COG -77th Edition – Disasters
My father-in-law, Loren Wilkerson, was in the Navy during World War II and near the end of the war he was on the CVE (carrier vessel escort) Cape Esperance as they made their way to Leyte Gulf for the battle that would eventually take place there.
On their way to the eventual battle, the Cape Esperance encountered one of the worst typhoons in naval history. Named typhoon Cobra, it wreaked havoc and caused many deaths for the US Naval vessels caught in its path. If you are interested in reading more about this storm, I recommend the book Typhoon, The Other Enemy by Robert Calhoun. My husband read the book and sent it to his dad. (I didn’t get to read it before that happened, so I just ordered a copy of the book for our library today.) Even though Robert Calhoun was onboard a different ship, his experiences were essentially the same as Loren’s.
Admiral Nimitiz letter to the Pacific Fleet dated 13 Feb 1945 gives an accounting of the ships involved and the damages they suffered. Not only were ships lost, but the Aircraft Losses from Typhoon Cobra 1944 were extensive. The total of the lives lost was at least 800. At one point, Loren said the ship’s captain wanted to abandon the Cape Esperance, but the men didn’t want to do that, and they fought to save the ship instead.
It’s my goal to document Loren’s history, either in the Navy, or as a civilian, so that his descendants will know stories of his life. On July 24th of 2008 the city of Low Moor, Iowa honored their WWII veterans and my article Low Moor, Iowa Honors WWII Vets is a more extensive recounting of his experience during typhoon Cobra.