While at Tongatabu, in the Tonga Islands, 3 officers and 29 crewmen from my dad's repair ship began emergency repairs on this date to the battleship North Carolina, one of several of her repairs of this grand ship. This time, on September 15th, while sailing with the Hornet, North Carolina was torpedoed 20 feet below her waterline.
This understated entry from the War Diary of the USS North Carolina at Tongatabu, expresses the kind of grim work encountered by the crew: "Anchored. Bodies of four men killed in torpedo attack were buried ashore today. Repair teams from VESTAL (AR 4) made temporary repairs for transit to Pearl Harbor.” Two others killed in the torpedo attack were buried at sea.
The USS North Carolina was launched in 1940, the first new US battleship to enter WWII. She took part in every major naval offensive in the Pacific Theater, becoming the most decorated battleship in the war, earning 15 Battle Stars. She helped close the war with Japan by participating in its bombardment. The ship also contributed in the preliminary occupation of Japan at the close of the war. North Carolina was decommissioned in 1947. In 1961, she was purchased by the state of North Carolina, in large part due to the fundraising efforts of school children. The ship now rests in Wilmington, where it memorializes North Carolinians from all branches of the military who gave their lives in military service during World War II. North Carolina was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.