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USS Bunker Hill (CV-17)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Bunker Hill (CV-17)

USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) was authorized under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C. Hull 1509) on 19 July 1940; laid down on 15 September 1941, at Quincy, Mass., by the Fore River Shipyard of  Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 7 December 1942, exactly one year to the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, T.H.; sponsored by Mrs. Lilly W. Boynton, née Case, artist, musician, and leader in Chicago civic affairs, wife of industrialist Donald S. Boynton, and friend of Secretary of the Navy William F. [Frank] Knox; and commissioned on 25 May 1943, Capt. John J. Ballentine in command.

The newly commissioned carrier underwent additional work in Dry Dock No.3, naval dry dock facility, South Boston, Mass. (25 May–5 June). USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) embarked CVG-17, comprising 36 F4U-1s of VF-17, 36 SB2C-1s of VB-17, 18 TBF-1s of VT-17, and a lone TBF-1 assigned to the ship, and set out for the Pacific Fleet to fight the Japanese on 8 September 1943. By 21 October 1943, CVG-17 assumed ship-based status, and as part of TG 53.3, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) got underway to the South Pacific for fleet tactical exercises. Until December 1943, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) patrolled the area around the Gilberts accompanied by battleships while forces on shore converted the islands into American base.

Due to the curious sequence of coincidences in which USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) conducted missions against the enemy on every major holiday, she facetiously earned the nickname “The Holiday Express,” from news correspondents often hitching a ride to report from the front. The ship anchored in Majuro on 5 February 1944, where Capt. John J. Ballentine was promoted to rear admiral, and received the Silver Star and Legion of Merit for “daring and skillful leadership of a carrier flagship in the South Pacific.” USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) exacted a heavy toll on the Japanese in the month of September 1944 and on the 28th anchored at Saipan to enjoy a rest, until a typhoon spoiled the short respite. With her support of the landings at Leyte completed, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) and her screen came about on the 23rd and steamed in company with TG 30.4 to Seeadler Harbor at Manus for a brief rest (27 October–1 November). 

USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) marked the remainder of the month of November 1944 as a success while her planes hammered Japanese targets throughout the Philippines. With the fighting raging in the Pacific, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) wasted no time and steamed to war by way of Pearl Harbor (25–29 January). After two weeks’ rest, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) steamed with TG 58.3 around Southern Kyūshū to launch more strikes on the Japanese forces. USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) was scheduled to complete the work in September but while there she learned of the Japanese announcement to surrender. The ship nonetheless stood down the channel on 27 September 1945, and on the 30th moored at NAS Alameda. 

Scheduled for inactivation, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) was placed in the reserve fleet on 9 January 1947. Bunker Hill was reclassified to an attack aircraft carrier (CVA-17) on 1 October 1952; an antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier (CVS-17) on 8 August 1953; and an auxiliary aircraft transport (AVT-17) in May 1959. After the Board of Inspection and Survey declared USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) unfit for further service in 1962, the ship was taken in tow from Bremerton to San Diego at the cost of $2 million.

For a complete history of USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) please see its DANFS page.