I realize this tab may not be what you’d expect to see on a firearms based website, but the content has meaning to me, and it’s left over from years ago when the website had a totally different focus. ENJOY!
USS Lexington (CV / CVA / CVS / CVT / AVT-16) known as “The Blue Ghost”, is one of 24 Essex class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the US Navy. The ship, the fifth US Navy ship to bear the name, is named in honor of the Revolutionary War battle of Lexington. She was originally to have been named Cabot, but she was renamed while under construction to commemorate USS Lexington CV-2, lost in the Battle of Midway in may of 1942.
Lexington was commissioned in February 1943, and served in several campaigns in the Pacific, receiving the Presidential Unit Citation, and 11 battle stars for WWII service.
My father was a plank owner and spent all of WWII aboard the Lady Lex. He is in this picture somewhere...
Like many of her sister ships, Lexington was decommissioned shortly after the end of the war, but was modernized and reactivated in the early 1950s, being reclassified as an attack carrier (CVA), and then an antisubmarine carrier (CVS). In her second career, she operated both in the Atlantic / Mediterranean and the Pacific, but spent most of her time, nearly 30 years, on the east coast as a training carrier (CVT). During her illustrious career, she logged 493,248 arrested landings.
She was decommissioned in 1991, remaining active longer than any other Essex class ship, and was donated for use as a museum ship in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Lexington was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2003. Though her surviving sister-ships Yorktown, Intrepid, and Hornet carry lower hull numbers, Lexington was laid down and commissioned earlier, making Lexington the oldest remaining aircraft carrier in the world.
USS Johnston (DD-557) Without getting into the specifics of the Japanese strategy in Leyte Gulf, suffice to say the destroyer USS Johnston ran into a very powerful superior force of Japanese battleships, cruisers, and destroyers commanded by Admiral Takeo Kurita. The Americans were taken entirely by surprise because the Seventh Fleet had firmly believed that its northern flank was being protected by Admiral Halsey’s immensely powerful 3rd Fleet, which consisted of eight fleet carriers and six fast battleships.
CDR Ernest E. Evans, Captain of the Johnston was the closest to the attackers. He took the initiative, and ordered his ship to “flank speed, full left rudder,” attacking on his own in what appeared to be a suicide mission.
Johnston approached the cruiser squadron flagship, the heavy cruiser Kumano, for a torpedo attack. At a range of 10 miles (16 km), Johnston opened fire, aiming for Kumano‘s superstructure, bridge and deck, since her 5 inch (127 mm) shells would have bounced off the enemy’s belt armor. One advantage the Americans had in gunnery was the fire control system used on battleships, also was used on destroyers. The computer provided coordinated automatic firing solutions of her 5 inch (127 mm) guns merely by pointing the gun director at the target.
The Japanese were using colored marker shells to bracket the range of a target, but US destroyers and even the carriers were often able to dodge Japanese misses by weaving to avoid shells, and steering towards splashes, while inflicting accurate hits on larger Japanese ships. When Johnston closed to within torpedo range, she fired a salvo, which blew the bow off Kumano, which also took the heavy cruiser Suzuya out of the fight, as she stopped to assist.
At a range of 7 miles (11 km), the battleship Kongō sent a 14 inch (356 mm) shell through Johnston’s deck and engine room, cutting the destroyer’s speed in half to 17 knots (20 mph; 31 km/h) and interrupting electric power to the aft gun turrets. Then three 6 inch (152 mm) shells, possibly from Yamato, struck Johnston‘s bridge, causing numerous casualties and severing fingers of Captain Evans’ left hand. The bridge was abandoned and Evans proceeded to steer the ship back towards the fleet, shouting orders from aft down to men manually operating the rudder from aft, when he noticed other destroyers starting their torpedo run.
Emboldened by Johnston‘s attack, Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague gave the order “small boys attack”, sending the rest of Task Force’s destroyers and destroyer escorts on the offensive. They attacked the Japanese line, drawing fire and scattering the Japanese formations as ships turned to avoid torpedoes. Despite heavy damage, Evans turned Johnston around and reentered the fight while damage control teams restored power to two of the three aft turrets.
Two hours into the attack, Captain Evans aboard Johnston spotted a line of four Japanese destroyers led by the light cruiser Yahagi making a torpedo attack on the carriers and moved to intercept. Johnston fired and scored hits on them, pressuring the Japanese to fire their torpedoes prematurely at 10,500 yards (9,600 m) distance at 0915. The torpedoes were reaching end-of-run as they approached their target, and broached.
At 0910, a direct hit on one of Johnston‘s forward turrets knocked it out and set off many of the 5 inch (127 mm) shells stored in the turret. Her damaged engines stopped, leaving her dead in the water. As her attackers gathered around the vulnerable ship, they concentrated fire on her rather than the fleeing carriers. Johnston was hit so many times that one survivor recalled “they couldn’t patch holes fast enough to keep her afloat.” Under heavy attack from the air and fire from American destroyers and destroyer escorts, the Japanese cruisers broke off and turned northward at 0920. At 0945, Evans finally gave the order to abandon ship. Johnston sank 25 minutes later with 186 of her crew. Evans abandoned ship with his crew, but was never seen again. Of the 327 officers and men aboard the USS Johnston only 141 survived, her captain was not among them. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
As a Japanese destroyer cruised slowly by, the survivors saw the enemy standing at attention to salute.
USS Missouri (BB-63) known as “The Mighty Mo”, or ‘Big Mo,” is an Iowa class battleship, commissioned into the US Navy in 1944.
She fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and shelled the Japanese home islands. She also fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. She was decommissioned in 1955 into the reserve fleet, but was reactivated and modernized in 1984. Further, she provided fire support during Operation Desert Storm in early 1991.
Missouri is armed with 16 inch naval guns. These guns, computer controlled, are regarded by many as one of the most effective and accurate battleship guns ever designed. Iowa class guns are capable of firing a 2,700 pound projectile a distance of over 25 miles, with extreme accuracy. To put this in perspective, it can fire a round the weight of a VW over 25 miles and drop it in a garbage dumpster, and it can do this at a rate of 2 rounds per minute per gun. Missouri did not serve in Vietnam. However, I personally witnessed her sistership, the USS New Jersey doing fire support in the Gulf of Tonkin. These guns are absolutely awesome.
Missouri received a total of 11 battle stars for service in World War II, Korea, and the Persian Gulf, and was finally decommissioned on 31 March 1992. The Mighty Mo remained on the Naval Register until her name was struck in January 1995. In 1998, she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship in Pearl Harbor Hawaii.
She rests on Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor, overlooking the USS Arizona. World War II started with sinking of Arizona, and ended with the signing of the Japanese surrender documents aboard the USS Missouri.
Missouri is not eligible for designation as a Historical Landmark, because she was extensively modernized in the years following the surrender. She was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on 14 May 1971 for hosting the signing of the instrument of Japanese surrender that ended World War II.
In October 2009 Missouri went into dry dock in Pearl Harbor for maintenance and repairs. She was returned to Battleship Row, and officially reopened on Jan. 30, 2010, the day after the 66th anniversary of the battleship’s launch.
Below are some of the other ‘Great Ships’ documentaries. There are many of these documenting vessels from WWI until the present… I only have listed some of the WWII ships for your use. I also included one from my era, the Vietnam war.