Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942

Posted: Tuesday, June 04, 2013 by Travis Cody in
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If you've visited here for any length of time, you know it's important to me to commemorate certain dates and events in history.  The first part of June has many of those kinds of dates and events.


From 4 June through 7 June 1942, the battle for Midway Atoll devastated the Japanese fleet and proved that the reach of American air power on board aircraft carriers was the way to begin the long process of dislodging the Japanese from the Pacific.  If the Japanese campaign to invade Midway had succeeded, they would have been able to threaten US holdings in the Pacific right up to the west coast.

If you are so inclined, you may read my previous posts on the subject.
The fighter and dive bomber squadrons from USS Hornet, USS Enterprise, and USS Yorktown get a lot of well deserved ink for the role they played in sinking the 4 Japanese carriers at Midway.  Today I'd like to tell you the names of the other US ships that made up Task Forces 16 and 17, because aircraft carriers don't go to war without a lot of support.

Light cruiser, USS Atlanta
US cruisers played a vital role in WWII, both in anti-aircraft defense and against surface ships.  US destroyers were critical screening vessels against submarines, and also proved important in anti-aircraft defense.

Destroyer, USS Warden
I know lists of ships don't seem very interesting, but I pay tribute to them here because it's easy to get caught up in the audacity of the Air Group squadrons while overlooking the scope of the battle.  Midway proved the kind of damage carrier based aircraft could inflict.  But while their fighters and dive bombers were out sinking Japanese carriers, US carriers were relying heavily on the defensive screens provide by cruisers and destroyers.

Rear Admiral Ray Spruance (1886-1969) commanded Task Force 16, first on station to defend Midway.  The carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet were the centerpieces with their Air Groups.

Rear Admiral Thomas Kinkaid (1888-1972) commanded the cruiser screen of TF 16, which consisted of
  • USS Atlanta - commissioned 24 December 1941, she was sunk 13 November 1942 during the battle of Guadalcanal.
  • USS Minneapolis - commissioned 19 May 1934, she earned 17 battle stars in WWII, and accepted the Japanese surrender of Korea on 9 September 1945.  She was scrapped in 1959.
  • USS New Orleans - commissioned 15 February 1934,  she earned 17 battle stars in WWII.  She was scrapped in 1959.
  • USS Northampton - commissioned 17 May 1930, she was sunk on 30 November 1942 during the battle of Tassafaronga.  She earned 6 battle stars in WWII.
  • USS Pensacola - commissioned 6 February 1928, she earned 13 battle stars in WWII.  She was sunk as a target vessel in 1948.
  • USS Vincennes - commissioned 24 February 1937, she was sunk during the battle off Savo Island on 9 August 1942.  She earned 2 battle stars in WWII.
Captain Alexander R Early commanded the destroyer screen of TF 16, which consisted of
  • USS Phelps - commissioned 26 November 1936, she earned 12 battle stars in WWII.  She was scrapped in 1947.
  • USS Warden - commissioned 15 January 1935, she was sunk on 12 January 1943.  She Earned 4 battle stars in WWII.
  • USS Monaghan - commissioned 19 April 1935, she foundered in a typhoon on 18 December 1944.  She earned 12 battle stars in WWII.
  • USS Aylwin - commissioned 1 March 1935, she earned 13 battle stars in WWII.  She was scrapped in 1946.
  • USS Balch - commissioned 20 October 1936, she earned 6 battle stars in WWII.  She was scrapped in 1946.
  • USS Conyngham - commissioned 4 November 1936, she earned 14 battle stars in WWII.  She was used during the atomic weapons tests at Bikini Atol in 1946, and was sunk in 1948.
  • USS Benham - commissioned 2 February 1939, she was sunk on 15 November 1942 during the battle of Guadalcanal.  She earned 5 battle stars in WWII.
  • USS Ellet - commissioned 17 February 1939, she earned 10 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold in 1947.
  • USS Maury - commissioned 5 August 1938, she earned 16 battle stars in WWII.  She was scrapped in 1946.
Four oilers were attached to TF 16.
  • USS Cimarron - commissioned 20 March 1939, she earned 10 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1969 after earning 7 battle stars in Korea and 4 campaign stars in Vietnam.
  • USS Platte - commissioned 8 July 1939, she earned 11 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1971 after earning 6 battle stars in Korea and 8 campaign stars in Vietnam.
  • USS Dewey - commissioned 4 October 1934, she earned 13 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1946.
  • USS Monssen - commissioned 14 March 1941, she was sunk on 13 November 1942 during the battle of Guadalcanal.  She earned 4 battle stars in WWII.
Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher (1885-1973) commanded Task Force 17 from USS Yorktown.  Yorktown's Air Group included elements of the Air Group from USS Saratoga.

Rear Admiral William W Smith commanded the cruiser screen of TF 17, which consisted of
  • USS Astoria - commissioned 28 April 1934, she was sunk on 9 August 1942 during action off Savo Island.  She earned 3 battle stars during WWII.
  • USS Portland - commissioned 23 February 1933, she earned 16 battle stars during WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1959. 
Captain Gilbert C Hoover (1894-1980) commanded the destroyer screen of TF 17, which consisted of
  • USS Hammann - commissioned 11 August 1939, she was sunk by a Japanese submarine on 6 June 1942.  She earned 2 battle stars in WWII.
  • USS Anderson - commissioned 19 May 1939, she earned 10 battle stars in WWII.  She was sunk during atomic weapons tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946.
  • USS Gwin - commissioned 15 January 1941, she was sunk on 13 July 1943 during the battle of Kolombangara.  She earned 5 battle stars in WWII.
  • USS Hughes - commissioned 21 September 1939, she earned 14 battle stars in WWII.  She was sunk as a target ship in 1948.
  • USS Morris - commissioned 5 March 1940, she earned 15 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1947.
  • USS Russell - commissioned 3 November 1939, she earned 16 battle stars in WWII.  She was scrapped in 1947.
There were three submarine task groups involved at Midway under the operational command of Rear Admiral Robert H English (1888-1943).

Task Group 7.1 included
  • USS Cachalot - commissioned 1 December 1933, she earned 3 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1947.
  • USS Flying Fish - commissioned 10 December 1941, she earned 12 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1959.
  • USS Tambor - commissioned 3 June 1940, she earned 11 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1959.
  • USS Trout - commissioned 15 November 1940, she was lost northwest of the Philippines in February 1944.  She earned 11 battle stars in WWII.
  • USS Grayling - commissioned 1 March 1941, she was lost near Manilla in September 1943.  She earned 6 battle stars in WWII.
  • USS Nautilus - commissioned 1 July 1930, she earned 14 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation in WWII.  She was for scrap in 1945.
  • USS Grouper - commissioned 12 February 1942, she earned 10 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1970.
  • USS Dolphin - commissioned 1 June 1932, she earned 2 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1946.
  • USS Gato - commissioned 31 December 1941, she earned 13 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1960.
  • USS Cuttlefish - commissioned 8 June 1934, she earned 2 battle stars for WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1947.
  • USS Gudgeon - commissioned 21 April 1941, she was lost off the Maug Islands in April 1944.  She earned 11 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation in WWII.
  • USS Grenadier - commissioned 1 May 1941, she was damaged by Japanese aircraft in April 1943 near Panang and scuttled.  She earned 4 battle stars in WWII.
Task Group 7.2 included
  • USS Narwhal - commissioned 15 May 1930, she earned 15 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1945.
  • USS Plunger - commissioned 19 November 1936, she earned 14 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1956.
  • USS Trigger - commissioned 31 January 1942, she was sunk in March 1945 in the East China Sea.  She earned 11 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation in WWII.
Task Group 7.3 included
  • USS Tarpon - commissioned 12 March 1936, she earned 7 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap but foundered and sank off Cape Hatteras in 1957.
  • USS Finback - commissioned 31 January 1942, she earned 13 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1959.
  • USS Pike - commissioned 2 December 1935, she earned 4 battle stars in WWII.  She was sold for scrap in 1957.
  • USS Growler - commissioned 20 March 1942, she was sunk in November 1944 west of the Philippines.  She earned 8 battle stars in WWII.


Submarine, USS Gato

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for continuing to remember the Greatest Generation and those who served this country. My father served aboard the USS Bunker Hill. Dad passed away in 2009 and I still miss his presence in our lives.

  1. remember reading quite a bit on this battle as a youngster, particularly in a book called Clear for Action.