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MEMORIAL TO ADMIRAL SPRAGUE
AND TASK UNIT 77.4.3 (Taffy 3)


Photos by George Panos, ex-QMS 2/C
December 2005-January 2006
Click on any image to enlarge

Memorial to ADM Sprague and Taffy 3

Presidential Unit Citation

THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
WASHINGTON

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to

TASK UNIT SEVENTY-SEVEN POINT FOUR POINT THREE, consisting of the U.S.S. FANSHAW BAY and VC-68; U.S.S. GAMBIER BAY and VC-10; U.S.S. KALININ BAY and VC-3; U.S.S. KITKUN BAY and VC-5; U.S.S. SAINT LO and VC-65; U.S.S. WHITE PLAINS and VC-4; U.S.S. HOEL, U.S.S. JOHNSTON, U.S.S. HEERMANN, U.S.S. SAMUEL B. ROBERTS, U.S.S. RAYMOND, U.S.S. DENNIS and U.S.S. JOHN C. BUTLER

for service as set forth in the following

CITATION:

"For extraordinary heroism in action against powerful units of the Japanese Fleet during the Battle off Samar, Philippines, October 25, 1944. Silhouetted against the dawn as the Central Japanese Force steamed through San Bernardino Strait towards Leyte Gulf, Task Unit 77.4.3 was suddenly taken under attack by hostile cruisers on its port hand, destroyers on the starboard and battleships from the rear. Quickly laying down a heavy smoke screen, the gallant ships of the Task Unit waged battle fiercely against the superior speed and fire power of the advancing enemy, swiftly launching and rearming aircraft and violently zigzagging in protection of vessels stricken by hostile armor-piercing shells, anti-personnel projectiles and suicide bombers. With one carrier of the group sunk, others badly damaged and squadron aircraft courageously coordinating in the attacks by making dry runs over the enemy Fleet as the Japanese relentlessly closed in for the kill, two of the Unit's valiant destroyers and one destroyer escort charged the battleships point-blank and, expending their last torpedoes in desperate defense of the entire group, went down under the enemy's heavy shells as a climax to two and one half hours of sustained and furious combat. The courageous determination and the superb teamwork of the officers and men who fought the embarked planes and who manned the ships of Task Unit 77.4.3 were instrumental in effecting the retirement of a hostile force threatening our Leyte invasion operations and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

          For the President,

          JAMES FORRESTAL
          Secretary of the Navy


TASK UNIT 77.4.3
(Taffy 3)

RADM Clifton A. F. Sprague
(ComCarDiv 25)

Escort Carriers

USS FANSHAW BAY (CVE-70) (Flagship)
CAPT D. P. Johnson
VC-68
LCDR R. S. Rogers

USS ST. LO (CVE-63)
CAPT F. J. McKenna
VC-65
LCDR R. M. Jones

USS WHITE PLAINS (CVE-66)
CAPT D. J. Sullivan
VC-4
LT E. R. Fickenscher

USS KALININ BAY (CVE-68)
CAPT T. B. Williamson
VC-3
LCDR W. H. Keighley


RADM Ralph A. Ofstie
(ComCarDiv 26)

USS KITKUN BAY (CVE-71) (Flagship)
CAPT J. P. Whitney
VC-5
CDR R. L. Fowler

USS GAMBIER BAY (CVE-73)
CAPT W. V. R. Vieweg
VC-10
LCDR E. J. Huxtable

Destroyers & Destroyer Escorts
CAPT W. D. Thomas

USS HEERMANN (DD-532)
CDR A. T. Hathaway

USS HOEL (DD-533)
CDR L. S. Kintberger

USS JOHNSTON (DD-557)
CDR E. E. Evans

USS DENNIS (DE-405)
LCDR S. Hansen

USS JOHN C. BUTLER (DE-339)
LCDR J. E. Pace

USS RAYMOND (DE-341)
LCDR A. F. Beyer

USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE-413)
LCDR R. W. Copeland

This monument is dedicated to the memory of Vice Admiral Clifton A. F. Sprague, USN, (1896-1955), and the 13 ships and 7,300 men of Task Unit 77.4.3, also known as "Taffy 3," which were under his command during the heroic Battle off Samar, October 25, 1944 during the Battle for Leyte Gulf.

In 1995 the thirteen ships that made up "Taffy 3" began raising funds to erect the monument, which was finally dedicated on Wednesday, October 23, 1996.

Located in a waterfront park along Harbor Drive, south of Navy Pier, San Diego, California, the monument consists of thirteen polished black granite panels, one for each ship, that stand five feet high and are arrayed in a V-shape plan. Facing the monument, the carriers are listed on the left side and the escort vessels on the right. The ships are listed in accordance with the number of casualties they suffered, as follows:

USS WHITE PLAINS (13) — USS KALININ BAY (17) — USS KITKUN BAY (28) — USS FANSHAW BAY (40) — USS ST. LO (126) — USS GAMBIER BAY (137)

USS HOEL (252) — USS JOHNSTON (183) — USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (90) — USS HEERMANN (5) — USS DENNIS (4) — USS JOHN C. BUTLER — USS RAYMOND

The centerpiece of the monument is a bronze bust of Admiral Sprague, by Moon Kim, mounted on a solid black granite pedestal. Historical information and data about the ships and battle are inscribed on the base of the pedestal and the adjoining vertical panels.


VADM Sprague
Awards

Battle of Leyte Gulf
(1)

Battle of Leyte Gulf
(2)

Battle of Leyte Gulf
(3)

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Last update: 29 January 2006