Many have have probably read James Michener's book, "The Bridges At Toko-Ri"......some may even have seen the movie which was based on the book; the book was based on an actual bombing raid by Skyraiders and Corsairs which was carried out by Air Group 5, attached to the U.S.S. Essex, the flag ship for Task Force 77, which was at the time, was 100 miles off the coast of North Korea.
This raid was carried out on 12 December, 1951; this was kind of an "eye opener" to me when I read about it, because I enlisted in the U.S.N..... on 17 December, 1951..........5 days later. One of the other things that caught my attention when I read about this was......that the Essex was under way, 100 miles off the coast; why does that surprise me ? Here's why;
I enlisted with my best friend and Class of 1950 classmate, Bill "Wee Willy" Perkins; I never have figured this out, but I was sent to Great Lakes Naval Training Center north of Chicago for boot camp, and my friend was sent to San Diego, Ca. for boot camp. after boot camp, then 19 weeks of shipfitter's school in Norfolk, I ended up on the U.S.S. Fulton, AS-11, which spent about 85% of the time tied up to State Pier at New London, CT. My friend ended up on the aircraft carrier Philipine Sea, which was ordered to Korea shortly after we went aboard her; we frequently stayed in touch by letter; (hey, email is great, but it wasn't even invented yet in 1952! ) Willy would tell me all the time, "wow, we're so damned close to the coast that we can almost see the people shooting at us" ! ( One of my reasons for enlisting was to "see some action"; so I kept putting in "chit" after"chit", trying to get any married guy on the Philipine Sea to "swap" duty with me; I'm sure there were plenty who would have loved to, but the Navy likes for people to "stay where they put them"........so I stayed "put" for a year or so on the Fulton; one day I got a letter from my friend Willy; "Holy s**t.......we just took several hits from shore-based 5 inch artillery today........so the C.O. took the ship out 5 more miles!
So, here we see one C.O. getting HIS carrier "in close" for the pilots (who's lives often depend on how much fuel they have left after risking their butts carrying out their missions..........while other C.O.s stay safely 100 miles off the coast, and their pilots can use up 200 miles worth of fuel, just getting to the coast and back.
That's why I was so surprised that Essex is launching bombing raids, ( with short-legged corsairs and skyraiders), from 100 miles off coast ! ( Of course, it's the Admiral's flag ship, and we mustn't "endanger the Admiral" !
This is something very common in the military, especially with certain high-ranking "brass". ( lots of "brass" but very small b***s..........(IMHO)
OK......back to Korea; some "people" had just watched the movie on late-night TV about the raid on the "Bridges At Toko-RI"; one of them happened to know a retired Naval Officer, Capt. Paul N. Gray, U.S.N.A. class of '41; in Dec. 1951, Capt. Gray wasn't a "four striper" yet, but he was the C.O. of VF-54, one of several squadrons from Air Group 5 which carried out the ACTUAL raid on the bridges at Toko-Ri;
As otten happens, James Michener made the raid very exciting, but in Capt. Gray's telling of the events of that particular cruise, it wasn't necessarilly the most interesting; if you go to the link, you can read the whole story from the man who commanded one of the units that destroyed "The Bridges at Toko-Ri"
Well.......I have copied and pasted the link from my browser four times now, and it still won't work; if it won't work now, how did it get to me in the first place ?
If I copied and pasted the whole thing, it would probably be deleted for possibly being copy righted. I have no way of knowing if it is or isn't copy righted.
Any suggestions ?
[Edited 2013-04-11 19:44:26]