Truk April 29 - 30 1944

April 29, 1944:

After departing New Guinea on April 23rd task Group 58.2 was ordered to once again bomb the airfields and military installations on Truk.  The task group was spotted by several Japanese patrol planes so this time there would be no element of surprise when they arrived and started their attack.

Cabot launched the usual predawn CAP of 8 Hellcats at 0645 hours but they did not see any enemy aircraft even though the task group was less than 70 miles from Truk.

At 0800 hours General Quarters sounded and Cabot ordered the launch an emergency CAP to intercept incoming enemy aircraft that had gotten past the destroyer screen and the CAP.  Knowing that the task group had been seen and its approach known 4 F6Fs were kept on Cabot's flight deck ready to launch at a moments notice with one of them stationed in the catapult ready to launch.  Four more F6Fs were sitting on deck just behind these. Lt. (jg) Hawkins was piloting the Hellcat that was in the catapult when the order to launch came through.  Roaring off of the deck and even before his landing gear was retracted Lt. (jg) Hawkins fell in behind a Kate that was making a run on one of the larger fleet carriers and shot it down. He was airborne less than 15 seconds when this happened.  Next off of the flight deck was Ens. Hayde.  Only one other aircraft was launched before the other pilots were ordered out of their planes and to clear the flight deck. Flying through the heavy flack from the AA guns of the task group Ens. Hayde managed to down one of the other Japanese torpedo planes.  The remainder were downed by AA fire from the ships of the task group.

For the remainder of the day all of the planes of VF-31 and VT-31 as wells as the other planes in the Task Group carried out bombing and strafing missions on the airfields gun emplacements, and other buildings on Truk.  One plane, flown by Lt.. Galt, was hit by AA fire but he managed to limp back to the task group and ditch.  He was picked up unharmed by the Destroyer Sullivans (DD 537). The Destroyer Sullivans was named for 5 brothers who served on the USS Juneau (CL 52) and all died when she was sunk in 1942.

April 30, 1944

The entire morning was taken up by bombing and strafing attacks on the airfield and surrounding buildings on Eten Island.  Also targeted were the seaplane base on Dublon Island along with the fuel storage tanks. A Japanese tanker was bombed during one of the raids. he skies became overcast in the evening and all scheduled missions were canceled.

On May 1 the task group set off to return to Majuro Atoll for replenishment. They would spend over a month at the fleet anchorage of Majuro Atoll before embarking for their next action.

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