The Strikes of the USS Monterey
The USS Monterey was one of nine Independence class light aircraft carriers built at the start of World War II to increase the Navy’s carrier strength. Built on a cruiser hull, the ship had enough speed to keep up with the fleet during service in the Pacific theater. The Monterey was designed as a platform for bombers but its aircraft included fighter planes as well. For defense in battle the ship also had antiaircraft guns positioned around the decks.
On its first mission in November 1943 the Monterey’s planes struck the Japanese base at Makin in the Gilbert Islands. Then a gunnery officer, Lieutenant Gerald Ford’s job was to stand on the fantail and direct the crew operating the antiaircraft guns.
Lt. Ford would participate in eight additional actions while serving on the Monterey, including operations in the Bismarck Archipelago, Marshall Islands, Marianas Islands, Western Carolines, Western New Guinea, and Leyte Gulf.
In conjunction with the exhibit Taking the Seas: The Rise of the American Aircraft Carrier now on display at the Ford Presidential Museum we’ll be posting materials related to the exhibit and Gerald R. Ford’s service in the U.S. Navy over the next few months.