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Don Strating
USS Randolph CV-15

On the night of February 21, 1945 enemy planes attempted to close in on us. That night we fired our guns for the first time in our own defense. The enemy planes withdrew without attacking.

After two days of refueling and topping off destroyers, new sweeps were launched, on the 25th, against airfields in the Tokyo area and against Hachijo Jima. Then our Task Group was detached from the force we returned to Ulithi, arriving there March 1st. Through the 10th of March we stayed at Ulithi replenishing, outside of two days which were devoted to flight and gunnery exercises.

It was March 11, 1945. The next night there was a movie on the hangar deck called "A Song To Remember." We may have forgotten the song, but we will always remember the night. I was watching the show the night we were hit and as of next month I will be 76 years young. I have tried to find some of my buddies from the Fireroom gang but only have found only 4 who are up and around and are on the net. I Thank my God that I am still able to cope with life today ! I was in the boiler room crew and that was a minority of the crew and have found a lot of air crew but none I knew. Following is an excerpt from one of the pages about the Japanese bomber that hit us:

At seven minutes past eight a twin engine Japanese bomber, of a type called Francis, which had slipped past the radar and interceptor patrols, roared out of the night and crashed, loaded with bombs, at the edge of the flight deck, starboard side, aft. At this moment the first showing of the movie was over and the second was about to begin. Men were moving from their seats and others were taking their places. The explosion was terrific. A great hole was torn in the flight deck. A column of flame shot into the night air. Smoke billowed. Hot ammunition began to detonate. Planes burned like torches. Wounded, bleeding men lay on the hangar deck. We had never faced an emergency like this before, but somehow we proved equal to it. The fires were put out, the wounded men carried to sick bay. Our casualties that night were 26 killed, 3 missing, and 105 wounded. It was fortunate that we were at the movie in the forward part of the ship; otherwise, the death toll would have been higher. There were many acts of heroism as shipmate risked his life for shipmate.

A huge repair job lay ahead. Damage to the flight deck was only part of it. Workshops and living spaces were demolished, the hangar deck was buckled, and there were shrapnel holes and flooding on both the second and third decks. At first it looked as if couldn't be made anywhere but Pearl Harbor. Previously, most big ships had gone back for such major repairs. But "Randolph" was developing a habit of not following customary procedure. The ships force pitched in, working day and night with the personnel of the repair ship, "Jason", and by March 28, only 16 days later, the ship was repaired to the extent that she could again operate in combat.

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