A crewman from USS Yorktown (CV-5) wounded during the dive bombing attack is transferred via breeches buoy to a cruiser. After the torpedo attack at 1620 Hours on June 4, 1942, caused the carrier to list. When it reached 26 degrees, Buckmaster and Aldrich agreed that the ship's capsizing was only a matter of minutes. "In order to save as many of the ship's company as possible," the captain wrote later, he "ordered the ship to be abandoned." Over the minutes that ensued, the crew left ship, lowering the wounded to life rafts and striking out for the nearby destroyers and cruisers to be picked up by boats from those ships. After the evacuation of all wounded, the executive officer, Comdr. I. D. Wiltsie, left the ship down a line on the starboard side. Capt. Buckmaster, meanwhile, toured the ship for one last time, inspecting her to see if any men remained. After finding no "live personnel," Buckmaster lowered himself into the water by means of a line over the stern. By that point, water was lapping the port side of the hangar deck. Picked up by the destroyer Hammann (DD-412), Buckmaster was transferred to Astoria (CA-34) soon thereafter and reported to Rear Admiral Fletcher, who had shifted his flag to the heavy cruiser after the first dive-bombing attack. The two men agreed that a salvage party should attempt to save the ship since she had stubbornly remained afloat despite the heavy list and imminent danger of capsizing. Interestingly enough, while the efforts to save Yorktown had been proceeding apace, her planes were still in action, joining those from Enterprise in striking the last Japanese carrier IJN Hiryu late that afternoon. Taking four direct hits, the Japanese flattop was soon helpless. She was abandoned by her crew and left to drift out of control and manned only by her dead. Yorktown had been avenged. Yorktown, as it turned out, floated through the night; two men were still alive on board her—one attracted attention by firing a machine gun that was heard by the sole attending destroyer, Hughes. The escort picked up the men, one of whom later died.
Caption ©2007 MFA Productions LLC
Image in the Public Domain