USS Essex CVA-9 Third Far East Cruise 1953-1954

Front Cover, The USS Essex (CVA-9) Epic Third Far East Cruise, 1953-1954.

Front Cover, The USS Essex (CVA-9) Epic Third Far East Cruise, 1953-1954. GGA Image ID # 16d51691ce

The ESSEX EPIC is the story, in words and pictures, of the third Far East Cruise of the USS ESSEX (CVA-9), with Carrier Air Task Group Two embarked on its Third Tour in the Far East. To the reader who was not aboard, the EPIC represents a travelogue of the places we saw and the things we did. To the crew of the BIG NINE, it is a remembrance of eight, long months aboard the " Fightin’est Ship in the Navy " on a peace-time cruise.

The ship has meant many things to us. . .. She has carried us off to distant lands, far from the ones we love. She has kept us up half the night on watch, then dragged us to our battle stations at dawn. She baked us in the firerooms and froze us on the flight deck. . . . But she’s taken us many places, shown us many things and made us a host of friends we’d never had if it hadn't been for her. ... so taking the good with the bad, it's been a GOOD cruise and the best carrier in the Navy !

Dedication to Essex Crew Members who Gave their Life in the Service of God and Country.

Dedication to Essex Crew Members who Gave their Life in the Service of God and Country. GGA Image ID # 16dd483318

Life is worthwhile when the ideals whereby we live become the ideals for which we would give our life. To those of our number who gave their life in the service of God and Country, this book is dedicated.

  • LTJG Harold Lavern CLARK - 19 May 1953
  • CDR Harold William MCMILLIAN - 6 June 1953
  • LT Winton Delwin HORN - 2 August 1953
  • Murraw Leroy DAVIS, AD1 - 21 August 1953
  • LT Frank Daniel BRUNNER - 9 October 1953
  • LT Alva Peter BURGARD - 18 November 1953
  • CHBOSN Thomas Francis OTT - 19 November 1953
  • Alex Castro RODRIGUEZ, SN - 23 November 1953
  • LT David Bevier HOLCOMBE - 22 January 1954
  • LT Gordon "H” FARMER - 6 March 1954

HISTORY – 1954

The present ESSEX was launched and commissioned in 1942. It took twenty months to build her at an approximate cost of $ 69,000,000. During World War II, she earned the name of the fighting'est ship in the Navy.”

In 1949, she was dry-docked for redesigning and remodeling to enable her to handle larger and more powerful planes. She was recommissioned in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, on January 15, 1951.

Cost of the remodeling was about $40,000,000. After shakedown and training cruises she was ordered to Korean waters. She arrived in the combat zone on August 21, 1951.

The ESSEX returned from the first tour on March 25, 1952, and departed for Korean waters again on June 16, with Air Task Group TWO aboard. During the eight months of the second Cruise, her planes unloaded 31,000 bombs and rockets and more than a million rounds of machine gun fire on the enemy forces. Flying 7,606 sorties with Task Force 77 on this tour, the ESSEX planes participated in coordinated UN strikes all the way from the front lines to the Yalu River in North Korea, destroying over 1,100 buildings and damaging more than 500 others.

In close air support of UN front line troops, ESSEX planes killed an estimated 500 enemy soldiers and smashed 144 bunkers.

On September 2, 1952, Captain Paul D. STROOP temporarily relieved Captain RODEE as commanding officer of the ESSEX. Captain B. B. C. LOVETT took command of the huge ship just one month later.

The ESSEX returned stateside on February 6, 1953, for a well-deserved rest and entered the Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington, for several months of alterations, repairs, and overhaul.

Although the ESSEX was the oldest carrier of her class, she now had the distinction of also being the most modern. Captain Christian H. DUBORG assumed command of the ESSEX on March II, 1953, relieving Captain LOVETT.

On December 1, 1953, the ESSEX sailed from San Diego on her third tour of duty in the Far East since her recommissioning in January 1951.

The ESSEX was operating with Air Task Group TWO, and Rear Admiral Robert E. Blick, Commander Carrier Division THREE and Commander Task Force 77, was embarked.

On February 13, 1954, while operating in the East China Sea, Captain Frank TURNER relieved Captain DUBORG and became the eleventh commanding officer of the USS ESSEX.

For 165 years, the vessels bearing the name USS ESSEX have been feared by their enemies and honored by the country they served. The present ESSEX, last and mightiest of her line, is the inheritor of a proud tradition that is almost as old as the United States itself.


on January 25, 1953, the USS ESSEX sailed from Yokosuka Harbor, bound for home after seven months in Korean waters fighting a war which would never bring victory.

It was a war in which men shot to kill for two years after talks designed to end it, were begun; it was a war in which falling bombs blew great holes in the harsh Korean earth for lack of better targets while the very arsenals of the enemy lay untouched in privileged sanctuaries a few miles away.

It seemed, sometimes, the most illogical, frustrating and fruitless war in history, but it was a war which had to be fought. It was a cause which had to be defended. During this cruise, five men from the ESSEX gave up their lives for that cause.

To the world, the Korean War was a "limited" war. To the pilots of the ESSEX, who faced enemy guns every day and to the men who supported them, it was war unlimited.

It was a war of bombing, strafing, road and rail interdiction and the air support of ground troops. It was a war of endless maintenance, spotting and respotting, tending boilers and the myriad of other tasks that keep a great carrier underway and her planes in the air.

It was the deadly, dreary, monotonous war of flying circles around the Task Force, the search for submarines and the drills, drills, drills for the attack which never came.

Lacking the goal of ultimate victory, what impels men to sacrifice for such a strange war as this on the other side of the world?

For some, it is the distance and remoteness itself, the mystery of strange new places and new experiences. For some, it is the resigned acceptance of a struggle we could not honorably avoid. For some, it is an appeal to reason and to abstract ideals. For all, it reflects a fierce pride in thEM3elves, in their jobs, in their ship and in their country.

Never before have men worked so hard and suffered so much for so few of the visible symbols of accomplishment and victory. Yet in their unselfish service they brought to thEM3elves and to their country a blazing, unforgettable glory—and that is, in itself, victory.

The men of the ESSEX could well feel proud that January evening as the ship weighed anchor in Yokosuka Harbor and headed for home and their loved ones who waited so anxiously for their return.

The USS Essex (CVA-9)

The USS Essex (CVA-9) For twelve dragging days and twelve sleepless nights we steamed Eastward toward San Diego. Bright and early on Friday, the 6th of February, we lined the bow, searching for the first glimpse of Point Loma. Finally, it is sighted ! ! We stand down the harbor at a snail’s pace and then a thrilling spectacle emerges from behind the intervening buildings. . . . Thousands of people, bands, beautiful majorettes, scores of romping children and above it all, the brilliant colors of the gay dresses of our wives and sweethearts. . . . Our eyes blink to keep back the tears .... Tears for the brave boys we left in Korea and tears of thankfulness for being home. ... After a "WELL DONE" by COMAIRPAC, the gangway was lowered and wives, children, friends, and sweethearts scrambled aboard. . . . GGA Image ID # 16dd41fda1

Rosters: Section 1; Section 2; and Section 3

Return to Top of Page