Monday, February 17, 2020

Two Medals Of Honor,
One Posthumous

SAT 17 FEB 1945
Fire support ships, minesweeping units, and underwater demolition teams (UDT) arrive off Iwo Jima and encounter fire from shore batteries. UDT reconnaissance discloses that no underwater obstacles exist, and that the surf and beach conditions are suitable for landings. Infantry landing craft (gunboat) LCI(G)-474 is sunk by shore battery, while supporting UDT operations. Japanese guns also account for damage to battleship Tennessee (BB-43), 24°44'N, 141°19'E; heavy cruiser Pensacola (CA-24) and destroyer Leutze (DD-481), 24°46'N, 141°19'E; as well as to infantry landing craft (gunboats) LCI(G)-346, LCI(G)-348, LCI(G)-438, LCI(G)-441, LCI(G)-449, LCI(G)-450, LCI(G)-457, LCI(G)-466, LCI(G)-469, LCI(G)-471, and LCI(G)-473. On board the damaged LCI(G)-449, her commanding officer, Lieutenant Rufus G. Herring, although badly wounded, cons his crippled ship himself, maintaining her position in support of the unfolding UDT operations until she is able to move to safety. For his heroism, Herring is awarded the Medal of Honor.

Light cruisers Phoenix (CL-46) and Boise (CL-47), along with three destroyers, provide call-fire support for continuing operations on Corregidor. Light cruiser Cleveland (CL-55) and destroyers O'Bannon (DD-450) and Taylor (DD-468) bombard the Ternate area, south shore of Manila Bay. Fleet tug Hidatsa (ATF-102) is damaged by mine in Mariveles harbor, Luzon, 14°25'N, 120°30'E.

Destroyer Haynesworth (DD-700) sinks Japanese guardboat No.36 Nanshin Maru southwest of Mikimoto light and auxiliary submarine chaser Wafu Maru off Omaezaki Light.

Submarine Bowfin (SS-287) sinks Japanese Coast Defense Vessel No.56 five miles east of Mikura Jima, central Honshu, 33°53'N, 139°43'E. Bowfin and aircraft sink guardboat No.26 Nanshin Maru southwest of Mikimoto light, 30°05'N, 135°15'E.

British submarine HMS Statesman attacks Japanese convoy off Ujong Tamiang, 04°26'N, 98°16E, sinking motor sailships No.3 Matsujima Maru and 19 Nippon Maru and 17 Nanyo Maru and No. 14 Nippon Maru.

Minesweeper Champion (AM-314) is damaged by horizontal bomber, 26°00'N, 128°00'E.

Coast Guard cutter Atalanta (WPC-102), en route to assist lighthouse tender Bramble (WAGL-389) (damaged by grounding the previous day) collides with and damages mail boat Neptune near Steamer Point Light, Aleutians. District patrol craft YP-251 escorts the damaged Neptune to Naval Section Base, Ketchikan, while Atalanta, undamaged, continues on her mission.

District patrol craft YP-94, returning from landing supplies on Chirikof Island runs aground at the southern end of Tugidak and Sitkinak Islands; rescue tug ATR-68 is dispatched from Kodiak, Alaska, to render assistance, while air-sea rescue coordination succeeds in rescuing all hands (see 23 February).

USAAF B-24s (5th Air Force), on an antishipping sweep over the South China Sea, sink Japanese landing ship T.114 off southern coast of Formosa, 23°04'N, 120°30'E.

Japanese army cargo vessel Yamashio Maru is sunk by aircraft, Yokohama harbor.

Japanese merchant tanker No.28 Nanshin Maru is sunk by aircraft, 30°00'N, 138°30'E.

Japanese merchant cargo ship Daibi Maru is sunk, by aircraft, off Chichi Jima.

Japanese submarine chaser Ch 47 is damaged by aircraft, 32°45'N, 111°56'E.

During diving operations in West Loch, Pearl Harbor, on the wreckage of tank landing ships sunk in the ammunition explosions in that area in 1944, Boatswain's Mate Second Class Owen F. P. Hammerberg risks his own life to save two fellow divers trapped while tunnelling under a wrecked LST. Although Hammerberg's efforts are successful, he suffers mortal injuries in a cave-in, to which he succumbs 18 hours later. For his heroism, Hammerberg is awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.

Motor torpedo boat PT-605 is sunk by striking submerged object off Ostend, Belgium.

U.S. freighter Michael J. Stone, in convoy UGS 72, is torpedoed by German submarine U-300 27 miles from Gibraltar, 35°55'N, 05°53'W. There are no casualties on board and the damaged freighter reaches her destination under her own power.

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