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.

Pearl Harbor

I’ll never forget what he said, or the look on his face as he relived the hell of battle. Dad’s words were bathed in emotion. Hardened by the intense heat of battle, he still choked up at times as he remembered Guadalcanal, Gilbert Islands, Coral Sea, and Midway. He repeated “Coral Sea,” hesitated, breathed deeply and said, “Midway.”

Did I detect anger? Or was it sorrow?

Dad won the Texas State High School Championship as a clarinetist in the school band, then joined the navy in 1938 as a musician. In peace time he played the clarinet in the USS Yorktown Band, and the saxophone in the jazz band. But in battle he was an intra-ship radioman, assigned to the aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown CV-5.

Dad was a Texan, as was Admiral Chester Nimitz, and often told me of battles in Texas history. Sentences we read without emotion in history books became commands bathed in blood and tears when Dad said them. If you’re not a Texan, Remember the Alamo! and Remember Goliad! could mean almost nothing to you. But it sometimes brings tears to my eyes and raises goose bumps on my arms because my Dad was a Texan! No, he didn’t fight at the Alamo in 1836 or at Goliad in 1835, but he made sure that I, his oldest son, knew about them.

Dad didn’t join the navy to kill people. He didn’t even want to go to war. As a nine-year-old boy, when he had the privilege of seeing John Philip Souza on Souza’s last tour with the United States Marine Band, he was inspired and dedicated himself to music. Becoming an award-winning musician, he wanted to join the United States Navy Band. Fighting a war was not on his radar screen. However, personal plans and goals don’t always develop to our liking. In this case, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

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.

80th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

December 7, 2021 is the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which launched the United States into World War II. The Battle of Midway was the greatest naval battle ever fought. Three enemy aircraft carriers were bombed into blazing infernos in six minutes, burning and drowning 1,800 seamen. A fourth carrier sank with a loss of 700 men.

USS Yorktown, with a ship’s crew of just over 2,200 sailors and about 300 aviators, received three bomb hits and two torpedoes when Captain Elliott Buckmaster ordered, “Abandon ship.” 400 men were dead. 2,000 sailors went down the lines into the murky, oily waters of the Pacific.

This book tells the story in light of faith, prayer, and the God who was personally involved in the men’s lives. The author conducted Bible studies in the ship. In answer to the prayers of those men and their loved ones, many of the sailors accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. There were miraculous rescues from bomb bursts and fragmented steel, as Navy destroyers pulled blue jackets from the sea. Barefoot men clad only in their underwear knelt on the deck of a destroyer and offered thanks to Almighty God for his mercy and salvation. A true life story of God’s presence in a battle at sea.

Dead in the Water is the story about a man who was faithful to God during the toughest days of his life, and the God who was faithful to that man. It provides a glimpse of divine intervention in the lives of men who were far from home, providing hope and comfort in an otherwise bleak situation. At the same time, it tells of some fantastic answers to prayer, as well as some devastating tragedy.

Stan “Deacon” Linzey was a ship’s telephone operator aboard the USS Yorktown when it engaged in the battles of Coral Sea and Midway. He was also a clarinetist in the Navy Band. When the order came to abandon ship, he scooted to the edge of the deck, lowered himself into the ocean hoping there were no sharks nearby, and treaded water until a U.S. ship came to the rescue.

After the war, Linzey went to college and seminary, and then returned to the Navy as a chaplain, serving another twenty years. He wrote this book, and several others, after retiring from the Navy in 1974.

Linzey’s first son, Stanford Eugene Linzey III, goes by the name of Eugene, and is an award-winning journalist and an author of several books. After his father died, Eugene became the chaplain of the Yorktown Reunion Club, a role Stan had filled until his death at age eighty-nine.

Paul Linzey is the third son. He is a retired Army chaplain, and at the time of this writing, is serving as the Protestant pastor at the United States Naval Academy. He is an award-winning author of several books, and is a regular contributor of devotional articles for CBN.org.

One of the reviews:

“USS Yorktown at Midway is a remarkably intriguing and compelling account of the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway as seen through the Christian eyes of the Lord’s servant, Captain Stanford E. Linzey, CHC, USN (Ret.). Dr. Linzey allows the reader to easily understand and visualize not only the tragedies of combat, but also the human and spiritual elements of surviving the harrowing and horrifying disasters of naval warfare.”

This is a reprint of a book originally published with the title, “God Was at Midway.” It has a new introduction by S. Eugene Linzey III and a new afterword by Paul E. Linzey. The book can be purchased on Amazon by clicking here.

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