The USS Indiana (BB - 58)

The USS Indiana (BB - 58) was launched by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va., 21 November 1941; sponsored by Mrs. Lewis C. Robbins, daughter of Indiana governor Henry F. Schricker; and commissioned 30 April 1942, Captain A. S. Merrill in command.

Following shakedown in Casco Bay, Maine, the new battleship steamed through the Panama Canal to bolster U.S. fleet units In the Pacific during the critical early months of World War II.

Seaman 2c V-6 Clinton Cook, Jr. 560 14 40 joined the crew of the Indiana 12 October 1942 after completing Recruit Training at Great lakes, IL. He received “extra compensation” for his duties.

Clinton Cook, Jr

Indiana joined Rear Admiral Lee's carrier screening force 28 November 1942. For the next 11 months, she helped protect carriers USS Enterprise (CV 6) and USS Saratoga (CV 3), then supporting American advances in the Solomons.

“Junior” was assigned mess duty from 1 December 1942 – 28 February 1943. On 25 June 1943 he completed a course of instruction in the operation and maintenance of 20mm and 40mm machine guns.

Indiana steamed to Pearl Harbor in October 1943. While on liberty in Hawaii, Junior was charged with “Drunk & Disorderly” and after Captain’s Mast he was restricted to the ship while alongside Ford Island which is in the center of Pearl Harbor.

Ford Island

Indiana departed 11 November with the support forces designated for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. On 17 November 1942, Pollywog Junior Cook was Subpoenaed and ordered to appear before the Royal High Court of the Raging Main while crossing the equator. After being initiated, Neptunas Rex bestowed upon him the honor & title of Shellback.

The battleship protected the carriers which supported the Marines during the bloody fight for Tarawa. Then late in January 1944 she bombarded Kwajalein for 8 days prior to the Marshall Island landings, 1 February 1944. While maneuvering to refuel destroyers that night, Indiana collided with battleship USS Washington (BB 56). Temporary repairs to her starboard side were made at Majuro, and she arrived Pearl Harbor13 February 1944 for additional work.

Indiana joined famed Task Force 58 for the Truk raid 29-30 April 1944 and bombarded Ponape Island 1 May. In June the battlewagon proceeded to the Marianas with a giant American fleet for the invasion of that strategic group. She bombarded Saipan 13-14 June and brought down several enemy aircraft while fighting off concentrated air attacks June 15. As the Japanese fleet closed the Marianas for a decisive naval battle, Indiana steamed out to meet them as part of Rear Admiral Lee's battle line. The great fleets approached each other 19 June 1944 for the biggest carrier engagement of the war, and as four large air raids hit the American formations, Indiana, aided by other ships in the screens and carrier planes, downed hundreds of the attackers. With able assistance from submarines, Mitscher sank two Japanese carriers in addition to inflicting fatal losses on the enemy naval air arm during 'The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot."

Indiana shot down several planes, and sustained only two near torpedo misses. The issue decided, the battleship resumed her screening duties around the carriers, and stayed at sea 64 days in daily support of the Marianas invasion.

USS Indiana en route to the Marianna’s

In August the battleship began operations as a unit of Task Group 38.3, bombarding the Palaus, and later the Philippines. She screened strikes on enemy shore installations 12-30 September 1944, helping to prepare for the coming invasion of Leyte. Indiana departed for Bremerton, Wash., arriving 23 October.

Reaching Pearl Harbor 12 December, the battleship immediately began underway training preparedness. She sailed 10 January 1945 and with a fleet of battleships and cruisers bombarded Iwo Jima 24 January. Indiana then joined Task Force 58 at Ulithi and sortied 10 February for the invasion of that strategic island, next step on the island road to Japan. She supported the carriers during a raid on Tokyo 17 February and again on 25 February, screening strikes on Iwo Jima in the interval. Indiana arrived Ulithi for replenishment 5 March 1945, having just supported a strike on the next target — Okinawa.

Indiana steamed out of Ulithi 14 March for the massive Okinawa invasion, and until June 1945 steamed in support of carrier operations against Japan and Okinawa. These devastating strikes did much to aid the ground campaign and lower Japanese morale at home. During this period she often repelled enemy suicide plane attacks as the Japanese tried desperately but vainly to stem the mounting tide of defeat. In early June she rode out a terrific typhoon, and sailed to San Pedro Bay, Philippines, 13 June.

While in the Philippines, Junior “Failed to Muster” and return with the recreation party on 17 June 1945. He was AWOL for 2 days, 2 hours, and 5 minutes. Junior was sentenced to 10 hours extra duty.

As a member of Task Group 38.1 Indiana operated from 1 July to 15 August, 1945 supporting air strikes against Japan and bombarded coastal targets with her big guns. The veteran battleship arrived Tokyo Bay 5 September and nine days later sailed for San Francisco, where she arrived 29 September 1945.

Junior Cook transferred from the Indiana 29 September 1945 en route to Bainbridge, Maryland where he was later Honorably Discharged.

Clinton Cook, Jr.

Indiana was placed in reserve in commission at Bremerton 11 September 1946. She decommissioned 11 September 1947, and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She was stricken from the Navy List 1 June 1962 and sold for scrap. Indiana's mast is erected at Indiana University at Bloomington; her anchor rests at Fort Wayne; and other relics are on display in various museums and schools throughout the state.

Indiana received nine battle stars for World War II service.

Junior returned home to Richwood, West Virginia where he married his sweetheart Wilma Juanita Roach, 13 Dec 1945 in Parkersburg, WV.


Clinton Cook, Jr 13 November 1923 - 23 Nov 1982

Wilma Juanita Cook 17 March 1927 - 30 July 2005


General Characteristics:

Keel laid: November 20, 1939
Launched: November 21, 1941
Commissioned: April 30, 1942
Decommissioned: September 11, 1947
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va.

Propulsion system: boilers, four Westinghouse geared turbines

Propellers: four
Length: 680.8 feet (207.5 meters)
Beam: 108 feet (32.9 meters)
Draft: 36 feet (11 meters)
Displacement: Light: approx. 38,000 tons
Displacement: Full: approx. 44,374 tons
Speed: 28 knots
Aircraft: three planes
Catapults: two
Crew: 2354 (War), 1793 (Peace)
Last armament: Nine 16-inch / 45 caliber guns; twenty 5-inch / 38 caliber guns; twenty-four 40 mm guns and sixteen 20 mm guns

Return to The Howerton Family