USS Yorktown: The Fighting Lady

Built from 1934-1936 and commissioned in 1937, the USS Yorktown was involved in some major battles in WWII and received the nickname . . . The Fighting Lady. There were four announcements that the crew of 2,217 sailors and about 300 aviators didn’t want to hear.

1. “Battle Stations!” That meant they were about to enter combat.

2. “Fire!” This didn’t mean to shoot at anyone. It meant there was a fire on board the ship. The ship was home, and there was no front or back door to leave a burning inferno, so fire was a dreaded enemy.

3. “Stand by for attack!” In battle, everyone from the captain to the newest recruit knew he might be killed.

4. “Abandon Ship!” This one was nerve-wracking because the nearest land was three miles away–straight down! And sharks were not the kind of company they preferred.

Dad was on the Yorktown each time it engaged the enemy. With headphones on, he heard the blood-curdling words, “Zeros at 50 miles out!” These Zeros, sometimes called Bandits, were Japanese fighter-bombers and torpedo planes.

“Zeros at 25 miles out. Stand by for air and torpedo attack!”

Dad’s mind raced back to the battle of the Coral Sea just four short weeks earlier. It seemed like a year ago, yet it felt like yesterday. An armor-piercing bomb hit the flight deck and sliced through three more decks before exploding in the room next to his station. It immediately obliterated 35 of his shipmates, but if it had been eight feet closer, it would have also splattered Dad.

Dad’s job was to pass reports to damage-control crews who then fought their way through the rubble and did their best to put out fires, make repairs, and keep The Fighting Lady afloat.

But he did much more than that. Through his interaction with men of all rank, he taught them how to face adversity, face hardship, and even face death with head held high and without fear. He revealed his faith in God when the world seemed to be falling apart, and shared emotional and spiritual strength through personal conviction.

2nd Class Petty Officer Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., loved the Lord, loved life, and loved people. He never hated anyone, including the Japanese. But he was a man with high integrity, and to the best of his ability, he did his job to help his country.

The above is an excerpt from the introduction to the book Dead in the Water. The book was written by Captain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., CHC, USN, Retired. The introduction was added by my brother, Stanford E. Linzey III. I plan to post several excerpts leading up to December 7, also known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

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