The Battle to Save the Houston: October 1944 to March 1945

The Battle to Save the Houston: October 1944 to March 1945

John Grider Miller

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0870212761

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Battle to Save the Houston: October 1944 to March 1945

John Grider Miller

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0870212761

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A World War II adventure story of epic proportions, this book tells the heroic tale of a dedicated band of men who refused to let their crippled ship sink to the bottom of the Pacific in late 1944. Based on over seventy eyewitness accounts and hundreds of official documents and personal papers, it records in rich detail the USS Houston's 14,000-mile perilous journey home to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Part of Bull Halsey's famous Pacific Task Force 38, the Houston's had been supporting air strikes as a prelude to the Battle of Leyte Gulf, when she took an aerial torpedo hit that caused serious flooding. Nearly two-thirds of the crew abandoned ship before the damage-control officer convinced the captain she might be saved. Another torpedo hit two days later complicated the crew's desperate fight. Surrounded by death, floodwaters, and fire, stalked by enemy subs, threatened by air attack, and running from a typhoon, the men of the Houston's remained towers of strength while knowing their ship was never more than minutes away from breaking apart. John Miller's action-packed account gives insights into the nature of heroism and leadership that remain valuable today. Exceptional photographic documentation accompanies the text.

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Houston and other screening ships. At 1925 two aircraft suddenly appeared close aboard on the port bow. One released a torpedo that dropped into the water with a distinct splash. The Houston twisted hard to port, using both rudder and engines, and avoided being hit. The torpedo streaked past and disappeared into the night. One of the two aircraft continued astern and was soon gone from view as well. But the other swooped close over the stern, banked sharply to the left, and zoomed back in a

performing poorly. Many projectiles were prematurely detonating en route to their targets, and many failed to detonate altogether. In time the problem was found to lie with the 5-inch antiaircraft common ammunition, which used Mark 32 fuses. Most of these projectiles had been reenergized by the ship’s force the preceding May. A routine test firing in September had first brought the problem to light, but an easy solution was precluded by three shortages: of time, of reenergizing materials, and of

hull rose higher out of the water the level of floodwater in third-deck compartments gradually receded. When it was down to about three feet repair parties sealed off the ruptured portions of the armored deck, which were admitting water from the flooded spaces below. They laid timbers around the edges of the raised plates of the armored deck, shored them into place, and caulked them. After they had caulked the deck drains in the evaporator room as well, dewatering began. When the spaces were

moment that the Benham’s back broke. Her midsection rose above the forward and after sections. Then it plunged down and, just before the ship sank, her bow and stern shot high into the air. Commander Broussard listened to Lilius’ story with empathy but denied the request. The crew of the Houston, after all, belonged with the Houston.1 One cross-country trip was approved. Recently promoted Lieutenant Commander Julius Steuckert and Lieutenant A.C. Smith left the ship for temporary duty at the

launched a diversionary strike against the air installations on the western side of Pagan. By noon on 19 June the reassembled Task Force 58 was under heavy air attack for about six hours, but only one of the Japanese strikes was directed at Task Group 58.4. Fifteen of the sixteen Zeke aircraft were shot down in air-to-air dogfights by the task group’s combat air patrol. The sixteenth, however, disappeared from the ships’ radar screens and was unaccounted for. Suddenly, the missing Zeke emerged

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