Tokyo was the target for raids made by Air Group Eighty on
16 February, 1945 when strikes were directed at airfields east of Tokyo and vicinity, resulting in dogfights over
the Japanese capital. The record set by Air Group Eighty for that day's operations surpasses the old one set by
the Lexington in 1943 at the "Marianas Turkey Shoot." Six strikes from the Hancock's decks knocked seventy-one
confirmed enemy planes out of the sky plus eighteen probables and twenty-seven damaged.
by Jake on a very Exciting and Tense moment in Hancock's History (20 March 1945):
During a strike against the home islands of Japan,
while the Hancock was refueling the destroyer Halsey Powell, the taskforce was attacked by Kamikaze. An enemy plane
was stopped at seven hundred feet overhead by a direct hit but the heavy engine and bomb carried over the starboard
side and crashed into the fantail of the Powell. The blow eliminated steering control on the destroyer which immediately
sheered to port while the Hancock backed emergency full. From the island Captain Hickey lost sight of the crippled
destroyer as she careened across Hancock's bow and under the flight deck overhang. Watchers waited with braced
feet for the grinding noise of steel under the momentum of the Hancock's 33,000 tons, but the Powell cleared by
In support of the Okinawa invasion, the Hancock was hit by
a Japanese plane when he skimmed through heavy fire in a low attack that ended with the enemy cartwheeling across
her flight deck into the spotted planes of Air Group Six. His bomb hit the port catapult with a terrific explosion,
followed by the blast of pent-up gasoline fumes as tanks burst under the onslaught of the Japanese juggernaut.
Many men were blown over the side by the initial explosion while others were forced to jump to the comparative
safety of the open sea. Once again Hancock left the formation and fought against destruction. Wheeling in high
speed right turns, the skipper attempted to throw three burning planes forward over the side and to dislodge the
sixteen planes parked aft. 62 men were killed and 71 wounded.
In less the 50 minutes the Hancock was back in action and
planes returning from strikes were able to land aboard four hours later. Hancock needed extensive repairs and headed
for Pearl Harbor.
Jake's additional note, taken from the Deck Log: "Twice
now, Hancock experienced Flight and Hangar Deck Fires (21 January 1945 and 7 April 1945), yet in each instance
her damage control parties controlled and extinguished the fires quickly enough to limit damage to make it unnecessary
for the ship to return to the United States."
Repairs completed, the Hancock again headed for Japanese waters,
giving Wake Island a severe pounding enroute. A plane from the Hancock shot down the last enemy plane of the war--a
torpedo plane diving on a nearby British Task Force. Her scoreboard showed 732 Japanese planes, 17 warships, and
31 merchant vessels destroyed by her Air Groups and 10 planes destroyed by her guns. Three Air Groups had flown
from her decks: Seven, Eight, and Six. Listed as killed or missing were 221 shipmates.
Jake's additional note on he Hancock
Deck Log which did not report the death and burial at sea of Roger Gunn, a member of VF-6 operating off Hancock
at the time the war came to an end. This report is given by Capt Herschel A. Pahl, USN (Ret), who gave the report
to me to add to our Taps Page. I felt it important that Roger's death worthy of note in the Hancock Log and also
the Hancock History, but was left out. Therefore, I am taking the privilege of placing it here. It may only be
here that it is reported (sadly), but nevertheless all deaths aboard this ship need to be reported, not forgotten
as so many have been. Please read Capt Pahl's eye-witness report of the loss of AM1/c Roger W. Gunn...
"On 23 Aug. '45 , while Admiral Halsey's "Operation
Tin-Type" was taking place, tragedy struck our squadron when Roger W. Gunn, AM First Class was electrocuted,
in an unusual accident, in the Aviation Metal shop. Gunn was making souvenir ash trays from the butt ends of solid
brass 40MM and 5" shell casings. The electric drill he was using was apparently improperly grounded.
"Gunn had joined " Butch" O'Hare's VF-3
about the same time as I, and a number of other guys and had continued on in VF-6, as we had done. Others who had
been together, with Gunn, for the 3 combat tours were Cliff Seaver, Chief Piwetz, " Buzy" Bauer, Frank
Shamrow, Fred Ahern, Joe Robbins, " Cherry" Klingler, " Ken" Decker, George Rodgers, myself,
"It was a sad occasion, yet very impressive, when
everyone not on watch, formed on the flight deck to pay last respects to our shipmate. Captain Gallery turned our
giant carrier, " The Hannah," downwind, dropped out of formation, and adjusted the speed so that there
was a perfect calm over the flight deck during the ceremony.
"Our friend and shipmate, " Shot" Gunn,
was buried at sea with full military honors, while his wife, Wilma, waited patiently at home for the latest information.
After the honor guard had fired the last salute, and as the bugler had sounded "Taps," the National Ensign
covering Roger's remains fluttered slightly, and then lay motionless at attention. The remains of Roger W. Gunn,
encased in a weighted cocoon of canvass, had quickly slid from under the Flag as the portage was momentarily tilted
toward the sea, by two attendants. As the gentle waves received his remains, a peaceful hush settled over the flight
deck and his shipmates assembled there. It was as if everyone was paying their last respects and perhaps mourning
inside, not only for their beloved shipmate, but also for all those lost in this long bitter conflict."
This report is also part of the Roger W. Gunn
Taps Notice here.
The Hancock made several cruises after the war, the "Magic
Carpet" Operation, bringing the troops home. The Hancock was inactivated in 1946.
Recommissioned in 1954, the Hancock was chosen as the first
carrier in the U.S. Navy to have steam catapults installed. Equipped with these catapults, the mirror landing system,
and angled deck, the Hancock is capable of operating all carrier type planes now in service.
In August 1955, the Hancock again deployed to the Far East
where she carried on intensive training and flight operations. Returning to her home port at Alameda in September
1957, the Hancock operated off the California coast carrying on an extensive training program.
The Hancock's next Far East cruise was made in February 1958.
During this cruise she was called upon to patrol the Formosa Straits during the tense Quemoy situation. The ship
returned to the United States in October.
Again, in August 1959, the Hancock deployed to the Far East,
this time in a time of unrest in Laos. Arriving in the Philippines in the latter part of September, the Hancock
was made the ready carrier and was kept alert in the area for quite some time before resuming her scheduled deployment
in Hong Kong and Japan. She returned home in January 1960.
During the 1960-1961 Western Pacific cruise, the Hancock piled
up a record that is envied by bigger and newer carriers. Her readiness and capability are attested to by her log
of flight hours, and record of drills and exercises. In March of 1961 Hancock returned to Alameda completing her
cruise. She steamed to Bremerton, Washington where shipyard workers took over and began the start of a four month
$4,000,000 overhaul. December brought another change of command for Hancock, when Captain P.K. Blesh relieved Captain
Kelly on the 19th.
On February 2, 1962, with Carrier Air Group 21 aboard, she
again set sail for far eastern waters, pausing at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for operational readiness inspection. As
flagship for ComCarDivThree, Hancock departed Yokosuka for the South China Sea. During her stay in this tropical
climate, she proved her readiness in numerous exercises and in the breakout of strife in Laos, and Viet Nam.
*She returned to San Francisco 20 August 1962:
It was at this time that I came aboard as Ships company. You can read about my time on board ship by being Piped Aboard the USS Hancock (CVA-19) once more and 'Live the Adventure'
again with me.
On August 23, 1962, the Hancock sailed across
San Francisco Bay for six weeks of repairs at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, Hunters Point. November 28, 1962
saw Captain P.K. Blesh relieved by Captain T.D. Harris in ceremonies aboard the carrier.
A Shipmate sent the Yeoman an Email September 1, 2006 asking, "Why are we not mentioning the part the Hannah
played in October 1962, durring the Cuban Blockade? - John F Davis 1961-1964
And so I sent the XO a Query regarding this short moment in
history, and our XO and Website Historian, Dennis Milliken quickly responded:
"No problem on this assignment Jake! You should remember
a little about that period! It was about the time when you came aboard. Sadly the Hancock did not play any role,
in either event (referring to the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Blockade).. During the Cuban missile crisis
the ship was in dry-dock at Hunter's Point. I was going home on leave when the crisis broke out. When I got to
Salt Lake City, Utah, there were military police checking serviceman's leave papers. (Remember you had to travel
in Uniform then) Those from the East Coast were turned around. West Coast got to continue home, with instructions
to contact or Telegram their duty stations for instructions as to their leave status. I did and waited one day
for a response. Leave status unchanged! We did not have the massive news media like we have today, so a quick check
with the short Six o'clock national news was a priority every evening while I was home. I do remember it was kind
of hard to enjoy that leave. I was on leave for 14 days and the crisis consumed 10 days of it "Ten Days October"
and "The Missiles of October" were titles for books and movies about the events of October 1962. As I
mentioned except for major newspapers and limited television news programs, for some, the crisis was over before
they knew about it in any detail, except for the East Coast. They were well aware of it! ~ Dennis"
After operations off the coast of California,
she made a brief cruise in December 1962 to the coast of Hawaii while qualifying pilots which we called our "Pineapple
Cruise" then again sailed 7 June 1963 for the Far East, arriving June 20, 1963*,
Subic Bay, Philippines to join the Seventh Fleet. (*this
date is dubious - I am trying to discover the correct date we arrived at Subic after ORI. If you have that date,
please sound off.)
The following is a brief synopsis of WestPac Cruise '63 as Jake experienced it...
On 7 June 1963, Operations saw us begin our 7
month WestPac Cruise in the South China Sea around the waters of South Vietnam.
Hancock passed her ORI (Operations Readiness Inspection)
with flying colors during her three weeks trials in the waters around the islands of Hawaii. Upon satisfactorily
completing ORI, she set sail for the waters of the Western Pacific, but first stopping for a brief stay in her
WestPac port of Subic Bay, P.I. Here, her crew enjoyed great liberty in port at Cubi Point, Grande Island,
Olongapo City and also Manila.
Sometime in November, Hancock received word about
troubles in the tiny Southeast Asian country, and while on a two weeks R & R port of call in Hong Kong, was
called to steam into the Gulf of Tonkin on emergency orders, It was during this time, that President Kennedy and
also the puppet president Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam were assassinated. Hancock and the Nation was entering
troubled waters and troubled times, which would not only bring us into the Vietnam conflict, but would keep us
in it for a period of over 10 years. The "10,000 Day War" as it has come to be known in History.
Hancock was called off it's position as "Southern
Carrier" and steamed into the Sea of Japan, to cover for the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), which needed extensive
repairs in Pearl Harbor.. with some Port calls in both Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan. It was here, that the picture
you see of me here was taken.
Hancock filled the position of "Northern
Carrier" until relieved by USS Midway sometime in December. During this time, the crew and ship endured several
very dangerous typhoons (Read about that experience in greater depth by reading my Memoirs.
Hancock then completed WestPac Cruise '63 in December
and steamed back to ConUs but just in time to enjoy a brief stay in Hawaii just before the festive Hawaiian Christmas
* Synopsis of WestPac '63 was added by Jake from experience
and information gleaned from Cruise Book '63
Captain A.J. Brassfield relieved Captain Harris on December 19,
1963 after Hancock returned to the U.S.
Since then the 45,000 ton carrier has gone through an extensive
yard period. Numerous operations and exercises paved the way for the present Far East cruise.