Acker, George Bernard, Jr., LTJG

Fallen
 
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Last Rank
Lieutenant Junior Grade
Last Primary NEC
00X-Unknown NOC/Designator
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1944-1945, 00X, USS Long (DMS-12)
Service Years
1942 - 1945
Lieutenant Junior Grade
Lieutenant Junior Grade

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Home State
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
Year of Birth
1920
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Sheila Rae Myers, HM3 to remember Acker, George Bernard, Jr., LTJG.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Philadelphia, PA
Last Address
6131 Walker St
Philadelphia, PA

Casualty Date
Jan 07, 1945
 
Cause
KIA-Body Not Recovered
Reason
Other Explosive Device
Location
Pacific Ocean
Conflict
World War II
Location of Interment
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial - Manila, Philippines
Wall/Plot Coordinates
(cenotaph)

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 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

After repairs and training at Manus, USS Long (DMS-12) departed 23 December to sweep for the landings at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon; her group was attacked 2 January 1945 in the Mindanao Sea in the first of the frequent air raids with which the Japanese attempted to repel the invasion of Luzon. Long began mine sweeps in Lingayen Gulf 6 January, evading and firing upon Japanese aircraft as she carried out her intricate mission. Shortly after noon, beginning her second run, Long spotted two Mitsubishi A6M Zeros heading for her.

Long went to 25 knots and opened fire, but a kamikaze crashed into her portside below the bridge about 1 foot above the waterline. With fires and explosions amidships, Long lost power and internal communications, and was unable to fight fires forward. Her commanding officer, Lieutenant Stanley Caplan, fearing an explosion in the forward magazine, gave permission for men trapped on the forecastle to leave the ship, but through misunderstanding, the crew aft abandoned ship. All were quickly rescued by Hovey standing by to aid the burning but still seaworthy ship.

Lieutenant Caplan prepared to lead a salvage party and board Long from Apache, but continuing heavy air attacks prevented firefighting and salvage attempts. Later that afternoon a second plane attacked Long and exploded at the same spot, destroying the bridge and breaking the ship's back. Long capsized and sank the following morning. Several of the survivors rescued by Hovey perished when Hovey herself was torpedoed and sunk by enemy planes early the next morning.

LTJG Acker was reported as missing in action and later declared dead.
   
Comments/Citation

Service number: 128163

The information contained in this profile was compiled from various internet sources.
   


World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Marshall Islands Operation (1944)
From Month/Year
January / 1944
To Month/Year
March / 1944

Description
The Marshalls lie in two roughly parallel chains about 100 miles apart. The eastern, or "sunrise," chain contains the large atolls of Mille, Maloelap, and Wotje. The western, or "sunset," chain includes Jaluit, Kwajalein, Rongelap, Bikini, and Eniwetok. Both chains have numerous smaller atolls. An atoll normally consists of a perimeter of flat coral islands surrounded by reefs with a lagoon in the center. The lagoons are generally navigable since the coral reefs usually have breaks which permit seaborne traffic to enter and exit the atoll with comparative ease. There are 32 separate island groups in the Marshalls with 867 reefs, spread over 400,000 square miles of ocean. Kwajalein, the world's largest coral atoll, with over 90 islands, is located in the geographic center of the Marshalls and is approximately 2,100 nautical miles southwest of Pearl Harbor. The islands generally are narrow and flat and only two to three miles in length. Even the larger islands rise only about twenty feet above sea level. Although some of the small islands are barren, most have heavy undergrowth, and the larger ones also have coconut palms, breadfruit trees, and scrub pines. On most islands road networks were primitive or nonexistent in 1942, but one or more islands in each major group were large enough to accommodate an airstrip. Even prior to World War II the Japanese had constructed barracks, airfields, piers, and other military installations on many of the islands, and during 1942 and 1943 they were hard at work fortifying them further.

Faced with conducting operations across vast stretches of water on mostly unimproved islands, Admiral Nimitz developed an operational concept of seizing one island chain to support operations in the next chain. Before attacking the Marshall Islands, Nimitz's forces therefore had seized Tarawa and Makin in the Gilbert Islands, some 565 nautical miles south of the Marshalls, in November 1943. The U.S. Army's 27th Infantry Division had secured Makin against only light Japanese resistance, but the U.S. 2d Marine Division took strongly fortified and defended Tarawa only after suffering some of the heaviest American casualty rates of the war.

The seizure of the Gilberts, especially the invasion of Tarawa, marked the first time an American force had assaulted a heavily fortified enemy beachhead from the sea, and despite sound amphibious doctrine, problems were apparent. Instances of inadequate air support due to poor communications and coordination, ineffective naval gunfire especially during the preinvasion bombardments, and inadequate quantities of equipment and materiel, as well as a shortage of amphibian tractors, all cost lives and demanded immediate solutions for the rest of the campaign. However, the landings, especially those at Tarawa, showed that the U.S. Navy and amphibious forces were capable of securing such isolated outposts with relative speed despite strong opposition.

The U.S. victories at Tarawa and Makin achieved the mission of reducing the distance aircraft would have to travel to reach the Marshalls. U.S. warplanes could now conduct and carry out combat and photographic missions deep within enemy territory. Without that advantage, the campaign against the Marshalls, Operation Flintlock, would have been much more difficult and costly.

he Marshall Islands Campaign (31 January-22 February 1944) was the first time that the Americans captured pre-war Japanese territory, and was made up of two main parts - Operation Flintlock, the conquest of Kwajalein and Operation Catchpole, the conquest of Eniwetok.

The invasion of the Marshall Islands was one of the earlier American war aims in the Pacific, but it soon became clear than the existing Allied bases were too far from the islands. In order to gain bases nearer to the Marshalls, the Americans invaded the Gilbert Islands, leading to the battles of Makin and Tarawa.

The Marshall Islands consist of 32 island groups, split into two main chains. The north-eastern chain is known as Ratak, or sunrise, while the south-western chain is called Ralik, or sunset. The two chains were around 100 miles apart, and run north-west to south-east for several hundred miles. The largest atolls in the Ratak chain are Mille, Maloelap and Wotje, while Jaluit, Kwajalein, Rogelap, Bikini and Eniwetok are the main atolls on the Ralik chain. Most of the islands are low lying coral reefs formed into atolls, including some of the largest in the world. The Marshall Islands had been part of the Spanish Empire until the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, when they were sold to Germany. They were then conquered by Japanese during the First World War, and became a Japanese mandate after the war. 

In August 1943 Admiral Nimitz asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to give him official orders to invade the Marshalls. On 1 September they responded with an order to him to seize and control the Marshalls, and at the end of the operation to have seized or controlled Wake, Eniwetok and Kusaie (the eastern-most of the Caroline Islands). The operation had four official aims - to prepare to gain control of the Carolines, to inflict loses on the enemy, to improve the security of the lines of communication and to support operations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. At this stage the invasion was to begin on 1 January 1944 (or when allowed by the campaign in the Gilberts). The 4th Marine Division, 22nd Marine Regiment (reinforced) and 7th Infantry Division were allocated to the invasion at this point.

The original plan was to invade Wotje, Maloelap and Kwajalein at the same time, in order to knock out two thirds of the Japanese air force in the islands. Most of the other airfields, mainly on Jaluit and Mille, could be neutralized from those islands. Nimitz then suggested bypassing Wotje and Malolap,and focusing on Kwajalein, in the centre of the Marshalls. Although this plan was opposed by most of his subordinates, Nimitz got his way and the new plan was confirmed on 14 December 1943. The invasion was now scheduled for 31 January 1943. On 26 December, at the request of Admiral Spruance, Majuro, at the eastern end of the Marshalls, was added as an objective.

The Japanese had airfields on several of the islands. The most dangerous during the invasion of the Gilbert Islands was on Mille, simply because it was the nearest to them. Maloelap posed the biggest threat to operations within the Marshals, as there was a large and well defended airfield on Taroa, the largest island in the atoll. Roi Island was almost entirely dominated by the airfield built there. Wotje was a major Japanese base, again with an airfield.  

The islands came under heavy and persistence air attack by long range B-24s, and later by aircraft based on Tawara and Makin. They were also subjected to one major naval air attack on 4 December, but this was cut short after it became clear that the Japanese defenders still had teeth - one carrier was even hit by a torpedo, although survived.

D-Day for Operation Flintlock was 31 January. This saw a long series of smaller islands around Kwajalein and Roi-Namur captured (including Carlson, Carlos, Carter, Cecil and Chauncey). Majuro Atoll was also occupied, this time without any resistance.

The three main invasions were then launched on 1 February. General Holland Smith's 5 Amphibious Corps attacked Kwajalein Atoll in the middle of the islands while General Harry Schmidt's 4th Marine Division landed on Roi and Namur, 45 miles to the north-west.

None of the Japanese garrisons held out for long. Roi was taken on 1 February. Namur was secured by noon of 2 February. Between them these two attacks cost the Americans 190 dead and 547 wounded, while the Japanese lost 3,500 dead and 264 captured. The fighting on Kwajalein lasted a little longer, but the island was secured by 4 February. This time the Americans lost 177 dead and 1,000 wounded, the Japanese 3,800 killed.

These quick conquests convinced Admiral Nimitz to bring Operation Catchpole - the invasion of Eniwetok, 400 miles to the north-west, forward by two months. On 18 February General John Walker's 22nd Marine Regiment landed on Engebi. On 19 February the 106th Regiment, 27th Infantry (General Thomas Walker) landed on Eniwetok. Once again the battle was short, and the island was secured by 21 February. Finally, Parry Island was conquered on 22 February, after a single day of fighting against what was meant to be the strongest garrison in the group.

In the aftermath of these battles most of the smaller atolls in the Marshalls were conquered, mainly without any fighting. The only exceptions were Wotje, Mille, Jaluit and Maloelap, which were left alone and allowed to wither on the vine for the rest of the war.

The Americans soon turned the Marshall Islands into a major air and naval base. An airfield was built on Dalap Island (Majuro), and was used to raid to the remaining Japanese held islands. The Navy also built a fleet anchorage and medical facilities.

The Japanese airfield on Roi was repaired and enlarged. It was soon in regular use, and was officially commissioned on 15 May.

The airfield on Kwajalein Island was soon turned into a 6,300ft heavy bomber field. Naval facilities were also built on the island. This airfield was used for the USAAF raids on Truk.

The airstrip on Engebi in Eniwetok was ready to take three B-25 squadrons by 5 March. A 6,000ft field on Eniwetok Island was completed by 20 March. Eniwetok was also used as a fleet anchorage.

The bases in the Marshalls were used to secure American communications in the area, but also as a base for attacks on the Marianas Islands, the first position within the inner ring of Japanese defences to be attacked. 

 
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
January / 1944
To Month/Year
March / 1944
 
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
   
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