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FACT: One of the U.S. Navy's Most Heroic Stands Was at Leyte Gulf

St. Lo was not as fortunate. One kamikaze, a Zero fighter, crashed through the flight deck and exploded below. Torpedoes and bombs that had been brought up to the flight deck began exploding, setting the entire length of the carrier on fire. At 11:25, St. Lo went down under a dense cloud of smoke. St. Lo has been originally commissioned as USS Midway, but had her name changed when Midway was given to one of the new fleet carriers. Old timers blamed St. Lo’s misfortune, after surviving the big guns of Admiral Kurita’s Center Force, on the carrier’s renaming. Everyone knew that changing the name of a ship was sure to bring bad luck.

Morison wrote fittingly of Taffy 3’s fight: “In no engagement of its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, guts and gumption than in those two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar.”

David A. Johnson has written numerous articles on a variety of World War II topics. His recent book Yanks in the RAF is now available through Prometheus Books.

This article originally appeared on Warfare History Network.

Image: U.S. Navy

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