WASHINGTON. July 14. (AP)–The destroyers Hugh W. Hadley and Evans knocked down 38 Jap suicide planes in an hour and 45-minute battle off Okinawa on May 11, the Navy disclosed tonight. The bag, the Navy said, was the largest ever reported for ships of their size during a single action. Altogether, 88 enemy planes were destroyed in the epic struggle with marine Corsair pilots shooting down an additional 50 from the attacking force of more than 150. The 2050-ton Evan- smaller of the team got 15 planes and was credited with four assists in 73 minutes before its guns were silenced.
Built at San Pedro
The 2200-ton Hadley, built at San Pedro, Cal. established an all-time record for destroyers by bringing down 23 Jap planes in 105 minutes. In the last 30 minutes the Hadley protected the crippled Evans although the Hadley itself was damaged and at one time seemed about to capsize. The Nips struck in groups of four to six at a time. The battle reached such ferocity at one time that the Evans was bringing down suicide planes diving on the Hadley, as well as protecting herself, while the Hadley was gunning for aircraft at a greater distance.
Japs Crash Ship
Lt. James M. Smith of New Freedom, Pa, the Evans’ Surgeon, said guns were firing so rapidly and so long that relief had to be provided for exhausted ammunition loaders. Four suicide planes crashed on the Evans’ decks and hull and the Hadley took hits that flooded both engine rooms and one fire room and knocked out its main battery. The first kamikaze pilot crashed the Evans’ bow an hour after the battle started. Three more hit her in quick succession. One resulting explosion blew the executive officer, Lt. John W. Gilpin of Windsor, Vt. over the side. A seaman, Pat J. Macciocca of Baltimore, Md. plunged into the water and supported him until both were picked up. A few minutes later the Evans’ guns went out of action and the Hadley alone took over the job of fending off the Jap planes. Sensing a kill, 10 suicide planes struck simultaneously, all were shot down, but the Hadley was damaged and most of her guns were knocked out. As the attack began to taper off many of the Corsair pilots ran out of ammunition but continued to shield the battered destroyer by riding the enemy planes into the water. When the Hadley threatened to capsize the wounded were taken over the side to life rafts and floats.
Both Reach Port
The remainder of the crews, however, managed to keep the craft afloat and both destroyers reached harbor the next day. The skipper of the Evans Is Capt. Robert John Archer, formerly of Spokane, Wash., now a resident of Piedmont Cal. Capt. Baron Joseph Mullaney of New Bedford Mass, is captain of the Hadley. Mullaney’s wife lives at San Francisco. The Evans, built by the Gulf Shipbuilding Co. at Chickasaw Ala., was commissioned in December, l943. The Hadley was built by the Bethlehem Steel Co., San Pedro, and commissioned last November.
Los Angeles Examiner