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By Samuel B. Griffith

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Sample text

The admiral, in Chokai, set course for Rabaul, accompanied by Tenryu, Yubari and destroyer Yunagi. Each group proceeded toward the harbor assigned at comfortable speed for the remainder of the day. Early Monday morning the four Kavieng-bound cruisers, now covered by an aircraft on anti-submarine patrol, swung 90 degrees left and headed for the port less than 70 miles distant where a deserved welcome awaited them. Kako, last in column, would not enjoy it. m. her life expectancy was exactly 13 minutes, for at that moment Lieutenant Commander John R.

Very few Bettys escaped. In midafternoon Mason reported a dozen unescorted dive bombers on the way; again ships were ready and fighters on station. " Actually, three dive bombers were shot out of the air; six ran out of gas and ditched on the way back to base. Their pilots were not recovered. Of 51 planes which left Rabaul that day, thirty did not return. Among the pilots who did was Saburo Sakai, Japan's greatest ace. His Zero was shot to pieces but still flew. Blinded in one eye and bleeding from multiple wounds, Sakai by a supreme effort of will made Vunakanau, skidded to a landing and fainted.

Within six minutes Astoria, hit by torpedoes, was burning. Japanese gunners pumped hundreds of rounds into the flaming ship as she staggered off to the southeast. But mangled Astoria still fought; her last salvo smashed a turret on Chokai. About this time, Aoba's' searchlight beams fell full on Quincy and revealed her with turrents trained fore and aft. Seconds later, an 8-inch salvo blew one of her cruiser planes off its catapult. "11 Quincy, now engulfed in fire, was deluged with shells from both sides.

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