to patrol boats - No. 32 and No. 33 - each
carrying 225 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) troops, arrived off Wake before
dawn. At 0500 hours, the cruisers opened
fire. With shells exploding around them,
the four Wildcats sped down the runway
and lifted into the air. Kinney, Hamilton
and Hesson had devised bomb racks and
each carried two 100-pound high explosive bombs.
were sighted. Davidson shot down
two while Kinney
downed a third; the
AA batteries on
Wake shot down
a fourth and sent
three heading south
trailing smoke. Nevertheless,
Yubari had fired one broadside when more bombs on the
Battery A on Wake replied with four sal- defenses.
voes. The third and fourth salvoes finally
found their target when two 5-inch shells On December 11,
hit the cruiser at a range of 6,000 yards. two H6K Type 97
Yubari belched smoke and steam and “Mavis” four-engine
slowed as she disappeared over the ho- flying boats arrived
over Wake at dawn.
Flying solo morTenryu, Tatsuta, three destroyers, whi- ning patrol, Captain
le the two destroyer-transports closed Tharin downed one
on Wilkes, where Battery L’s three guns while the other
took them on. At 0650 hours, the Marines’ bombed the runway
third salvo caught the destroyer Hayate without effect. That
amidships. She exploded and broke in morning, Kinney’s
two - the first Imperial Navy ship sunk by trio managed to
U.S. forces in the Pacific War. Destroyer patch together anoOite turned away and made smoke to hide ther Wildcat from
from the sharpshooting artillerymen, but parts taken from
was hit before the smoke hid her. Battery the other wrecks.
L then hit one of the destroyer-transports, There were now
which turned away and made smoke. three defenders.
At a range of 9,000 yards, Tatsuta took
a hit from Battery L that forced her to Everyone was ama- Captain Henry T. “Hammerin’ Henry” Elrod was the most successful
pilot of VMF-211 in opposing Japanese attacks on Wake Island.
withdraw. On Peale, Battery B engaged zed on December
three destroyers. The Marines scored hits 13 when the enemy
on Yayoi, which turned away followed by failed to put in an appearance. However, tes later, they left only four of the 3-inch AA
one of the three Wildcats suffered a flat guns operational. Two Wildcats got airborthe other two.
tire on takeoff and went off the runway,
After 45 minutes, the Japanese were reducing the defense to two. The next ne in time to remain safe and the bombers
retreating. Major Putnam and Captains morning, 30 G3Ms attacked. Their bombs missed the two newly returned from the
Elrod, Freuler and Tharin strafed and killed two VMF-211 Marines and wounded graveyard. On December 20, a PBY Catalibombed the ships relentlessly. One of a third, while also getting a direct hit on na from Pearl landed in the lagoon at 1530
Freuler’s bombs hit the transport Kongo one of the Wildcats. Kinney, Hamilton and hours, bringing word of the relief convoy
Maru, while destroyer-transport Patrol Hesson rebuilt the engine from that Wild- that was expected to arrive in 72 hours.
Boat 33 was also hit. With their ammu- cat over the next two days, to return the It took off at 0700 hours the next morning
headed back to Hawaii. Ninety minutes lanition expended and the enemy in retre- force to two fighters.
ter, 29 D3A dive bombers, escorted by 18
at, the Wildcats landed. Two were quickly
refueled and rearmed. Kinney took off in At Pearl Harbor, USS Saratoga’s task for- A6M2 Zero fighters, bombed and strafed
one and caught Kisaragi 20 miles offsho- ce arrived from San Diego the evening of all three islands, destroying the two
re. His aim was perfect and the destroyer December 13, carrying VMF-221‘s F2A-3s. newly-repaired Wildcats. Three hours lablew up at 0815 hours. Marine casualties By December 15, the seaplane tender Tan- ter, 33 G3Ms destroyed all defending AA
were Freuler’s Wildcat, which took hits in gier took aboard the 4th Marine Defense but one 3-inch gun of Battery D.
the engine with damage to the oil cooler Battalion, with 9,000 5-inch rounds, 12,000 The reported attack by carrier-based
and one cylinder, and Elrod’s Wildcat that 3-inch rounds, and 3,000,000 .50-caliber bombers confirmed Navy communicatitook a hit from shipboard AA that severed rounds, as well as ammunition for mor- ons intelligence that the carriers Sōryū
his fuel line. He crashed short of the run- tars and other small arms. Two radar sets and Hiryū had been detached from the
way, wrecking his plane. The defenders and their operators also came aboard.
Mobile Fleet to support a second landing
were down to two Wildcats.
Admiral Fletcheer’s Lexington Task For- attempt. Vice Admiral William S. Pye, acWord of the successful defense of Wake ce 11 departed Pearl on December 14 to ting commander of the Pacific Fleet, canelectrified American newspapers. The make a diversionary raid on the Japanese celed the Jaluit attack and ordered Task
Washington Post compared the Marines base at Jaluit in the Marshalls and provi- Force 11 to cover Task Force 14 as it neto the defenders of the Alamo. Sending a de cover to the Wake Island relief mission. ared Wake. There was concern a carrier
wave of pride through the country was the Saratoga’s Task Force 14 headed for Wake battle could break out at any time. The
news the defenders had radioed “Send on December 15. Within a day, they were next day, both task forces experienced
more Japs!” In fact, those words were battling heavy seas in a midwinter Paci- difficulty refueling their destroyers in the
padding to the real message that reported fic storm, speed reduced so the old oiler heavy seas, slowing progress even more;
half their equipment had been destroyed Neches could keep up and provide fuel for Saratoga was forced to refuel her escorts
that were unable to hook up with Neches.
and morale among the civilians was low.
Task Force 14 still planned to arrive at
Japanese bombers arrived four hours On December 17, Kinney and his crew Wake on December 23.
after the invasion force withdrew. David- finished work on two more Wildcats.
son and Kinney were airborne in the two On December 19, 27 bombers arrived at Captain Freuler and Lieutenant Davidson
surviving Wildcats when the 30 G3Ms 1050 hours. When they departed 20 minu- were on patrol the morning of December