When I was 19 years old I lived in a little place called Port Richmond,
Virginia, (now West Point, Virginia). In November of 1942 a few friends and I
decided to volunteer to join the Navy. We went to Richmond, Virginia and spent
the night in a hotel. I think it was the Jefferson Hotel. The next day we walked
over to the recruiting office and some of us were accepted in the service and
some of us were not. I was accepted in the Navy and I signed up for the duration
of the War. I went on a train to Great Lakes, Illinois for Boot Camp. At Boot
Camp we had to run around the base every morning before breakfast and we cleaned
the barracks. We had wooden floors and we had to get the black marks off the
floors and we scrubbed the floors with steel wool and if we did not get the
floors clean by meal time we had to get up earlier the next day to get them
clean. We slept in hammocks. The hammock was made out of canvas with ropes. It
was hung on about 4 inch pipes about four feet off the floor, the hammock was
pulled tight so it would not sag. You had to put a mattress, pillow, sheets and
cover on the hammock. Then you had to open it up to get in it to sleep. It was
hard to sleep on. Most of us fell in the floor several times. You were not
allowed to sleep on the floor; you had to sleep on the hammock. We took
immunization shots. We took shots in both arms. My right arm got so sore I had
to lift it with my left arm to put it in my pea coat sleeve. We had to keep our
barracks clean, our uniform had to be correct and we had to salute the officers
and salute the flag. If we did anything wrong we were punished. Sometime for our
punishment we had to get our sea bag and walk up and down the side walks or
sometime we had to work in the mess hall. We had to stand watch. While we were
in boot camp, I remember going on liberty and taking the train into Chicago,
Illinois. After we finished boot camp, we came home on leave. We reported back
to boot camp and got our orders. Some went other places but I went to San Pedro,
California and stayed there until I got my orders to report to the U.S.S. SANTA
FE CL60. While I was at San Pedro, California, I went on liberty and went to
Long Beach, California. I saw William and Sonny Hooper in Long Beach. They were
both from West Point, Virginia and had joined the service, William was in the
Navy and Sonny was in the Army.
In the early part of 1943 we reported to the U.S.S. SANTA FE. The SANTA FE was
built as a fast moving cruiser; she had twelve 6-inch rifles, and anti-aircraft
protection with 8 barrels of 5-inch, 40 millimeter and 20 millimeter guns. She
was a fast moving task force unit. The U.S.S. SANTA FE had rare Spanish-American
coins placed beneath the main mast. Some of these coins were from Santa Fe, New
Mexico. Miss Caroline Chavez christened the SANTA FE with water from the Santa
Fe River, which had been blessed by the Archbishop.
When we got on the ship we did not have to sleep in hammocks anymore, we had
bunks to sleep on. These bunks were on the wall and at night you opened your
bunk and slept on it and in the morning you put the bunk back against the wall.
We had rules in the mess hall. You could put what you wanted on your plate, but
you had to eat everything that you put on your plate. The SANTA FE had no women
The U.S.S. SANTA FE sailed from Long Beach, California to Pearl Harbor. We
reached Pearl Harbor on March 23, 1943. When we sailed into the Port of Pearl
Harbor we could see some of the damage that had been done to the United States
ships on December 7, 1941. We went on leave and walked on the beach. Walked
through the town and we went to a ranch and we rode horses. We left Pearl Harbor
and we anchored in Kuluk Bay, Adak, Alaska. The next day we headed west and
began going through the never-tobe-forgotten Aleutian fog. The first war mission
of the SANTA FE was a shore bombardment of Attu on April 16, 1943. The following
day Tokyo Rose announced that a battle ship of the SANATA FE class shelled the
Island of Attu. In May and June we had to patrol around Attu. U.S. Troops landed
on Attu on May 11th and this cruiser force was necessary to intercept any Japanese attacks. During
July and August the patrol was shifted to Kiska to soften it up before the
invasion. We bombarded Kiska on July 6 and July 22. On August 15, 1943, the
SANTA FE was covering the troops wading ashore at Gertrude Cove, Kiska. With
some relief we learned that the Japanese had somehow completely left Kiska. From
Kiska we went to Adak. After returning to Adak, the SANTA FE was to report to
CinCPac at Pearl Harbor.
When we returned to Pearl Harbor, after being in the Aleutian Islands, we went
on liberty. We went to the Nimitz Recreation Center and drank beer. We went to
the hula shows and we bought grass skirts as souvenirs.
In September 1943 we were in Pearl Harbor. On September 17, after days of
intensive drills, the task force 15 which included the SANTA FE started toward
Tarawa, a little Island in the Gilberts near the Equator. Early the next morning
all hands were at General Quarters watching the red and green lights of the
planes of the first strike. The Air Strike lasted all morning long on September
18, 1943. The first carrier raid had been a success and we headed back to Pearl
Harbor to await orders.
September 18, 1943 was the first time I had been across the Equator. With the
Captain’s announcement “Stand by for a bump when the Equator is reached”.
Shellbacks broke out razors and scissors, and immediately set to work carving
out the undeniable badge of the Pollywog, the partly shaved scalp. All of us had
to go through this initiation whether we were officers or not. We all had our
hair cut, some in baldy-cuts. This hazing went on all day long. We had to kneel
to King Neptune, bow at the Queen’s feet, drink from the Royal Baby’s bottle,
and kiss his belly. The Dentist gave us a mixture of soap, quinine and Diesel
oil as a mouth wash. We had to crawl through an airplane target, which was a
long canvas chute filled with garbage, oil and bilge water. While we were
crawling through this chute the Old Timers were on both sides hitting us with
paddles. After we had passed all of these tests, we were given a certificate of
King Neptune’s Domain. We were than called a shellback and we did not have to go
through this again.
We were at Pearl Harbor in October. From Pearl Harbor we went to Wake Island.
On October 5, 1943 we began shelling the enemy defense installations. After
about an hour this small Island was an inferno of raging explosions and fire.
The following day the planes bombed again. Then the SANTA FE headed back to
The SANTA FE became a part of the Fifth Fleet on October 13, 1943 at Pearl
Harbor. The Fifth Fleet was on its way to the Central Pacific. The SANTA FE
headed north to Bougainville. The transport groups that were to send
reinforcements were there at sunset. At dawn on November 8, the Marines were
sent ashore. That evening a lone Japanese snooper saw the Marines and the ships
and gave the ship’s location to every Nip south of Tokyo. That evening about 30
to 35 twin engine “Bettys” made an attack with bombs and torpedoes. When a
torpedo is shot at your ship, you have to turn the ship to avoid being hit broad
side or you have to go straight into it so if your ship is hit, the torpedo will
bounce off your ship. Every ship in the group let loose with its anti-aircraft
guns until finally they lost so many planes they left. At this time I was in the
lower handling room sending up ammunition to the upper handling room so they
could send it up to the gun mount to be fired. Then about mid-night these planes
came back. Our ships guns sent them blazing into the sea one after another. One
flaming plane passed over the SANTA FE so close that its torpedo rack fell on
the main deck. .
After Bougainville the SANTA FE came back to the Gilberts for the invasion of
Tarawa to support the second Marines landing. Before dawn the SANTA FE was
bombarding the island as amphibious troops got into landing craft for the first
invasion of Japanese territory in the Central Pacific.
After two hours of steady shelling the Marines went ashore. Sniper and machine
gun fire killed a lot of the first wave. The SANTA FE closed to point blank
range for call fire. Many pill boxes made of concrete about seven feet thick and
these costal defense guns were shelled. The only way to get rid of these guns in
the pill boxes was for the Marines to go in with torches called flame throwers
and burn them. The Marines went in and destroyed the guns in the pill boxes.
This 72-hour battle for Tarawa cost over 3,000 in casualties. After the Marines
took over Tarawa there were very few palm trees left standing on the Island.
After Tarawa was in the hands of the United States, the SANTA FE went north to
make an air strike on Kwajalein on December 4th and 5th. After this air strike on Kwajalein in the Marshalls, we returned to Pearl
The SANTA FE arrived at Pearl Harbor on December 11, 1943. We stayed there for
two weeks. New Radar equipment was put on board. We were ordered to pick up the
Kwajalein Invasion Convoy and escort them out. On January 2, 1944 we were at
Terminal Island, U.S.A. The ship turned and went out to sea again for battle
practice maneuvers. We came in to Long Beach on January 3, 1944. Then we had
liberty; we had to sail on January 13, 1944.
On January 30, 1944 we bombarded the Island of Wotje. We left Wotje during the
night and went north to arrive At Kwajalein at dawn the next morning. The
bombardment started immediately we shot high explosive shells over and over
again. I was stationed on a five-inch gun mount. Later a spotting plane that had
been circling overhead dropped a cluster of flares, and the shells were lifted
to a point a few yards up from the water’s edge; then the troops landed behind
the curtain of fire and advanced up the island. Kwajalein was liquidated by
February 2, 1944. On February 16, after three days of cruising the force ran in
and launched six strikes unopposed on the Island of Truk. That night was etched
with tracer patterns as all ships beat off low-level torpedo attacks. The task
force’s total score for this one raid was 250 planes destroyed; 18 ships
including two cruisers, sunk. At dusk on the twenty first a “betty” was spotted
as it sneaked away. The Task Force moved toward Saipan and just after dark the
battle started. All night long the bogies went down in flames ignited by our
bullets. At sunrise the first strike was launched as the guns were still
The SANTA FE got one ‘Betty” headed directly toward the ship. This plane
exploded so close to the SANTA FE that the flash would burn you.
On February 26 the ship anchored at Majuro. The following week the SANTA FE
went to Espiritu and joined Admiral Halsey’s Task Group. On March 20, 1944 the
force covered the invasion of Emirau Island.
On March 29, 1944, the SANTA FE was near Palau and Japanese torpedo planes
attacked from sunset until late that night.. No ships were damaged, but we did
destroy several enemy planes, after these strikes we went to Yap and were under
a heavy five-hour air attack Then we went to Majuro.
On April 13, l944, the SANTA FE left Majuro and went with Task Force 58 to New
Guinea for the invasion of Hollandia. On April 21 the carriers launched air
strikes to cover Hollandia. That afternoon a friendly plane was reported forced
down off Wakde Island. The SANTA FE sent two seaplanes to possibly rescue the
plane. The seaplanes landed near Wakde and rescued the pilot and crew of the
plane, which had been shot down that morning by Japanese anti-aircraft fire. The
SANTA FE only carried three seaplanes, which had to be launched off the ship.
These planes could land on the water and take off. These seaplanes had to be put
back on the ship with a crane and put in position so they could be launched
The night of April 21-22 the SANTA FE and company were temporarily sent from
the carrier task group to support a bombardment of the air installations on
Wakde and Sawar. On the morning of the April 22, the SANTA FE and company opened
fire and sent over 10,000 rounds of five and six inch shells into the
installations on Wakde and Sawar on the mainland. The bombardment was done by
radar because the land could not be seen from the ship. The group then returned
to the carrier force. At dawn on April 22, 1944 MacArthur’s forces landed at
Hollandia and Aitape.
On April 26 the SANTA FE with the rest of the force left Hollandia and went to
Manus Island to refuel and to get supplies. The fuel was brought to the ship by
a tanker. We helped hook the hoses up and the tanker pumped it over to our ship.
The supplies were brought to our ship by barge and lifted on our ship with a
crane. We all helped with the supplies and put them in storage. We left Manus
and crossed the International Date Line on April 29. The next day, which was
another April 29, we launched an attack on Truk. On April 30 we also had
additional strikes against Truk and Satawan. On May 1, 1944 we struck Ponape
with air attacks and a bombardment.
We came to Port in Majuro. When the SANTA FE was in port we would paint and
repair the ship. Provisions came aboard at all hours. If we were looking at a
movie we had to stop and get the supplies aboard the ship. The crane on the ship
hoisted ammunition aboard from morning until night. We all removed it from the
cargo nets and carried it to the magazines. Each evening 300 men and 3 cans of
beer each, were taken to the Island for a few hours of relaxing. We could sit on
the beach, go swimming, and play ball or search for seashells.
On June 6, 1944, the SANTA FE left Majuro and was still assigned to the Task
Beginning June 11, 1944, we had daily air strikes against Saipan, Tinian and
Guam. We were shooting at planes on their runways and also to weaken the island
defenses. By June 16 we knew that a large Japanese surface force was
approaching. On June 19, 1944, our carrier planes began shooting their planes.
This was to be known as the First Battle of the Philipine Sea. From early that
morning the Japanese forces launched an all out air attack on our forces. By
evening our CAP had shot over 400 planes, this was the largest number of planes
shot for any one day of the war. This day was called “Marianas Turkey Shoot”. A
few of the Japanese dive-bombers did get through but they were shot down or they
dropped their bombs in the sea.
On June 20, our planes were sent to strike the Japanese fleet. Most of the
planes had to return to the ships at night and there was no moon shining. The
SANTA FE and all other ships turned on every light they had and fired star
shells, but still plane casualties were high. Destroyers went rapidly to places
where a plane’s running lights had disappeared into the sea and a great many of
the personnel were saved. This attack was a success for it had left the Imperial
fleet’s carriers crippled and no longer a threat to the Marianas’ Landings.
On July 4, 1944, the SANTA FE sometimes called the LUCKY LADY with Task Force
58 went to Iwo Jima for a bombardment. This bombardment demolished over 75% of
the buildings on Iwo Jima and hit most of the airplanes. During this time our
spotting plane was attacked by 3 Zeros. The radioman gunner shot down one of the
three before the SANTA FE’s riddled plane was forced to land. A rescue destroyer
picked up the crew from the water, and they were thankful to get back. The
radioman was shot in the leg.
On July 5, 1944, there was a Task force strike on Pagan. We had to get refueled
at sea. From July 6 to July 21, we launched daily air strikes on Guam and Rota.
After that we moved south for more air strikes against Yap, Woleai, Ulithi and
Palau. On July 28, the SANTA FE came with the carriers to the Marianas anchoring
off Saipan on August 2.
On August 4, the search planes saw a Japanese convoy leaving Chichi Jima.
Planes were immediately launched from the carriers to attack the enemy units.
After about five hours the DD’s in an attack group sighted and sank a small
oiler and a vessel similar to an LST. This group was ahead of the cruisers. At
about seven thirty a third ship was sighted and identified as a Japanese
destroyer. The SANTA FE and other cruisers opened fire immediately. The Japanese
destroyer returned accurate fire, but light. After about an hour the destroyer
sank. The survivors identified the ship as the destroyer MATSU . The cruisers
saw a cargo ship and they sank it. The units then searched north and east but
found no more of the convoy.
On August 5, 1944, the cruiser and destroyer group, including the SANTA FE
headed toward Chichi Jima. After several plane attacks were driven off with
anti-aircraft fire, the group formed into a bombardment position and bombarded
Fukamito Harbor. Enemy fire was accurate and one shot splashed close aboard the
SANTA FE’s starboard quarter, but the shore gun was destroyed before any damage
was done. The “cease fire” was ordered and we headed for port. The SANTA FE
arrived at Eniwetok.
While the SANTA FE was in Port at Eniwetok Island some of the men were given
liberty. To get to the Island the men got off the SANTA FE and got into a small
boat to take them to shore. When the men were in the small boat they thought the
Island was closer than it was and they were in a hurry to get to shore, so some
of the men jumped off the boat to swim to shore. There were about five men who
were not able to swim to shore. These men drowned and they were taken back to
the SANTA FE for a burial at sea.
On August 8, 1944 I was with a group of sailors in the bottom of the front of
the ship getting out paravane gear to put out for mines, the paravane gear would
destroy the mines before the mines could hit the ship. While we were getting out
the gear, the ship rolled and a steel table that had not been lashed down fell
over and hit me. The table weighed about three hundred pounds. I realized that
my foot was hit so I took off my shoe and I found out my toe was crushed into my
sock. I had no feeling in my left leg. Another sailor saw this happen and
immediately helped me hop to Sick Bay. My left great toe was badly crushed and
was bleeding freely from three lacerations, one along each side and a large
irregular one across the tip in such fashion that the end of the toe was
“duckbilled”. The nail was held on by a shred of tissue. There were visible bone
chips in the large wound and X-ray revealed a crushed facture of the proximal
phalanx. Other than the maceration of the wound edges, the wound was relatively
Treatment: Under local anesthesia, the wound edges were trimmed and cleaned and
all loose bone chips removed. Sulfanilamide crystals were freely dusted into the
wounds and they were closed with interrupted dermal suture. The toe was then
dressed and splinted. Healing was slow and complicated by a sloughing and
low-grade infection of the distal.
From August 8 until September 12, I stayed in bed most of the time and every
time I tried to get up and walk on crutches, my foot would swell up and I had to
get back in bed and elevate my foot. On September 12, 1944 I returned to duty
under treatment, because I still could not stand up for very long periods. My
foot never got well and I still feel the pain from the bony spurs in my foot
The SANTA FE along with cruisers, Destroyers and the rest of the group made up
task force 38 and they left Eniwetok on August 30, 1944. We had gunnery
exercises and the Ancient Order of the Deep ceremonies and then the Third Fleet
launched strikes against the Palau Islands on September 6th and 7th. On the 9th an enemy convoy was sighted. This convoy was attacked by the carrier aircraft
on their first flight over Mindanao Island. The SANTA FE and group were detached
from the Third Fleet and sent to attack the remaining 22 ships, which attempted
to hide in Bislig Bay north of Sanco Point on Mindanao Island.
The SANTA FE fired over 1500 rounds of 6 inch, 5 inch and 40 millimeter guns
and sank four of the 15 ships she fired upon in this two-hour battle. The rest
of the ships were left burning. The Japanese craft did not damage the SANTA FE
group. Air strikes were continued against Mindanao Island on September 10th.
Air strikes were continued against the Visahyan area on the 12th through the 14th while we were near Dinagat Island. The same day more battleships joined the
An enemy bomber come over the ships and attempted a suicide mission to destroy
a ship, but he missed and landed in the sea.
During this time we had to fuel the ship, continue fighting, receive mail and
bury the dead. When we buried the dead we all came to the deck to show our
respect and we had a service for each sailor. We placed a flag over the body; we
had eight pallbearers to lift the body into the sea.
The SANTA FE’s two King fishers, which we call our seaplanes, went into enemy
held territory to the Camotes Islands where they rescued two aviators that had
been shot down, and these aviators were in the care of friendly Filipino
The Task Force Provided air support when the Marines went ashore on Pelelieu
Island then on the 21st the SANTA FE with the Task Force went toward Luzon to
provide air strikes against Manila.
After the first part of the Philippine fighting, the SANTA FE was anchored in
Kossol Passage, Palau Islands. This was close to the Japanese forces on
Babelthaup and the SANTA FE had to keep moving so the Japanese would not know
where we were. On the first of October 1944 the Task Group went to Ulithi, a
Caroline Atoll, and this became the base of future fleet operations,.
The sailors aboard the SANTA FE had many duties when we were at sea. We started
the day with reveille an hour before sunrise (about six O’clock). Almost any
time we would have – alert general quarters – which meant to get to our battle
stations. We had firing anti-aircraft sleeve practices, fueling the ship every
few days, receiving operation plans and receiving official U.S. Mail from a
The Gunner’s mates would guide the cargo net of ammunition to the proper place
on deck. We had to clean our guns after firing them. There were standing
condition III readiness watches, taking part in special training exercises,
launching and recovering “Gooney Birds” (these were the sea planes on deck). We
had the responsibility of rigging a towing spar for surface firing practice. We
had cleaning and maintenance work and training programs set by the Ship’s Plan
of The Day. These were some different duties we had to perform.
During October, we made air strikes against the Philippines and proved that the
carriers could successfully attack places protected by land based planes, and
could also defend itself against the planes. Landings were planned for Leyte in
The SANTA FE went from Ulithi October 6 with Task Group 38.3 and a few days
later made an all out air strike against Okinawa. From Okinawa we went to
Formosa and the Pescadores hitting them with heavy air strikes. That night on
the twelfth of October, the Japanese sent out their torpedo bombers. The Task
Force ships opened fire and the Japanese planes burst into flames. When the
battle was over that night the Task Force had suffered no damage.
On Friday the thirteenth the carrier planes were back over Formosa and the
Japanese waited until dark to attack. The Japanese hit the CANBERRY with a
torpedo in the bottom of her ship. She immediately asked for a tow and was
assisted. The group of the SANTA FE, BIRMINFHAM, MOBILE and six destroyers were
to escort and protect the CANBERRY which was being towed at about three knots.
All night the ships were busy trying to fight off the Japanese raids. The SANTA
FE kept the CANBERRY covered with stack smoke so the planes would not see her
and also managed to destroy one more Japanese plane. On the 14th the HOUSTON was hit by a torpedo and had to be towed. The BOSTON was towing
the HOUSTON and they were ordered to join the SANTA FE and her group.
At this time the Tokyo Radio broadcasts were boasting of how they had defeated
the U.S. Fleet and claimed the sinking of 20 carriers. Then the SANTA FE began
to send out plain language radio messages to give away the “Blue Fleet’s”
location, so the enemy planes would attack. Heavy enemy planes took the bait,
but just as they were about to come close, the enemy watch planes discovered the
Carrier Task Force and the Japanese Navy turned and ran from the very ships that
it boasted they had sunk.
On the sixteenth the SANTA FE took on part of the HOUSTON”S crew, these men had
been picked up from the water by another ship after the HOUSTON was torpedoed.
Throughout the day, our group was number one target for the Japanese air
strikes. No Japanese planes got through until evening when a Francis came
through the barrage and torpedoed the injured HOUSTON.
Just a few minutes later the SANTA FE was the target of a Japanese torpedo
bomber. All of the ship’s guns opened fire, the 5 inch, the 20 and 40 MM were
firing but still the Japanese bomber launched a torpedo at the SANTA FE, a
moment later the plane burst into flame and the pilot did a wing-over trying to
crash dive into the ship. All aboard including the survivors of the HOUSTON
braced themselves for an explosion. Under full rudder the ship turned sharply to
port, bringing the bow further from the fiery gasoline laden plane and swinging
the stern out of the path of the torpedo. The torpedo exploded harmlessly in the
water. During this time I was in the 5-inch gun mount with some other sailors
The Japanese plane was so close to the ship’s bow that the men operating the 20
MM guns were severely burned by the spattering, flaming gasoline. In this group
there were five Marines that got burned badly. These men were placed in the
Captain’s lounge on sheets, lying on the floor. They were burned so bad their
flesh was black. They were treated for these burns. I thought they would never
recover from these burns. Later when I saw them they had healed and I didn’t see
any marks on them. I was surprised that they looked so good.
I will tell you about the gun mount that I was in. We shot the 5-inch guns. The
ammunition was stored in the lower handling room and when it was needed it was
sent to the upper handling room. The guns were setting on the main deck and the
upper handling room was just below the guns. There was a spade-man to pull a
lever to put the spade down, a powder-man to put in the powder and then the
shell-man put in the shell and he pulled a lever and then the gun was ready to
fire. Sometimes the guns were set on automatic and some time they were fired
manually. If we were shooting at airplanes the guns were elevated high and when
the guns were fired sometime the powder can would come back into the gun mount
and the sailor with asbestos gloves on would grab the hot powder can and throw
it out of the chute.
The SANTA FE turned her attention to the HOUSTON, which had been hit two times.
When the smoke cleared away you could see how much damage had been made to her
main deck. She had an added list in front, but the men doing repairs kept her
going and we did not have to reduce the slow towing speed. There were attempts
that afternoon to finish sinking the HOUSTON and the CANBERRA. The CABOT and the
COWPENS kept the planes from getting through.
October 17, 1944 was spent taking portable pumps to the HOUSTON, water to the
CANBERRA and fuel to two Destroyers. Japanese planes were spotted that evening,
but friendly planes kept the Japanese from reaching the Task Group. Late that
afternoon the HOUSTON survivors were transferred from the SANTA FE to a Tanker.
After the survivors were transferred the SANTA FE was ordered to return to her
original Task Group 38.3
These days of protecting the crippled ships had been hard for the SANTA FE. We
had to spend long hours in cramped general Quarters Stations waiting for and
fighting off enemy bombers and we had to watch out for submarine attacks on the
slow, crippled force. We had extra fueling to do and we had to care for 200
extra men. That was all over and now we were headed northwest to join the Task
Force 38.3 and prepare to invade the Philippines.
WALTER HARDING CARTER
U.S.S. SANTA FE 1945
October 23, 1944 was the beginning of the second battle of the Philippines. The
SANTA FE was in a Task Force within the Third Fleet. An enemy surface force was
sighted. We knew they were going to strike and at about mid night the first
planes began closing in and all hands to their battle stations was called. The
planes stayed all night, but they stayed out of firing range most of the time at
about 20 to 25 miles away.
The next morning search patrols were launched and they saw about 40 planes and
as the planes were taking off from our ships, another 30 enemy aircraft were
spotted. With so many airplanes in the air the radar screen could not be
depended upon and visual sighting had to be used. The anti-aircraft guns, the
five-inch, 40 and 20 MM, were being fired continuously. It was hard to tell
friends from the enemy. The men in the lower handling room felt a bit of relief
when it was discovered these planes were dive-bombers and not torpedo bombers.
One of the dive-bombers dove at the HEALY and just missed it. Another
dive-bomber hit the PRINCETON on her hangar deck and she had to drop from the
formation. THE BIRMINGHAM tried to rescue the PRINCETON by pouring streams of
water into her. Suddenly the PRINCETON blew up violently causing both boats to
have hundreds of casualties. While this battle kept going on, the ESSEX and the
LEXINGTON sent out search planes and discovered the Japanese planes were carrier
based planes and they were approaching from the North.
About noon while we were busy with launching and recovering operations, another
group of Japanese planes began to attack. The sky was full of planes. We
launched more planes and two raids were broken up, but one group of enemy planes
got through and into the formation. Three dive-bombers got through and a torpedo
bomber made a run; The SANTA FE port and starboard batteries opened fire. The
ships in the formation turned, zig-zagged, evaded, and luckily no hits were
Our search planes made contact and reported a Japanese Carrier force of about
26 ships about 190 miles northeast. Halsey made a decision to leave San
Bernardino unguarded so that we could attack this new group. His plan called for
early morning air strikes from all of the Task force 38, he wanted the surface
vessels to go ahead of the carriers and finish off anything that was left. The
plan seemed perfect. The Japanese were only 44 miles away; the first strike had
good hits over target. Just as we were going to finish off this group, a third
Japanese fleet was sighted back in San Bernardino Straits. As soon as this was
known, the main striking forced of the Third Fleet made a 180 degree turn to
return to San Bernardino and counter this new Japanese fleet.
The SANTA FE was given tactical command of a cruiser destroyer group, that
group was the MOBILE, WITCHITA, NEW ORLEANS and 12 destroyers. This group was
ordered to go North and catch and sink any damaged ships. Two carriers had
aircraft that stayed and continued to fight the enemy. A surface craft was
picked up by radar and soon a Japanese carrier could be seen. No planes could be
seen on the Japanese carrier but the crew was still on board. As soon as the
Japanese carrier came in range all four cruisers opened fire. With steady fire
from the guns from the four cruisers, the Japanese carrier later identified as
the CHITOSE capsized and went under.
As soon as the Japanese carrier had gone down, the cruisers continued on. A
LANGLEY plane sighted the Main enemy group consisting of many ships about 40 to
50 miles away. Later there was reported surface contact at about 17 miles, some
of the same ships. Now that it was dark, the men on the main deck could see
nothing. but the radar scope showed three pips and the distance between them was
rapidly closing. THE SANTA FE and MOBILE were directed to fire at the closest
targets, and the heavy cruisers were to fire at the distant targets. At about
7:00 O’clock the main battery opened fire and shortly thereafter the secondary
battery also began firing. The night was aglow with red tracers going toward the
target. The Japanese ships returned fire through out this battle. There were
some “short” and some “over” fire seen but did not hit the target. With some
fires breaking out on the Japanese ship, the ship was still able to make speeds
up to 28 knots. At about 9:30 O’clock the 5-inch mounts commenced shooting star
shells and lighting up the sky and the SANTA FE came into almost point-blank
range and continued firing. The range was about 4800 yards now, and the majority
of the shells hit and the Japanese ship sank. This ship was later identified as
the OYODO or AGANO class.
At about 10:00 O’clock it was reported the nearest target was 43 miles north.
Since fuel was needed before much longer, the force was to join the carrier
groups. The next day the SANTA FE was refueled and joined Task Group 38.3. She
went to Leyte Gulf in a covering position, until she was ordered to proceed to
Ulithi. That was the SANTA FE’s part in one phase of the greatest battle of all
time. The Japanese had suffered many losses and would never again be able to
control the Pacific Waters.
The SANTA FE was in port about two days and then we headed for Manus. Later
that evening on November 1, 1944, the fleet course was changed to go to Leyte to
counter a Japanese naval thrust. On November 3, while we were traveling through
heavily mined waters, the Task Group was attacked by a Japanese Submarine, which
shot a torpedo into the RENO forcing her to retire to port. Air strikes against
Luzon were ordered. Japanese air power, although reduced was still able to
attack against the landing forces at Leyte. On November 5, the Task Group’s
planes hit Manila and at the same time the Japanese sent out suicide planes,
which attacked the formation just after the noon meal. One plane crashed on the
LEXINGTON, one near the TICONDEROGA and a third pane was shot down.
On November 11, 1944 the Task Force destroyed an entire convoy of Japanese
reinforcements for Leyte that were in the Camotes Sea.
The next day was refueling day and on the 13th and 14th the Task Force made strikes against the manila area.
The SANTA FE returned to Ulithi. During our stay at Ulithi I was driving
whaleboat number 2 from the SANTA FE to the dock for the sailors to go on
Liberty and then I would pick them up from the dock and bring them back to the
SANTA FE. Sometime when I was driving the whaleboat the waters would get rough
and the ocean spray would come over the boat and hit me in the face this ocean
spray contained salt and it would make my eyes hurt. When whaleboat number 2 was
needed, the Coxswain would blow his whistle and get on the loudspeaker and say
whaleboat number 2 launch your boat. The crew would get in the boat and go to
the gang plank and the officer of the day would give me my orders of what to do
and where to go. On this whaleboat I was in charge, I had a bell to ring to give
the engineer his orders. I took my orders from the Officer that was on duty. On
whaleboat number 2 I had an engineer and a bow hook man. The engineer was
supposed to run the motor and the bow hook man was supposed to catch the
gangplank of the ships and hold the boat beside the gangplank for passengers to
get on and off. When we went back to the SANTA FE he was supposed to catch the
boat boom and tie the boat up until we got the orders to go again. One time I
was sent with my orders to carry movies to other ships and trade them for
different movies, I also had a sailor on board that needed to be put on a larger
boat. I took the movies to the other ships and carried out all my other orders
and it was so rough when I tried to put the sailor on the larger boat I had a
hard time doing it. I went along the side of the large boat for him to get off,
the waves were so rough that it was hard for him to get off and in order for him
to get off, the large boat had to get underway and then I would try to get along
beside the large boat for him to jump on the large boat but that didn’t work
because the large boat rolled my way and caught the side of my boat and tore my
boat. At that time the passenger sailor jumped off and the bow hook man jumped
off with him on the larger boat. I could not get back close enough to the large
boat to get the bow hook man back. The waves kept rolling and whaleboat number 2
and the other large boat kept hitting together. So I went back to the SANTA FE
and it was so rough that every time I would rise up to the boat boom on the
SANTA FE, the whaleboat would fall with the swells of the ocean and after trying
for a long time, I finally got whaleboat number 2 tied up to the boat boom. Then
the crane from the SANTA FE lifted the whaleboat out of the water and put
whaleboat number 2 in the hole of the SANTA FE. I did not see the bow hook man
for a few days. I worked on the whaleboat with other sailors until the damage
was repaired on whaleboat number 2.
On November 20, Japanese midget submarines came into the harbor to torpedo and
sink the fleet tanker MISSISSINEWA. A SANTA FE aviator and his radioman became
heroes by taking a sea plane and rescuing the survivors.
On November 22, 1944 after the SANTA FE had been refueled and received supplies,
we headed toward the Philippines with Task Force 38.3. On November 25, while
firing at northern Luzon, heavy Japanese air fire was met and the ESSEX was hit
with a Japanese dive-bomber on her flight deck. Within minutes the fire is
controlled and the ESSEX is able to stay in formation in the Task group. The
SANTA FE shot down another dive-bomber as it began its dive. These strikes were
continued until December 2, and then the Task Group went towards Ulithi,
On December 10, 1944, the SANTA FE with the Task Force headed for Luzon, to
keep the Japanese air force from attacking the troops of South West Pacific
while they were going ashore and getting established there.
During December 14th 15th and 16th the Third Fleet ‘s planes were hitting the airfields of Luzon both day and
night. Only a few Japanese planes came near the SANTA FE’s formation and none of
the planes attacked the ships.
On December 17, a heavy typhoon was forming to the east and was headed directly
for the Task Force. The typhoon caught the Task Force Group directly in its
path. After winds read 80 – 90 knots, the ship takes a 52-degree roll to
starboard. The SANTA FE rides out the storm without major damage. There was
minor breakage. Eight ships in the Group were damaged and some were sunk. Some
had to return to Ulithi and repair the storm damage. The Task Group took a final
look for survivors before they returned to Ulithi on Christmas Eve.
On December 24, the SANTA FE returned to Ulithi to learn that we were not going
back to the states for our yearly overhaul. The day after Christmas we saw our
sister ship MOBILE pull out and head for the States to take her yearly overhaul.
But the SANTA FE stayed and broke the record of being longer without an overhaul
than any other ship. On December 25, we took on more supplies of ammunition and
I was on the SANTA FE and in the Third Division. The Third Division loaded
5-inch ammunition and manned gun mounts 51,52, and 53. We were at the loading
machines and in the gunrooms. Everyone had to help with refueling and taking on
supplies. We also had to practice loading the guns and handling the powder and
the shells. One day while we were firing the guns, the spade man had not put the
spade down and the man with the powder put the powder in before the spade, when
the man with the shell saw that the spade was not down and the powder was going
out of the chute, he jumped out of the gun mount to the deck below, with the
shell in his hands, because he thought the powder can would blow up. The powder
did not explode; it just got bent and went out of the chute to the deck where
all of the empty cans go after they are fired. When I was in Port, I drove
whaleboat number 2 to take movies from one ship to another, take sailors on
liberty, take officers from place to place and I went wherever I was ordered to
The SANTA FE could carry no more than three “King fisher” seaplanes. The SANTA
FE could carry two seaplanes on deck and one in the hole. Sometimes we had two
planes or less. The water was so rough sometimes the seaplane would come in for
a landing and turn over and wreck. The anti-aircraft fire and Japanese Zero
fighters would keep the “Gooney Birds” from getting back to the ship.
On December 30, 1944 the SANTA FE and the rest of the Task Force 38 left Ulithi
with orders to go to the Lingayen area for air strikes against the Japanese
On January 3rd and 4th 1945 we launched air strikes against Formosa and on the 6th and 7th we launched air strikes against Luzon. On the 9th, which was McArthur’s Luzon Dog-Day, the Task Force 38 had planes attacking
Formosa’s airfields trying to keep the Japanese planes from hitting the men
landing at Luzon. That same night Halsey ordered the Task Force to go through
Bashi Channel into the South China Sea. On January 12 Camranh Bay and Saigon,
Indo-China were hit.
On January 17, 1945 when we were gong for a refueling, the SANTA FE passed her
200,000-mile mark. The siren and whistle were heard, celebrating this event. We
were all thinking, we will be going back to the States soon. One sailor started
the rumor that we were going back to the states and when the rumor (scuttlebutt)
got back to him, he believed it himself. When we were trying to refuel the SANTA
FE and the tanker came beside us to give us fuel, the sea was so rough that it
was hard to get the hose to pump the fuel oil to the SANTA FE We pulled the hose
aboard our ship and hooked the hose up and were pumping the oil and the waves
were rolling and the ships were rocking back and forth and the hose broke apart.
The tanker was still pumping the oil, and before we could get the tanker to stop
pumping oil to the ship, the oil went everywhere, onto the decks and covering us
with black oil, this oil was hard to get off. We had to clean up this mess.
We had air strikes against Takao on Formosa, Amoy and Swatow on the China Coast
The Task Force also hit Hong Kong and Hainan Islands.
Tokyo Rose had announced on the radio that an American Fleet could never enter
the China Sea. We got in and then she said the Fleet could never get out. Task
Force 38 got in the China Sea and got out. Tokyo Rose was educated in the United
States and she could speak English well. We could hear her on the radio on the
U.S.S. SANTA FE. Tokyo Rose wanted to upset all the Navy men so they would worry
about everything and they would not be able to do their jobs well. Tokyo Rose
said your girlfriend is at home in the United States and she is running around
with other men and you are over here fighting for your country. She said the
U.S.S. SANTA FE was sunk. Tokyo Rose also said that other ships were sunk. We
found out later that the other ships were still fighting.
On January 21st and 22nd we went back and hit Formosa and Okinawa with heavy air strikes again. We knew
we had done a good job over there and the Third Fleet went back to Ulithi.
We knew that we had to hit the Japanese Empire like they had hit the United
States when the Japanese planes hit Pearl Harbor.
On February 9, 1945, the Task Force 58 left Ulithi and headed straight for
Tokyo for a carrier bombing of the Japanese capital. We made successful air
strikes on Tokyo on February 15th and 16th.
The SANTA FE left the Tokyo area on the 18th to go as a fire support unit for the invasion of Bonins. This was the SANTA
FE’s 12th and last bombardment of the Japanese Islands. This was the third time that the
SANTA FE had covered the beachheads for the Marines to land.
You could see hundreds of ships in the early morning of February 12, 1945 when
the SANTA FE began shelling the southern beaches of Iwo Jima. The shelling
increased as many landing craft headed toward the Island. We were on the SANTA
FE and we were firing both 5-inch and 6-inch guns and then stood by right off
shore for call fire.
I was in the 5-inch mount and it was difficult to fire these guns because we
could not see the Japanese gun positions from out ship. The rear seat Marine
spotter that was in one of the search planes was fatally injured by flak. He was
pointing out new targets when he was hit.
For two nights the SANTA FE kept firing these guns and we were also firing star
shells over the island. Heavy fire was ordered in the morning as the Marines
advanced and secured their position. At about noon on the 21st after two and one half days of living at battle stations, the SANTA FE was
relieved by the NORTH CAROLINA. We had shot over 4000 of our shells into the
pillboxes and blockhouses of Iwo Jima. We were tired and glad to leave the
battle stations and we knew that we had done the best we could.
On February 16, 1945 the Fifth Fleet launched a heavy strike against Tokyo. I
was on the SANTA FE and we were surprised we did not have more resistance that
The SANTA FE left the carrier force on February 18, but after a brief stop at
Iwo Jima we rejoined the carrier force for the second raid on Tokyo on February
25. It was apparent that the Japanese air force and fleet could not defend their
homeland. These last two raids had damaged and destroyed over 650 Japanese
planes and sank and damaged over 50 ships.
The last of February, with the success of these two raids, the U.S.S. SANTA FE
left the Japanese waters and headed for Ulithi
While we were at Ulithi, all of the ships were refueled and were fully loaded
On March 19, 1945 when Task Force 58 was launching an air strike against
Shikoku and Kyushu, a Japanese bomber came out of the low clouds over the bow of
the FRANKLIN and went the length of her flight deck. This Japanese bomber
dropped two 500-pound bombs on the FRANKLIN. The first bomb hit near the bridge,
the second 500-pound bomb hit the flight deck and the parked airplanes. There
was a tremendous explosion. The FRANKLIN (Big Ben) was a 27,000-ton carrier.
Fire consumed the airplanes and shot up and swept the fantail and some of the
men jumped and some were knocked overboard.
There were almost 1000 men dead or missing and about 200 seriously wounded.
This was one of the largest single disasters in the history of the United States
naval warfare. No other United States ship has ever survived that much damage.
The fire was so hot that big girder twisted like taffy and the steel melted into
liquid. The ship had just taken on all the ammunition it could carry and some of
this ammunition burst into flame. Captain Gehres of the FRANKLIN was steaming
crosswind to control the smoke. Rescuers were risking destruction to help the
crippled carrier. Among them were the destroyers HUNT, MARSHALL, TINGLEY, HICKOX
and MILLER and the light cruiser SANTA FE
Captain H.C. Fritz of the SANTA FE came up on the starboard side of the
FRANKLIN and asked, “are your magazines flooded?” He was remembering the SANTA
FE’s sister ship the BIRMINGHAM last fall when she tried to help the PRINCETON
and the PRINCETON exploded and there were a lot of casualties on both ships. Now
there were at least 4,000 men’s lives at risk.
The next explosion was a five-inch service magazine. Some of the wounded men
were being transferred when the magazine exploded. Flame and smoke shot about
7,000 feet in the air. There were pieces of armor plate being tossed around. The
first wounded man was taken on the SANTA FE at about 10:00 O’clock that morning,
crossing the water on a stretcher on the lines. The SANTA FE could not keep her
position alongside the FRANKLIN because of the FRANKLIN’s drift. The SANTA FE
then cast off, circled and then made a magnificent approach and came back in at
25 knots at a wide angle. The SANTA FE slammed against the FRANKLIN and held her
with the SANTA FE’s engines. At this time the FRANKLIN was listing 14 degrees
and still blowing up. The FRANKLIN was a much larger ship than the SANTA FE and
when we slammed against her, part of her flight deck was over the SANTA FE.
The SANTA FE got five large hoses going and many of the crewmen began fighting
the fires. Leaking gasoline helped spread the fires. These were brave men that
kept the hoses going with shrapnel flying in the air.
Men began jumping from the FRANKLIN to the SANTA FE some were jumping in the
sea and some were dropping down lines to the deck. The men were getting on he
SANTA FE any way they could. Finally a catwalk was placed from the flight deck
of the FRANKLIN to the top of one of the SANTA FE’s gun mounts. Some of the men
that fell into the sea were never seen again. Rescue ships recovered over 1700
men from the FRANKLIN. The SANTA FE had almost half of these men.
The U.S.S. PITTSBURG also helped rescue the FRANKLIN.
Some of the sailors on the SANTA FE gave up their bunks and clothing to these
survivors. One sailor from the FRANKLIN told me he was looking for his brother
who he said was on the FRANKLIN with him. I don’t know if he found his brother
or not. I do not remember seeing that sailor again.
On March 24, 1945 the SANTA FE came to Ulithi.
On March 26, the SANTA FE left Ulithi with the damaged FRANKLIN.
On April 10, 1945 the SANTA FE came in to Terminal Island, U.S.A. When we came
in Dinah Shore was Singing. I remember her singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”
and she sang song after song. Dinah Shore came aboard the SANTA FE. She kissed
one of the sailor’s white hats. Dinah Shore gave autographs to some of the men.
There were men of faith on the SANTA FE. There were men of many denominations
and faiths on board. We had a chaplain who held services aboard the ship on
On May 29, 1945 when we were in the states my eyes were still hurting and they
were blood red, so I went to sick bay and they gave me my medical records from
the ship and I was sent to the U.S. Naval Hospital, Long Beach, California. At
the Hospital they examined my eyes and said it may have been a blood vessel that
ruptured in my eyes and they gave me drops for my eyes. My foot was also hurting
so they examined my foot too; they said I had tenderness on touching skin over
distal scar of left great toe. Probably there is a small neuroma, which could be
the cause of the pain. The Doctors at the U.S. Naval Hospital said I could be
sent in for study and possible surgical procedures or the scar and possible
neuroma could possibly be removed on the SANTA FE X-rays taken at the U.S. Naval
Hospital revealed a small fragment of osseous tissue which may be blocking the
By July 16, 1945 the SANTA FE was completely overhauled from keel to topmast.
The SANTA FE went to San Diego and the SANTA FE would soon be going to join the
On July 26, 1945 the SANTA FE headed to Pearl Harbor and we were ready to spend
another two years at sea.
The SANTA FE was at Wake and then the SANTA FE spent three weeks at Okinawa’s
typhoon – plagued Buckner Bay
On September 25, 1945 the SANTA FE came to Sasebo and stayed there for a few
days. While we were at Sasebo a surrender delegation was ordered aboard the
SANTA FE. I was standing on the deck of the SANTA FE when the surrender
delegation came aboard. The sailors could go ashore on Sasebo. We saw the
Japanese people, geisha houses, department stores and trolley cars.
On October 8, 1945 the SANTA FE left Sasebo. A Typhoon came up and forced us to
stop at Nagasaki and this gave all of us time to look at all of the destruction
that the atomic bomb had made in Nagasaki. I drove whaleboat number 2 to
Nagasaki; we were taking the officers to see how much damage was done to
Nagasaki. There was nothing left of Nagasaki but ashes. I saw an old gas mask on
the shore. In the water I saw little wooden boats that had been filled with
explosives so the Japanese could commit suicide by hitting our ships with these
little boats and blowing up our ships.
The first port that we visited on Honshu was Wakayama.
The SANTA FE went to Yokosuka, located at Tokyo Bay’s entrance. While we were
there we could visit both Tokyo and Yokohama. While we were on liberty we
visited the Emperor’s Palace and the Imperial Hotel. We had some places we could
visit and some placed were off limits. When we were in port I would be driving
whaleboat number 2 and I was taking the sailors to shore when they had liberty.
One day I saw the old battleship NAGATO with her guns made useless and her
powder magazines empty, she was one of the reminders of the once proud powerful
On October 17, 1945 Captain Fitz was transferred from our ship and Captain
Freeman became the Captain of the SANTA FE. Within hours of becoming captain of
the SANTA FE Captain Freeman was ordered to go to Ominato KO.
We went to Otaru Hokodate, and Aomori and came back to Ominato on November 4,
After the war was over there were some rifles that had been captured from the
Japanese army. These rifles were placed on the deck of the ship and we were told
we could get one of these rifles for a souvenir if we wanted one. Each sailor
that wanted a rifle had to get a permit to carry the rifle. I got a permit and
got one of the rifles. I had a hard time bringing the rifle home. I could not
mail the rifle home. The only way to get the rifle home was to carry it. I kept
the rifle in my possession until I got home. I still have that rifle today.
On November 14, the flag was transferred to the QUINCY and the U.S.S. SANTA FE
became part of the Magic Carpet operation.
On December 17, 1945, I was examined for discharge from the Navy and after my
examination, when the defects were noted; I was found to have Pterygium in both
eyes and Varicocele in my left foot. For the rest of my life I will have to live
with both my eyes hurting and my foot hurting too.
During this time that I was in the Navy on the U.S.S. SANTA FE we had liberty
some time. I remember going on liberty and spending a few hours on Mog-Mog’s
Coral Beach, I remember diving down in the water, swimming around, looking for
sea shells, relaxing, sitting on the beach, drinking beer, eating peanuts, and
talking about what we would do when we were on liberty in the States.
I was on the SANTA FE when we left Long Beach. California in 1943 and I stayed
on the SANTA FE until I was discharged from the Service in December 1945.
Walter Harding Carter
Edmond Borinski and Walter