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Old June 5th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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Our family is facing a difficult time. Dad has been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. Apparently a calcium buildup around one of his heart valves is growing and will eventually close off that valve. And the deal is that medical science is not sufficiently advanced to remedy this condition. The only viable solution is to perform open-heart surgery and hope to remove the deposits. And at age 86, the surgeons estimate Dad’s surviving the surgery at 50-50.

This news comes ironically just before Father’s Day……..

So how am I feeling? Shocked, saddened, and quite angry………

Dad is a combat veteran, who had his ticket punched in some of the most savage naval combat in United States history. Dad is a war hero, and he deserves better…..

Dad joined the Navy in 1939, and was stationed aboard United States Navy heavy cruiser, USS Chicago CA 29, at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii. Dad rose through the ranks, and by the end of 1941, had achieved the rank of Gunners Mate First Class, and gun captain, left gun, turret 3.

(USS Chicago CA 29, off Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii, circa 1939.)


Dad, during off-duty days, hung out on Waikiki Beach, and occasionally photographed movie stars. Dad could have earned a living as a one-man paparazzi! Evenings he drank beer by torch-light with his shipmates. All of that changed 7 December 1941………

Several days before 7 December 1941, USS Chicago CA 29 escorted aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise CV 6 out of Pearl Harbor, to Wake Island, ostensibly to deliver fighter aircraft. 12 December 1941, USS Chicago CA 29, returned to United States territory, and entered Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. As Dad stood on the gun deck of USS Chicago CA 29, he witnessed a scene of utter destruction. Every ship floating was ablaze, and fuel oil covered the entrance and harborage of Pearl Harbor. Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise CV 6, and escort ships stayed at sea, and only battleship USS North Carolina BB 55, and heavy cruiser USS Chicago CA 29, entered Pearl Harbor.

On 2 February 1942, USS Chicago CA 29, departed Pearl Harbor for Suva Bay, where she joined the newly formed Allied Naval Force. During March and April, USS Chicago CA 29 operated off the Louisiade Archipelago, covering the attacks on Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea. In a position to intercept enemy surface units which attempted to attack Port Moresby, USS Chicago CA 29 also provided cover for the arrival of American troops on New Caledonia.

On 1 May 1942, USS Chicago CA 29 was ordered from Noumea to join Commander, Southwest Pacific, and on 4 May 1942, she supported USS Yorktown CV 5, in her strike against the Japanese on Tulagi, Solomon Islands. On 7 May 1942, she proceeded, with the Support Group, to intercept and attack the Japanese Port Moresby invasion group. The following day, the group underwent several Japanese air attacks, during which USS Chicago CA 29 suffered several casualties from strafing.

On the night of 31 May 1942 – 1 June 1942, USS Chicago CA 29 successfully defeated 3 Japanese midget submarines that attempted to sink her while at anchor in a neutral harbor, Sydney, Australia. While one submarine got entangled in an anti-submarine net, the other two launched torpedoes against USS Chicago CA 29. One torpedo completely destroyed another vessel anchored nearby, the other went ashore, landing in the middle of a garden party.

The evening of 9 August 1942, USS Chicago CA 29 was at general quarters. The night that the United States Navy suffered the second-worst defeat in its history, after its defeat at Pearl Harbor.

(USS Chicago CA 29, Flagship, Chicago Group, Off Savo Island, 9 August 1942, War Penants flying.)


At 0100 hours, 9 August 1942, off the coast of Savo Island, all hell broke loose. A Japanese cruiser division, under Imperial Japanese Navy Admiral Gunichi Mikawa, engaged the United States Navy. The Japanese Navy had practiced night warfare extensively before the war. By Dad's own admission, the United States Navy in the early 1940's was a pathetic fighting force. More concerned with style than substance, United States Navy large-caliber surface combat ships could land shells on time and on target -- as long as the target was moving parallel, moving at the same speed, and during broad daylight. The United States Navy in 1942 had no experience in night-time surface actions, and had never practiced for such. The Japanese Navy had prepared extensively before the war, and were ready and eager for a fight. The United States Navy was a bloated, lazy force. 7 December 1941, the United States Navy lost its entire Pacific Fleet battleship force. Eight months later at Savo Island, the United States Navy lost half of its heavy cruisers in a single engagement.

At 0131 hours, 9 August 1942, off the coast of Savo Island, HMAS Canberra, under the tactical command of United States Navy Fleet Captain, Howard D. Bode, commanding officer, USS Chicago CA 29, came under attack by Japanese heavy cruisers. HMAS Canberra turned to protect her allied transport ships. Doing so, she brought her broadside to the Japanese heavy cruisers Chokai and Furutaka, who scored hits upon her immediately. Japanese heavy cruisers Aoba and Kako joined shortly thereafter, and within 3 minutes HMAS Canberra was savaged with over 24 large-caliber shell hits. Shortly after, HMAS Canberra glided to a stop, ablaze from stem to stern.

At the same time, USS Chicago CA 29, illuminated by Japanese flares, fired flares of her own to illuminate her attackers. Identifying a Japanese heavy cruiser, USS Chicago CA 29 fired large-caliber main battery projectiles, scoring a hit upon Japanese heavy cruiser, Kako, killing 23, injuring 21.

Meanwhile, at 0152, United States Navy heavy cruiser, USS Astoria CA 34, came under attack by 4 Japanese heavy cruisers and was quickly set ablaze by numerous large-caliber shell hits.

Next was United States Navy heavy cruiser, USS Quincy CA 39. As she was coming to general quarters, she was caught in a cross-fire between 3 Japanese heavy cruisers. Very shortly, her entire bridge crew was killed, including her captain. Her assistant gunnery officer coming to the bridge at 0210 for instructions, found the entire bridge crew dead. At 0238, USS Quincy CA 39 sank by the bow.

(United States Navy heavy cruiser, USS Quincy CA 39, ablaze, 0230, 9 August 1942, off Savo Island)


At 0150, USS Vincennes CA 44 came under Japanese heavy cruiser bombardment. At 0155, Japanese heavy cruiser Kinugasa joined the attack. By 0203, USS Vincennes CA 44 had received 74 large-caliber shell hits and was sinking. At 0250, ablaze from stem to stern, USS Vincennes CA 44 sank bow first.

At 0147, USS Chicago CA 29 was hit by 2 torpedoes, the first blowing her bow off, the second striking her amidships but failing to detonate. A small-caliber shell hit USS Chicago CA 29’s mainmast, killing 2 crewmen.

(USS Chicago CA 29, 10 August 1942, damage control team assessing damage from surface action of 9 August 1942.)


Sailing west at 20 knots, favoring USS Chicago CA 29’s damaged bow, Captain Howard D. Bode withdrew USS Chicago CA 29 from Savo Island. In doing so, Captain Howard D. Bode had much to answer for. In the midst of the United States Navy inquiry into the Battle of Savo Island, on 19 April 1943, United States Navy Fleet Captain Howard D. Bode shot himself in Panama City, Panama, dying the next day.

After action at Savo Island, USS Chicago CA 29 received a temporary bow at Sydney Harbor, Sydney, Australia. Departing Sydney, Australia, USS Chicago CA 29 arrived at Mare Island, San Francisco, California, United States, 19 October 1942. While there, USS Chicago CA 29 received a new permanent bow, and a new fire-control radar system. USS Chicago CA 29 also received 9 brand new 8" main battery rifles, her previous main battery rifles having had the linings completely shot out.

(USS Chicago CA 29, under repair, Mare Island, San Francisco, California, United States, 20 October 1942 - 20 December 1942)


(USS Chicago CA 29, underway, San Francisco Bay, after refit at Mare Island, 20 December 1942)


In early January, 1943, USS Chicago CA 29 sailed again for the South Pacific.

(USS Chicago CA 29, middle ship, echelon-left formation, along with her sister, USS Louisville CA 28. Photo taken from USS Wichita CA 45, Flagship TF 18, Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen, Commanding.)


On the night of 29 January 1943, USS Chicago CA 29, engaged in the Battle of Rennell Island, fired 8" main battery projectiles in support of Allied landing operations. Simultaneously under attack from Japanese torpedo aircraft, USS Chicago CA 29 responded with anti-aircraft fire, and shot down several attacking Japanese aircraft, two of which, burning brightly, illuminated USS Chicago CA 29, providing light for further torpedo attacks. Later on the evening of 29 January 1943, Japanese aircraft launched torpedoes against USS Chicago CA 29, hitting her twice. USS Chicago CA 29, able to right herself, but barely able to maneuver, received a tow, in the dark of night, from her sister, heavy cruiser, USS Louisville CA 28. USS Louisville CA 28 towed her ailing sister throughout the night at 4 knots, through the very early hours of 30 January 1943. Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen then elected to withdraw all of TF-18, leaving USS Chicago CA 29 under tow by fleet tug USS Navajo, and 6 screening destroyers.

(USS Chicago CA 29, under tow by her sister, heavy cruiser USS Louisville CA 28, early morning, 30 January 1943, off Rennell Island)


Shortly after USS Louisville CA 28 handed off towing duties to USS Navajo, the morning of 30 January 1943, USS Chicago CA 29 came under attack again. USS Chicago CA 29’s screening destroyers put up a fierce screen of anti-aircraft fire, shooting down several Japanese Betty torpedo planes. The second wave of Japanese Bettys attacked, this time passing through severe anti-aircraft fire, and launched torpedoes against heavy cruiser, USS Chicago CA 29. Many torpedoes missed, but 4 torpedoes struck USS Chicago CA 29 as she was under tow. One struck forward of her bridge, putting her main battery director out of action, and 3 struck her amidships, in her engineering departments, rendering her immobile and sinking.

(USS Chicago CA 29, off Rennell Island, late morning, 30 January 1943, after departure of TF 18. USS Chicago CA 29, completely defenseless, down by the stern, has dropped a bow anchor, to maintain her position, awaiting tow by fleet tug, USS Navajo.)


In the gathering twilight, Commanding officer, Captain Ralph O. Davis, ordered all hands abandon ship. Dad saw to it that all hands under his command were evacuated, and all surviving hands, vis-*-vis USS Chicago CA 29 were evacuated in 20 minutes.

United States Navy heavy cruiser, USS Chicago CA 29 sank by the stern with colors flying.

Dad and 1048 of his shipmates floated around in shark-infested waters off the coast of Rennell Island for 45 minutes until USS Chicago CA 29’s screening destroyers were able to rescue her survivors.

And so Dad, a gold-stripe First Class Gunners Mate, and gun captain of an 8” main battery rifle of a United States Navy heavy cruiser, who survived when all hell broke loose, is brought down by a calcium deposit? You've got to be kidding me..... Somebody is going to have to offer me something more than that.

Dean
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Old June 5th, 2008, 07:47 AM
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Dean,

I am so sorry to hear about your dad's health problem.

His story is remarkable - amazing to read history and feel connected to someone who experienced it first hand. Thank you for sharing it with us.

I wish I had great words of wisdom to offer. I can't imagine how you are feeling right now. All I can do is pray.

My heart and prayers truly do go out to you and your family.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 07:48 AM
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Dean,

What a moving tribute to your father and our hero. Of course all of you will be in our thoughts and prayers. We may joke and kid around in here, but we are all friends.

Hugs to you and yours,
Melody
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Old June 5th, 2008, 08:01 AM
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Sorry to hear that Dean. Prayers go out to your family. Yes your dad is a hero thanks for sharing that is a wonderful post.
Stay strong stay positive.

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Old June 5th, 2008, 08:30 AM
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Dean, so sorry to hear about your dad's medical prognosis. It is a frustrating and angry feeling when we know we can do nothing to help our loved ones.
You certainly wrote a moving tribute to him though. I'm sure he is very proud of you!

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Old June 5th, 2008, 08:36 AM
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Dean, Your Dad ia a hero for you, for us, for everyone. He did fight the fight, and, your emotions are palpable, especially, around Father's day. Please know a prayer is going out, for you and your family.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 08:46 AM
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Dean,

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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Old June 5th, 2008, 09:00 AM
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Dean, I can only say what everyone else has said - Your Dad stands out as a truly amazing person. He's a hero and very obviously your hero. My thoughts and prayers are with your dad, you and the rest of the family. Stay strong for him, and vent to us all you want as that is what friends are for.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 09:21 AM
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Dean my prayers for you and your dad.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 09:31 AM
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Dean, thank you for sharing your father's story. It is so important that we remember.

I wish there was something I could say that would give you comfort, but I just don't have the words. I'll be praying for your dad, you, and the rest of the family.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 09:34 AM
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Dean, I too am sorry to hear the medical report on your Dad. I will be keeping him and your family in my prayers as you deal with the difficult decisions and days ahead.

What a remarkable tribute you have written about him. I'm guessing he lived his life after his service to our country as honorably as he did while serving to envoke such a beautiful tribute from his son to him today.

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Old June 5th, 2008, 09:37 AM
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Lots of prayers coming your way.

Thanks for sharing the story of your dad.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 12:43 PM
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Dean, that is an amazing story. Prayers and good thoughts for your Dad at this time.

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Old June 6th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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What a moving tribute. Thoughts and prayers are being sent.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 09:35 AM
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Thank you for that biography, your dad sounds like a great man. My prayers go out to you and your family at this difficult time.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 09:48 AM
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Oh Dean,
What a remarkable dad you have, so sorry to hear about his health issues, prayers out to you and your family.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 09:49 AM
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Thought and Prayers are with you. Such a great story!!!!
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Old June 10th, 2008, 02:10 PM
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Prayers are coming your way! At age 86 he has had a full life! I am facing the illness of my father and he is 81. I don't get to see him since he lives in another country but I call him every day. When I call he cries every tiime and tells me how much he needs me. It is very very difficult....but it is the way life is
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Old June 10th, 2008, 02:41 PM
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Dean~~~ Your post reminded me of MY Dad.

He too, was at Pearl Harbor---on the Medusa. He was only 21 yrs. old.

And~~~like your Dad, he worked up thru' the ranks, and retired Chief Petty Officer.
He had to retire in 1960 because he got San Joquain Valley Fever. At that time, he had lung surgery, was Balboa Naval Hospital for a year, and they gave him 1 year to live.

He beat the odds----he's stubborn----and he's still "kickin" in Matzlan. (Medical problems, but still----)

So you see, don't count these old guys out. They're tough.

He's lived a proud life.

Praying for both of you.

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Old June 10th, 2008, 03:00 PM
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We are here for you, Dean.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 05:53 PM
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Thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.
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Old June 11th, 2008, 09:06 PM
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You and your dad will be in my thoughts. Best wishes through this very difficult time.

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Old June 11th, 2008, 11:55 PM
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Thank you Everyone for your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.

Dad's situation is stable for the immediate future -- in fact, we have dinner plans for Father's Day!

The doctors still haven't decided the best course of action; but one doctor believes there is a medication which will disolve the calcium deposit. Unfortunately, he's on vacation, so we have to wait for his return. I'll keep you all updated.

Appreciatively yours,

Dean
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Old June 12th, 2008, 01:59 AM
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Dean,

All of our best wishes and prayers go out to your Father and all of his family.
Dean,

As a BIG TIME student of WWII (I wasn't born util '47 but I have well over a thousand volumesof my ow and have literally read out small town libraries on the subject) I am well aware of the sacrfice and hardship those seamen of all ranks endured during the conflict. He has to be one tough bird and I am confident that everything will turn out in his favor.

Please Dean, inform him of my deepest heartfelt admirtation for his sacrifce. People such as your father are the ONLY reason we continue to enjoy our country's bounty.

If only we could all stand in his shoes, Your father is indeed, a Hero of the first order.

God Bless,

Todd (and his faithul companion, Fran)
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Old June 12th, 2008, 09:31 AM
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Dean
God Bless your Dad and your entire family. Please know that my family's and my Thoughts and prayers are with you and yours during this trying time. No one can answer why. I lost my dad when I was 5 and have never forgotten. Please spend as much time with your dad as you can, you both will appreciate it. I guess because that I lost my dad so early, I have spent even more time with my own boys. My family has served this great nation of ours for 12 generations dating back to the French and Indian war and we just found out that my oldest son is going back to the sandbox for his 2nd tour next spring. We understand the sacrifices that your dad has given to this nation and we Thank him. Those warriors are the "Greatest Generation" and the reason we are a free nation.

Please tell you dad that prayers for a speedy recovery and a very long life come to him from this old Grunt.

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Old June 13th, 2008, 12:07 AM
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Dean,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Our family is facing a difficult time. Dad has been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. Apparently a calcium buildup around one of his heart valves is growing and will eventually close off that valve. And the deal is that medical science is not sufficiently advanced to remedy this condition. The only viable solution is to perform open-heart surgery and hope to remove the deposits. And at age 86, the surgeons estimate Dad’s surviving the surgery at 50-50.

This news comes ironically just before Father’s Day……..
I'm sorry about this news and especially its timing. I will keep you, your dad, and your whole family in prayer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
So how am I feeling? Shocked, saddened, and quite angry………
Those feelings are certainly understandable, but perhaps it's a good time for a chat with your pastor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Dad is a combat veteran, who had his ticket punched in some of the most savage naval combat in United States history. Dad is a war hero, and he deserves better…..
May his story be an inspiration to everybody who reads this thread!

That said, I do have a couple minor corrections to your account.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
The evening of 9 August 1942, USS Chicago CA 29 was at general quarters. The night that the United States Navy suffered the second-worst defeat in its history, after its defeat at Pearl Harbor.
I would not go so far as to call Pearl Harbor a defeat. A blow, yes, but not a defeat. In fact, much of the damage that the Japanese air strike inflicted at Pearl Harbor turned out to be very superficial, and all but a few of the ships returned to service and several played very significant roles in the Pacific campaign.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
The United States Navy was a bloated, lazy force that thought it was all that and a bag of chips. 7 December 1941, the United States Navy lost its entire Pacific Fleet battleship force. Eight months later at Savo Island, the United States Navy lost half of its heavy cruisers in a single engagement.
The historical record shows that we effectively lost only three (3) battleships at Pearl Harbor -- USS Utah (BB-31) and USS Arizona (BB-39). Additionally, USS Okalahoma (BB-37), one of several ships sunk during the attack and subseuqently refloated, never returned to action and subsequently sank while en route to San Francisco after the war.

By way of background, it's important to understand that the Washington Treaty ratified after World War I limited the number of battleships and cruisers larger than a certain size that each naval power could posess. This treaty forced the United States to scrap several battleships that were under construction. The United States continued to observe its limits until about 1939, when it became so evident that other signers were in violation that Franklin Roosevelt could no longer maintain the false pretense that they were in compliance and world tensions forced him to authorize construction of new ships. Thus, our Navy had two distinct groups of battleships -- slower vessels left over from World War I and the new fast battleships of the North Carolina (BB-55) and Iowa (BB-61) classes ordered in anticipation of our entry into World War II. In the Pacific Theater, Admiral Nimitz assigned the former to the Seventh Fleet, operating in the Southwest Pacific in support of the forces commanded by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, and the latter to operate with the carrier force as the the Third Fleet and Fifth Fleet, which actually consisted of the same ships under the respective alternate commands of Fleet Admiral "Bull" Halsey and Admiral Raymond Spruance. The battleships assigned to both fleets saw very little classic naval combat for the duration ofhte war, but their heavy guns were decisive in the respective series of amphibious campaigns -- MacArthur moving from Australia through Indonesia and the Phillippines and the U. S. Marines moving across the Pacific from Hawai'i though the Marshall Islands, the Caroline Islands and the Mariana Islands -- to converge on Japan. Outfitted with dozens of 20mm and 40mm antiaircraft guns, the battleships also proved to be extremely effective antiaircraft platforms in actions such as the famous "Marianas Turkey Shoot."

Norm.
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