Sixty four years ago on 18 March while conducting operations off Okinawa, the USS Yorktown (CV-10) was struck by a Japanese bomb at 1507 (3:07 PM) when a Judy dive bomber came out of the clouds dead ahead of the ship. The bomb struck on the starboard (right) side of the signal bridge on the O-5 level. If not for the delay fuse, Admiral Radford and many of his staff could have been killed. Fortunately for the admiral, the bomb passed through that deck, down through 20mm battery No. 7 and exploded off the side of the ship about the level of the 2nd deck. As a result of the bomb and explosion, 3 men (one officer and two enlisted) were killed and 18 wounded.
Due to the advances in medical departments aboard Navy ships, four sailors were saved from serious injury, but two other sailors died hours after the explosion from their injuries. Here is a picture of gunner’s mate Bob Davis who survived a 12.5 inch, 5.5 pound bomb fragment that entered his abdomen…how’s that for a stomach ache!!!
When I came to Patriots Point in 1996 the ship’s flight deck had not been modified as today’s deck. Each spring as the sun rose to warm the cold, winter locked ship, the steel on the starboard (right) side began to expand. Once the expansion reached critical mass, the aft expansion joint would shift causing a large “BOOM” noise.
I had fun convincing one of our newer employees (who had never been on a ship or understood heat/expansion of metals) that the sound was the “Ghost bomb” of campaigns past. It was not a hard sell after I showed the impact spot of the bomb (see below) and the explosion site just off the starboard side (near the booming expansion joint). Every spring morning when the boom happened, this employee would look knowingly at me and say, ” I heard the Ghost bomb today!” I would smile…
Today the bomb lug of the Japanese bomb (which survived) is displayed on the hangar deck. Unfortunately with the deck modifications completed a few years ago, the sound of the “Ghost bomb” is no longer heard. I am left only with my memories of things past.
“Lucky is he who has been able to understand the causes of things.” – Virgil