10-16th January 1945 – Navy

Pacific Paratrooper

Movements of Task Force-38

Except for submarines, Task Force-38 was the first appreciable presence of U.S. forces in the South China Sea.  The ‘Great Fleet’ under VAdm. John McCain consisted of 8 carriers, 4 light-carriers, 19 other capital (war) ships, 56 screening vessels and various logical support ships.  Their mission, Operation Gratitude, was to disrupt the Japanese Navy and interrupt the vital support lanes from Singapore and Indochina.

TF-38 spent 2 days avoiding detection from the enemy and staying clear of the typhoon brewing over the island of Mindanao.  On the 12th, they arrived 65 miles off Can Ranh Bay in French Indochina (Vietnam).  Halsey’s intelligence proved false as to the activity in the area, so alternative plans were put into action.

USS Essex pilots: Hartsock, Parker, Finn and Libbey, Jan. 1945. US Navy photo

Waves of US aircraft scoured the Indochinese coast from Qui Nhon to Saigon.  Clusters of…

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