We have been going through old pictures of Mom and Dad the last couple of days anticipating Mom’s memorial service reasonably soon, and I discovered a letter written by a shipmate and good friend of my Dad’s to my Mom after my Dad died of liver cancer back in 1991. It was a little history of their time together in the war.
This is a picture of the aircraft carrier the Wasp before it sank in the Battle of Guadalcanal. This battle lasted over 6 months being fought on land by Marines and supported by numerous ships. My Dad was on this ship when it sank.
The Yorktown sank in the Battle of Midway and my Dad was on it.
The Hornet was in many battles and was the aircraft carrier that launched the “Doolittle Raid” when Tokyo was bombed for the first time in the war. It was sunk in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. My Dad was on it when it sank.
One of the stories he told; “we were sitting in a gun turret which are mounted on the side of the ship under the flight deck. We were letting our gun cool off from much rapid firing, if the gun is loaded while hot the powder will ignite before the projectile is loaded. We had loaded it successfully before we decided to let it cool. While waiting a Japanese plane came in low around the ship headed right towards us, Duke stomped on the foot firing mechanism and blew that plane into minute pieces 200 feet from us. It was funny when it was over, but I can tell you for sure that both Duke and I thought we had bought it that day. We served together on the Hornet, the Wasp, the Yorktown, the Enterprise, the Saratoga, the North Carolina, the O’Brian and others. We spent many hours together sometimes 2 and 3 days straight through in battle at our stations. Please allow me to say and you can tell your 4 sons and your daughter that they can take great pride in being the children of Delbert Duke. Needless to say, I got very emotional reading it, and had a very difficult time reading it out loud to my daughters.