USS Enterprise: Naval Hero In WWII
First off, dive bombers from the PRIDE of the Fleet and Yorktown struck from 18,000 feet and sank three aircraft carriers. The U.S. lost the Yorktown and a destroyer but the entire scenario turned the tide of the war in the Pacific to our side. It gave Enterprise more battle experience with crews ready and able to meet the enemy. Returning to the Southwest Pacific in early August, Enterprise joined D Task Force Number61 to aid marines landing on Guadacanal and Tlagi. This was Operation Watchtower followed by the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, tough on the Bilg E as she lost 74 crew and found 50 injured from three bombs. After repairs at Pearl Harbor, she and the carrier Hornet rejoined the task force just in time for the Battle of Santa Cruz; Hornet was torpedoed but Enterprise, even though she lost 44 crew, but saved some of the Hornet’s planes, went to Noumena for three days of repairs and returned just in time for the three day Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.Winter was setting in and on Noumena 13 planes from the Big E took part in the Battle of Rennell Island. Onn January 30, 1943, the battle worn crews remained in the Solomon Islands until the spring before returning to the west coast for repairs. But she was soon back at active duty for the big push across the central Pacific and by December, 1943, was attacking Japanese forces on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. It attacked ships at Truk Lagoon, when returning to Guadacanal to get revenge for losses in the first battle there. Along the way, the Big E launched the first night based carrier bombing operation in which the crew put in both night and day duty. It wasn’t long before she moved on to support the Lanave Operation at Hullandin, New Guinea and was a great support at the Battle of the Philippines known as the “great Mariana Islands Turkey Shoot.”” Thanks to our submarine support, the Japanese lost the carriers Taiho and Shokaks in addition to 426 planes.
Finally a respite at Pearl, then back to action by raiding the Japanese stronghold from the Volcano andl Bonfin Islands in the north to Palaus in the South and the Philippines in the west. The Battle of Leyte Gulf was next. Three more battles followed and Enterprise joined five other carriers that sank Admiral Teko Kurita’s massive battleship Musash. After another break at Pearl, the Big E, now one of the most battle savvy ships in the fleet, engaged again as 130,000 troops landed at Leyte Gulf. She then met skirmishes at the battles of Sibutan Strait, of Sarmar and the Battle of Cape Engano.Enterprise and four other carriers joined Task Force 38, sailing west from the Philippine Sea where they sank the battleship Musashi. In early 1945, when the war as almost over, the battle worn Pride of the Fleet returned briefly to Pearl , then off to an operation of sinking Japanese shipping in the South China Sea. Unfortunately she was hit by two kamikaze planes, killing 14 U.S. crew in the attack. She returned to port for repairs and went back to duty in 1945, at war’s end.
The ship received many awards. It was one of the most decorated with17 battle stars. It received one of the largest number of combat ribbons, one of the Most Meritorious service medals, the Legion of Merit and more. Enterprise was inactivated in 1946 and decommissioned February 17, 1947. She was sold in 1958 and scrapped at The Yard in Kearney New Jersey.
Author: Ellsworth Boyd
Ellsworth Boyd, Professor Emeritus, College of Education, Towson University, Towson, Maryland, pursues an avocation of diving and writing. He has published articles and photo’s in every major dive magazine in the US., Canada, and half a dozen foreign countries. An authority on shipwrecks, Ellsworth has received thousands of letters and e-mails from divers throughout the world who responded to his Wreck Facts column in Sport Diver Magazine. When he’s not writing, or diving, Ellsworth appears as a featured speaker at maritime symposiums in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, New York and Philadelphia. “Romance & Mystery: Sunken Treasures of the Lost Galleons,” is one of his most popular talks. A pioneer in the sport, Ellsworth was inducted into the International Legends of Diving in 2013.