Heroes: Taffy 3 unit monuments

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.

For 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 memories.

Many 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.

Shown 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.

Foreground, right

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.

Foreground, left

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.

Tony Potochniak USS Gambier Bay - VC10 Web Site Historian


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last revised May 06, 2011
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