Leyte - Mindoro
The squadron's operations from Leyte and Mindoro covered the period from January 4 to January 9. The principal assignment during this period was to provide night air cover for the invasion convoys which were moving north toward Lingayen Gulf. In addition, a detachment of three planes based at Mindoro flew night searches to the China coast. Both groups were based on seaplane tonders, the USS TANGIER at Leyte, and the USS HALF MOON and USS SAN PABLO at Mindoro.
Convoy coverage was provided nightly January 4-7. On the final night of the assignment the importance of this protection for our ships was strikingly demonstrated. Commander GILLETTE, on a "Tomcat" mission, made contact with an unidentified surface vessel at a position thirty miles south and forty miles west of Manila Bay and twenty miles distant from the convoy. It was proceeding at high speed on an attack course. The Task Force Commander, upon being notified, ordered the plane to orbit over the unidentified ship and sent three destroyers to intercept. When illuminated by starshells, it proved to be a Japanese destroyer of the HATSUHARU class. It was hit by repeated salvoes, and after two magazine explosions, completely disrupted and sank.
The squadron reassembled at Leyte January eighth and ninth and on the tenth, which was the day after the Lingayen landings, Commander GILLETTE led twelve planes to Lingayen Gulf.
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