Please report any broken links or trouble you might come across to the Webmaster. Please take a moment to let us know so that we can correct any problems and make your visit as enjoyable and as informative as possible.

NavSource Online: Escort Carrier Photo Archive


(formerly AO-28 and AVG-26; later CVE-26)

Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign: November - Whiskey - Quebec - Delta

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 Defense Service Medal ("A" device) [AO]
2nd Row: American Campaign Medal / European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (1 star) / Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (7 stars)
3rd Row: World War II Victory Medal / Philippine Presidential Unit Citation / Philippine Liberation Medal (1 star)
(More info)

Sangamon Class Escort Carrier
Ordered Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Stricken
3 Jan 1938 13 Mar 1939 4 Nov 1939 23 Oct 1940
25 Aug 1942
25 Feb 1942
24 Oct 1945

1 Nov 1945
Builder: Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Kearny, N.J.

(1942, as Converted)
Displacement (design): 11,400 tons standard; 24,275 tons full load
Dimensions (wl): 525' x 75' x 30' 7.5" (full load)  /  160 x 22.9 x 9.3 meters
Dimensions (max.): 553' x 114' 3"  /  168.6 x 34.8 meters
Armor: None
Power plant: 4 boilers (450 psi); 2 steam turbines; 2 shafts; 13,500 shp (design)
Speed: 18+ knots
Endurance: 23,920 nm @ 15 knots (with 4,780 tons of oil fuel)
Armament: 2 single 5"/51 gun mounts; 4 twin 40-mm/56-cal gun mounts; 12 single 20-mm/70-cal gun mounts
Aircraft: 25
Aviation facilities: 2 elevators; 1 hydraulic catapult
Crew: 830 (ship's company + air wing)
Same as above, except:
Armament: 2 single 5"/38 gun mounts; 2 quad and 7 twin 40-mm/56-cal gun mounts; 21 single 20-mm/70-cal gun mounts
Aircraft: 32
Aviation facilities: 2 elevators; 2 hydraulic catapults
Crew: 1,080 (ship's company + air wing)

Click on Thumbnail
for Full Size Image
Size Image Description Source
Sangamon River

AO-28 (later AVG-26, ACV-26 and CVE-26) was named Sangamon for a river in central Illinois, approximately 246 miles (396 km) long and a principal tributary of the Illinois River (NS0302635). The Sangamon River is associated with the early career of Abraham Lincoln and played an important role in the early white settlement of Illinois.

A Civil War monitor had previously borne the name.

NS0302635a: Sangamon River at Lincoln Trail Homestead State Memorial, near Lincoln's first home in Illinois.

(Map NS0302635 courtesy of Google Maps. Photo NS0302635a by "Dual Freq," courtesy of its author and Wikipedia.)

Sangamon River
The Ship
Esso Trenton

As SS Esso Trenton.

Gerhard Mueller-Debus
Esso Trenton

Oil on canvas painting by W. Spencer Wright of the Standard Oil Co tanker SS Esso Trenton underway.

Robert Hurst
Esso Trenton

One of twelve National Defense Tankers ordered on 3 January 1938, SS Esso Trenton was built to a joint Navy-Maritime Commission design. She was acquired by the Navy in October 1940 and renamed Sangamon. As a fleet oiler (AO) she would be eventually armed with four 5"/38 guns in single mounts.

Don Schroeder
ACV-26 Sangamon

USS Sangamon underway, circa 1942, location unknown.

Robert Hurst
ACV-26 Sangamon

Aerial starboard quarter view of USS Sangamon (ACV-26) underway in Chesapeake Bay in September 1942, shortly after being commissioned as an auxiliary aircraft carrier.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo, # NH 108607.

Mike Green
ACV-26 Sangamon

Port broadside view of USS Sangamon, maybe on the same occasion as the photo above.

Naval History & Heritage Command photo, # NH 108608.

Mike Green
ACV-26 Sangamon

USS Sangamon (ACV-26), September 1942, as converted.

Robert Hurst
ACV-26 Sangamon

As above, slightly different image. "U.S. Navy Photo 112-20"

Tommy Trampp
Jim Kurrasch, Battleship Iowa, Pacific Battleship Center
ACV-26 Sangamon

USS Sangamon (ACV-26) as converted, date and location unknown.

Hazegray & Underway, via Robert Hurst
ACV-26 Sangamon

Port broadside view of USS Sangamon (ACV-26), 11 September 1942, in Measure 14 camouflage scheme. This photo shows the flight deck loaded with TBF torpedo bombers and SBD dive bombers. One month later the ship joined Task Force 34 to provide air cover for Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. Photo from the 1943–45 Naval Recognition Manual files.

Mike Green
ACV-26 Sangamon

The Sangamon (ACV-26), a converted tanker, September 1942. At this time she was armed with two 5-in/51, eight twin 40-mm, and twelve single 20-mm guns. Note the characteristic openings in her side above the original tanker deck, designed to facilitate fueling at sea.

From U.S. Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History, by Norman Friedman.

Robert Hurst
CVE-26 Sangamon

USS Sangamon (ACV-26, later CVE-26), August 1942–October 1945.

USS Sangamon (ACV-26), view taken from USS Ranger (CV-4) on 15 October 1942. Aircraft on deck are Douglas SBD Dauntlesses and Grumman TBF-1 Avengers.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) photo, # 80-G-16544.

Don Schroeder
CVE-26 Sangamon
180k Robert Hurst
ACV-26 Sangamon

USS Sangamon (ACV-26) steams with her escort, USS Hambleton (DD-455), en route to Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, during November 1942. USN, courtesy Stan Piet.

From Carrier Air War in Original Color, by Robert Lawson and Barrett Tillman.

Robert Hurst
ACV-26 Sangamon

USS Sangamon (ACV-26) underway circa late 1942 or early 1943.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NH&HC), # NH 106577.

Robert Hurst
CVE-26 Sangamon
46k Fire crews at work after flaming deck crash; February 22, 1943. Don Schroeder
CVE-26 Sangamon
170k Plane on fire after bad landing. Brian Bartlett
(caption by Don Schroeder)
ACV-26 Sangamon

A PBY Catalina flying past the escort carrier USS Sangamon (ACV-26/CVE-26), at anchor in the Solomons, 1943.

United States Navy photo, photo # unknown.

Mike Green
ACV/CVE-26 Sangamon

Somewhat rusty and worn, USS Sangamon rests at anchor in an unidentified harbor, probably in the South Pacific, circa 1943.

US Navy photo, now in the collections of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), # 80-G-K-15081.

Robert Hurst
CVE-26 Sangamon

The Air Groups attached to CarDiv 22 (Sangamon, Suwannee and Chenango) operated from land bases in Guadalcanal between 26 June and 5 August 1943. Their biggest, and costliest, mission took place on 18 July.

This is what then ENS Elkins, a fighter pilot with VF-26, recalls.

Frank C. Elkins, Jr.
via Don Schroeder
Sangamon class

Sangamon Class. From U.S. Naval Ships & Aircraft (ONI 54-R), condensed and printed for FM 30-50, NAVAER 00-80V-57 (Recognition Pictorial Manual of Naval Vessels). Supplement 4 - 4 August 1943.

Gerd Matthes, Germany
Sangamon class

As above. Bottom photo shows USS Santee (ACV/CVE-29).

CVE-26 Sangamon
393k Forward plan view of USS Sangamon (CVE-26) at Mare Island Navy Yard on 5 Oct 1943. She was in overhaul at the yard from 5 Sep until 6 Oct 1943. Official photo, MINY # 6937-43. Darryl Baker
CVE-26 Sangamon
248k Amidships plan view of USS Sangamon (CVE-26) at Mare Island Navy Yard on 5 Oct 1943. She was in overhaul at the yard from 5 Sep until 6 Oct 1943. Official photo, MINY # 6938-43. Darryl Baker
CVE-26 Sangamon
683k Stern view of USS Sangamon (CVE-26) at Mare Island Navy Yard on 5 Oct 1943. She was in overhaul at the yard from 5 Sep until 6 Oct 1943. Official photo, MINY # 6940-43. Darryl Baker
CVE-26 Sangamon

USS Sangamon (CVE-26), 135° off centerline view, 6 October 1943. Official photo, Mare Island Navy Yard # 6941-43, now in the Mare Island Naval Shipyard Ship Files, San Francisco National Archives.

Tracy White, Researcher @ Large
CVE-26 Sangamon

Handwritten on the back of this photo: "Official Photograph — Date: 12-4-43 — U.S.S. Sangamon — Crash of TBF-1C Bu.No. 26179 off our bow during take off. First of series of seven views."

However, there is a problem with this information. BuNo 26179 did launch from Sangamon and was lost on 1 December 1943, but it was an F6F-3 Hellcat assigned to VF-37. A TBF-1C Avenger, from VC-37, was lost on 10 December 1943, but it was BuNo 47702.

Brian Bartlett, via Donald Schroeder
CVE-26 Sangamon
40k F6F handling crew trying to pull plane out of catwalk after crash landing; March 20, 1944. Don Schroeder
CVE-26 Sangamon

USS Sangamon (CVE-26) is alongside USS Hughes (DD-410), 23 April 1944, passing material and a medical case from Hughes, George Albeck. Photo by Chester Bradley, DD-410.

Dave Schroeder and John Chiquoine
CVE-26 Sangamon

LT Wilfred B. Tatro, USNR Commanding Officer of PT-489, being transferred from USS Richard M. Rowell (DE-403) for medical treatment after being injured while rescuing a downed pilot from Jap held Wasile Bay, Halmahera Island, September 17, 1944.

Note: caption typed below photo identifies the DE as USS Raymond (DE-341). Sangamon's log, however, clearly states she was actually Richard M. Rowell.

Don Schroeder recalls: "When they brought LT Tatro aboard he had a small wrench partially imbedded in his forehead. The story was that the wrench was laying on the upper deck and when they accelerated the PT boat it flew into his forehead. We had a surgeon aboard so they brought him to us."

Don Schroeder
CVE-26 Sangamon + DE-403

USS Richard M. Rowell (DE-403) transfers PT-489 Boat Captain, LT Wilfred Tatro, to USS Sangamon (CVE-26) at 1813 on 18 September 1944, after he had been wounded two days earlier rescuing a pilot from USS Santee (CVE-29), while under Japanese fire.

US Navy Photo, now in the collection of the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), at College Park, Maryland. Photo # 80-G-283960.

Tracy White, Researcher @ Large
CVE-26 Sangamon

The pilot of a Japanese Zeke fighter that was shot down after trying to bomb USS Sangamon (CVE-26) is transferred to the carrier's sick bay after his rescue by USS Trathen (DD-530) off Leyte, 20 October 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), # 80-G-291260.

CVE-26 Sangamon

Near miss at Leyte, October 1944.

Don Schroeder
CVE-26 Sangamon

Two Japanese Zero aircraft making suicide attacks on USS Sangamon (CVE-26) off Leyte Gulf, Philippines, 25 October 1944, as seen from USS Suwannee (CVE-27). One Japanese near missed, close to the bow. Trailing Japanese turned away and was shot down by American fighters.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), # 80-G-270665.

Kamikaze attack, Okinawa, May 4, 1945
CVE-26 Sangamon
111k Damage to the flight deck of Sangamon after a kamikaze attack, May 1945. Joe Radigan
CVE-26 Sangamon
164k Another view of the damage to the flight deck of USS Sangamon (CVE-26) after a kamikaze attack, May 1945. -

Click here for more photos and documents

The Crew
CVE-26 Sangamon

"This photo was on the USS Sangamon (CVE-26) with the crew that went to Africa in 1942. When they returned they refitted and went through the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet."

Morris Jerome, AMM2/C, V-2.

Submitted by his daughter, via Don Schroeder.

Morris Jerome was with the first squadron to serve on the Sangamon, Squadron 26, October 1942 to September 1943.
CVE-26 Sangamon

"This photo was taken in Efate, New Hebrides in 1942. It is a photo of Torpedo 26 (Air Group 26)."

CVE-26 Sangamon

"The engineering crew on an airstrip in Efate, New Hebrides, 1942."

CVE-26 Sangamon

"Guadalcanal, 1942. During the period from March 12 to April 25, 1943 this area was under attack by the enemy."

CVE-26 Sangamon
52k Initiation ceremonies; April 3, 1944. Don Schroeder
CVE-26 Sangamon

"Admiral V.H. Ragsdale shaking hands with Captain M.E. Browder upon departure from ship after being relieved as Com Car Div 22." (See "Flag Admirals & Commanding Officers").

Brian Bartlett, via Don Schroeder
CVE-26 Sangamon

"CAPTAIN SHOWS HIS CLIPPINGS—To an appreciative audience of enlisted men aboard his escort carrier, the USS Sangamon, Captain M.E. Browder, USN, shows a collection of his photographs, made during battle action in Leyte Gulf in the opening stages of the Campaign of the Philippines."

U.S. Navy photograph, File Number 295006, released on 23 January 1945.

Brian Bartlett, via Don Schroeder
CVE-26 Sangamon

Rear Admiral William D. Sample (left), Commander of Task Unit 52.1.3, is greeted by Captain Alvin I. Malstrom as he comes aboard USS Sangamon (CVE-26). (See "Flag Admirals & Commanding Officers").

Diane Lytle Barkhimer, daughter of CDR Howard William Lytle, MD, Flight Surgeon, Fighter Squadron 33, aboard USS Sangamon
CVE-26 Sangamon
RADM Fillmore B. Gilkeson

LCDR Fillmore Bolling Gilkeson (later Rear Admiral) was the commanding officer of Torpedo Squadron 33 aboard USS Sangamon (CVE-26) from February 1945 to June 1945.

He was awarded the Silver Star in May 1945 during the Ryukyu Islands Campaign. Citation: "The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Commander Fillmore Bolling Gilkeson, United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy on 4 May 1945, while in Command of an Air Group aboard an Escort Carrier during the Ryukyu Islands campaign. Lieutenant Commander Gilkeson displayed aggressive leadership and great personal courage when his ship was seriously damaged and set afire by enemy action. At the time of the initial explosion he was present on the forward end of the flight deck where he gathered and organized air group and ship's personnel in an efficient fire-fighting team, which attacked the flames in spite of intense heat, smothering smoke and exploding ammunition. Later, on the hangar deck, he assisted actively in a very dangerous area, again exposed to peril from heat, smoke and exploding ammunition. He, in particular, incited men to more vigorous action by his complete disregard for his own safety. His efforts contributed materially to the saving of the ship. His courageous actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

Bill Gonyo
CVE-26 Sangamon

"[Lieutenant] Commander Fillmore B. Gilkeson, Commanding Officer, Air Group and Torpedo Squadron Thirty-Tree."

Diane Lytle Barkhimer, daughter of CDR Howard William Lytle, MD, Flight Surgeon, Fighter Squadron 33, aboard USS Sangamon
CVE-26 Sangamon

"Commander Fillmore Bolling Gilkeson, USN, whose home is in Orange, Virginia, was graduated from the Naval Academy with the class of 1937. His first duty aboard the USS Ranger lasted until February, 1940, at which time he started flight training at Pensacola, Florida. After winning his wings, in January, 1941, Mr. Gilkeson served for over a year as Senior Aviator aboard the USS Mississippi. He then became Commanding Officer of Scouting Forty-Three, based at Guantanamo, Cuba, at the time when the submarine menace in the Caribbean was at its height. He was sent next to Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia as Commanding Officer of the Scouting Observation Unit there, before he underwent operational training in torpedo-bombers at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Then followed his assignment as Commanding Officer of Air Group Thirty-Three in May, 1944, at Alameda, California."

"A Lieutenant Commander at the time he took over the Air Group, Commander Gilkeson received his promotion shortly before the Group returned to the States."

CVE-26 Sangamon

"Lieutenant Commander Paul C. Rooney, Commanding Officer, Fighting Squadron 33."

Diane Lytle Barkhimer, daughter of CDR Howard William Lytle, MD, Flight Surgeon, Fighter Squadron 33, aboard USS Sangamon
CVE-26 Sangamon

"Lieutenant Commander Paul Chester Rooney, USN, is a native of Haddam, Kansas. He attended Kansas State College for two years before attending the United States Naval Academy from which he was graduated in 1939. Before attending flight school at Pensacola, he served on the old Lexington for eight months, and on destroyers for two years."

"After being designated a naval aviator he took part in the invasion of Attu as a member of Composite Squadron Twenty-One. For leading the fighter support in the Battle of Attu, Mr. Rooney was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Upon the completion of the Attu operation, Mr. Rooney joined Fighting Squadron Six for a ten-months' tour. While serving with Fighting Squadron Six he took part in the raids upon Makin Island, Marcus Island, Wake Island, Kwajalein and Truk. He received the Air Medal for meritorious achievement in shooting down an enemy aircraft in the battle over Truk."

"In April, 1944 he took command of Fighting Squadron Thirty-Three."

CVE-26 Sangamon

Gunnery Division, USS Sangamon, World War II.

Front row, center: LCDR G.F. "Frank" Kershner.

William E. Kershner, Jr.
[SSgt USAF 1954–1959 Korea and Germany]
Nephew of LCDR Kershner
CVE-26 Sangamon

LT Howard Scott Young, Jr., was a pilot in VT-33 aboard USS Sangamon (CVE-26).

NS0302637: LT Young in his TBM-3E Avenger, "Nancy III."

NS0302637a: LT Young's log entry, 4 May 1945 (the day Sangamon was attacked by kamikazes).

Aaron Eilers, for his wife's grandfather Howard S. Young, Jr.
CVE-26 Sangamon
CVE-26 Sangamon

Charles E. Bartlett was a Yeoman aboard USS Sangamon (CVE-26).

Brian Bartlett,
son of Charles E. Bartlett,
via Don Schroeder
CVE-26 Sangamon

A 20 x 20" bronze plaque is to be dedicated on May 4, 2008 (63rd anniversary of the kamikaze attack) in the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Don Schroeder

Click here for more photos and documents

Commercial Service

A photograph of the Sangamon, taken shortly after she was re-built in 1947–48 into the tanker she had originally been. Source of photo unknown.

Gerhard comments: "I surmise that superstructure, smokestack and masts had been stowed away when she was converted into an escort carrier, as all the remounted stuff looks very original on the re-built tanker. And, of course, that clipped a lot of costs as well."

Gerhard Mueller-Debus

Article published in The Log, 1948.

Gerhard Mueller-Debus

Article published in the Aruba Esso News (published by Lago Oil & Transport Co., Ltd.), 13 September 1958.

Don retyped the article (NS0302633–NS0302633a) to make it easier to read.

NS0302633c: "SKIPPER OF the SS Sangamon, which was converted into a baby flattop in World War II, is Commandante Primo Altea. The Sangamon, now on the lake run, formerly was the Esso Trenton."

NS0302633d: "CONVERTED BACK into an oil tanker, the Sangamon's decks no longer echo the roar of airplane engines or the staccato of ack-ack fire. The former Esso tanker was purchased by the Maritime Transportation Co. after the war."

Don Schroeder

"Steaming again as a tanker, as if nothing had happened in between..."

"SS Sangamon, 1947–1960"

"Converted from damaged USS Sangamon CVE 26."

"Sold to Maritime Transportation Co. and sailing under Panamanian flag with an Italian crew. In April 1960 ran aground in Suez Canal and sold for scrap to Japan."

Gerhard Mueller‑Debus
Don Schroeder

Hand-painted photo of SS Sangamon, ex-SS Esso Trenton, ex-USS Sangamon (CVE-26).

Tommy Trampp

For more photos and information about this ship, see:

Read the USS Sangamon (AO-28 / AVG-26 / ACV-26 / CVE-26) DANFS History entry

Crew Contact and Reunion Information
Web site:  

Related Links
Hazegray & Underway World Aircraft Carrier Pages By Andrew Toppan.
Escort Carrier Sailors & Airmen Association

Photo Index
Escort Carrier
Photo Index Page
Fleet Oiler (AO)
Index Page

Comments, Suggestions or Image submissions, E-mail Carrier Information
Problems and site related matters, E-mail Webmaster

This page was created by Paul Yarnall and is maintained by Fabio Peña
All pages copyright NavSource Naval History

Last update: 3 February 2024