1944: The first day of February dawned on Task Force 58 ships engaged in the simultaneous attacks on atoll groups in the Marshall Islands (Operation Flintlock.) The Boston and sister cruiser Baltimore, along with several destroyers detached from the group during the night of Feb. 5 and steamed west. On Feb 6, they bombarded targets on Engebi Island (Eniwetok Atoll). Next day, the ships pull into Kwajalein lagoon, and anchor there while the Marines are still “mopping –up” entrenched enemy troops in the Atoll. The ships pull out on Feb 11 and begin Operation Catchpole – the capture of Eniwetok.
1945: The Boston is in anchorage at Ulithi Atoll until Feb 10. The Task Force is changed from TF38 back to TF58, under the over-all command of Raymond Spruance aboard the cruiser Indianapolis. The Boston forms up with group 58.2. Operational command of the ships is the responsibility of Marc Mitscher, aboard the heavy carrier Lexington. The group consists of the carriers: Lexington, Hancock and San Jacinto, the battleships Wisconsin and Missouri, cruisers Boston and San Francisco and nineteen destroyers (including DesRons52 and 53). They begin Operation Detachment (the invasion of Iwo Jima) by steaming north to attack airbases on the Bonin Islands and Operation Jamboree – bombing targets in and around Tokyo.
1946: The Boston has completed her Occupation Duties, and is heading back to the States to unload her crew prior to her retirement in Washington.
Two weeks ago, I had the great fortune to meet Pasquale “Pat” Fedele, CA-69 Boston plank owner, who served on her from pre-Commissioning (June 30, 1943) until post-Occupation Duty (Feb. 28, 1946). Pat was a Coxswain, and in addition to his duties with the L R Division (Lookout and Radar), he was part of the singing trio aboard ship known as the “3 B’s.”
Pat ran enemy ship and plane ID classes, and was an NCO in the same bridge area of the ship as my dad (who was on the Signal Bridge). My dad was also a plank owner, having arrived in Boston from boot camp (Sampson in upstate NY) on May 15, 1943. Pat, a native of Providence, RI, went to boot camp in Newport, RI. Both he and my father were among the hundreds and hundreds of men barracked in the Fargo Building in South Boston, helping as “able hands” to prepare the ship for departure to the action in the Pacific.
Pat is one of the Original Crewmembers who read my book. Communicating via email through his grandson, we set up a Sunday afternoon meeting time – for chat and dinner at his house. It took some coordination – I live more than 500 miles away – and, of course, everyone has a busy schedule.
I spent six delightful hours with Pat and his gracious family. It was tremendously satisfying to be in their company. Pat knew and was a friend of my dad – whom he fondly calls Billy. It was the first time in my life that I have met someone who served on the Boston with my father.
Pat, who is almost 86 years young, is active and alert, and still breaks out in song at the slightest excuse! He told me many stories of the Boston – none of which are in my book – – – yet. We are planning a second visit, and I will press for more details and more stories. I am currently thinking about how to incorporate his stories into a revision of my book.
1944: On January 19th. The ships take turns leaving Pearl Harbor for the last time. The Boston forms up with other ships in Task Group 58.4 and the rest of Task Force 58 as they accompany the Invasion Fleet – destination: the Marshall Islands. It takes six days for the ships to reach striking distance of their objective. January 26 marks the beginning of the first Central Pacific offensive operation against Japan – starting the attacks and simultaneous amphibious assault on targets spread all across the Marshall Islands – known as Operation Flintlock. The Boston’s task group bombarded and attacked the southeastern atolls through early February, concentrating on Wotje Atoll, Maleolap Atoll and Majuro Atoll.
1945: After refueling on the 11th, Boston’s Task Group 38.1 is joined by TG 38.2 and begins Operation Gratitude – attacks on Japanese targets in Occupied Chinese territory. The ships are in the South China Sea, the furthest west American warships have been in the war. Admiral Halsey is eager to find the Imperial Japanese Fleet – reported to be anchored in CamRahn Bay – and engage it in a great surface battle. (The Japanese Fleet had already departed.) The next six days the ships rode out a typhoon – launching planes whenever possible against targets in Hong Kong, Canton, and IndoChina (Vietnam). The ships come under attack while in the South China Sea. On January 20, the carrier planes are launched against targets on the huge enemy bases on Formosa (Taiwan). The ships begin heading for anchorage at Ulithi Atoll (south of the Marianas – which they reach on the 25th). On the drive-by, they attack targets in the Okinawa group of islands (Jan 22.). The Boston is in anchorage from Jan 26 until Feb 10.
1944: The New Year finds the men still in Pearl Harbor. Week-day at-sea exercises give way to weekend liberty for the men in Honolulu. Task Force 58 is not yet operational; for all practical purposes it does not exist until the ships debouch Pearl Harbor and form into Task Groups on January 19th.
1945: The Boston has been in combat for a year now, first as a unit of Task Force 58 under the command of Raymond Spruance (aboard the USS Indianapolis), then (as of August 1,) as a unit of Task Force 38 under the command of William Halsey (aboard the New Jersey). On December 30, 1944, the Boston weighed anchor and started a new operation to support the Luzon Landing. They rang in the New Year steaming toward Formosa as part of TG38.1. The next several days were spent bobbing in heavy seas, the carriers launching fighters against targets on Formosa. The invasion fleet off Luzon was under heavy kamikaze attack, so for three more days, carrier planes concentrated on targets on Luzon. On Jan. 9, the task groups headed north again toward Formosa, then turned to the southwest into the South China Sea on Jan 10. After refueling on the 11th, Task Group 38.1 is joined by TG 38.2 and begins Operation Gratitude – attacking Hong Kong, Saigon, and other targets.
1946: The Boston remained on Occupation Duty off Japan.
1943: The men spend their first Christmas aboard the Boston anchored in Pearl Harbor.
1944: The ships of Task Force 38 spent the 19th and 20th of December searching for survivors of the terrible typhoon that claimed three destroyers and 800 men off the eastern shores of Luzon and Samar (Philippines). Search planes launched from all the ships continued searching for survivors as the ships reorganized into their task groups for more strikes against Luzon. Because the ships were still being plagued by the typhoon, the airstrikes were cancelled that night. The task groups then turned south and east and headed for the anchorage at Ulithi, where they would stay until Dec 30. After arriving on the 22nd, the men celebrated Christmas in Ulithi Lagoon. While the ships were in anchorage, the Navy convened a Court of Inquiry to ascertain the facts surrounding Typhoon Cobra.
1945: The men still aboard the Boston on Occupation Duty spent their last Christmas together aboard the ship.