In Memory of my Dad and
his shipmates USS HULL, USS MONAGHAN and USS
As father and son go, we've known each other only in our
hearts. You were all of 22 when the Lord called you into another service. Dad,
thank you for giving me life and a proud lifetime memory.
I love you mom and dad - RIP.
Webmaster's Note: Do you believe in miracles and that
prayers will be answered? 67 years without knowing if
one of the faces from the USS Monaghan's crew members
pictured here could be my dad? The photo above arrived,
thanks to my sister Carolyn Carpenter, this summer
(2012). She had searched for me some 40+ years.
On 17 December, 1944, my father's ship, DD-354 .U.S.S. Monaghan
was steering toward Leyte Bay on a rendezvous course with the
Pacific Task Forces 38 and 58. The Third Fleet was engaged in
naval air strikes against Japanese forces in the
Philippines. While the planes had been attacking central
Luzon in support of the Mindoro invasion, the carriers and their
destroyer protectors were in desperate need of fuel. Dad's ship
was assigned to escort duty for the fuel ships of the fleet, an
attractive enemy target. She ran at flank speed during the
operations and was riding high in the seas from lack of fuel.
Then she ran into Typhoon Cobra, described below as "more
powerful than any western Pacific encounter with the
"In December 1944 as
Admiral William Halsey's Third Fleet was operating in support
of General MacArthur's invasion of the Philippines, the Third
Fleet encountered a tropical cyclone more powerful than any
western Pacific encounter with the Japanese. The result was
three destroyers (the USS HULL, USS MONAGHAN and USS SPENCE)
sunk with 800 men lost, 26 other vessels seriously damaged,
and 146 aircraft destroyed (16). The Commander in Chief, U.S.
Pacific Fleet Admiral Nimitz said, "It was the greatest
loss that we have taken in the Pacific without compensatory
return since the First Battle of Savo." Halsey himself
described it best. "No one who has not been through a
typhoon can conceive its fury," he wrote in his
autobiography. "The 70 foot seas smash you. The rain
blinds you. The battleship NEW JERSEY once was hit by a
5-inch shell and I did not even feel the impact. The MISSOURI
had kamikaze crash on her main deck and repaired the only
damage with a paint brush. But the typhoon tossed our enormous
ship the MISSOURI as if she were only a canoe."
One eyewitness account speaks to
the conditions my dad found himself and his shipmates facing.
"These destroyers were
escorting the carriers, and they came out. We're trying to
fuel them, and the seas are choppy; I mean, when I say choppy,
they're twenty, twenty-five feet waves... They were going to
move to another location and commence fueling in the morning
again. Well, instead of taking us out of the typhoon they took
us back into it. I'm talking about waves that were fifty and
sixty feet high. Sometimes you'd see a destroyer, he'd be
sitting up on top of a wave and the next time he would be down
so low that you couldn't even see the mast. That's how deep
the troughs were. There's no way those destroyers could fuel
from the tankers."
Another eyewitness offers this
We were escorting
the Third Fleet oilers. Three destroyers had pumped ballast
and were awaiting refueling at sea when the typhoon hit
suddenly with great force. All three destroyers, the Hull,
Spence, and Monahan capsized within view with tremendous loss
of life. We were flag for the division and stationed front of
the escort carrier, then called the Coral Sea, and rode out
the storm on station. Three of our division got sideways to
the wind and lost superstructure and returned to Pearl and
were decorated. The last reading on the carrier's anemometer
was near three hundred knots, or so we were told. Her planes
on deck were blown overboard.
At the height of the storm, I was told one of my depth charges
was loose and I was sent on deck. I was stopped going through
the hatch and a line was attached around me. When I cleared
the lee of the deckhouse the wind smacked me and blew me up
and over. The two men who lashed the line yanked me aboard. I
would give a lot to learn of these men who saved my life.
The following day we pulled a number of bodies aboard and
conducted funerals. This storm is often confused with the one
a year later off Okinawa, but was much worse. In a book called
"Sea Fights and Shipwrecks", the 1944 storm is described as
the worst in recorded history.
David J. Woodland TM2c
USS Lawrence C. Taylor DE 415
Former President Gerald R. Ford
in May 1943 served as a pre-commissioning detachment for a new
light aircraft carrier, USS Monterey (CVL-26). This was
one of the ships in may dad's group. The following is an
official record of an account by Lt. Ford who served as the
assistant navigator, Athletic Officer, and antiaircraft battery
officer on board Monterey.
was damaged by a fire which was started by several of the
ship's aircraft tearing loose from their cables and colliding
during the storm. During the storm, Ford narrowly missed being
a casualty himself. After Ford left his battle station on the
bridge of the ship in the early morning of 18 December, the
ship rolled twenty-five degrees which caused Ford to lose his
footing and slide toward the edge of the deck. The two inch
steel ridge around the edge of the carrier slowed him enough
so he could roll and twisted into the catwalk below the deck.
As he later stated, 'I was lucky; I could have easily gone
The fueling day was the first of
Typhoon Cobra that claimed 790 lives in the 3d Fleet, and sank Spence
(DD-512), Hull (DD-350), and Monaghan. The six
survivors, rescued by USS Brown after drifting on a raft 3 days,
reported that Monaghan took roll after roll to starboard,
finally going over. Of the 6 hands that survived the sinking, 3
perished after rescue.
From accounts passed on by one of
his shipmates to my mom, my dad and other Monaghan crew members
remained half in/half out of the water because some of the men were injured and
bleeding. Their being in the life raft was their only hope and
the area was known to be shark invested. By the second day, most
were able to get into the raft. Quietly, without notice in the darkness and the rough
seas, we're told Dad joined the watery grave of the Spence,Hull
Extensive searches of
the area, conducted by many ships and aircraft on the
19th, 20th and 21st of December resulted in picking up few
survivors from the lost destroyers: 7 officers and 55 men
from the Hull, 1 officer and 23 men from the Spence, and 6
men from the Monaghan. A total about 790 men and officers
Of the tragedy, Admiral Nimitz
said, "represented a more crippling blow to the 3d Fleet
than it might be expected to suffer in anything less than a
major action." Veteran of so many actions against a human
enemy, Monaghan fell victim to the sailor's oldest enemy,
the perils of the sea.
Monaghan received 12
battle stars for World War II service.