEN to Nouméa, New Caledonia on October 24th, and returned with the ALDEBARAN and LASSEN to Éfaté on October 26th. On October 31st Destroyer Squadron 21 was detached from duty in the South Pacific Forces. Now we had our chance with a fast carrier outfit, the mighty Fifth Fleet.

Squadron 21 departed from Éfaté escorting Task Group 53.2, consisting of the battleships WASHINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS, INDIANA, SOUTH DAKOTA and ALABAMA bound for Nandi Beach, Fiji Islands. On the first day out we encountered heavy seas and squally weather. It was a drastic change from the calm waters of the ‘Slot”


November 2nd we rendezvoused with Task Group 53.3, consisting of large Essex class carriers, Independence class CVLs, and our old remodeled battleships, plus numerous cruisers and destroyers. To date, this was the largest group of ships the TAYLOR had operated with. From our station in the screen it was fourteen sea miles directly across to the other side of the formation. Task Groups conducted tactical maneuvers until the 5th of November when our group departed for the Fiji Islands.

During the full seven days of this trip, numerous drills were held for all ships; firing at sleeves towed by planes, firing at starshell bursts, flaghoist drills, tactical maneuvering and numerous others. On November 7th we sighted the islands with great anticipation, for scuttlebutt had it that the Fijis offered the best liberty outside of Australia.

The Fijis are beautiful islands, mountainous and covered with green and brown patchwork of cultivated lands. On the approach to our anchorage, what looked like an impenetrable ring of foaming reefs surrounded the island as far as the eye could see. Through a narrow break we steamed with creamy white breakers to the left and right forming a natural breakwater. As we later saw on liberty, the Fijis are very modern and resemble the Hawaiian Islands with sugar cane, up to date homes, narrow gauge trains, and friendly inhabitants.

We lay at anchor in Nandi beach for five days and on the 12th of November, in company with the battleships steamed out of Nandi to rendezvous with Task Group 50.1. Outside of the usual amount of drills and maneuvering, the next three days were uneventful. The TAYLOR crossed the International Date Line at 2350 for the first time in almost a year since coming from Panama. The “hot dope” on the TAYLOR now was, that with our present operations with the ‘Fifth Fleet, we had an even chance of going stateside by Christmas. Now that we were using the same time it raised our hopes all the more.

About the only interesting experience before we joined Task Group 50.1, was the day the WASHINGTON directed the TAYLOR to operate as her target during offset firing practice. At forty thousand yards we couldn’t even see the WASHINGTON except for her tremendous gun flashes. The suspense was terrific as nine sixteen-inch shells sped our way. The projectiles would land a thousand yards astern, in our wake, with a terrific roar and splash. Most of us had the uncomfortable thought of where the “mighty T“ would be if the WASHINGTON made a slight error in calculation. Now we knew what the Japs felt like.

At 0700 on November 15th we joined Task Group 50.1 and 50.2 which included carriers, battleships, cruisers and destroyers. We commenced fueling at sea immediately upon joining. All ships slowed to eight knots, and each ship took turns at the tankers. It required at least a day to fuel this large Task Force. To fuel at sea is a hard job and requires skill and full cooperation of all hands. Steaming at eight knots in a rough sea, the tanker and destroyer are only 20 yards apart, connected by two fuel hoses, fore and aft. Sometimes provisions and U. S. mail are taken aboard in the same manner and at the same time.

False sound contacts, planes crashing in the sea, fueling, provisioning, drills and four-hour watches constituted our days at sea during this trip. It grew very monotonous. Our Task Force was proceeding to an area between the Gilbert and Marshall Islands where we were to patrol, intercept and destroy any enemy surface or air contacts. Our group was protecting the landings and bombardment of the Gilberts during the period of November 19th through the 24th. The large carriers of our force, LEXINGTON, YORKTOWN, etc., sent many air strikes in support of D-day landings on Tarawa, softening up the stubborn enemy.

Air strikes mean more than sending flights of planes against the enemy. To the task force it is a constant grind of changing courses and speeds into the wind for launching and recovering aircraft. It is a great show as the mighty air arm of the fleet hovers overhead, waiting their turn to land; the roar of flight after flight of Wildcats, SBDs and torpedo planes circling their mother ship. Thrills like jammed landing gear or un-jettisoned bombs, and that big threat of a crash into the sea are always present.

Here is where a destroyer shines. At her fastest speed she approaches the bobbing men and smoke float in the water. Then a crash party of doctor, pharmacist mate, signalmen, etc., are lowered in a boat to rescue and give aid to the waterlogged and dazed plane crew. The TAYLOR has always been a leader in this field; sharp lookouts spotting the crash, instantaneous response from the engine rooms and expert conning, have given the “T” a 4.0 record in rescuing the crews of crashed planes.

November 25th, Thanksgiving Day, was celebrated in a gala manner; fueling from the TAPPAHANNOCK, transferring survivors to the LEXINGTON and a turkey dinner with all the fixings.

On November 26th our large Task Group 50.1 was detached from present operations to proceed as previously directed. At nightfall we changed course and steamed north. This tremendous armada of carriers were to conduct a mass air attack on Kwajalein, an atoll in the Jap Mandated Marshall Islands. Kwajalein and surrounding atolls were strong fortresses covered with airfields and were a threat to our shipping.

The morning of December 1st will be remembered by everyone. Over the PA system the Executive Officer notified all hands that upon completion of present operations the TAYLOR was to proceed directly to the West Coast of the United States for overhaul. Whistles and cheers filled the air, and right then and there started the longest period of waiting any of us had gone through.

At daybreak on December 4th our task forces were in the center of the hundreds of islands making up the Marshalls, hostile and heavily armed. All ships turned into the wind for the first launching and this course put us on our homeward bound route. From the first crack of dawn until dark, strike after strike left our carriers and returned. All hands were at their battle stations and the task forces had formed in column in expectation of enemy counterattack from the air.

We were making an average speed of 20 to 25 knots, and in a rough sea. Every wave was taken over the bow and the spray thrown back over the bridge. At 1200 the first attack of torpedo planes arrived and all three planes were shot down by the LEXINGTON’S AA batteries and air coverage. More torpedo planes came in on our port beam, we opened fire with all guns, a terrific hail of lead from all ships went up to meet the oncoming laps. They blew up one after the other and rocketed to the sea in a large, orange colored flame.

We remained at general quarters all afternoon and as night closed in all of the air strikes had returned to their carriers. During the raid at noon, the OAKLAND, an AA cruiser on our starboard bow, had fired too close to us and several shell fragments had torn our superstructure, at the captain’s stateroom. Outside of that, no other damage was suffered.

The night was moonlit and all ships were silhouetted against the glimmering sea. Several enemy raiders came in all night and were shot down. A Jap torpedo plane came at the LEXINGTON low over the water and dropped its fish. As the plane came on, a shower of forty and twenty mm tracers converged on the target in a cone of bright colors. The plane escaped miraculously, but the LEX didn’t. The fish caught her aft on the starboard side. This was the only damage caused by the Nips and the LEX could still make 25 knots. Only her steering was hampered.

After twenty hours of battle stations, we secured at 0158 for a little well earned sleep. The rough sea, continuous firing and the many dangers of being hit had worn our nerves thin.

The task force fueled the next day and then set sail for Pearl Harbor which meant homeward bound for Destroyer Squadron 21. The next few days were spent getting sun tans to show off at home. On December 9th we sighted Diamond Head, Oahu, T. H.

Most of the men on board had never been to Pearl Harbor before and it was with great interest for all to see the place where this terrible war had started. Admiral Nimitz, at his headquarters, greeted our squadron with this message: “SPECIAL GREETINGS TO YOU VETERANS OF THE SLOT. WE ARE PROUD TO HAVE YOU WITH US.” Well, we were glad to be there; and the best Christmas present any of us ever had were our orders to the States for a forty-five day overhaul.

We were moored alongside the NICHOLAS and in two hours we started unloading ammunition,. The mail orderly came back with seventy-eight bags of Christmas mail. He spent most of the night sorting it, and the crew all night opening, reading and eating the food contents. No one could sleep well, they were too excited about going home. The next day the Squadron Commander and all the skippers of 21’s tincans were called to a conference at Admiral Nimitz’s headquarters where many complimentary remarks were made about our Squadron.

After fueling and taking on fresh stores, on the afternoon of December 10th, Squadron 21, consisting of the NICHOLAS, TAYLOR, LA VALLETTE, FLETCHER, RADFORD and JENKINS, left for Uncle Sugar Able. It was a distance of two thousand ninety-one miles to San Francisco and at 23 knots it would take five days but it seemed like five weeks. All was in readiness, dress blues washed and pressed, leave parties and liberty sections made out, the fifty men to be transferred were ready. Now we were waiting for the Golden Gate to loom up over the horizon.