January 21, 1945 will live in the memories of many Tico Tigers. On that date Ticonderoga was performing air operations off Japanese-held Formosa. She was attacked by two Japanese kamikaze aircraft in less than an hour. The cost was tremendous...144 men killed and over 200 injured including Captain Dixie Kiefer, the ships commanding officer.
Ticonderoga afire off Formosa January 21, 1945
Damage to the island structure January 21, 1945
Fires on the forward flight deck January 21, 1945
Injured Sailor awaiting transfer January 21, 1945. Always a fellow shipmate nearby
Capt. Kiefer giving his farewell address to the crew
Captain Kiefer's Farewell Address
Captain Dixie Kiefer was seriously wounded in the Kamikaze attacks of January 21 yet he remained on the bridge till almost 12 hours after the attacks. He suffered from 65 different wounds and a broken arm. He never fully recovered from his injuries. Here is his farewell address to the crew as he was about to be transferred to a hospital ship:
"Well, gang, this is the last time I'll speak to you. I have tears in my eyes and it isn't because I am hurt. I always did know that you were a damn good peacetime crew, and the other day out there, you proved to me that you were the best damn wartime crew in the Navy.
I did not leave the bridge until 11:30 that night, but afterwards seeing how you men kept fighting back, I realized that I could do more good alive when I could come back out here again.
I want to thank you men for saving the ship, which I thought was beyond saving. I'm going back to the States soon, and I'll be on the dock when you come in.
The Captain who takes my place will treat you like I did. Keep up your good work. The 'Big T' still is and always will be the best damned ship in the Navy."
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