USS BUNKER HILL CV 17
USS Bunker Hill (CV 17) was launched December 7, 1942 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.; sponsored by Mrs. Donald Boynton; and commissioned May 24, 1943, Captain J. J. Ballentine in command.
Reporting to the Pacific in the fall of 1943 Bunker Hill participated in carrier operations during the Rabaul strike (November 11, 1943); Gilbert Islands operation, including support of the landings on Tarawa (November 13-December 8); the Kavieng strikes in support of the Bismarck Archipelago operation (December 25, 1943, January 1 and 4, 1944); Marshall Islands operation ( January 29-February 8); strikes against Truk (February 17-18), during which eight Japanese combatant vessels were sunk; Marinas raid (February 23); Palau-Yap-Ulithi-Woleai raids (March 30-April 1); Truk-Satawan-Ponape raids (April 29-May 1); Hollandia operation (April 21-28); and Marianas operation (June 12-August 10), including the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
On June 19, 1944, during the opening phases of the battle, USS Bunker Hill (CV 17) was damaged when an enemy near miss scattered shrapnel fragments across the ship. Two men were killed and over 80 were wounded. The aircraft carrier continued to do battle and its planes aided in sinking one Japanese carrier and destroying a part of the 476 Japanese aircraft that were downed. During September it participated in the Western Caroline Islands operation and then launched strikes at Okinawa, Luzon, and Formosa until November.
On November 6th USS Bunker Hill retired from the forward area and steamed to Bremerton, Wash., for a period of yard availability. Repairs completed, she departed the west coast January 24, 1945 and returned to the war front. During the remaining months of World War II, Bunker Hill participated in the Iwo Jima operation and the 5th Fleet raids against Honshu and the Nansei Shoto (February 15-March 4); and the 5th and 3rd Fleet raids in support of the Okinawa operation. On April 7, 1945 Bunker Hill's planes took part in a fast carrier task force attack on a Japanese naval force in the East China Sea. The enemy battleship Yamato, one cruiser, and four destroyers were sunk.
On the morning of May 11, 1945, while supporting the Okinawa invasion, USS Bunker Hill was hit and severely damaged by two suicide planes. Gasoline fires flamed up and several explosions took place. The ship suffered the loss of 346 men killed, 43 missing, and 264 wounded. Although badly crippled she managed to return to Bremerton via Pearl Harbor.
In September Bunker Hill reported for duty with the "Magic Carpet" fleet. She remained on this duty as a unit of TG 16.12 returning veterans from the Pacific until January 1946 when she was ordered to Bremerton for inactivation. She was placed out of commission in reserve there January 9, 1947.
While laid up, she was reclassified three times, becoming CVA 17 in October 1952, CVS 17 in August 1953 and AVT 9 in May 1959, the latter designation indicating that any future commissioned duty would be as an aircraft transport. However, she was one of the two Essex-class carriers that saw no Cold War active service. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in November 1966, USS Bunker Hill was used as a stationary electronics test platform at San Diego during the 1960s and early 1970s. She was sold for scrapping in May 1973.