Shipmate David Stanford and his wife Angela provided the following document which gives several accounts of the morning of May 11, 1945.

As a result of our action on 11 May, we have more or less been in the limelight as far as the press is concerned. Moreover, we have received praise from several high sources for our accomplish-ments. This paper is an attempt to gather to-gether all those notices and congratulatory messages and present them to you, the men of the EVANS, the guys who did all the fighting. On top of that, there are a few other offerings which should prove of interest ... attempting to sum up just exactly what took place that memorable morning. It is hoped, at least, that this will be a partial record for you and written evidence that all the stories you concoct back in the States have a smattering of truth anyway.

It was not long after our first plane had been bagged that the big thinkers in this area had a rough idea of what was in store for us. With that in mind, they sent a series of dispatches ordering out several of the tugs and ships that later appeared on the scene when we really needed them, and also telling of the attack as it progressed. These were short and far from being inclusive, but piecing them together one could see the story slowly fill out. We hit the press the next day in Admiral Nimitz’ communiqué of Saturday, the 12th, although in a very inauspicious manner. Starting on the collection then, this is the first one:

"Saturday—Admiral Nimitz announced today that during the night of May 10th and yesterday morning, several groups of Japanese aircraft again attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet off Okinawa, damaging three light naval units. At least forty enemy planes were shot down."

The News was too hot to be passed over like that, though, and it wasn’t long before Vern Haughland of the Associated Press grabbed it up, interviewed several of you guys over at Okinawa, and wrote an account of what happened. Here it is, just as they got it back in the states:

"Okinawa (delayed)—Two U.S. destroyers fought off repeated Japanese air attacks for eight hours on May 11 and together and individually set records for the number of enemy planes destroyed. One destroyer is officially credited with bringing down 19 Japanese planes and some of its officers said they believed the gunners actually got 22. Another destroyer claimed at least 15 kills. Both scores constituted new records for ship’s anti-aircraft fire, observers said, and give only a partial picture of the heroic struggle which units of the Fleet are putting up to keep Okinawa free of Japanese air attacks. They succeeded perfectly today. The Japanese sent around a hundred planes of all types, powerful new bombers, torpedo planes, dive bombers, and outmoded planes whose only apparent purpose was suicide. More than half of those planes never returned to base. Only a few bombs and suicide planes hit targets, inflicting some damage and casualties, but failing to sink a single ship. The Japanese raided persistently from 1:00 AM to 9:30 PM with the biggest and strongest attacks coming after daylight. Shore guns shot down a few that got over the island, but air patrols accounted for the greater number. Attacks were the hottest where the two destroyers brought down their amazing totals. Said Matthias Casey, seaman first class, of Dorchester, Mass.: ‘Our skipper, Commander R. J. Archer, of Oakland Calif., told us afterward that our destroyer accounted for 15 Jap planes and said that he thought that was a new record. That was before we heard that another ship had brought down 19,' Casey said. Homer Pederson, seaman first class, of Ames Iowa, said one 40 millimeter gunner, Robert Stonelake ‘Got one plane by himself. Other gunners were firing at other targets and Stonelake had a suicide plane all to himself and shot it down into the water well short of us.’ Others aboard that ship included Alex Kovach of Detroit; Eugene Perkins of Philadelphia, Martin Fleischer of New York; and Albert Wright of Birmingham, Alabama. ‘Things got pretty rugged and we were firing everywhere,’ said Perkins. ‘For awhile, there must have been 25 to 30 Jap planes around with lots of ours, too. The first plane we got was a ‘Jake’, a two-float job. He hit the water quite a ways off and exploded. The next one came in and at 2,000 yards, a five inch gun hit him and blew him up in the air. Another came in and exploded only 200 feet away, showering gasoline over the water. One plane dropped a torpedo out of its bomb bay and then the water, but the pilot got out. Several of the planes were ‘Betty’ medium bombers and some of them strafed us too’."

The EVANS publicity department (consisting of the Doctor and Mr. Lorentson) wasn’t far behind the reporters drumming up the following for further release:

"While on station between Tokyo and our invasion forces at Okinawa, the USS EVANS (DD-552) in company with the USS HUGH W. HADLEY (DD-774) on 11 May, 1945, proved that effective anti-aircraft fire and skillful ship handling can successfully and profitably counter Japanese suicide tactics. The EVANS suffered damage, but accounted for 23 enemy planes in one hour and a half of furious action. She evaded bombs and a torpedo which was launched from less than 500 yards on her port beam. Dive bombers, torpedo planes, and fighter bombers crashed around her from 10,000 yards to within a few yards. Her gunners, becoming cocky and perhaps a little too anxious to build up the score, shot down a torpedo plane after it dropped its torpedo and a fighter bomber after it dropped its bombs. The story of the EVANS is the story of experienced, well trained gunners, of lookouts who confidently called out new targets before previous ones were splashed, of engineers who put more speed into the ship than she was supposed to have had, of a skipper whose ship handling was more skillful than any man aboard could have prayed for, and finally, it is the story of men working tirelessly to keep their ship afloat and assist their wounded shipmates. The EVANS acknowledges gratefully the role played by the HADLEY in absorbing her share of the attack and the work of LCS-82 and LCS-84 which assisted in salvage and rescue operations. The combat air patrol which shot down several enemy planes and undoubtedly did much to disorganize the enemy’s attack, completed the team which accounted for more than 50 enemy planes that had made the two destroyers their target for the day. Team work and undaunted courage are the principal factors to which the success of the EVANS is attributed. The Captain of the "Fightin’ Bob" EVANS, Commander Robert J. Archer, USN, originally from Spokane Washington and now living at 225 Highland Ave, Piedmont, California, most skillfully maneuvered his ship so the maxim fire power could be brought to bear on the attacking planes at all times. His uncanny judgment made the EVANS a difficult target to hit. After one hour and 13 minutes of splashing all attacking planes, a "Kamikaze" artist maneuvered through the barrage and winged over on the port bow. A hole at the waterline resulting from this hit flooded one forward living compartment. In quick succession, hits two, three, and four occurred; the second and third resulted in critical damage to the EVANS. An "Oscar" struck at the waterline on the port side. The flaming plane hurdled onto the fantail. Its bomb exploded under the after engineering spaces, flooding them immediately. The Executive Officer, Lieutenant John W. Gilpin, USN of Windsor, Vermont, rushed aft to determine the damage sustained. As he was returning, another "Oscar" got through, crashing into the forward fireroom. Lieutenant Gilpin, critically injured, was blasted over the side. Pat J. Macciocca, seaman first class, of 900 Fawn St., Baltimore, Maryland, by jumping to his rescue without hesitation, saved the life of the wounded officer. Macciocca held up Lieutenant Gilpin until he could be taken aboard an approaching LCS. A fourth "suicider" struck the starboard boat davit just six minutes after the initial damage was sustained. With all power lost, the EVANS lay dead in the water. Smoke and steam billowed from the engineering spaces while flames licked about the forward of which had been knocked from its tube and driven into the galley overhead. It was necessary to resort to small portable extinguishers and bucket brigades to bring the fires under control. In spite of the efforts of the EVANS’ crew, the ship probably could not have been saved from sinking had not salvage and rescue ships arrived promptly. Meanwhile, first aid parties rendered valiant service rescuing wounded comrades who had fallen at their battle stations. After wounded had received initial medical treatment, they were transferred immediately to a destroyer transport who rushed them to a hospital ship where the best of medical care was available. Several times during the eighty-four minutes of continuous attack, the main and secondary batters took under fire successfully two and three planes attacking at the same time. Lieutenant Matthew C. O’Hearn, Jr., USNR of 8 Quincey Street, Chevy Chase, Maryland, Gunnery Officer who directed the firing must be commended for the amazing record of his gunners. Officers and crew of the EVANS are proud of her accomplishments and are proud that she will return to the battle line for the coming offensive against Japan. The satisfaction from a difficult task well done is marred because sixty shipmates were casualties. Thirty-one men killed or missing cannot be forgotten by their comrades and loved ones at home."

A Public Relations Officer in this area added his bit after interviewing Captain Archer and Captain Mullaney of the HADLEY. The following is an excellent account, and outside of our hush-hush action report is probably the best one there is.


"One of the most amazing stories to come out of the Pacific War is the spectacular performance of the USS HADLEY (DD-774) AND THE USS EVANS (DD-552). These destroyers were assigned to picket duty and fire support duty respectively in the Okinawa area and were cruising on station some 1500 yards apart on the morning of May 11th, 1945. Both destroyers were veterans of previous campaigns and possessed well-trained, battle wise crews, but they had no experience with the Jap suicide (Kamikaze) planes in direct attacks on their own ships. This was to be their day. At 0750, a sea-plane was sighted about 10 miles on the port quarter. At first it was believed to be a friendly, but at 0754 it had been identified as a twin-float "Jake" and the main battery of the Evans opened fire followed shortly by a five inch battery on the HADLEY. The plane was shot down 1,000 yards from the EVANS. A lull occurred after this action during which the EVANS closed on the HADLEY for mutual fire support. At about 0820, the radar located a large force of enemy planes, approximately 50 in number, approaching from almost dead ahead. Tracking was started immediately and at 0825, the main batteries of both destroyers opened up. The leading plane, a "Kate" was shot down at 6,000 yards; the second "Kate" received a direct five inch hit and disintegrated at 4,000 yards; the third "Kate" which had changed course to its left was splashed in flames as a result of the 40MM fire 500 yards off the port beam of the EVANS. All three of these planes were shot down within two minutes. From here on in, it was a melee, with Jap planes exploding and dropping into the sea on all quarters. Every gun on both destroyers was spitting fire and slowing from one target to another as they came into range. At 0851, A "Kate" was observed closing on the EVANS rapidly. It was taken under fire at 5,000 yards by the main battery. The enemy plane, although hit and burning severely, continued to close until at about 200 yards nearly broad on the EVANS port bow, it launched a torpedo. Hard left rudder was applied and the torpedo crossed harmlessly 25 yards ahead of the bow. The "Kate", already on fire, crashed 1,000 yards astern. At about this time, the HADLEY, whose gunners had been dropping Jap planes right and left took its first suicider aboard on the port side forward. Speed was maintained and fire power was not materially affected. At 0902, two more boilers had been cut in on the EVANS and both ships were making speeds in excess of 30 knots and maneuvering radically to avoid suicide planes and also to bring the maximum fire power to bear on the most threatening targets. At 0904, a "Tony" coming in on the port quarter of the EVANS was shot down by the main battery’s first salvo at 9,000 yards, but almost immediately a low-flying "Judy" succeeded in getting through the curtain of fire and crashed the EVANS on the port side, flooding the forward crews compartment but not affecting the speed or fighting quality of the ship. At this point in the battle, the two destroyers had accounted for 28 Jap planes. The peak of the action took place in the next 20 minutes with each ship having 3 and 4 targets under fire at the same time. Two more Jap suiciders succeeded in crashing the HADLEY, and the EVANS took 3 more suiciders aboard for a total of four. All of the planes that crashed the ships were hit by anti-aircraft fire and three of them were in flames when they struck. The last action took place at 0925, when an enemy was sighted dead ahead at 4,000 yards diving on the ship with two marine fighters in hot pursuit. This plane was taken under fire by the 40MM guns still in action at 2,500 yards and was shot down some 200 yards astern of the EVANS. Heroic work by the damage control parties on both destroyers and prompt assistance from ships that had come to their aid kept both destroyers afloat. The box score when all was tallied reads: USS HADLEY and USS EVANS in a joint action lasting 84 minutes downed 45 enemy planes – a record that is likely to stand for a long time."

On the congrats side of the picture we have a fairly good array, some of which you have already seen. The first was set by Rear Admiral Reifsnider whose hospitality those few days up at le Shima quite a few of you will never forget. This is the message he sent to us on Sunday the 13th:

"It was a privilege to assist such a valiant ship and crew as yours."
Signed: Rear Admiral Reifsnider

It’s guys like that who make the world go 'round. It's really tough to get your home shot out from under you, but when somebody turns to and offers you the hospitality that he offered us …boy! It takes a lot of the sting out. Those first few nights and days made one whale of a lot of difference in our whole attitude and spirit. To Rear Admiral Reifsnider and those on his flagship who helped us in such a grand manner go our heartfelt thanks. On the 14th…that next Monday, Vice Admiral Turner extended his appreciation for our accurate, phenomenal gunnery. This one in particular is directed to the men on the guns, in the handling rooms, in the magazines, plot, those lookouts, the pip-boys in combat…all of you. He not only pats us on the back but asks us how we did it…no kidding. Look for yourselves:

"Congratulations are extended to you on your splendid record against enemy aircraft. You have done an excellent job against enemy planes. In view of the high score of planes splashed by your guns, desire you submit any special methods of technique which might be worthwhile to us in future to further reduce the Jap airforce. A well done to all hands."

You're not fighting this whole war yourselves, though…that message was also directed to a few other ships who have been pretty hot out here too. We have buddies in our job and it's a lucky thing. That sure as hell would have been a one-way trip had we made it alone. This next message came from our Executive Officer who was badly wounded during the action. Mr. Gilpin, although lying in bed with both arms and one leg broken, one leg missing and with a severe cut on his face, still maintained his cheery attitude to all who came to see him. The dispatch he sent to the ship was posted and distributed as extensively as could be:

"I send my best regards to the officers and crew of the EVANS. I am proud to have served with all of you."
Signed: Lt. John W. Gilpin

The Navy Department officially announced our story to the nation as a whole on June first. It was picked up in various corners of the country and given an assortment of treatments. The New York Daily News stretched a point having us in battle with one hundred and fifty (150) Jap planes and then crediting the EVANS with 29...a typographical error. The Mobile Press, on the other hand, got in good with the Chamber of Commerce and Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation with the following spread:



Navy Secretary Refers to Gulf Shipbuilding Craft As "Gallant," Tells of Big Battle "The story of the great flight put up by the destroyer EVANS, Mobile-built warship, in battle with Japanese planes off Okinawa was told yesterday by Secretary of the Navy Forrestal. The EVANS was the third destroyer launched at the Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation yard, Chickasaw, since the war production program started. Secretary Forrestal described the action of both the EVANS and the destroyer HUGH W. HADLEY at a news conference at which he stressed the gravity of the ship repair situation. The Navy announcement was, in effect, a tribute to the thousands of men and women who built the ship and to those who manned her.

Secretary Forrestal's official commentary was saved till last. For if any thing along this line of recognition for our job can give us satisfactions, this certainly can. It is as follows:

"Washington, Friday June 1, 1945—Fanaticism of the Japanese airman pitted against American Naval forces was described today by Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, in an account of how two United States destroyers with supporting planes downed 92 enemy aircraft in a sea and air duel off Okinawa, May 11th. Forrestal said in part: ‘The destroyers HADLEY and EVANS were at General Quarters throughout the night of 10th-11th of May, which means that no one had a night’s rest due to attacks by several enemy planes which harassed their formation during the darkness. Shortly before eight o’clock on the morning of the 11th, a low flying seaplane attempted a suicide attack on the HADLEY and was shot down; pontoons of this plane which were apparently filled with explosives were seen to explode as the plane hit the water. Soon after, several formations of enemy planes, totaling about 150 aircraft in all…were immediately attacked by our fighters, but many of them broke through and attacked the HADLEY and the EVANS. For the next hour and a half, the destroyers, maneuvering at high speed and firing all guns were under continuous attack by suicide planes. In the ensuing melee, Navy fighter planes shot down 50 enemy planes and the two destroyers accomplished the amazing feat of destroying 42 enemy planes between them, the HADLEY 23 and the EVANS 19. Toward the end of the battle as our navy fighters ran out of ammunition, there were several cases in which our pilots actually rode enemy planes into the water, flying closer and closer above the Jap until he was forced into the sea. In two instances, a heroic Marine pilot interposed his plane between the HADLEY and an attacking suicide plane, forcing the Japanese aircraft to break off its attack. Both these gallant destroyers were hit before the Japanese attack was repelled."

There they are. As time goes on perhaps more will come to light, but we'll leave it up to you to add those to your collection. That’s only the partial story, though, not anything, not even the official action report could tell the whole one. Each of you guys has his own angle to it, his own picture of just what went on. Perhaps you'll remember that roar that would go up and down the ship every time we splashed one, sounded like the good old high school club had just .scored a touchdown. You might even have heard Tyska furiously sputtering down the phone circuit, "Knock off that smoke, knock off that smoke, you guys…dammit, knock off that smoke!" when his brother snipes in the firerooms were lighting off number 2 and number 3 and volumes of smoke were pouring out both stacks. There weren't many of us who didn't see that last guy come in with the Corsairs on his tail; and I know that those of us who stayed aboard will never forget that ammunition handling detail with Wibbey right down there in the magazine pushing 'em up to the Captain. These are on the lighter side. That could go on and on with each one adding to it. There's lots more which we can’t forget even though we'd like to—there's more we'll always remember and feel proud too.

That action of ours on Friday morning, the 11th of May, will be chalked up as one of the minor incidents of the war—we’re one of the two cans who between the two of them accounted for some 45 Jap planes off Okinawa. That's all there'll be to it as far as others are concerned, but as far as we go—well—there are some thirty-one men who make it impossible for us to just pass it off like that. There are some thirty-one guys whose sacrifice makes us feel humble. The "Fightin’ Bob" won’t forget them…we’re proud to remember them. And we’re not alone, either.