Ten Years of TAC: The Yorktown, the American Worker and Three Days

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We must have this ship back in three days!

Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz

(The American Catholic will observe its tenth anniversary in October.  We will be reposting some classic TAC posts of the past.  This post is from September 3, 2012.)

On Labor Day we honor the American worker and the repair of the USS Yorktown tells us why.  Badly damaged at the battle of the Coral Sea, it was estimated that the Yorktown would take three months in drydock to repair.  That was unacceptable.  With the battle of Midway looming the Yorktown had to be gotten back into action if the US was to have any chance at all against the Japanese fleet with its heavy advantage in flattops.

What happened next was a true miracle.  1400 civilian dockyard workers and sailors swarmed over the Yorktown, working night and day for 72 hours.  Hawaii Electric staged rolling blackouts in Honolulu to generate the enormous power necessary for the mammoth repairs.  The Yorktown sailed for Midway on May 30, 1942 with civilian workers still on board, completing the repairs.  At Midway, four days later, Yorktown’s role in the victory was absolutely crucial,  her planes sending the Japanese carrier Soryu to the bottom before the Yorktown herself was sunk.

When Americans look back at that victory they should remember the American workers who were essential to that victory and the miracle they performed in three days and nights of non stop work on the Yorktown.

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6 Comments

  1. A time long ago. I’ve told my boys this story for years. They tell me that stories like this are like listening to stories from Mars. They simply don’t reflect what my boys saw in school or see now in the world in which they’re living and working.

  2. Can you see today’s pantywaist pacifists allowing their TVs and air-conditioners to be turned off so we could repair a warship? Can you see the enviro-weenies putting up quietly with all the debris and smoke put out with such a rapid repair? Would we have enough old-time blue-collar workers who could pull it off (even with modern machinery)?

  3. Well, Tom Byrne, yesterday’s “pantywaist pacificists” weren’t put to the test, were they? They had no “TVs and air-conditioners”. Industrial “debris and smoke” was called the smell of money back then yet those were also the days during which “the enviro-weenies” were getting started. Are you trying to tell us that prosperity sucks? Nothing stops you from living an early 20th century US lifestyle, although you may have to relocate to Russia, Latin America, or Africa to approach that. Good luck with that.

  4. Um, Micha, the point of the post i wrote (as opposed to what you seem to think I wrote) was to question the commitment of moderns to make sacrifices for their country at peril. We don’t need those sacrifices right now and I hope we never do. I was visioning moderns (especially Coastal liberals) teleported to 1942 Honolulu and making conjectures about their likely complaints as the challenge of Midway approached. I don’t know about you, but I’d put up with hot nights with no AC and some smoke to keep enemy bombs from dropping on my kids and community. Sorry if you took it as “anti-modern”.

  5. I HATE the current naming convention of US aircraft carriers! USS Carl Vinson, USS Stennis?! I love and cherish the memories of Presidents Reagan, Lincoln and Washington, but aircraft carriers, our navy’s greatest ships, should honor the great ships & battles that are a part of our history. There should STILL be a USS Yorktown, Lexington, Enterprise sailing! I don’t like the idea of naming them after politicians.

  6. Vinson’s name on a carrier is reasonable since he led the drive that had them ready for WWII. The Yorktown was one of the last plastic models I built as a kid. I’m also lucky to have a 1944 copy of G.B Coale’s “Victory at Midway”, complete with art plates.

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