It has been stated in numerous
ways, by a great number of Authors, Historians, and Survivors: “After
vicious sea battles, when ships are sunk, there is little left to view. The waters close over and the sea swallows the debris, with the broken and
bleeding bodies of shipmates. There are no funerals, there are no honor
guards with ceremonies and prayers, and there are no grave markers or
memorials. The sea forever conceals the slaughter of battle.” Historians
may remember the battle, but the names of persons lost in combat are soon
forgotten, except by those who lost family. Promises to remember their
sacrifices in perpetuity, last only a few weeks We survivors DO REMEMBER.
those who survived a vicious sea battle and two days adrift in the shark
infested waters, the memory of dismembered bodies, spilled blood and
vicious shark attacks, on dear friends, are forever etched in their
years after the nightmare, of the sea battle off the island of Samar, in
the Philippines, survivors began to came together at ship reunions, to
honor their lost in action shipmates. WE DO REMEMBER THEM.
Inspired by a survivor from the USS St. Lo (CVE-63), plans were
formulated, to erect numerous memorials in memory of the Killed in Action,
from our Task Unit 77.4.3 better known as Taffy 3, by engraving their
names into granite memorials, and placing them in Fort Rosecrans National
Cemetery, at Point Loma, San Diego, California.
in the photograph in the background, are three memorials, bearing names of
our Killed in Action. The two end memorials have uprights, telling the
history of how they were lost. Memorials from Left to Right represent
the lost in action of 11 ships. The mini carriers (CVE’s) also list the
names of their KIA Squadron personnel. For a comparison, we lost more
than 800 lives in less that 2 hours, while in a year, 800 were lost in
Iraq. All lives are precious, but they were another down payment for
freedom, beginning with the charge by Patriots, up Bunker Hill.
Back row, left
USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73), SUNK, Ship’s Company Killed in
action 119. Squadron VC-10 Killed in Action 9. These 4
ships listed as sunk, by cruisers, had to swim for two days and
nights, before rescued.
Back row, center, this long memorial carries the names from three
ships, from left to right,
USS Hoel (DD-533) SUNK. Killed in Action 252 Officers
and Enlisted Personnel.
USS Johnston (DD-557), SUNK.. Killed in Action 183
Officers and Enlisted Personnel.
USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), SUNK. Killed in Action 90
Officers and Enlisted Personnel.
Back row, right, a memorial dedicated to the Killed in Action from
the following ships.
USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) Ship’s Company Killed in Action 5.
Squadron VC-3 Killed in Action 12..
USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70). Ship’s Company Killed in Action 4.
Squadron VC-68.Killed in Action 2.
USS White Plains (CVE-66). Ship’s Company Killed in Action 4.
Squadron VC-4. .Killed in Action 9..
USS Kitkun Bay (CVE-71). Ship’s Company Killed in Action 1. Squadron
VC-5. Killed in Action 4.
USS Heermann (DD-532) Killed in Action 4 Enlisted Personnel.
USS St Lo (CVE-63), formerly USS Midway SUNK by the first
ORGANIZED Kamikaze attack. Ship’s Company Killed in Action 95.
Squadron VC-65 Killed in Action 19.
Grave marker of Rear Admiral
Clifton A.F. “Ziggy” Sprague, Commander Task Unit 77.4.3 (Taffy 3).
Our highly respected Task Unit
Commander. RADM “Ziggy Sprague was burdened with the thoughts of the men
he lost from his Task Unit 77.4.3 These men were constantly in his mind,
until he was called by the Lord at an early age, perhaps expedited by the
deep sorrow he carried. Today he rests in the Fort Rosecrans National
Cemetery at Point Loma, in San Diego. Within a few feet, are the memorials
that carry the names of those who were Killed in Action on October 25,
1944, or died from injuries to October 28, 1944. Only God knows how many
men from General MacArthurs' beach head were saved, by the actions of our
Admiral, “ZIGGY’ Sprague. He saved the day at Leyte Gulf, for the United
States. His success is yet to be recognized. When it is, all the men of
Taffy-3 will share, in the recognition a nation owes to its heroes.
Today their names are together, they are present in spirit, in a
National Cemetery. This cemetery in southern California is the closest, in
our United States to the Battle Scene, where the heroes of Taffy-3 rest in
eternal sleep, off the shore of Samar, Philippines.
At Leyte Gulf, off the shore of the
Island of Samar, when Task Unit 77.4.3 (Taffy 3) found its self facing the
monster fleet of Japanese Admiral Takeo Kurita, with no possible
assistance from the major US Navy task unit of Admiral Bill Halsey, we
under the command of RADM 'Ziggy' Sprague, took control of a hopeless
situation. We did it by ourselves for our country, until small units of
Taffy 2 and Taffy 1 could join us.
Many years, fifty, after WW II, like in
the BATTLE OFF SAMAR, we could not wait for our Federal government to do
for our Honored Killed in
Action. We, inspired by a survivor from the USS St. Lo, had the
monuments and memorials, shown above, designed. Funds were
raised from Killed in Action, Deceased Shipmates Families and survivors
from the ships of Task Unit 77.4.3 (Taffy 3). Patriotism is alive.
Potochniak USS Gambier Bay - VC10 Web Site Historian
“HEROES ARE MADE NOT BORN”