USS Louisville’s second Kamikaze attack in two days

The U.S. Navy battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) leads USS Colorado (BB-45), USS Louisville (CA-28), USS Portland (CA-33), and USS Columbia (CL-56) into Lingayen Gulf before the landing on Luzon, Philippines, in January 1945.
The U.S. Navy battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) leads USS Colorado (BB-45), USS Louisville (CA-28), USS Portland (CA-33), and USS Columbia (CL-56) into Lingayen Gulf before the landing on Luzon, Philippines, in January 1945.

As the US Navy began the bombardment of Luzon, ‘softening up’ the defences prior to amphibious assault, they encountered the Japanese suicide ‘Kamikaze’ planes in ever more persistent attacks. With Japanese airbases within easy reach and the use of Kamikaze pilots now one of their main tactics the US ships had to face an unprecedented onslaught, with many ships being hit more than once.

The USS Louisville had been hit on the 5th January with one man killed and 52 wounded, including the captain. The following day she was attacked by six successive planes, five were shot down but one got through:

The USS Louisville is struck by a kamikaze Yokosuka D4Y at the Battle of Lingayen Gulf, 6 January 1945
The USS Louisville is struck by a kamikaze Yokosuka D4Y at the Battle of Lingayen Gulf, 6 January 1945

John Duffy was one of the men on board the USS Louisville dealing with the aftermath:

All of a sudden, the ship shuddered and I knew we were hit again. I was in charge of the 1st Division men and I yelled. “We’re hit, let’s go men!” I was the first man out the Turret door followed by Lt. Commander Foster and Lt. Hastin, our Division Officer, then a dozen more men. The starboard side of the ship was on fire from the focsle deck down.

One almost naked body was laying about ten feet from the turret with the top of his head missing. It was the Kamikaze pilot that had hit us. He made a direct hit on the Communications deck.

As the men poured out of the turret behind me they just stood there in shock. Explosions were still coming from the ammunition lockers at the scene of the crash. We could see fire there too. Injured men were screaming for help on the Communications Deck above us. I ordered two men to put out the fire on the starboard side by leaning over the side with a hose. That fire was coming from a ruptured aviation fuel pipe that runs the full length of the forecastle on the outside of the ship’s hull. That fuel pipe was probably hit by machine gun bullets from the Kamikaze just before he slammed into us.

Although there was no easy access to the deck above us, I ordered several men to scale up the side of the bulkhead (wall) and aid the badly burned victims who were standing there like zombies. I also ordered three men to crawl under the rear of Turret 1’s overhang, open the hatch there, and get the additional fire hose from Officers Quarters. These three orders were given only seconds apart and everyone responded immediately, but when they got near the dead Jap’s body, which was lying right in the way, it slowed them down.

I yelled, “Carl Neff, grab his legs.” As I leaned over the body, I noticed that all he had on was the wrap-around white cloth in his groin area. I then grabbed him under the arms and lifted. When I did this, his head rolled back and his brain fell out in one piece onto the deck as though it had never been part of his body. I told Carl, “Right over the side with him.” Then I immediately went back and scooped up his brain in both hands and threw it over the side. To the men who had no assignment, I shouted, “Get scrubbers and clean up this mess.”

John Duffy was awarded an individual commendation for his actions : “displayed outstanding diligence, skill, bravery, and intelligence in combating fires and rendering aid to the wounded.” This account appears at Kamikaze images which explores both American and Japanese attitudes to the Kamikaze pilots.

The strike on the Louisville was also notable for the death of Rear Adm.Theodore E. Chandler, commanding the battleships and cruisers in the Lingayen Gulf. He was badly burnt when his Flag bridge was engulfed in flame – but later waited in line for treatment with the other men. However his lungs had been scorched by the petroleum flash and he died the following day.

USS Columbia is attacked by a kamikaze off Lingayen Gulf, 6 January 1945.
USS Columbia is attacked by a kamikaze off Lingayen Gulf, 6 January 1945.

A list of ships with their casualties resulting from “Kamikaze” hits in the Philippine area during the month of January:

USS Cowanesque (2 killed, 2 wounded);
USS Dyke (sunk with all hands);
USS Ommaney Bay (6 killed, 65 wounded, 85 missing at time of report);
USS Helm (6 wounded); USS Louisville (1 killed, 75 wounded);
USS Orca (4 wounded);
HMAS Australia (first hit: 25 killed, 30 wounded; second hit: 14 killed, 26 wounded);
USS Manila Bay (10 killed, 75 wounded);
USS Walke (15 killed, 32 wounded);
USS R.P. Leary(1 wounded);
USS Newcomb (2 killed, 11 wounded);
USS New Mexico (30 killed, 87 wounded); USS Brooks (3 killed, 10 wounded);
USS Minneapolis (2 wounded);
USS California (41 killed, 155 wounded, 3 missing at time of report);
USS Southard (6 wounded);
USS Columbia (first attack: 20 killed, 35 wounded; second attack: 17 killed, 8 wounded, 7 missing at time of the report);
USS Louisville (28 killed, 6 wounded, 10 missing at time ofreport);
USS Long (7 wounded);
USS LST 918 (4 killed, 4 wounded);
USS LST 912 (4 killed, 3 wounded);
USS Callaway (30 killed, 20 wounded);
USS Kitkun Bay (16 killed, 15 wounded);
USS Mississippi (8 wounded);
USS Leray Wilson (7 killed, 3 wounded, 3 missing at time of report);
USS Dupage (35 killed, 157 wounded);
USS Gilligan (2 killed, 6 wounded);
USS Bellknap (19 killed, 37 wounded);
USS Dickerson (13 wounded);
USS LST 778 (7 killed, 12 wounded);
USS Zeilen (5 killed, 32 wounded, 3 missing at time of report);
USS Salamaua (10 killed, 87 wounded, 5 missing.)

Action Report, COM Luzon Attack Force, Lingayen.

The kamikaze aircraft hits Columbia at 17:29.
The kamikaze aircraft hits Columbia at 17:29.

15 thoughts on “USS Louisville’s second Kamikaze attack in two days”

  1. My mother, Jane Brown Kennedy, christened the Luck Lady Lou and while she had little to do with it after that, as a Louisville resident, I remain very proud of the Louisville’s service. I was fortunate to meet many former crew members as a child at the 1962 reunion. Strangely enough, we lived in N. Las Vegas in the early 50’s near the NTS and the Louisville’s turret.

  2. My uncle Freddie C Messer is listed as KIA or missing in action as result of Jan . 6, 1945 Kamikaze attack. I find myself more and more wanting to understand just how he died. It is my belief that he may have been in the gun turret that was directly hit by the enemy plane. I fear that he may have been vaporized or that there was little recognizable if anything of his body.

  3. Richard Prima, my dad was also a Pharmicist Mate on the Louisville. He was 20 yrs a old in 44. A story he used to tell was of witnessing the approach of a suicide plane and along with a buddy, running through and athwart the ship only to trip and fall while his friend made it all the way to the opposite rail. He said his frind was killed and he always thought tripping and falling is what saved his life. Dad always viewed his time in the Navy and on the Louisville as a singualr honor. He passed in 2014 at age 90.

  4. USS Dyke with a loss of all hands? What is your reference for this ship? I cannot find any reference to it anywhere.

  5. My dad had a very good friend (Lt. Edward “Deb” O’Connor from San Francisco) who was killed on Jan. 6, 1945. They corresponded throughout the war and we have a number of letters from Lt. O’Connor to my dad that if any of his family are interested I could get them copies.

  6. my Dad was on the uss Louisville during the attack he was in the engine room

    I would like to know how to find his medals .
    I have his log book.

    his name was Jesse Courtney


    Helen (Courtney) Peake

  7. To all who are interested in the history of the USS Louisville:

    Greetings. I have been researching this ship for two years and have published an account of the attack on Jan 5, 9145 that you may find helpful. In it I highlight James (Pappy) Blaylock who at 45 years of age was the oldest enlisted man aboard. You can read an article on this in the August 2017 issue of Sea Classics, or you can download a technical report I developed from the library of Lawrence Livermore National Lab (100MB in size):

    Finally, a short news video was made by the Las Vegas TV Channel 8 I-Team that you can watch on Youtube

    My account of the Jan 5 attack was developed with the aid of two veterans who were there, one who saw it happen from the USS Portland (just off the Lou’s port quarter), the other a Louisville crewman named Enrico Trotta who was a good friend of Pappy Blaylock.

    Most importantly, I am happy to report that a large piece of the Louisville survives to this day at the Nevada Test site and because of this research it is now part of the public tours that you can sign up for.

    You can contact me at

  8. My father, Richard Prima, was a Pharmacist’s Mate on the Louisville from mid 1943 until they went to Mare Island for repairs in early 1945. He helped care for the many wounded during the Kamikaze attacks. While he always said his time on the Lady Lou were great, he always teared up when recalling the bad days like this one. He was particularly saddened by Adm. Chandler’s death from burn injuries and his heroic efforts to fight the fires along with the rest of the crew. As for questions about sailor’s whereabouts, the Navy records may have those details. Lt. John Stenzel was, unfortunately, listed as killed in the 1944/early 45 cruise book. I have a scanned copy of an article written by newsman Frank Kluckhohn that I’d be glad to email; contact me at

  9. Lisa Benton – I don’t have any thing to tell you about Jan. 6th. My father, Allen Wages, was your grandfather’s 20mm gunnery mate on the Lady Lou until Jan. 4th. On that day he left the Louisville for electric hydraulics school in Washington, DC. Otherwise I probably not be here to write this. In 1951 my dad named me after your grandfather. :-)

    Love and respect,

    Jim Allen Wages

  10. Thomas Fuller, Jack Stenzel was my great uncle. He was killed by the Japanese pilot who crashed into the ship. The imagine captured on film was the moment he was killed. He was buried at sea. His brother, my grandfather had his name put on the family plot.

  11. Hi: I am researching to see if I can find any information on my Uncle Randall B Brindle whom was on the USS Columbia C-56 light cruiser during WWII. S2C Navy Reserve. I am trying to figure out if his body was ever found when the USS Columbia was hit during the invasion of the Luzon. There is a memorial headstone in the Punch Bowl in Hawaii. Not sure if his body is buried there though because it states that he was missing in action. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  12. My great grandfather, James Blaylock, was killed on Jan. 6th. He was Navy and I believe he was a gunner. I was told that he saved a bunch of his mates by making them go below while he stayed on his gun. I would just like to know anything at all about this event, the day he died. Thanks so much!

  13. While making a personal visit at the cemetery today I came across a grave for a Lt.(JG)named named John L Stenzel marked USS Louisville. He probably was a Chicagoan but I couldn’t find anything about him as a KIA wounded during the kamikaze attack. Perhaps you would point me in the right direction. On the other hand it may be possible that he was lucky enough to have survived but the date of death on the marker is 1945. Thank you from Thomas Fuller in Mokena, Il. US Army veteran

  14. Dear Brenda,

    I am a researcher looking into the Louisville. I do not have any personal insight to your uncle but am in touch with two veterans from the Louisville who might remember him.
    One is Ralph Hopkins who lives in LO, he was the president of the Louisville alumni association while it was active.

    Although I can’t say for sure I believe that it is doubtful your uncle was aboard when these attacks were visited upon the Louisville. The dates were Jan 5 & 6 1945. If he was assigned to the ship in 1945 it was very likely immediately after she returned to Mare Island Navy Yard to repair the battle damage sustained off of Luzon. Ralph Hopkins was assigned to the ship when she arrived at Mare Island, as were a host of others because of the many casualties the Lady Lou suffered on those two fateful days.

    I’ll try to respond here again if I find out anything from my contact.

    All the Best.

    Semper Fi.


  15. Hello,
    My uncle (James Robert Walls) was assigned to the USS Louisville in 1945. I would like to know if he was a crew member at the time of the attack on Jan. 6, 1945. Please help if possible.
    Thank you,
    Brenda Barnett

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