July 5th found USS Cabot heading south back to the Maranas to join with the rest of Task Force 58 and assist in the attack of the airfields on Guam, Tinian, and Rota in preparation for the amphibious landings that were to take place later in the month on Guam and Tinian islands. Tinian, which had 3 operational air fields, would be the main B-29 base for long range attacks on the Japanese mainland after it was secured the following month. The US Seabees would build the worlds largest airfield on Tinian before the end of October 1944. Over 19,000 B-29 missions would be launched from Tinian from November 1944 until August 1945. Guam had been a US possession since the end of the Spanish American war in 1898 when it was ceded by Spain. It had been lost to the Japanese in the first week of the war.
July 7, 1944
The airfields on Rota were bombed by 3 divisions of VF-31 and 3 divisions of V-T31 along with aircraft from other carriers in the task force.
Three replacement pilots; Ens. Mardesich, Ens. Kosowicz, and Ens. Naylon land aboard USS Cabot.
July 8, 1944:
Fighter aircraft from VF-31 were assigned to fly CAP over the task force. Two divisions consisting of 8 fighter aircraft were launched from USS Cabot at 0530. No enemy aircraft were spotted and the early morning CAP landed without incident. A second CAP consisting of 8 aircraft was launched around 1000 hours. Shortly after being launched Division 3 consisting of Lt. Mulcahy, Ens. Sweatt (Mulcahy's wing man),Lt (jg) Galt, and Ens, Driscoll (Galt's wingman) they were vectored to intercept 6 radar contacts seen leaving from Guam. Later that day Lt. Stewart, Lt. (jg) Hawkins, Lt. (jg) Wirth, and Lt. (jg) Hayde encountered and shot down 3 enemy
In the ensuing aerial engagement on July 8th the following pilots of VF-31 engaged and shot down 9 enemy aircraft.
Lt. (jg) Galt: 2 enemy aircraft shot down
Ensign Sweatt's account of the action on July 8th:
July 9 - 24, 1944:
Three divisions of VF-31 as well as the 8 TBMs of VT-31 were launched before dawn the morning of July 9th to bomb the airfields on Rota, Tinian, and Guam. They met no resistance from enemy aircraft as all had been destroyed the day before in aerial combat. Air Group 31 proceeded to bomb and strafe the airfields, gun emplacements, storage bunkers, and buildings on the islands as well as flying CAP over the task force..
July 15, 1944:
Early morning CAP (0530 hours) postponed till day break because of bad weather, driving rain, high sea swells, near zero visibility. Four Hellcats from VF-31 ordered into the air around 0600 to intercept an approaching bogy seen on radar. Lt. Stewart, Lt. (jg) Wirth, Lt (jg) Hayde, and Lt. (jg) Hawkins are catapulted away. Shortly after launch Lt. Stewart develops Gyro problems and had to fly on his remaining instruments and passed the lead to Hayde who was the 2nd section leader. Three of the aircraft broke through the clouds between 12000 and 19000 feet. Lt. (jg) Frank R. Hayde did not and was not seen again. Efforts to locate his plane were unsuccessful and it was assumed he crashed after becoming disorientated in the almost zero visibility of the storm.
July 17, 1944:
Once again 0530 hours CAP delayed due to a storm and poor visibility. A four plane CAP was launched at 0600 in poor visibility consisting of Lt. Mencin, Lt. (jg) Nooy, Lt. (jg) Osborne and Ens Kosowicz. Once again one pilot did not join up and Ens. Tadeuz J. Kosowicz was not seen again. A destroyer reported seeing debris in the water but no survivors. Ens. Kosowicz had only been assigned to VF-31 for 10 days.
July 27, 1944:
Strikes launched against Yap Island. A TBM flown by Lt. Russell was hit by flack while approaching the target. The fuel tanks were breached and the aircraft set ablaze. He succeeded in dropping his four 100lb bombs on the target and headed out over water where Russell was able to hold the crippled Avenger in the air long enough for the crew bail out just off shore. The shore batteries opened fire on the downed plane crew but were unable to lower their guns enough and they fired over them. The covering F6Fs from VF-31 proceeded to make short order of the shore batteries and flew overhead until an OS2U Kingfisher from the cruiser USS Columbia (CL-56) arrived and picked up the wounded men. Pilot Lt. (jg) Russell along with crewmen AMM2c Bennett and PhoMlc Webster, were taken to the destroyer USS Brown (DD 546) and returned to Cabot. All three men were awarded Purple Hearts.
July 28, 1944:
VF-31 was again assigned for a strike on Yap island. Due to engine failure of his F6F (#40280), Lt. (jg) Edwin Free had to turn around and made a water landing 15 miles from Yap. He was picked up and returned later in the day by the Destroyer USS Bell (DD 587). Returning from the Yap Island strike Lt. Mulcahy was forced to ditch because of flack damage to his aircraft after returning to the task force but was picked up unharmed and returned to Cabot.
Ground attacks on the island fortifications on Tinian, Guam, and Rota islands would continue through the end of July
From August 1st through August 2nd USS Cabot along with other ships of Task Force 58 would anchor at Saipan for a brief rest for refueling, and replenishment of supplies and armaments. On August 3rd Task Group 58.1 got underway for the Bonin Islands and Iwo Jima once again. This time to intercept a Japanese task force that was sailing from the naval base at Chichi Jima.
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