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Operation Raptor Rescue (Part 4)

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We proceeded southwest and joined with the task force, which consisted of ten ships, including the Mongoose. Three of these ships were only lightly-armed repair and resupply vessels. The ship that would be transporting new planes and supplies to the Raptor was the small escort carrier Bogue. It would have been nice had the Bogue been able to launch planes but her hangers and decks were packed with planes and supplies for the Raptor, both of which would have to be craned over to the Raptor by the repair ship, the USS Prometheus. Although old, and once even decommissioned, the Prometheus had been re-commissioned for the war and now was capable of most repairs to ships other than those needing a dry dock. The oilier for the task force was the USS Cimarron, which was carrying extra food, fuel and ammunition. Unfortunately, the Mongoose's main guns required special experimental ammunition so, except for our Bofors guns, we were on our own where ammunition was concerned.

At the heart of our task force was the USS Independence, a light aircraft carrier. Though small as carriers go, she was extremely fast, capable of attaining speeds that rivaled that of most cruisers. In fact, at her heart she was a Cleveland-class cruiser. She carried one squadron each of dive bombers, torpedo bombers and fighters. Her bombers were standard Douglas bombers; however, her fighters were the new Hellcats, which were far superior to any planes the Japanese had, even the once-feared Zero.

Our main firepower was provided by the battleship New Mexico, which had once had the distinction of escorting President Wilson to France for the signing of the treaty that ended the Great War. It's unfortunate that the “War to end all wars” didn't exactly do that. Although she was a World War One design (I've lately been calling the Great War “World War One,” for I believe that this war will be called World War Two someday) and outclassed by the newer North Carolina and Iowa class battleships, her twelve 14-inch guns would be welcome indeed were we to encounter a large Japanese cruiser or, heaven forbid, a battleship.

The bulk of our defense force consisted of the US cruisers Cleveland, Columbia, and a Forces françaises libres ship, the La Galissonnière. All three of these ships, as well as the destroyer Farragut had served in Uncle Seymour's tasks force in the action for which he was awarded the Navy Cross. Finalizing out the destroyer complement of the task force was the Mongoose.

Edited by Snargfargle
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