Navy Department News Release
Fanaticism of Japanese airmen pitted against American Naval forces was described today by Secretary of Navy James Forrestal in an account of how two US Destroyers with supporting planes downed 92 enemy aircraft in a sea-air duel off 0kinawa. May 11th. Forrestal said: “Destroyers Hadley and Evans were at General Quarters throughout the night of May 10th and 11th which means no one had a nights rest due to attacks by severa1 enemy planes which harassed their formation during darkness. Shortly before eight o’clock on the morning of the 11th a low flying seaplane attempted a suicide attack on the Had1ey and was shot down. Pontoons of this Japanese ship were apparently fired 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 cur fighters but many of them broke through and attacked the Hadley and the Evans. For the next hour and a half, the two Destroyers maneuvering at high speed, firing all their guns, were under continuous attack by the suicide Japanese. In the ensuing melee Navy fighter planes shot down about 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 Japanese until he was forced into the sea. In two instances a heroic Marine pilot interposed his plane between the Hadley and an attacker suicide plane forcing the Japanese aircraft to break off it’s attack. Both these gallant Destroyers were hit before the Japanese attack was repelled.