Before dawn on 19 March 1945 the U.S.S. Franklin, who had maneuvered closer to the Japanese mainland than had any other U.S. carrier during the war, launched a fighter sweep against Honshu and later a strike against shipping in Kobe Harbor. Suddenly, a single enemy plane pierced the cloud cover and made a low level run on the gallant ship to drop two semi-armor piercing bombs. One struck the flight deck centerline, penetrating to the hangar deck, effecting destruction and igniting fires through the second and third decks, and knocking out the combat information center and airport. The second hit aft, tearing through two decks and fanning fires, which triggered ammunition, bombs and rockets. The Franklin, within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland, lay dead in the water, took a 13° starboard list, lost all radio communications, and broiled under the heat from enveloping fires. Many of the crew were blown overboard, driven off by fire, killed or wounded, but the 106 officers and 604 enlisted who voluntarily remained saved their ship through sheer valor and tenacity. The casualties totaled 724 killed and 265 wounded, and would have far exceeded this number except for the heroic work of many survivors. Among these were Medal of Honor winners, Lieutenant Commander Joseph T. O'Callahan, S. J., USNR, the ship's chaplain, who administered the last rites, organized and directed firefighting and rescue parties, and led men below to wet down magazines that threatened to explode, and Lieutenant (junior grade) Donald Gary who discovered 300 men trapped in a blackened mess compartment, and finding an exit, returned repeatedly to lead groups to safety. The U.S.S. Santa Fe (CL-60) similarly rendered vital assistance in rescuing crewmen from the sea and closing the Franklin to take off the numerous wounded.
The Franklin was taken in tow by the U.S.S. Pittsburgh until she managed to churn up speed to 14 knots and proceed to Pearl Harbor where a cleanup job permitted her to sail under her own power to Brooklyn, N.Y., arriving on 28 April. Following the end of the war, the Franklin was opened to the public, for Navy Day celebrations, and on 17 February 1947 was placed out of commission at Bayonne, N.J. On 15 May 1959 she was reclassified AVT 8.
The U.S.S. Franklin received four battle stars for World War II service.
From: Dictionary Of American
Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. II, 1977, pp. 443-444
This web site is devoted to all of those that so gallantly served on the U.S.S. Franklin during this most courageous time. Many lost their lives that day, many have passed on since then, and for those that remain with us, and all that served, we salute you!
I dedicate this site to my father, Robert E. Gentry, Sgt, USMC, (Jun 8, 1924 – Dec 26, 1967) serving on the Franklin that day. He and many of his Marine buddies, K.K. Thompson, Mike Sansone, John Norman, Joe Titus, were members of the ordinance section of the infamous group, Black Sheep Squadron. Half of them perished; lost, but not forgotten.