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NavSource Online: Escort Carrier Photo Archive

later USS ST. LO   (CVE-63)

Unit Awards, Campaign and Service Medals and Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row:
Presidential Unit Citation / American Campaign Medal / Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (4 stars)
2nd Row: World War II Victory Medal / Philippine Presidential Unit Citation / Philippine Liberation Medal

Displacement 7,800 Tons, Dimensions, 512' 3" (oa) x 65' 2" x 22' 4" (Max)
Armament 1 x 5"/38AA 8 x 40mm, 12 x 20mm, 27 Aircraft.
Machinery, 9,000 IHP; 2 Skinner, Uniflow engines, 2 screws
Speed, 19 Knots, Crew 860.

Casablanca Class Escort Carrier
Awarded Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Stricken
18 Jun 1942 23 Jan 1943 17 Aug 1943 23 Oct 1943   27 Nov 1944
Builder: Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Wash.

Fate: Sunk by a Japanese kamikaze off Samar, Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 25, 1944.

USS St. Lo and the other ships and aircraft of "Taffy 3," aided by planes of "Taffy 2," gallantly fought and stopped the powerful Japanese Center Force, and inflicted significant losses on the enemy. But at 1050 the task unit came under a concentrated air attack; one plane crashed through St. Lo's flight deck and exploded her torpedo and bomb magazine, mortally wounding the carrier. St. Lo was engulfed in flames and sank half an hour later.

One hundred and twenty-six men were lost with the ship and remain on active duty.

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CVE-63 was initially named Chapin Bay for a bay in Alaska, on the southeast coast of Admiralty Island, Alexander Archipelago (the bay was named in 1892 by LT William Irwin Moore, USN, in command of the U.S. Coast Guard and Geodetic Survey steamer Patterson, for ENS Frederick Lincoln Chapin, USN, a member of his party). (NS0306312).

Renamed Midway, 3 April 1943 (prior to launching), after the battle (3–6 June 1942) in which the U.S. Pacific Fleet turned back a Japanese attempt to capture Midway, the westernmost atoll in the Hawaiian chain, in a decisive action which cost the enemy four large aircraft carriers and forced Japan to assume a defensive posture (NS0306312a–NS0306312d, NS024196.) A previous Midway had been named for the atoll itself.

On 10 October 1944 CVE-63 was renamed St. Lo, to free the name Midway for CVB-41, one of the "Large Carriers" then under construction. The new name commemorated an important victory of American troops in France, that captured the strongly defended town, Saint-Lô, 18 July 1944. (NS0306312b, NS0306312c.)

(Maps NS0306312, NS0306312a, NS0306312b and NS0306312d courtesy of Google Maps. Photo NS024196 U.S. Navy. Photo NS0306312c courtesy of Conseil régional de Basse-Normandie and US National Archives.)

Midway Atoll
Battle of Midway


"The Battle of Midway," directed by John Ford and narrated by Henry Fonda, is comprised mostly of authentic footage from the battle. This documentary, produced in 1942, won an Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Award (Oscar). Then Commander (later Rear Admiral) John Ford, USNR, in civil life wrote, directed or produced more than 130 films in a career spanning four decades.

Format: MP4 (.mp4)  Duration: 18' 7"  Size: 320 x 240

Download a free MP4 player.

Courtesy of Internet Archive. Thanks to Ron Reeves
for the clue.
As USS Midway (CVE-63)
CVE-63 Midway
30k The Midway being launched on August 17, 1943. USS Saint Lo Association
CVE-63 Midway
38k USS Midway (CVE-63) leaving Astoria, Ore., on Nov. 13, 1943. Photo taken from USS Tripoli (CVE-64). USN
CVE-63 Midway
60k The Midway somewhere in the Pacific on the way to Australia with a load of aircraft. USS Saint Lo Association
As USS St. Lo (CVE-63)
CVE-63 Midway
71k San Diego, April 1944. Camouflaged in Measure 32, Design 15A. National Archives photo # 80-G-47028. Tracy White, Researcher @ Large
CVE-63 Midway/St. Lo
73k Getting underway from dock with tug assist, April 10, 1944. USN
Battle off Samar, October 25, 1944
CVE-63 Midway
34k USS St. Lo (previously believed to be the Gambier Bay) and DE laying down a smokescreen on October 25, 1944 during the Battle off Samar. USS Saint Lo Association
CVE-63 St. Lo

A Zeke, as seen from White Plains [(CVE-66), ] hitting the escort carrier USS St. Lo (CVE-63). The kamikaze approached from astern, dropping its bomb which penetrated the flight deck aft, before hitting amidships at a shallow angle, igniting its fuel tanks. This explains the streak of flame shooting upwards and forward from the point of impact. The 20-mm gun in the foreground has been fitted with a Mk.14 lead-computing gun sight that used a pair of gyroscopes to extrapolate an aiming point from the gun's previous movements. Photo from NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) facility College Park, MD.

Photo and text from Fire From The Sky, by Robert C. Stern.

Robert Hurst
CVE-63 Midway

USS St. Lo (CVE-63) burns after being hit by a Kamikaze on 25 October 1944. This photograph was taken from USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), # 80-G-270511.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
Larger copy from NARA
CVE-63 St. Lo

[Cropped copy of photo NS0306306]. St. Lo as seen from Kalinin Bay probably less than two minutes after the kamikaze hit. St. Lo's crew can be seen fighting the fire on the flight deck, which fortunately had been clear awaiting a returning strike. This fire was rapidly brought under control. Photo from NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) facility College Park, MD.

Photo and text from Fire From The Sky, by Robert C. Stern.

Robert Hurst
CVE-63 St. Lo

At about 1055 a major detonation (probably caused by a pair of torpedoes lying almost in the center of a fire started a few minutes earlier by a kamikaze hit) destroyed much of the after section of the flight deck. The after elevator blew upward and disappeared, some 25' of the flight deck were folded forward and the forward elevator was warped. The explosion also knocked out steering control.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), # 80-G-270516.

USS Saint Lo Association
Larger copy submitted by Robert Hurst
Still larger copy from NARA
CVE-63 St. Lo

The now doomed St. Lo as seen from Kitkun Bay [(CVE-71)]. Another massive explosion followed the first and several more followed this one. Within a half-hour, the escort carrier rolled over and sank, the first of 66 ships lost to the Tokkotai (Special Attack Units). Photo from NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) facility College Park, MD.

Photo and text from Fire From The Sky, by Robert C. Stern.

Robert Hurst
The Crew
CVE-63 Midway

Rear Admiral Francis Joseph McKenna was born on 19 March 1898, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1920 with the class of 1921A, and got his Navy Wings in 1926. At the end of his assignment in the Aleutians in April 1943, he was promoted to Captain and ordered as the Prospective Commanding Officer of the escort carrier USS Midway.

In 1944 Midway was renamed St. Lo, thereby freeing the name for one of the "Large Carriers" then under construction. Just one year after her commissioning, on 25 October 1944, St. Lo was a member of "Taffy 3" at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history. The ship came through the surface engagement with the Japanese battle fleet unscathed, but shortly afterwards was hit by a kamikaze and sank, the first US ship to be sunk by a Japanese suicide attack. Captain McKenna, the last man to leave his doomed ship, was awarded the Navy Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action.

Still as a Captain, Francis J. McKenna was the first commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge (CV-33), in 1946–47.

In addition to the Navy Cross (second only to the Medal of Honor), Admiral McKenna was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat "V," and the Legion of Merit. Additionally, and of great pride to him, he was authorized—with the rest of the crew of St. Lo and Composite Squadron (VC) 65—to wear the Presidential Unit Citation for the magnificent job performed by ship and men at Leyte Gulf as a unit of "Taffy 3" (TU 77.4.3).

Photo courtesy of the United States Navy.

Bill Gonyo
CVE-63 Midway

USS St. Lo (CVE-63)/VC-65.


Tommy Trampp
CVE-63 Midway

Set of four USS Midway/St. Lo (CVE-63) and Composite Squadron (VC) 65 Reunion pins.

Tommy Trampp

For more photos and information about this ship, see:

Read the USS MIDWAY / ST. LO (CVE-63) DANFS History entry

Crew Contact and Reunion Information
Web site: USS St. Lo Association

Related Links
Hazegray & Underway World Aircraft Carrier Pages By Andrew Toppan.
Official U.S. Navy Carrier Website
Official Website of the USS St Lo (formerly Midway) CVE63/VC65 Association
USS Saint Lo CVE-63 (formerly Midway), & Composite Squadron 65 (VC 65)
Escort Carrier Sailors & Airmen Association

The Battle Off Samar - Taffy III at Leyte Gulf

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This page was created by Paul Yarnall and is maintained by Fabio Peña
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Last update: 21 October 2018