This Day in Naval History - March 26

Story Number: NNS011215-27Release Date: 12/15/2001 6:34:00 PM
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From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

1942 - During World War II, Adm. Ernest J. King becomes Chief of Naval Operations and also Commander, U.S. Fleet, holding both positions through the rest of the war, guiding the Navy's plans and global operations.

1942 - Task Force 39, commanded by Rear Adm. John W. Wilcox, Jr., sails from Portland, Maine, for Scape Flow, Orkeny Islands, Scotland, to reinforce the British Home Fleet due the British Fleets involvement in Operation Ironclad, the British invasion of the Vichy French controlled Madagascar. The following day, Rear Adm. Wilcox, while taking an unaccompanied walk on his flagship, USS Washington (BB 56), is washed overboard and disappears in the heavy seas.

1943 - During the Battle of Komandorski Islands, Task Group 16.6, commanded by Rear Adm. Charles H. McMorris, prevents Japanese reinforcements from reaching Kiska, Aleutian Islands. USS Salt Lake City (CA 25) is damaged by gunfire from Japanese heavy cruisers, but damages one with return fire.

1945 - As the main fighting on Iwo Jima nears an end, several hundred Japanese attack Company C, Fifth Pioneer Battalion, 5th Marine Division. 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin organizes resistance, rescues Marines and, until mortally wounded by a grenade, leads a counterattack. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life," he is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

1945 - USS Halligan (DD 584) is sunk by a mine off Okinawa. Also on this date, USS Balao (SS-285) sinks Japanese army stores ship No.1 Shinto Maru.

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