US Navy Dog Tags – USS Chicago (CA-136)

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A pair of US Navy Go Tags which belonged to Seaman First Class (Fire Controlman) Jerry Odell Lewis. He was a crew member of the Heavy Cruiser USS Chicago “Mighty Chi” (CA-136) and saw extensive action in the pacific in 1945.

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He is listed in the Muster Roll of the Crew:

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Photo of the USS Chicgao in May 1945 (click to enlarge)

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The third Chicago (CA-136) was a Baltimore Class Heavy Cruiser and was laid down on 28 July 1943 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Launched on 20 August 1944 she was sponsored by Mrs. Edward J. Kelly, wife of the Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 10 January 1945, Captain Richard R. Hartung, USN, in command.

From Wikipedia:

Chicago spent her first six weeks preparing for sea duty before departing on 26 February for Norfolk. After conducting training exercises, and calibrated her compasses in Chesapeake Bay, the cruiser got underway 12 March for the Gulf of Paria, Trinidad. Arriving on 18 March the cruiser conducted shakedown training and shore bombardment exercises off Culebra, Puerto Rico, before returning to Norfolk on 11 April. Following inspections and battle problem training the cruiser sailed to Philadelphia for post-shakedown repair availability on 16 April.

In company with Alfred A. Cunningham (DD-752), the cruiser departed for the Caribbean on 7 May, enroute to the Pacific. Designed to operate offensively with strike and amphibious forces, Chicago spent her transit time conducting various anti-air drills, gunnery exercises, and radar tracking training. After refueling at San Juan on 11 May the ships spent three days conducting gunnery practice before departing for Colon, Canal Zone, on 15 May. With transit complete the next day the ships arrived at Pearl Harbor on 31 May.

Following another period of gunnery, day battle, anti-aircraft exercises, and shore bombardment exercises off Kahoolawe Island, the cruiser departed for Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, on 28 June. In company with North Carolina (BB-55), Chicago arrived at the atoll on 5 July and immediately refueled from oiler SS Pan American. Underway that same day, with Stockham (DD-683) added for anti-submarine screen, the ships joined Rear Admiral Radford’s Task Group 38.4 north of the Mariana’s on 8 July.

Added to the anti-aircraft screen, Chicago guarded the Task Group’s carriers as they conducted air strikes against the Tokyo Plains area, Honshu, Japan, on 10 July. After refueling on 12 July the Task Group returned to the Japanese coast and launched air strikes against airfields, shipping, and railways in the northern Honshu and Hokkaido areas the next day.

On 14 July, in company with fast battleships South Dakota (BB-57), Indiana (BB-58), Massachusetts (BB-59), command ship Quincy (CA-71), and nine destroyers of Rear Admiral Shafroth’s bombardment unit, Chicago closed northern Honshu to bombard the Kamaishi industrial area. At 1212 the cruiser joined the battleships in firing on the iron works and warehouses. Although heavy smoke obscured the target from the cruiser’s spotting planes, the combination of pre-plotting the target through photo reconaissance and radar positioning data allowed Chicago’s guns to start fires in numerous buildings, several large warehouses, and among nearby oil tanks. At 1251 the cruiser’s secondary battery guns began firing on a Japanese destroyer-escort type vessel. The escort was straddled and hit by 5″ shell fire, began smoking, and retired into the harbor. The Task Force retired at 1426, leaving the port under a pall of black smoke.

The following day Chicago operated as “a temporary seaplane carrier” when Iowa (BB-61) transferred her SC-1 Seahawk floatplanes to the cruiser. By hanging one plane over the side with the crane the crew was still able to launch an SC-1 from the catapult for spotting services. After replenishment operations on 16 July, the cruiser resumed screening the carriers as they launched air strikes over the Tokyo Plains, northern Honshu and Hokkaido, and the Kure-Kobe area over the next two weeks.

On 29 July, in company with the British battleship King George V and several American battleships, Chicago participated in a night shore bombardment mission against the port of Hamamatsu. Using radar, and assisted by spotting planes dropping flares and rockets, the ships fired at bridges, factories and the rail yard for about an hour. Rejoining the Task Group five hours later Chicago once again screened the carriers as they launched air strikes against the Tokyo-Nagoya area.

Operations with the carriers, including a diversion to the south to avoid a typhoon, continued until 9 August when Rear Admiral Shafroth’s bombardment unit returned to Kamaishi. The battleships, joined by Chicago, three more heavy cruisers and a Royal Navy light cruiser detachment, delivered another two-hour bombardment of the town before returning to the carrier task forces.

For the next six days the cruiser screened the carriers as they launched continuous strikes against the Japanese Home Islands until 15 August and the Japanese armistice. Chicago remained with the carriers until 23 August when she departed for Japan. Anchoring in Sagami Wan on 27 August, and then moving to Tokyo Bay on 3 September, the cruiser supported the unloading of supplies and equipment for Third Fleet occupation forces.

USS Chicago was later rebuild as a missile cruiser and deployed fice time during the Vietnam war. On 1 March 1980 Chicago was decommissioned at San Diego.

~ by m1pencil on March 2, 2014.

6 Responses to “US Navy Dog Tags – USS Chicago (CA-136)”

  1. When were beads introduced for dog tags?

    • I think sometime in 1943~44? Not sure. Though to my knowledge in the USMC (and Navy?) the cotton version was predominant throughout WW2 and the chain/bead type was more of a PX item.

  2. I ask because I read somewhere that beads were postwar and that the wartime “upgrade” on the cotton version was actually the chain which you can find being sold on ebay and elsewhere.
    Being that many vets upgraded their gear when returning home right after the war it so happens that one looses oversight to what was actually typical during wartime. Another example would be rank patches for Service Greens. The USMC was apparently always a step behind the latest additions the Army would have gotten. Marine patches during wartime would have been mostly of the felt type machine sewn on the red feltbackground. The woven type, while typical in army gear seems to have been a late war thing for the marine uniforms. Yet you see much of these on Vet uniforms. Most likely, just like with the beads, they were bought when the vet came home and updated his service greens with his latest rank and the ruptured duck. Thoughts?

    • IIRC it was something like this cotton -> chain -> bead. I’m note sure when the bead chains were officially introduced (they had been available as a PX private purchase item before that). I have a WW2 bead chain in original packaging and it is dated 1944. There also also other versions like the ones made of clear plastic… confusing 🙂

      For WW2 USMC I think the cotton one is most typical

  3. You wouldn’t happen to still have these, would you? I think they belonged to my wife’s grandfather, and it would mean a lot to her and her family to get them from you somehow, if you’re willing.

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