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USS Enterprise CV-6
The Most Decorated Ship of the Second World War

Nearly 380 men - the exact number is still in question - lost their lives while serving in Enterprise CV-6 during the Second World War. Seaman William Thomas Daley was one of those men.

Enterprise had been at General Quarters for three days running, when late in the afternoon of 20 March 1945 two enemy bombers scored near misses on the carrier. Moments later, two "friendly" 5" anti-aircraft rounds from nearby ships exploded over Enterprise's forward 40mm batteries. Eight men were killed, including Seaman Daley, then 19 years of age.

William T. Daley
Seaman William T. Daley, killed in action aboard Enterprise CV-6.

The next day, he was buried at sea: 7,000 miles from his hometown of Springfield, Illinois, 7,000 miles from his family and friends.

Five months later, shortly after Japan's surrender, his family received the letter below from Enterprise Captain Grover B. H. Hall. The letter indicates, as was believed at the time[1], that Daley was killed by enemy fire. Despite the discrepancy, the letter was and continues to be of comfort to his family.

Letter and photo generously provided by Nancy Bell, William T. Daley's niece, and are used here with permission.

Dear Mr. Daley:

  It is now possible to give you the details of the action in which your son, William Thomas Daley, S1c, USN-1, lost his life. This information is being released by the press, but we feel that you would want to hear it personally from his ship.

  The task group with which we were operating on March 20th had been lying off the Japanese home island of Kyushu for several days and had been under intermittent attack.

  At about four-thirty on the afternoon of March 20 a Japanese plane dropped a bomb near our ship and strafed our gun positions on the forward starboard side. In the resultant explosions your son was killed instantly while he was manning his battle station.

  He was buried the following day off the island of Kyushu with appropriate religious and military ceremonies.

  You may take pride in the fact that your son died defending his home, his country and his ship which has made such an enviable record throughout the Pacific War. Because of his efforts and the efforts of others like him, the U.S.S. Enterprise is still a mighty bulwark of defense. Their sacrifice has brought victory and peace. May God bless and comfort you.

Sincerely yours,
(Signed) Capt. G.B.H. Hall

[1] Enterprise's action report indicates "Explosion was due either to strafing by enemy plane or fragments from a friendly projectile."

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