As I mentioned in my last post, the tiny island of Iwo Jima was very important to both sides in the War for the Pacific.   The Boston set sail for the Bonin and Volcano Islands four times between mid-June of 1944 and Feb/March of 1945.

In the lead-up to the First Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 19-21, 1944),   Boston’s Task Group 58.1 (Adm. Clark) was joined by TG 58.4 (Adm. Harrill) in a two-day raid against airfields on those islands   –   with emphasis on the planes on Iwo Jima.   Despite typhoon conditions, deckloads of fighter and bombers took off from the carriers and inflicted major damage on enemy aircraft on the ground (91 planes) and in the air.   The raids (June 15 and 16) severely damaged Japanese operational plans during their attacks on the American Invasion Fleet massed off the west coast of the Mariana Islands a few days later.

The actions of the Battle of the Philippine Sea found the ships of Task Force 58 searching for downed airmen in the seas north and east of the Marianas on June 22. Next day, the ships were on their way for resupply and replenishment at Eniwetok (Marshall Islands), with a scheduled raid on the Marianas on the way (a typical WWll “drive-by shooting”) On June 24, raids launched by the carriers of TG58.1 destroyed 66 more planes on the airfields of Iwo.   In dogfights over Iwo and Chichi Jima, Navy pilots destroyed 59 planes in the air (and 24 more on the ground.)

The Boston’s next visit to Iwo Jima was July 4 and 5th.   As the flagship of Cruiser Divison 10, CA-69 lead a task group of five cruisers and 15 destroyers in bombardments of airfields and military installations on Iwo Jima.   With the combined carrier plane strikes and ship’s bombings, the day netted 116 planes on the ground, five enemy ships sunk and several heavily damaged.

After spending the entire month of July in combat   (Operation Forager) off various Mariana Islands, Task Force 58 headed back for resupply to Eniwetok.   On the way, Jocko Clark’s task group broke north for another two day raid on Iwo, including another cruiser bombardment lead by CruDiv10 on August 4 and 5th.

Boston’s next visit to Iwo was in mid February 1945, when the Combined Fifth Fleet (Task Force 58 and the Invasion Fleet) sailed north from Ulithi for the start of Operation Detachment — the amphibious assault of Iwo Jima.


As we remember the massive sacrifices made by American amphibious forces on the tiny island of Iwo Jima from February 19 through March 26, 1945, it is important to reflect on the strategic importance of   that volcanic outcropping to both Japan’s defense of her homeland and to America’s strategy to end the war — massive amphibious attacks on the Home Islands of Japan.

The Bonin and Volcano Islands lie halfway between Honshu (Tokyo) and the Marianas. The three most important islands of those two neighboring groups were HaHa Jima, Chichi Jima and Iwo Jima — home to two enemy airfields.   The Japanese defensive plans (as Americans encroached their defenses by victories in the Marshalls and Marianas) always included shuttling fighter planes from Honshu to Okinawa and Iwo Jima airstips.

Taking Iwo Jima would give America a vital airfield about 700 miles from Tokyo, and strip her of vital air-defense “reach”.   After B-24 bases were established at Tinian and Saipan in the Marianas, Iwo as an American airbase would prove invaluable to the strategic Air campaign that ran concurrent with the Navy’s campaign against Tokyo.

Navy planners and commanders took Iwo Jima VERY seriously.   Before it could ever be invaded, it had to be neutralized several times in the year or so prior to the February 1945 Marine invasion.   No one task group nor one group commander is more synonymous with Iwo Jima than is TG58.1 and “Jocko” Clark.   Under his command, the Boston participated in three major assaults against Iwo Jima — twice spearheading the close-up bombardments (as flagship of Cruiser Division10) of airstrips and facilities on Iwo and the Volcano Islands.

Jocko Clark had such a personal interest in attacking Iwo, that one of his raids (at his initiation and suggestion) came to be known as “Operation Jocko”.

I will detail the raids against IWO JIMA in my next blog.

Late February aboard the Boston

1944: The Boston’s Task Group (58.4) spends the middle of February involved in Operation Catchpole — the capture of Eniwetok in the Western Marshall Islands.   The ships supported carrier-plane strikes against Engebi and other enemy positions in the Atoll. From Feb. 17 through Feb. 21, the ships offered air support for the Marine invasion of Engebi. The Task Group left the area on the 21 and sailed east to Majuro Atoll; dropping anchor in the lagoon until March 1.

1945: The Boston is steaming north on Feb 15, part of the massive armada of ships of Operation Detachment; the infamous amphibious assault on Iwo Jima. On Feb 16, the Task Groups’ carriers unleash deckloads of planes from their position less than 100 miles from Tokyo. Their two-day mission: bomb strategic targets in and around Tokyo.   On Feb. 18th, the ships refueled, and on the morning of Feb. 19, the ships began the bombardment of Iwo Jima in support of the Marine invasion.   The Boston spent the next 10 days ranging between the Bonins and Japan, riding out a typhoon and supporting carrier launches as weather permitted. On Feb 28, the Boston was heading toward Okinawa.

1946:   The Boston completes her Occupation Duties on Feb 28, and heads back to the States to unload her crew prior to her retirement in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (3/12/46.)