Battle Is Joined

7:30 a.m. 25 October 1944, off Samar: Four Japanese heavy cruisers are making straight for six American carriers guarded only by the light destroyers of Taffy 3. “Through nearly three years of war,” no American air carrier had fallen to Japanese guns. The Japanese felt it was their moment.

You only know the true measure of a man when he is tested, and Rear Admiral Ziggy Sprague was the right man for that moment. He ordered the air carriers to head south. He drew his light destroyers around him in battle formation and headed north, to head off the enemy.

“The Americans and Japanese closed at a combined rate of more than fifty knots.”

TLSOTTCS, p. 223

Next chapter, Twenty-Six, is about the Hoel. Self looks at the Hoel’s position on the map. Oh, the Hoel is the closest to the enemy. This won’t be good.

There was a flash and a crrrump and a whistling hail of metal that killed most of the men in the wheelhouse immediately. Lt. Earl Nason, quartermaster Herbert Doubrava, fire-controllman Marcellino Dilello, and soundman Otto Kumpunen were gone in an instant. A surreal cloud of green-dyed mist settled over the carnage.

TLSOTTCS, pp. 224 – 225

Watching from the Yamato, Admiral Kurita records in his ship’s log: Cruiser observed blowing up and sinking.

But there are men still alive on the Hoel! Oh my bacon, the men see the “smoking gray-black wreck” of the Johnston “crawling south,” its skipper, Evans, still giving orders.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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