John Robert Monaghan -- born on 26 March 1873 in Chawelah, Wash. -- to James and Margaret (McCool) Monaghan. His parents desired to give him superior educational advantages under the auspices of the church to which they belonged, but the facilities for Catholic instruction proved limited in Washington, so that the boy at the age of 11 matriculated at the school of the Christian Brothers -- St. Joseph Academy at Oakland, Calif. He attended that school and also another brothers’ school in Portland, Ore., until the Jesuit Fathers established Gonzaga College in Spokane, Wash., in 1887.
Monaghan then enrolled as one of the first 18 students and after four years schooling in that institution, he took the examination held in Spokane in 1891 for the Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy at Annapolis, receiving the highest percentage in each of these examinations, so that he was entitled to make his choice of appointments. Although he originally hoped to attend West Point, he generously waived that preference in favor of the next applicant, the son of an old Army officer who heartily desired the appointment. Monaghan received his appointment to the Naval Academy on 7 September 1891. Classmates wrote “I've got a drop of the Irish blood in me mesilf,” as a nod to his ancestry, and he played baseball on both the class team (1892, 1893, and 1894), and on the Academy nine (1892 and 1894), playing right field during the 1894 season. He graduated in June 1895, the first from the state of Washington to graduate from the Naval Academy.
As a passed midshipman he served on board Olympia (Cruiser No. 6), flagship of the Asiatic Station. He was promoted to ensign in July 1897 and transferred to monitor Monadnock and gunboat Alert. He then served in Philadelphia (Cruiser No. 4), flagship of the Pacific Station, in July 1898.
On 6 March 1899, Philadelphia reached Apia, Samoa, in the midst of the Second Samoan Civil War. The Americans, British, and Germans vied for control of the islands of the Samoan chain and supported rival claimants to the throne. Samoan King S. Malietoa Laupepa was a devout Christian who favored close ties with the great powers, and when he died on 22 August 1898, his son, Malietoa Tanumafili I, continued his father’s policies. A number of the Samoan chiefs opposed him, however, and the Germans intrigued to persuade one of them, Mata’afa Iosefo, who had been exiled to the Marshall Islands, to return and overthrow the young king and proclaim himself as the legitimate heir.
Philadelphia thus arrived during the fighting and landed a party of bluejackets and marines, Lt. Philip V. Lansdale in command, at Apia to help support Tanumafili’s claim to the throne. The Americans joined British sailors and Royal Marines who landed from cruiser Tauranga, torpedo cruiser Porpoise and corvette Royalist, and formed an Anglo-American detachment of 26 marines and 88 sailors, reinforced by a company of 136 Samoans, the entire column led by Lt. Angel H. Freeman, RN. The allies advanced along the coast from Apia toward a plantation at Vailele, which lay near the scene of a battle fought during the First Samoan Civil War on 18 December 1888. The allies skirmished with Mata’afa’s men and destroyed two villages suspected of supporting him, and on 1 April 1899 turned inland into the dark jungle to attack Vailele. Royalist meanwhile shelled the two outposts that warned the Samoans of an attack from sea, but as the allies penetrated the tropical interior of the island they moved away from naval gunfire support from the ships offshore.
Royalist ceased fire and nearly 800 of Mata’afa’s warriors suddenly attacked the column’s rearguard and left flank. The allies established skirmish lines and returned fire, and set up a Colt-Browning M1895 machine gun, but many of the Samoan levies deserted, leaving the Americans and Britons to their fate. Mata’afa’s Samoans shot and killed Freeman, and Lansdale took command. The fighting grew increasingly desperate, with Samoan snipers hidden in the dense foliage taking a deadly toll, and others closing with the allies and fighting in a vicious mêlée. The Colt jammed and Lansdale attempted to clear it but a round struck him in the thigh and he fell. The allies sounded a retreat and Lansdale valiantly told his men to leave him and save themselves, but Monaghan seized a rifle from a disabled man and with Seaman Norman E. Edsall and two other men attempted to carry the mortally wounded lieutenant to safety. The Samoans shot and killed Edsall, and Lansdale again ordered the men to abandon him as the Samoans rushed them. Monaghan, one survivor later wrote, “stood steadfast by his wounded superior and friend; one rifle against many, one brave man against a score of savages. He knew he was doomed. He could not yield. He died in heroic performance of duty...”
Royalist resumed fire to cover the allied retreat, directing her salvoes against the Samoans deployed in the bush. Four Americans died and five sustained wounds, and three Britons died and two were wounded during the battle. The Samoan levy losses were negligible, while Mata’afa’s Samoans suffered about 100 men killed or wounded. Two U.S. marines, Sgt. Michael J. McNally, USMC, and Pvt. Henry L. Hulbert, USMC, received the Medal of Honor for their extraordinary heroism during the battle.
Philadelphia returned Monaghan’s remains to the United States and he was interred in Spokane. On 25 October 1906, his sister Agnes unveiled a bronze statue in Spokane, given by the citizens of the state of Washington, in his honor. The statue’s inscription reads: “During the retreat of the allied forces from the deadly fire and overwhelming number of the savage foe, he alone stood the fearful onslaught and sacrificed his life defending a wounded comrade Lieutenant Philip V. Lansdale United States Navy.”
Ens. John R. Monaghan radiates confidence in this undated photograph. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 47734)
(DD-354: displacement 1,726; length 341'3"; beam 34'3"; draft 8'10"; speed 36.5 knots; complement 100; armament 5 5-inch, 4 .30 caliber machine guns, 8 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Farragut)
The second Monaghan (DD-354) was laid down on 21 November 1933 by the Boston Navy Yard, Mass.; launched on 9 January 1935; sponsored by Miss Mary F. Monaghan, niece of the late Ens. Monaghan; and commissioned on 19 April 1935, Cmdr. Robert R. Thompson in command.
Monaghan completed her sea trials and entered operational service on 30 August 1935. The ship served initially with Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 61 alongside Aylwin (DD-355), Dale (DD-353 -- the division flagship), and Mahan (DD-364) as part of Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 20 in the North Atlantic. Farragut (DD-348), the lead ship of Monaghan’s class, operated as the squadron’s flagship, which also consisted of DesDiv 60 — Dewey (DD-349 -- the division flagship), Hull (DD-350), Macdonough (DD-351), and Worden (DD-352). Monaghan then crossed the Atlantic and visited Belfast, Northern Ireland (late September–early October).
Ships of Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 20 steam through a smokescreen laid by Consolidated P2Y-3s and Martin PM-1s of Patrol Squadrons (VPs) 7F, 9F, and 11F, during an exhibition staged for Movietone News off San Diego, Calif., 14 September 1936. The ships, from bottom to top are: Farragut (DD-348); Dewey (DD-349); Hull (DD-350); Macdonough (DD-351); Worden (DD-352); Dale (DD-353); Monaghan (DD-354) and Aylwin (DD-355). (Courtesy Cmdr. Robert L. Ghormley Jr., 1969, Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 67293)
Patrol planes of VPs 7F, 9F, and 11F, operating from seaplane tender Wright (AV-1), fly a massed formation over Monaghan (foreground) and Dale, 14 September 1936. Monaghan’s bow cuts deeply into the water as she makes speed while maneuvering. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 67281)
The annual fleet problems concentrated the Navy’s power to conduct maneuvers on the largest scale and under the most realistic conditions attainable. Monaghan participated in Fleet Problem XX, which ranged across the Caribbean and the northeast coast of South America, and included aircraft carriers Enterprise (CV-6) and Yorktown (CV-5) for the first time (20–27 February 1939). President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Adm. William D. Leahy, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), observed the latter part of the exercise from on board heavy cruiser Houston (CA-30). The problem included the employment of planes and carriers in connection with escort of a convoy, the development of coordinating antisubmarine measures between aircraft and destroyers, and the trial of various evasive tactics against attacking planes and submarines. Controversy arose over the efficacy of patrol plane attacks on carriers and other ships, the principal that patrol aircraft operate as scouts required emphasis. Evaluators also recommended the necessity of fast battleships to supplement cruisers in carrier task forces.
President Roosevelt proclaimed the neutrality of the United States in WWII and directed the Navy to organize a Neutrality Patrol on 5 September 1939. In complying therewith, Adm. Harold R. Stark, CNO, ordered Rear Adm. Alfred W. Johnson, Commander Atlantic Squadron, to establish combined air and ship reconnaissance of the sea approaches to the United States and West Indies for the purpose of reporting and tracking belligerent air, surface, or underwater threats in the area. The first ships sailed to enforce the patrol the following day.
Fleet Problem XXI consisted of two separate phases around the Hawaiian Islands and Eastern Pacific (April–May 1940). The exercise involved coordinating commands, protecting a convoy, and seizing advanced bases to bring about a decisive engagement. The lessons learned included: the ability of carriers to alter the caliber of their aircraft weapons by changing squadrons; the tendency of commanders to overlook carriers’ limitations and assign them excessive tasks; the necessity for reliefs for flight and carrier crews under actual war conditions; the success of high altitude tracking by patrol aircraft; and the lack of success of low level horizontal bombing attacks. Following the problem on 7 May, President Roosevelt ordered the fleet to remain in Hawaiian waters, in an effort to deter further Japanese expansionism. Monaghan thus shifted her home port to Pearl Harbor. The global crisis compelled the Navy to cancel Fleet Problem XXII in 1941.
On 7 December 1941, Monaghan served as the ready duty destroyer at Pearl Harbor and lay in a “nest” with her sisterships Aylwin, Dale, and Farragut, in East Loch just slightly north of Ford Island. The day dawned bright and clear, and men prepared for morning colors, ate breakfast, shaved, or wrote letters to their loved ones. The men had repeatedly practiced their skills, and just the day before had carried out a fire-fighting drill. The Japanese Dai-ichi Kidō Butai (First Mobile Striking Force), however, Vice Adm. Nagumo Chūichi in command, including carriers Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū, Sōryū, Shōkaku, and Zuikaku, launched a morning attack of 353 aircraft in two waves against the U.S. Pacific Fleet and nearby naval and military installations on Oahu. In addition, Japanese submarines launched Type A midget submarines that attempted to infiltrate Pearl Harbor. Monaghan’s first intimation of danger occurred at 0751, when she was ordered to join Ward (DD-139), which sighted and sank one of these tiny submarines, I-20tou, as she tried to surreptitiously slip up the entrance channel. Monaghan cast off her mooring pendants at 0827 and began passing the north end of Ford Island through the midst of the attack, nonetheless steaming slowly to safely navigate the crowded harbor.
Additional Japanese midget submarines endeavored to attack U.S. ships, and harbor tug YT-153 spotted the periscope of a Type A and unsuccessfully attempted to ram her. I-22tou, another Japanese midget submarine manned by Lt. Iwasa Naoji and PO1c Sasaki Naoyoshi, slipped into Pearl Harbor. It is not known if this was the same boat that YT-153 attacked, but men on board seaplane tender Curtiss (AV-4) sighted her and at 0835 ran up a flag hoist indicating the presence of an enemy submarine. Very shortly afterward men spotted the conning tower of a small submarine, bobbing and zig-zagging about 200 to 300 yards of the starboard quarter of Curtiss. Additional men sighted the little submersible including sailors on board Tangier (AV-8), light minelayer Breese (DM-18), high speed minesweeper Zane (DMS-14), and repair ship Medusa (AR-1). Some of these men attempted to warn others in the harbor and ashore.
One of Monaghan’s signalmen noticed the flag that Curtiss hoisted, and at 0837 watchstanders also spotted part of I-22tou’s periscope and conning tower, about 1,200 yards off the ship’s starboard bow. Curtiss, Tangier, and Medusa shot at the submarine, but the intruder ominously stalked the ships in the harbor and fired a torpedo at Curtiss, which glided past and exploded against a dock in Pearl City. The submarine broached the surface almost immediately after she launched the torpedo, and Curtiss fired a 5-inch round that decapitated Iwasa, and .50 caliber machine gun fire raked the boat. In the midst of this bedlam Cmdr. William P. Burford, Monaghan’s commanding officer, ordered the ship to ring up flank speed and to ram the submarine. The destroyer briefly fouled the two tenders’ fire and they checked their shooting. Monaghan fired a 5-inch round that passed over the submarine and ricocheted off a derrick moored off Beckoning Point, and the enemy fired a second torpedo at the oncoming ship but it missed and detonated against the shore. Monaghan’s bow glanced off the submarine at 0843, but the destroyer dropped two depth charges that detonated in the shallow harbor and sank the enemy boat, northwest of Ford Island. Monaghan had way on, however, and with little room to maneuver made for the burning derrick. The ship backed down and struck the barge a slanting blow and became entangled in one of the mooring lines. Sailors well-versed in damage control doused the flames within a minute and quickly freed the destroyer, but she sounded a second submarine alarm and fired a shot at another intruder, which turned out to be a black harbor buoy. The ship then sortied from the harbor out to sea. Burford subsequently received the Navy Cross for his “exceptional courage, presence of mind, and devotion to duty and disregard for his personal safety” for his command of Monaghan during the battle. The Americans subsequently raised I-22tou, examined the boat, and then buried her as landfill while expanding the Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor.
The Navy raises I-22tou’s battered hulk at Pearl Harbor. The submarine’s hull shows the effects of Monaghan’s depth charges and ramming. A hole visible in the after part of the conning tower may be from a 5-inch shell. The upper background has been overpainted for censorship purposes. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 54302)
Monaghan formed up with additional ships and patrolled offshore for the next week, at times operating with Lexington (CV-2). Task Force (TF) 14, Rear Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher in command, including Saratoga (CV-3), sailed from Pearl Harbor to relieve the garrison on Wake Island, on 16 December. While Enterprise covered Saratoga, TF 11, Vice Adm. Wilson Brown Jr., in command, including Lexington, intended to launch a diversionary raid on Jaluit Island but revised intelligence persuaded Brown to first attack Makin Island in the Gilberts and then divert back to Wake to support the Wake relief expedition. Meanwhile, Saratoga and Tangier encountered delays owing to the slower speed of oiler Neches (AO-5) and from Fletcher’s decision to refuel the destroyers. The Japanese consequently overran Wake on 23 December, and when the U.S. ships reached a position about 425 miles from the island some of them came about to return to Pearl Harbor, while others reinforced the garrison at Midway. While homeward bound Aylwin, Dale, and Monaghan repeatedly attacked an enemy submarine, causing it to broach and give off a large oil slick.
The ship screened Mississippi (BB-41), Navy stores issue ship Castor (AKS-1) and transport Crescent City (AP-40), and cargo ship Joseph Lykes, registered with Lykes Brothers Steamship Co., to San Francisco, Calif. Monaghan then helped escort a mixed convoy from Los Angeles, Calif., back to Hawaiian waters, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 10 March. The Japanese in the meantime launched Operation MO — the seizure of Port Moresby, New Guinea, and points in the Solomon Islands, Nauru, and the Ocean Islands, preparatory to neutralizing Australia as an Allied bastion. Monaghan sortied as part of TF 11, Rear Adm. Aubrey W. Fitch in command, including Lexington, on 15 April, bound for the South Pacific.
Yorktown (CV-5), steaming with Fletcher’s TF 17, attacked the invading Japanese at Gavutu and Tulagi in the Solomons on 4 May 1942. The two carrier forces then combined upon word that a Japanese carrier strike force, Vice Adm. Takagi Takeo in command, including carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku, had entered the Coral Sea. Japanese transports meanwhile sailed from Rabaul for Port Moresby. On 7 May the Americans turned north to engage the enemy carriers. Planes from both sides tangled in fierce duels in the sky and attacked their opponents’ ships, and Japanese planes sank destroyer Sims (DD-409) and damaged oiler Neosho (AO-23), which was afterward scuttled. Monaghan received orders on 8 May directing her away from the formation to transmit important messages, thus preserving radio silence in the main body. She then began to search for survivors of Sims and Neosho, however, their final positions were erroneously reported and Monaghan failed to locate any of the survivors. The Allies achieved a strategic victory during the Battle of the Coral Sea by halting the Japanese push southward and blunting the seaborne thrust toward Port Moresby. The Japanese deferred and then abandoned their occupation of Port Moresby by sea and shifted their advance overland across the Owen Stanley Mountains. Following the battle Monaghan proceeded with messages to Nouméa, New Caledonia, where she completed repairs to her forced draft blowers while alongside Tangier. The ship rejoined TF 16 in time to return to Pearl Harbor on 26 May.
The threat posed by the carriers of the U.S. Pacific Fleet convinced the Japanese to occupy Midway Island to lure the Pacific Fleet into a decisive battle. Japanese Commander in Chief Combined Fleet Adm. Yamamoto Isoroku developed Operation MI — a comprehensive plan that emphasized attaining surprise. U.S. cryptanalysts, however, deciphered elements of the enemy’s signals intelligence through ULTRA, and the Japanese also failed to deploy their submarines in time to discover the movements of the U.S. carriers. Nagumo again led Dai-ichi Kidō Butai, including Akagi, Kaga, Sōryū, and Hiryū, as they set out from Japanese waters on 27 May 1942.
Lt. Cmdr. Eugene E. Lindsey’s Douglas TBD-1 Devastator (BuNo. 0370) sinks astern of Enterprise after a deck landing accident, 28 May 1942. Monaghan steams as the plane guard destroyer in the left background, and rescues Lindsey and his crew. Enterprise is en route to the Battle of Midway, and Lindsey is the commanding officer of Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6, who flies out with the rest of the air group to join the ship when he crashes. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-7744, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Branch, College Park, Md.)
The extensive U.S. build-up to face the Japanese attack included 12 Consolidated PBY-5A Catalinas of Patrol Squadron (VP) 44, which joined other planes from VPs 14, 23, 24, 51, 72, and 9 at Midway Island. The strategic atoll actually consists of two principal islands, Eastern and Sand, together with sand islets. The defenders thus split the patrol aircraft into two groups: 10 planes flying from Eastern Island and the remaining 22 from Sand Island. The aircraft flew sector searches out to 700 miles from Midway, beginning at 0415 each morning, but VP-44’s Catalinas lacked radar and the crewmen scanned the horizon for the enemy using their “Mark I eyeballs”. One of these planes, flown by Ens. Jewell H. Reid of VP-44, located the Japanese Second Fleet Escort Force about 600 miles west of Midway on 3 June.
The following day 44-P-12, a Catalina manned by Lt. (j.g.) Robert S. Whitman -- the pilot -- Ens. Jack H. Camp, USNR -- the copilot -- Ens. Leo C. McCleary, USNR, Ens. Walter S. Mosley, USNR, ACRM James W. Adams, AMM1c Virgil R. Marsh, ACM2c Phillip L. Fulgham, AMM2c John C. Weeks, AMM3c Clarence J. Norby Jr., and RM3c William H. O’Farrell, flew one of these searches. The weather was clear with scattered clouds, but what should have been a routine patrol turned deadly serious when three Japanese floatplanes pounced on 44-P-12 and shot down the Catalina, killing Whitman and Adams, near 27°25ˈN, 176°3ˈE. The plane crashed in flames but Camp ditched the amphibian and then died of his wounds. Fulgham entered the fuselage and on his own initiative released both bombs on safe, and then continued to man his gun and fired at the enemy planes, claiming to splash one. He afterward received the Navy Cross for his “extraordinary heroism.” Marsh battled through the fire, freed a rubber life raft and launched it, and assisted the wounded into the raft. Despite his severe wounds Weeks repaired the bullet riddled raft sufficiently to ensure that it stayed afloat.
Through the first two days of the Battle of Midway on 3 and 4 June 1942, Monaghan screened Enterprise, faithfully keeping station on the carrier as she launched planes in the desperate fighting. Late on the morning of 5 June, the destroyer received orders directing her to rescue the survivors of 44-P-12. The ship searched the area where the plane was reported missing but failed to locate the raft, and a PBY-5 Catalina of VP-23, flown by Lt. (j.g.) Norman K. Brady, rescued the survivors on 6 June.
After that distressing search, Monaghan reached the side of Yorktown at 1830. Enemy planes had heavily damaged the carrier, and Monaghan joined the destroyers struggling to save Yorktown and guard her from further harm. Japanese submarine I-168 penetrated the screen the next day, however, and attacked both Yorktown and Hammann (DD‑412). Men on board Monaghan spotted the torpedo wakes as the deadly fish slammed into Yorktown and Hammann, sending the destroyer to the bottom.
Monaghan, Gwin (DD‑433), and Hughes (DD‑410) attacked I-168 for more than an hour but lost contact with her as the enemy boat eluded them. Lookouts then sighted the submarine on the horizon at 2045, smoking heavily but making speed. Hughes and Monaghan gave chase but I-168 dove and they lost sonar contact with the boat. Yorktown remained afloat for another 16 hours before she succumbed to her wounds. Monaghan and some of the other destroyers searched for additional downed aircrew, though Monaghan did not spot any. The decisive U.S. victory accelerated the attrition that led to the demise of Japanese naval offensive power.
Yorktown sinks, as seen from an accompanying destroyer, just after dawn, 7 June 1942. Monaghan is in the left center distance. The carrier capsizes to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge. This view looks toward the ship’s bottom from off her bow, with Yorktown’s forefoot in the right foreground and her starboard forward 5-inch gun gallery beyond. The large hole made by one or two submarine torpedoes, severing the ship’s forward bilge keel, is toward the left. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 106003)
Monaghan returned to Pearl Harbor on 13 June 1942, but during the fighting at Midway the Japanese had also attacked the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to lure the U.S. carriers away from Midway and occupied two of the islands, Attu and Kiska. The ship was therefore dispatched northward to aid in countering the enemy threat in the Aleutians, and rendezvoused with TF 8. The ships of the task force approached Kiska to bombard the Japanese positions on 27 July, but heavy northern fog resulted in postponing the shelling. During the retirement high speed minesweeper Lamberton (DMS-2) accidentally rammed Chandler (DMS-9). While investigating that collision, Monaghan and Lamberton collided, damaging both ships. Monaghan completed emergency repairs at Dutch Harbor and then escorted Guadalupe (AO-32) back to Pearl Harbor, arriving there on 9 August for more extensive work. The following month the destroyer helped escort a convoy to San Francisco, and then accomplished an availability at Mare Island Navy Yard, Calif.
Monaghan moors at Mare Island Navy Yard, 13 October 1942. Note the details of the early model 5-inch mounts aft. The circles point out the modifications just made to the destroyer. Ralph Talbot (DD-390) is in the background. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph 19-N-35831, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Branch, College Park, Md.)
Following her yard work the veteran ship steamed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and returned to war, escorting vessels to Nandi in the Fiji Islands (22 October–17 November). In mid-December Monaghan sailed to Nouméa, New Caledonia, where she began to tie up alongside destroyer tender Whitney (AD-4), but while maneuvering into position struck a submerged pinnacle. The destroyer entered dry dock the next day, which revealed that the collision badly bent both propellers. Workers replaced Monaghan’s port screw on 21 December 1942, but the ship steamed to Fiji on just that single propeller. She then joined Task Group (TG) 66.7, then returned to Pearl Harbor for permanent repairs.
Monaghan completed the work on 21 February 1943, and again turned her prow toward the cold northern waters off the Aleutians. The ship rendezvoused with TG 16.69, Rear Adm. Charles H. McMorris in command, a scouting force also comprising: Salt Lake City (CA‑25), Capt. Bertram J. Rodgers in command; light cruiser Richmond (CL‑9), Capt. Theodore M. Waldschmidt; Bailey (DD-492), Lt. Cmdr. John C. Atkeson; Coghlan (DD-606), Cmdr. Benjamin F. Tompkins; and Dale, Cmdr. Anthony L. Rorschach. McMorris wore flag in Richmond, and Capt. Ralph S. Riggs, Commander DesRon 14, broke his pennant in Bailey. Allied intelligence discovered a Japanese plan to reinforce their garrison on Kiska by dispatching their reinforced Northern Force, Rear Adm. Hosogaya Boshiro in command, consisting of heavy cruisers Maya and Nachi, light cruisers Abukuma and Tama, and destroyers Hatsushimo, Ikazuchi, Inazuma, and Wakaba, escorting transports Sakito Maru and Sanko Maru, carrying reinforcements. Hosogaya wore his flag in Nachi. McMorris accordingly deployed the ships of the task group to intercept them, and during the morning watch on 27 March the U.S. ships reached a position to the south by southeast of the Komandorski Islands. A gentle breeze blew from the southeast over a calm sea, broken only by gentle swells from the northeast. The surface visibility was excellent although a heavy overcast hung at 4,000-5,000 feet.
The U.S. ships formed a scouting line from north to south (in order) -- Coghlan, Richmond, Bailey, Dale, Salt Lake City, and Monaghan -- and zig-zagged at six-mile intervals on a base course of 020° at 15 knots. At 0730 Coghlan’s SC radar detected two of the enemy ships, bearing 010° at a range of 14,500 yards, and warned the admiral in Richmond via low frequency voice radio (TBS). Lookouts on both sides then visually sighted their opponents’ ships, and the enemy transports swung out of the battle. Nachi opened the action by firing her initial salvo at Richmond from a range of 20,000 yards at 0840, and although her first barrage missed, she straddled Richmond on the second and third salvoes. The Americans and Japanese began shooting and shells straddled their opponents, concentrating their fire against their foes’ cruisers. Nachi launched eight torpedoes that missed the U.S. ships, and at least two of Richmond’s 6-inch rounds hit Nachi and she fell out of line to repair the damage.
A track chart displays some of the movements of the American and Japanese ships during the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, 27 March 1943. The U.S. ships are tracked (for the most part) accurately, but the enemy ship movements are simply estimates as observed by the Americans during the fighting. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-299017, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Branch, College Park, Md.)
Meanwhile, at 1043, Riggs directed Dale and Monaghan to take station off the port quarter of Salt Lake City in order to improve the smoke screen. To avoid delay, Monaghan went hard right, while Dale circled in the opposite direction. As Monaghan started her turn, however, men heard a grinding sound in her starboard reduction gear. The engineer officer slowed the starboard engine to investigate. When advised of this action, however, the bridge ordered maximum speed resumed on the engine. The engineering team did not discover the cause of the trouble at that time, and the engine operated noisily for the rest of the battle. Monaghan received to drop astern and began laying smoke at 1051. Since she had not reached her designated position, however, the operation was suspended a minute later, but Dale adjudged herself to be situated correctly and started laying a smoke screen. Monaghan maneuvered and took station at 1055, approximately 800 yards off Salt Lake City’s port quarter, and resumed laying smoke. The enemy dropped back by this time, until the range from Dale increased to 20,000 yards, and she then temporarily ceased fire.
Salt Lake City’s salvoes carried away her rudder stops, which reduced the heavy cruiser’s maneuverability, and a Japanese 8-inch round started a fire on board her starboard Curtiss SOC-1 of Cruiser Scouting Squadron (VCS) 5, and crewmen jettisoned the irreparable airplane overboard. The screening destroyers slowed, as they attempted to interpose themselves between the injured cruiser and the enemy. At 1129, in an attempt to open the range and throw off the Japanese’ fire control, McMorris ordered the group to turn to 180º. Richmond took the van 6,000 yards ahead of Salt Lake City, while the four destroyers steamed off the stern of the heavy cruiser: Bailey about 1,500 yards off her starboard quarter; Coghlan approximately 3,000 yards dead astern; and Dale and Monaghan about 1,000 yards off the port quarter. From Dale, the range to the nearest enemy cruiser fell to 18,000 yards and as the range closed, the admiral directed Riggs to thrust the destroyers at the Japanese in a torpedo attack to protect Salt Lake City while she retired.
The four destroyers increased their speed to 30 knots and formed up on heading 150º. At 1134, however, Rodgers requested that McMorris designate a destroyer to stand by Salt Lake City for screening purposes; and the admiral ordered Riggs to detail a ship for this duty. Riggs received McMorris’ message just after the destroyers made a left turn to an attack course of 060º, and Dale promptly returned to the base course and continued laying smoke about Salt Lake City. Monaghan listened to this exchange of orders and counterorders, but failed to hear Dale’s acknowledgment of the screening assignment. Fearing that Salt Lake City would be left unguarded, Monaghan informed Riggs that she was still in position to lay smoke close by the heavy cruiser. Since no acknowledgment had been received from the Dale, Riggs countermanded his last order, and directed her to carry out the torpedo attack as originally scheduled. At the same time, he instructed Monaghan to remain on station by Salt Lake City. Both Dale and Monaghan made smoke astern of the heavy cruiser, but in the midst of the turmoil created by the billowing smoke and falling shells, each ship supposed that the other stood in for the attack. Actually, only Bailey and Coghlan steamed resolutely forward on course 060º. As they did so, Riggs, who thought he led three ships, announced: “The targets are the heavies.” The Japanese shifted their fire to Bailey and Coghlan and scored near hits, and continued shaping a course to the southwest but opened the range slightly as they turned sharply to starboard.
Salt Lake City’s sailors fought the blaze and her engineering force gradually built up speed to 26 knots, so at 1138 the admiral ordered the commodore to “belay the attack” and Bailey and Coghlan came about and reformed on the cruisers. The enemy fired accurately and a hit aft on Salt Lake City enabled sea water to seep into the fuel tanks, the fires under the boilers went out, one by one, and at 1155 the ship slowed to a dead stop. “Have just received two hits broadside below the water line”, she signaled the admiral portentously. The enemy ships appeared to be closing and the situation approached a crisis as Rodgers reported his precarious dilemma to McMorris. “Execute torpedo attack” the admiral replied, and Riggs ordered Bailey, Coghlan, and Monaghan to assault the enemy and detached Dale to make smoke to protect the stricken cruiser. Monaghan ceased making smoke, swerved right and cut across Salt Lake City’s bow, and fell into the column to starboard of the cruiser, about 2,000 yards astern of Coghlan, which steamed, in turn, some 600 yards behind Bailey. The trio quickly turned right to the northwest at 300° and boldly closed to launch their torpedoes at the Japanese, who steered 230° at 31 knots.
Bailey fired at the lead Japanese heavy cruiser, Maya or Nachi, while Coghlan shot at the second, and Monaghan at the first, shifted her fire to the second, and then fired at Abukuma or Tama (their identity became confusing in the maelstrom of fire). The Japanese returned fire and spouts of water, often tinted with blue or green marker dye, erupted around the destroyers as they closed the enemy. Bailey, Coghlan, and Monaghan appeared to be “smothered with splashes” McMorris afterward recalled. “It was incredible that they should survive,” he added, “but they continued in.”
An 8-inch round penetrated inboard and exploded in Bailey’s galley passageway three minutes after noon. Fragments from the shell completely wrecked the provision issuing room, while the concussion blew out bulkheads and tore doors off their hinges. One officer and three enlisted men were killed instantly, and four enlisted men were seriously wounded, one of them later dying. One officer and two enlisted men were slightly injured. The victims were members of repair parties who had gathered outside the galley to carry sandwiches to the gun crews. Another 8-inch projectile hit but did not explode, caromed off the after deck at about frame 172, gauged a 6-inch gash in the deck, and glanced off No. 4 mount and continued on its way. The ship also suffered damage from numerous near hits, and fragments struck the radio antenna, punctured the gig, and perforated the uptakes. On the starboard side, the skin of the ship was twisted and buckled at the waterline between frames 63 and 70. Riggs feared that Bailey would not long survive such a pummeling and ordered her to fire torpedoes. Bailey launched five torpedoes at the second Japanese heavy cruiser in line from a range of 9,500 yards, but they all missed.
Riggs’ fear proved justified mere seconds after Bailey fired her torpedoes when two 8-inch shell fragments struck her at the same moment. One chunk of metal sliced a six-by-three-inch hole in the starboard side of the hull at frame 72 and entered the forward fireroom. Men plugged this waterline perforation with mattresses and shored the breach. Some flooding resulted from the hit, but pumps in the compartment controlled it. The other shell splinter ripped a jagged hole, six inches by twenty inches, in the hull at frame 101 starboard, entering the forward engine room. The gash occurred in an almost inaccessible spot just outboard of the fuel oil purifier pump, which impeded the repair parties’ efforts to close the hole, and water poured in. Her gyro, radar, and sound gear were also knocked out, and Atkeson consequently swung Bailey hard left for retirement. Coghlan and Monaghan also turned sharply left but did not launch torpedoes because of the extreme range, and because the Japanese cruisers turned northwestward, away from the direction of the attack. As Coghlan heeled over in her turn, several explosions close aboard sprayed fragments topside. Flying pieces of steel holed the stack in several places, pierced the bridge, put both the SC and FD radars out of action, and caused other relatively minor damage. Fragments seriously injured the executive officer, and inflicted minor wounds on two enlisted men. Monaghan steamed farthest from the enemy, partially covered by smoke, and escaped damage.
Salt Lake City meanwhile returned to the battle and gradually rang up more speed, and Rodgers ordered her to check fire, in order to conserve ammunition “for a final attack on the closing Japanese force.” Her engineering crewmen strenuously restored power and she made 15 knots by noon. The Japanese opened the range, however, and when it became clear that she would not require a reserve of ammunition for a last defense, her after guns again opened on the enemy, firing her final salvo of the battle by Turret III at 1204. Dale, which laid smoke and fired at the enemy as she faithfully stood by the cruiser throughout the crisis, ceased shooting at 1205. Richmond meanwhile drew ahead some distance to the south, but came left and steamed back to cover Salt Lake City and the retiring destroyers. She began making smoke but stopped at 1211 when the enemy ships appeared to be making off to the west.
Bailey suffered engine trouble that reduced her speed, and at 1215 on 27 March 1943, Salt Lake City’s speed dropped to 22 knots when the electric submersible pumps in the after engine room broke down. Repair parties began overhauling the equipment immediately, in a race against the rising water in the compartment. Riggs reported that Bailey could make 24 knots on her one operative engine, but ten minutes later Salt Lake City informed McMorris that her speed had been reduced to 20 knots, a figure she hoped to maintain. Monaghan’s starboard reduction gear continued to make grating noise, and then steam lines on her No. 1 and No. 2 fuel oil service pumps were carried away, temporarily dropping her maximum speed to 24 knots. McMorris had set 20 knots as the task group’s speed immediately after receiving Salt Lake City's message, but he did not learn of Monaghan's problems until after the battle. The ships regrouped and stood by their companions as men struggled to restore them to fighting trim, and when Riggs recommended deploying two destroyers to shadow the Japanese, McMorris disallowed the plan and then asked the commodore to keep him appraised of the enemy movements, at which point Riggs informed him that the Japanese ships disappeared over the horizon to the west.
The Americans lost altogether seven men killed and 20 wounded, and the Japanese 14 dead and 26 injured. Monaghan fired a total of 235 5-inch shells (201 common, 2 dye loaded, and 32 antiaircraft) and 48 40 millimeter rounds. Nachi bore the brunt of the U.S. barrages and received at least two hits, and Maya’s own shooting set fire to her No. 1 float plane. Ikazuchi sustained minor damage but the Japanese emerged largely unscathed. Japanese gunfire struck Salt Lake City, Bailey, and Coghlan, but despite the damage they inflicted on the Americans, Hosogaya feared that Allied planes would count attack and broke off the fighting and came about. The Battle of the Komandorski Islands therefore proved tactically inclusive but indirectly gave the Allies a strategic victory, because it persuaded the Japanese to discontinue their attempts to supply their beleaguered garrison by using ships and they began focusing solely on employing submarines. The battle also marked one of the few instances during the war in the Pacific of ships engaging each other without substantial air or submarine support. A Japanese scout plane spotted the U.S. ships at one point, but Salt Lake City, Bailey, and Coghlan fired at the intruder and it flew off, trailing smoke.
McMorris sent a summary of the battle to Rear Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid, Commander North Pacific Force, during the afternoon watch. He informed Kinkaid of a tentative plan to have Salt Lake City and Bailey proceed to Adak, while the other ships headed for the approaches to Holtz Bay to intercept the enemy in the event that the Japanese made another attempt to reinforce their garrisons. Kinkaid assured McMorris that if the Japanese ships did not withdraw, submarines and aircraft would take up the battle against the enemy. The task force commander detailed two additional destroyers, Caldwell (DD-605), Lt. Comdr. Horatio A. Lincoln in command, and Dewey, Cmdr. Joseph P. Canty, to join the task group on the following morning, and said that he would arrange for air cover, directing all ships to put in at Adak.
Foul weather, communications issues, and inter-service rivalry plagued aerial operations. McMorris requested air support as the battle began and the Eleventh Air Force, Brig. Gen. William O. Butler, USA, in command, attempted to dispatch 11 North American B-25 Mitchells from Amchitka to support the ships. Mechanics frantically installed bomb bay fuel tanks so that the planes could fly the nearly 400 miles to the battle, but eight Mitchells and eight Lockheed P-38 Lightnings did not take off until 1330. The planes flew toward the fighting but ran dangerously low on gas, came about and bombed Japanese troops on Kiska before returning to their field. Thirteen Consolidated B-24 Liberators preparing to bomb the enemy on Kiska also received orders to attack the Japanese ships, but by the time their ground crews replaced the general purpose bombs with armor piercing ones -- which the men laboriously freed from the frozen ground in the midst of a storm -- the Liberators also arrived too late.
A pair of PBY-5As from Fleet Air Wing 4 sighted Sakito Maru and Sanko Maru some distance to the northwest of the U.S. warships, but the Catalinas did not carry bombs and shadowed the enemy until 1630, transmitting directions for the Army bombers that proved useless after the fact. “Why, repeat why”, Gen. Henry H. Arnold, USA, Commanding General Army Air Forces, demanded of Butler the following day, “six hour delay between takeoff and sighting time?” Butler hastened to ensure that up to six bombers operated on antishipping roles for some time afterward.
Kinkaid modified his orders to the task group later on the day of the battle, and Salt Lake City, Coghlan, and Monaghan proceeded directly to Dutch Harbor, where they arrived on 29 March 1943. Richmond, Bailey, and Dale steamed in company with Caldwell and Dewey and put in at Kuluk Bay, Adak, at about 0200 on 28 March. Monaghan repaired her starboard reduction gear while alongside a tender at Adak. She then patrolled those northern waters and carried out occasional shore bombardment missions throughout the Aleutians, along with escort missions, through the summer.
Capt. Bertram J. Rodgers (right), Salt Lake City’s commanding officer, his executive officer, and navigator, and Monaghan’s torpedo officer, relax in the cruiser’s wardroom and discuss the battle at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, after the action. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-50209, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Branch, College Park, Md.)
Task Forces 16 and 51 supported the Army’s 7th Infantry Division when it landed on Attu on 11 May 1943. Navy and marine aircraft flew close air support missions from Nassau (ACV-16), marking the first use of this type of direct air support from an escort carrier for amphibious operations. Monaghan joined TF 51 and acted as a plane guard for Nassau until 22 May, when she came about in company with Dale to screen Idaho (BB-42) through thick fog back to Adak. The seizure of the island also witnessed the debut of a Support Air Commander afloat on board Pennsylvania (BB-38), whose team consisted of three officers and a radioman led by experienced Aleutian pilot Col. William O. Eareckson, USA. After refueling, the trio returned to sea and rendezvoused with TF 16 on patrol off Attu. Monaghan refueled and reprovisioned at Adak (13–19 June). Despite the extensive naval gunfire and air support, the American soldiers suffered disproportionately high casualties dislodging the tenacious Japanese defenders on Attu.
The Japanese Imperial General Headquarters meanwhile decided to abandon Attu and to launch Operation KE-Go — the evacuation of their garrison on Kiska. Japanese submarine I-7, Lt. Cmdr. Nagai in command and Capt. Tamaki Tomejiro, Commander Submarine Division 7 embarked, sailed on some of these supply missions to the enemy soldiers on Kiska. I-7 made landfall off Kiska on 19 June 1943, but Nagai decided not to enter Gertrude Cove in Vega Bay because of dense fog. He reported to the 51st Base Unit on Kiska, which informed him that the local radio beacon was to be deactivated after 0500 the following day. The base force meanwhile dispatched a Daihatsu class landing craft to unload I-7’s cargo.
Monaghan stood down the channel from Adak with Hull and Lansdowne (DD-486) to patrol off Kiska on 19 June. The following day the weather turned typically harsh and fog blanketed the area while they searched for the enemy about two miles off Bukhti Point on that island, dropping the visibility to barely 500 yards. I-7 surfaced approximately one mile south of Vega Bay at 1900 and headed toward the anchorage. Twenty minutes later her sound operator reported propeller noises starboard, bearing 050°. Tamaki had the conn and ordered his crewmen to prepare for diving, but Monaghan’s SG radar watch detected a surface contact at 14,000 yards and a mile south of the anchorage, and she opened radar-directed fire from 2,000 yards range at the intruder at about 1930.
The Japanese heard the gunfire and Tamaki ordered a crash dive. Immediately thereafter, two of the destroyer’s 5-inch shells tore into the submarine’s conning tower from starboard, killing Tamaki, Nagai, Lt. Hanabusa Yoshio, the navigation officer, the helmsman, and two noncommissioned officers, and wounding the communications officer. Lt Sekiguchi Rokuro, the torpedo officer, assumed command, aborted the order to dive, and called for the gunners to man their guns. The Japanese sailors scrambled topside and returned fire with their two 5.5-inch deck guns and two 13.2 millimeter machine guns, firing about 30 shells and 250 machine gun rounds. In the confusion of battle, however, I-7’s aft ballast tanks valves remained open and the submarine listed. I-7 thus maneuvered down by the stern and at about 1945 ran aground at Bukhti Point. Sekiguchi ordered his men to abandon ship, and the paymaster destroyed secret documents, smashed the coding machine, and heaved the parts overboard. Monaghan’s radar watch observed the pip head for the beach and merge with the land echo on the radar scope, and the enemy guns on Gertrude Cove on Kiska briefly shot blindly at the destroyer but failed to hit her. The entire battle lasted only 15 minutes, but about 40 minutes later Monaghan detected the Daihatsu as the Japanese attempted to raise the submarine by a blinker gun. The destroyer’s machine gunners opened fire and the barge came about and escaped.
I-7 used a portable transmitter to contact Japanese forces ashore at 0200, which in turn, sent a pair of Daihatsu barges from Gertrude Cove to load the submarine’s cargo. Sekiguchi conferred with his surviving officers, and they agreed to slip past the Allied naval blockade by making a flank speed run on the surface back to Yokosuka, Japan, stopping at Paramushiru-tō (Paramushir) in the Kuril Islands if necessary. One of the barges had dropped off a welding apparatus and the sailors used it weld the holes in the conning tower shut. I-7 entered Gertrude Cove to unload the rest of her cargo and the bodies of her dead crewmen at 1900. The paymaster received two JN-25 coding books from the local 51st Naval Communications Unit, to facilitate radioing the Japanese garrison on Paramushir, and the boat set out again at midnight.
Two days later Monaghan’s alert radar team again detected a surface contact, at 0135 on 22 June. Unbeknownst to the destroyer she had again intercepted I-7, about 10 miles south of Cape Hita. Monaghan opened fire at 0230 and rapidly closed the range, and her rounds slammed into the submarine’s conning tower, deck gun bulwark, and aft ballast tanks from the port side, killing Lt. Handa Masao, the engineering officer, and severely wounding Sekiguchi. Lt. (j.g.) Shindo Yoshio, the gunnery officer, took command and directed the crew to return fire from the deck guns and machine guns. The enemy shots missed Monaghan, but a lookout sighted what he believed to be a small fire on board the destroyer. Monaghan ceased fire ten minutes later, but at 0210 resumed shooting and illuminated I-7 with starshells. A round disabled I-7’s steering engine about eight minutes later, and the enemy boat began a wide turn to port toward Kiska. Her gun crews rotated four times and fired 70 main caliber rounds and about 2,000 machine-gun bullets. Monaghan scored another hit that detonated the ready-use ammunition of one of the submarine’s deck guns and started a small fire. The diesel engine ventilation intakes drew some of the flames within the boat, endangering the galley and the forward head.
The Japanese boat attempted to dodge through the fog but two more shells punctured the aft deck casing on the port side and she listed dangerously up to 30°. Shindo ordered I-7 to come about for Kiska at 0230, but the destroyer clung to her prey until I-7 headed for Twin Rocks at 0310, and Monaghan sheared off to avoid the unfamiliar coast. Five minutes later I-7 ran onto the rocks and foundered swiftly by the stern, leaving only 50 feet of her bow above the waves, about 12 miles south-southwest of Kiska near 51°49'N, 177°20'E. The rising waters within the submarine trapped several sailors, and crewmen overlooked a bag containing code books and other secret documents, hanging on a ladder at her No. 3 after access hatch. During the morning watch a Daihatsu rescued all 43 survivors, 10 of whom sustained wounds (one died later), costing the Japanese 87 dead in total. They decided to abandon the irreparably damaged boat, and divers unsuccessfully searched for the code books, so on 23 June a Daihatsu from Kiska detonated demolition charges that scuttled her bow, all the while in the midst of fog. The Japanese promoted Tamaki to a rear admiral and Nagai to a commander, both posthumously.
Farragut relieved Monaghan on 23 June and the latter then proceeded to Amchitka, from where she escorted a merchantman to Adak. Monaghan patrolled off Kiska (27 June–4 July), returned to Amchitka and Adak, and on 9 July began a series of night bombardments. Monaghan shelled the Japanese main camp installations at Gertrude Cove on 11, 14, and 15 July, but the enemy guns remained silent. She returned with Aylwin and both ships bombarded the enemy on 21 July -- Monaghan firing 100 5-inch rounds -- but again without response. The Allies failed to detect the Japanese movements when they evacuated the island during Operation KE-Go seven days later, and the ship again pounded the (apparently manned) defenses (5–6 August). When the Allies landed there during Operation Cottage, they discovered only the abandoned enemy positions (15–16 August).
Monaghan hunted for enemy submarines and escorted ships along the Aleutian chain, and accompanied a convoy to Pearl Harbor, where she tied up alongside Dorsey (DMS-1) on 15 September. The ship accomplished an availability at Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, and in early October escorted President Monroe (AP-104) to San Francisco, where the transport was outfitted with landing craft. Monaghan sailed independently to San Pedro, Calif., to screen escort aircraft carriers Chenango (CVE-28), Sangamon (CVE-26), and Suwanee (CVE-27) for Operation Galvanic — the occupation of the Gilberts. The ships set forth on 20 October and six days out Monaghan rescued two aircrewmen when their plane crashed, and brought three more men on board the following day. The group reached Espíritu Santo in the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) on 5 November, from which they sailed on 13 November. The planes that flew from the escort carriers bombed and strafed the beaches ahead of the marines, attacked the enemy beyond the beaches, and protected convoys off shore through the invasion of Tarawa.
Monaghan was detached on 5 December 1943, and reported to small aircraft carrier Independence (CVL-22), which had been damaged by a Japanese aerial torpedo on 20 November, and lay at Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu. Two days later the carrier, Dewey, Monaghan, and ocean tug Arapaho (AT-68) shaped a course for Pearl Harbor. Dewey and Monaghan safely delivered their charges to that anchorage and then continued to San Francisco. Monaghan took part in extensive exercises out of San Diego, and rejoined the escort carriers as part of TG 53.6 as they prepared for Operation Flintlock — the occupation of the Marshalls.
A Grumman F6F-3 (BuNo 40845), flown by Lt. Robert A. Mayo, USNR, of Fighting Squadron (VF) 37, returning to Sangamon crashed during the first dog watch on 25 January 1944. At 1651 the Hellcat landed slightly fast at the “cut” and floated up the center of the flight deck. The arresting hook failed to catch any wires and the Hellcat crashed through Barriers 2 and 3 into the planes parked beyond, including that of Lt. Robert E. Donnelly Jr., who was sitting in his plane (BuNo 40878).
Mayo’s belly tank, containing 150 gallons of fuel, broke loose and skidded forward among the aircraft, scattering flaming fuel and igniting a fire which raged across that portion of the flight deck. The inferno ran aft for 90 feet along the starboard side of the flight deck and beat up over the bridge, making ship control extremely difficult, but the carrier swung into the wind to enable the crash crews to battle the blaze, which they extinguished in eight minutes. Fifteen men were blown overboard or leapt into the water to avoid the flames. Dale, Monaghan, and Phelps (DD-360) scoured the area and rescued 13 of the men, 11 by Monaghan, but two men disappeared into the unforgiving sea.
Altogether Sangamon lost nine men: Donnelly; ACMM Frederick M. Harms; ACMM Curtis E. Sheppard, USNR; Sea1c Hyrum L. Allyn, USNR; AMM2c Joseph B. Backus, USNR; AEM2c James C. Brashear, USNR; AMM2c Harvey C. Wick; Sea2c John R. young, USNR; AMM3c Harry F. Balcerak, USNR. In addition, seven more suffered serious injuries primarily burns: Mayo, Sea1c John J. Kurisko, USNR; Sea1c Walter E. Morgan; AMM1c S.J. Pisarsi; Sea2c K.P. Collins; AMM3c George E. Atkins, USNR; and ACM3c F. Goldstein, USNR, who also suffered a basal skull fracture. Besides Mayo’s and Donnelly’s planes the accident destroyed two more Hellcats (BuNos 40843 and 40912) and a Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless (BuNo 10855).
Monaghan then guarded the carriers as they operated northwest of Roi supporting the landings there. She entered Majuro on 7 February 1944, then rendezvoused with Farragut and they escorted Pennsylvania to Kwajalein, where Monaghan joined the transport screen in TG 51.11 for the capture of Eniwetok. The group sortied on 15 February, and in the night of 21–22 February, Aylwin, Hall (DD-583), MacDonough, and Monaghan bombarded Parry Island, and then Hall provided starshell illumination for the amphibious landings. The shelling started fires in the target areas, and the enemy did not return fire. The ship then spent a month patrolling and escorting ships in the waters around the Marshalls. Monaghan escorted a group of tank landing ships (LST) to Kwajalein on 23 February, and on her return voyage escorted a group of transports to Eniwetok. Proceeding to Majuro, the ship reported to TG 50.9 on 5 March, with which she patrolled those waters, until shifting to TG 58.2 to resume screening carriers.
On 22 March 1944, Monaghan put to sea in the antisubmarine screen for the fast carriers, bound for strikes on Palau, Woleai, and Yap. The ship picked up two aviators flying from Bunker Hill (CV-17) who splashed on 28 March. Japanese planes attacked without success the following day, and the carriers launched strikes against Palau on 30 March. The fighting continued into the next month as the carrier planes worked over the enemy garrisons on these islands, and the ships returned to the lagoon at Majuro on 6 April. The ships replenished and refueled, and then TF 58, Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher in command, set out to raid Japanese garrisons and vessels at Palau, Ulithi, Woleai, and Yap in the Western Carolines (13 April–4 May). Planners intended these strikes to eliminate Japanese opposition to landings at Hollandia on northern New Guinea and to gather photographic intelligence for future battles. Grumman TBF-1C and Eastern TBM-1C Avengers from Torpedo Squadrons (VTs) 2, 8, and 16, embarked in Bunker Hill, Hornet (CV-12), and Lexington (CV-16), sowed extensive minefields in the approaches to the Palaus in the first U.S. large scale daylight tactical use of mines by carrier planes. These raids continued until 1 April and claimed the destruction of 157 Japanese aircraft, sank destroyer Wakatake, repair ship Akashi, aircraft transport Goshu Maru, and 38 other vessels, damaged four ships, and denied the harbor to the enemy for an estimated six weeks.
The ships next supported the assault of the Army’s I Corps at Aitape and Tanahmerah Bay (Operation Persecution) and at Humboldt Bay on Hollandia (Operation Reckless) on the north coast of New Guinea. On 21 April 1944, five heavy and seven small carriers launched preliminary strikes on Japanese airfields around Hollandia, Sawar, and Wakde, the following day covered landings at Aitape, Tanahmerah Bay, and Humboldt Bay, and into 24 April supported troop movements ashore. While Mitscher returned to Majuro following the landings at Hollandia, he launched a two day attack on Japanese installations and supply dumps at Truk Lagoon in the Carolines. The previous strike on 17 February had wreaked havoc on the Japanese, and planes operating over the waters off Palau reported a paucity of vessels in the area and sank only two ships and claimed the destruction of 145 enemy aircraft (29–30 April). Enemy aircraft attacked one of the formations on 29 April, and Monaghan fired briefly at a torpedo plane that flew off her port beam, until a U.S. fighter flying from the combat air patrol pursued the intruder. Task Group 58.1, Rear Adm. Joseph J. Clark in command, detached on the second day, launched planes that flew protective cover for a cruiser bombardment of Satawan, and on 1 May supported the bombardment of Ponape with air cover and bombing and strafing runs. The destroyer’s group returned to Majuro on 4 May, where she underwent drydocking, completed a ten-day availability alongside a tender, and then trained.
Monaghan at sea, May 1944. Note her distinctive twin stacks and mainmast. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-376093, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Branch, College Park, Md.)
After Monaghan prepared at Majuro, she sailed with TG 58.3 on 6 June 1944, for Operation Forager — the invasion of the Marianas. Carriers launched strikes against the enemy garrisons on Saipan and Tinian on 11 June, but the Allied thrust into the inner defensive perimeter of the Japanese Empire triggered A-Go — a Japanese counterattack that led to the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The Japanese intended for their shore-based planes to cripple Mitscher’s air power in order to facilitate strikes by their 1st Mobile Fleet, Vice Adm. Ozawa Jisaburō in command. Japanese fuel shortages and inadequate training bedeviled A-Go, however, and U.S. signal decryption breakthroughs enabled attacks on Japanese submarines that deprived the enemy of intelligence, raids on the Bonin and Volcano Islands disrupted Japanese aerial staging en route to the Marianas, and their main attacks passed through U.S. antiaircraft fire to reach the carriers.
Monaghan detached to carry mail and photographs to TG 53 on 15 June 1944, and that evening a torpedo plane, tentatively identified as a Nakajima B5N2 Type 97 carrier attack plane, crossed ahead from port to starboard. When the lookouts discerned her Japanese markings and profile the ship opened fire, but the Kate dove for the water and escaped, apparently unscathed. The next morning Monaghan delivered her packages to amphibious force flagship Appalachian (AGC-1), which embarked Maj. Gen. Roy S. Geiger, USMC, Commanding General III Amphibious Corps. Task Force 58 repelled Japanese air attacks and destroyed at least 300 planes in what Navy pilots called the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.” The Japanese lost 395 carrier planes and an estimated 50 land-based aircraft from Guam. The Americans lost 130 planes and 76 pilots and aircrewmen. Monaghan rendezvoused with TG 53.10 and patrolled off Saipan guarding against a possible breakthrough by the enemy while the flyers of TF 58 soundly defeated the Japanese. Enemy planes nonetheless attacked the anchorage on the night of 22 June and a Mitsubishi G4M1 Type 1 attack plane flew low over the still‑contested Saipan hills and found two anchored battleships. Crossing the bow of Pennsylvania, the Betty dropped a torpedo which opened a gaping hole in the bow of Maryland (BB-46), on her port side. The battlewagon suffered few casualties in 15 minutes got underway, and Monaghan and the other ships stood out of the anchorage overnight and on 28 June entered Eniwetok lagoon, from where Maryland subsequently made for the repair yards at Pearl Harbor.
Monaghan screened the cruisers against enemy submarines when TF 53 steamed from Eniwetok on 14 July 1944, bound for Guam. Assigned to cover the work of Underwater Demolition Team 4 off Agat on the night of 17–18 July, Monaghan furnished harassing fire until daylight, and worked with Minneapolis (CA-36), Farragut, and Schroeder (DD-501) as they blasted the island and provided illumination during the early morning of 19 June. Gunboat landing craft LCI(G)-348 ran hard aground on the beach and enemy soldiers fired at the stranded sailors. High speed transport Dickerson (APD-21), Farragut, Monaghan, and eight LSTs covered fleet ocean tug Apache (ATF-67) while she braved Japanese rifle fire and took LCI(G)-348 in tow and cleared the beach at 1733 on 18 June. Monaghan continued bombardment and screening missions until 25 July, when she joined Transport Division 6, en route to Eniwetok. The destroyer sailed on to Pearl Harbor, which she reached on 7 August, and the next day sailed for Bremerton, Wash., in company with sistership Dewey for an overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard. (14 August–early October).
Lt. Cmdr. Waldemar F.A. Wendt (USNA 1933), Monaghan’s 33-year-old commanding officer (known to his classmates as “tall, handsome, and silent, except when there is a subject on which to argue”) received the Bronze Star for “effectively” coordinating the ship’s “aggressive action” during those operations (1 January–15 August 1944). “Undaunted by savage opposition,” Wendt resolutely led the ship inshore to bombard the Japanese on Saipan, and “steadfastly maintained his ship’s assigned position” while delivering broadsides against the enemy troops on Guam.
Monaghan lies-to off Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., 26 September 1944. The ship wears Measure 31, Design 7d camouflage. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph 19-N-72550, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Branch, College Park, Md.)
Ready for sea once more, Monaghan and Dewey escorted North Carolina (BB-55) to San Pedro, and from there proceeded to Pearl Harbor for refresher training. Monaghan sailed with three cruisers and a trio of destroyers for Ulithi via Eniwetok (11–21 November 1944). The ship completed upkeep and voyage repairs, and on the last day of the month joined escort ships Crowley (DE-303) and Weaver (DE-741) and they shepherded three oilers bound for Philippine waters to rendezvous on 17 December with the Third Fleet, Adm. William F. Halsey Jr., in command. The destroyer had orders to then join TF 38, whose planes had been pounding central Luzon in support of the invasion of Mindoro.
Monaghan steamed with a refueling group during the afternoon and first dog watches on 17 December 1944. Ominously, the day dawned gray and choppy but the sea grew increasingly rough as a typhoon roared down upon the ships. Monaghan’s mess cooks served dinner but the destroyer rolled and pitched, and many men experienced difficulty in staying on their feet. The weather prevented many sailors from sleeping and they clung to their racks to keep from rolling out. Sometime during the night, the heavy seas tore two life rafts on the port side overboard.
The typhoon reached its full fury between 1100 and 1400 on 18 December 1944. The barometer on board Washington (BB-56) recorded a low of 29.30 inches and the wind a high of 60 knots from 300°, with gusts of up to 93 knots at 1330. Sailors plotted the storm center bearing 006°, range 35 miles from TF 38, moving west at about 12 knots.
Thus, by the morning watch on 18 December 1944, the sea grew so fierce that Monaghan’s officers and men could not safely man their topside stations. Machinist’s mates could not complete painting the machine shop and their paint cans spilled their contents across that deck, rendering it so slippery that sailors could not enter the space. The motion of the ship tore potato sacks open and their contents rolled back and forth across the pitching deck. A handful of men gamely attempted to eat breakfast with one hand while hanging on to something with the other and food soon covered the deck. The ship rolled dangerously in the mountainous waves and after one particularly severe roll at about 1115 the lights went out temporarily.
Men in the steering engine room attempted to contact the bridge and explain that they would man the steering gear by hand if the bridge would supply a course. When they failed to reach the bridge by the usual communications, WT2 Roland D. Fisher volunteered to venture topside to attempt to reach the bridge and establish communications by runner. Most of the crew gathered topside, and about 40 men went into the after gun shelter and huddled together as the ship took roll after sickening roll. Many men prayed and fearfully cried out to God.
Monaghan rolled to starboard at least six times and on her final roll continued and capsized. The typhoon violently ripped off most of the ship’s bridge. Dozens of crewmen, mostly from the after section of the destroyer, jumped into the water or were washed overboard and cleared the vessel as she foundered and took her final plunge. The fury of the tempest did not overpower the screams of men torn by machinery ripped loose from ships or swept overboard.
GM3 Joseph Guio Jr., USNR, bravely helped 30-year-old WT2 Joseph C. McCrane, his shipmate since 6 November 1942, and a number of other men narrowly escape from the hatch on the port side. McCrane inflated his life jacket as he stood on the ship’s side, but a wave washed him out to sea. He desperately swam to the surface, but felt as if he struggled against “a whirlpool.” The raging sea thrust some of his shipmates who grabbed at him in their desperation, against him, and a swell carried McCrane on the side of the torpedo tubes, where another wave swept him onto an antenna. The sea washed him away from the ship and he heard Guio yell that a raft floated behind him and he swam for it and held on, spent from his ordeal.
F1 Evans Fenn, choking in the oil-covered water, swam to a life raft only to be swept off by the sea. Only able to grab the raft’s life line, Fenn clung to it tenaciously. The men -- at least ten in number -- who eventually reached the raft, discovered that the waves had torn away flares and water markers, but had left unspared only two kegs of water, a large can of assorted emergency rations, a five-inch powder can of medical supplies, and a single oar. The men ate the Spam and malted milk tablets but the biscuits proved too hard, so they soaked them in salt water. They suffered bruises and contusions and grimaced in pain when they bumped into each other. The sea pounded the weakening men, sweeping them from the line, and those who could grimly struggled to retain their grip as the waves frequently flipped the raft over.
The high winds sliced exposed skin of necks, ears, and shoulders savagely, while swirling salt spray reduced visibility to barely 20 feet. One by one, men succumbed to their injuries, exhaustion, thirst, and hallucinations. The gallant Guio, whose exertions had resulted in McCrane’s ultimate salvation, perished first, on 18 December. S1 Bruce S. Campbell and GM2 Dayton M. Genest succumbed the next day, and SC1 Will B. Holland, who had been among those who battled in the pitching and rolling galley to provide sustenance for his shipmates as they battled an ocean’s fury, breathed his last on 20 December.
The towering waves compelled the other ships to cease zigzagging after sunset. TF 38, the Fueling and Replacement Aircraft Group, and the Air Search and Antisubmarine Group changed course to 200° at 1755. The barometer gradually rose and the wind velocity lessoned. Ships searched determinedly for survivors in the water, and many vessels reported hearing shouts from the water, and of seeing lights — from flashlights with reflectors attached to kapok life jackets.
Monaghan’s survivors sighted ships’ searchlights at night or planes flying overhead more than once, and they tied a white skivvy shirt on one end of the oar and took turns waving it, but no one responded. Ships also collected their consorts scattered by the typhoon, some of which had veered off course. Washington bleakly reported: “Their positions are not definitely known.”
Sharks do not normally attack humans, but Monaghan’s men further endured a frightening ordeal against those marine predators. “Don’t let anyone tell you that sharks go after you only when you’re bleeding,” WT3 James T. Story declared afterward. “We were surrounded by about 50 sharks from the second day on, and by the third day they were sticking their noses up over the edge of the raft trying to get at us. I had a knife and managed to cut some of them pretty badly, but they never went away.” McCrane surmised that every time the men opened a can of Spam, the scent of the spiced meat product seemed to draw the sharks.
Brown (DD-546) ultimately rescued 13 men of Hull’s ship’s company from a life raft on 21 December 1944, and a search plane spotted Monaghan’s six survivors and dropped water markers near them and circled. Lookouts on board Brown spotted the plane and markers, and the destroyer turned toward the area. Despite the still heavy swells and one aggressive shark, Brown rescued S1 Doil T. Carpenter, MM2 Robert J. Darden, Fenn, F1 William F. Kramer, McCrane, and Story.
Lt. Cmdr. Floyd B. Garrett, Jr., (USNA 1938) her commanding officer for only 19 days, remembered by USNA classmates as “small in size, but full of fight and determination,” as well as all 17 of officers and 227 enlisted men, including the valiant WT2 Fisher, perished. Brown delivered the six battered sailors, wearing borrowed clothing, to Ulithi on Christmas Eve. Planes subsequently flew the survivors to Pearl Harbor Naval Hospital for desperately needed medical attention, after which they were variously flown to stations stateside. Brown meanwhile passed out to sea the following day, bound by way of Pearl Harbor for overhaul at Puget Sound, where she arrived on 12 January 1945.
The vessels damaged by the maelstrom, and those that stood by to assist them, proceeded on a southerly course. Halsey then organized the heavily battered ships into TG 30.3 and TU 30.8.18, and directed them to make for Ulithi for repairs. The fueling day was the first of the typhoon that claimed the lives of 790 men, sank Hull, Monaghan, and Spence (DD-512), and seriously damaged 21 ships: Cabot, Cowpens, Monterey, and San Jacinto; escort aircraft carriers Altamaha (CVE-18), Cape Esperance (CVE-88), Kwajalein, and Nehenta Bay (CVE-74); Miami; destroyers Aylwin, Benham (DD-796), Buchanan (DD-484), Dewey, Dyson, Hickox, and Maddox (DD-731); destroyer escorts Melvin R. Nawman (DE-416), Tabberer, and Waterman (DE-740); oiler Nantahala (AO-60); and fleet tug Jicarilla (ATF-104). The fleet also recorded the loss of 146 planes swept or blown overboard, jettisoned, or crushed by debris or other aircraft torn lose from the carriers, battleships, and cruisers.
The devastating storm also delayed the Third Fleet from furnishing air support to Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur, USA, Commander Southwest Pacific Area, for two days. Acting upon a suggestion from Vice Adm. McCain, Halsey inquired of MacArthur about the availability of the airfields on Mindoro for planes as staging points in the event of another attack by the Japanese fleet. MacArthur responded that the Army engineers would have the fields cleared and ready by 20 December.
Rear Adm. Thomas R. Cooley, Commander Battleship Division 6, hoped that the “…storm we just encountered may keep the Japanese planes grounded if it continues on westerly course…” The typhoon led the Navy to establish weather stations on a number of Japanese bastions as the Allies seized them, including the Caroline Islands, Manila, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, and to create Weather Central offices to coordinate data on Guam and Leyte.
Monaghan was stricken from the Navy Register on 10 January 1945; her loss was announced the same day. The status of those who went down with her during the typhoon of 18 December 1944 was changed from “missing” to “dead” on 20 February 1945.
Date Assumed Command
Cmdr. Robert R. Thompson
19 April 1935
Lt. Cmdr. William E. Miller
14 September 1936
Lt. Cmdr. Donald W. Loomis
30 June 1937
Lt. Cmdr. Daniel F. Worth Jr.
10 June 1938
Lt. Cmdr. Kenmore M. McManes
5 September 1939
Lt. Cmdr. Nicholas B. Van Bergen
30 May 1940
Cmdr. William P. Burford
27 September 1941
Lt. Cmdr. Peter H. Horn
30 January 1943
Lt. Cmdr. Waldemar F. Wendt
21 December 1943
Lt. Cmdr. Floyd B. Garrett Jr.
29 November 1944
Monaghan received 12 battle stars for her World War II service.
Mark L. Evans
28 December 2016