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Tin Can Sailors

The mighty 3rd to the north did steam,
Chasing a ghost not to be seen

Guard the landing your task assigned,
Quiet the day is to be benign

At dawn the Imperial fleet does appear,
Surprise complete, ranging fire splashes near

Outnumbered and out gunned, duty is clear,
Close the range you must in spite of your fear

Laying smoke, a jagged course you take,
An account of yourselves you will make

Steel your heart and make sure your eye,
For each salvo keeps you alive

Toe-to-toe the battle, you exchange mighty blows,
Triumph impossible, yet into the fray you all go

In perfect rhythm, the mad dance goes on,
As smoke filled gunhouse loads powder and shot

Decks strewn with the dead and dying, 
Teams repair to keep the ensign flying

Struck and struck again, yet to point blank you steam, 
Hard to port, you cross the “T”

“All guns to fire at the turn, torpedoes away!”
The enemy scatters in disarray

Too late, mortal blows you take
To the deep, no more your enemy to rake

One final salute their captain does render,
For you fought to the death and did not surrender

On this all men do still agree,
These were the finest two hours of Taffy 3

On October 25th, 1944, 3 destroyers and 4 destroyer escorts of Task Force 
Taffy 3 engaged a combined force of Imperial Japanese Navy battleships and 
cruisers in a 2 hour running gun battle to protect the escort carriers and troop 
transports taking part in the Leyte Gulf landings in the Philippines. Two of the 
three destroyers and one of the escorts were sunk while sinking three 
Japanese heavy cruisers and damaged three more. Due to the fierceness of 
the attack, the Japanese fleet retired from the area thinking they had been 
attacked by a much larger force. At the outset of the battle, the commanding 
officers of these 7 ships, without orders, individually decided to attack and 
headed at flank speed to the fight all knowing they would most likely not 
survive the day. Almost 1600 did not. In a final act of respect, the commander 
of one Japanese cruiser saluted the crew of an American ship that had just 
sunk as his ship passed them floating in the water.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2014

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Date: 8/14/2014 7:30:00 AM
Love this fine write and appreciate the footnote too. So much heroism from WW2 goes without ever being told. These last two generations hardly know much about it at all! Fantastic write, giving it a 7...
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Date: 8/12/2014 7:48:00 PM
Wow! Perfection! What a picture you painted in my mind.
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Harris Avatar
Steve Harris
Date: 8/13/2014 12:14:00 AM
Thanks for stopping by! Unless they watch the History channel, most folks have never heard of this battle. It is legend among destroyer men of my era. Check out "Standing Alone" it describes the Battle of Briton. My neighbor was 11 and living in London. Her stories inspired me to write. Thank you again!
Date: 8/6/2014 5:38:00 PM
Wow great and full of history. I enjoyed the story my friend, thank you :) I feel like I learned something today, :) I mighta passed History class if you were my teacher and did all the assignments in poems! ;)
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Harris Avatar
Steve Harris
Date: 8/6/2014 9:04:00 PM
Thank you so much! I grew up with that generation and myself served on several WW2 era tin cans as a gunner. They are a stubborn lot. When I finally get Premium Member status I will post a picture of me in a 5" gunhouse.