Battle off Samar
Battle off Samar: October 25, 1944
Despite its losses in the Sibuyan Sea, the Japanese Center Force steamed to counter the U.S. Allied forces during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In the early morning of October 25, 1944, four Japanese battleships, eight cruisers, and eleven destroyers surprised the Allies. Leading the U.S. Navy Task Groups, or Taffys, were Rear Admiral Thomas L. Sprague (Taffy 1), Rear Admiral Felix B. Stump (Taffy 2), and Rear Admiral Clifton A.F. Sprague (Taffy 3). Despite the surprise and great show of power from the enemy, the U.S. Navy servicemen fought heroically to defend their carriers though USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73), USS Hoel (DD-533), USS Johnston (DD-557), and USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) were sunk. For his actions commanding Johnston, Commander Ernest E. Evans was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Despite these losses, the enemy formation suffered fatal damage to three heavy cruisers Choaki, Chikuma, and Suzuya. The Japanese were so disrupted that its commander, Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita, decided to withdraw. During this engagement, Kamikaze suicide planes hit the CVEs and their escorts, sinking USS St. Lo (CVE-63) and damaging others, making their first appearance as a weapon against the U.S. Navy.
Image: 80-G-47038: Battle off Samar, October 25, 1944. Allied fleet is attacked by the Japanese off Leyte, Philippines. Black smoke rising from funnels of the CVEs, naval escorts lay smoke while being shelled. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.