These stories can also be heard Sunday mornings around 10 am on WILD 102’s “Look Back in Time” program. Each week’s radio story will be posted here on our website.
Weekly radio stories are researched, compiled, and read by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member.
In 1943, the newspapers were full of stories told by military men serving during World War II. In the
Roseau Times-Region issue of January 14, 1943, this story was told.
“Folks here pricked up their ears Tuesday when they heard over the radio that Alvin Grahn of Roseau was
interviewed following the announcement by the Navy of the end of the Aircraft Carrier “Hornet” in the
South Pacific. Alvin Grahn was home on a furlough following the sinking but kept very quiet about his
experiences or the fate of his ship until the announcement was made by the Navy this week.
The following Associated Press story covers the interview:
Gunners aboard the Aircraft Carrier “Hornet” shot down “approximately 59 of the 64 Japanese airplanes”
that attacked her before the order was given to abandon ship, members of her crew said. Two shattered
enemy planes crashed on her decks, the seamen said in statements released by the fourth naval district.
One exploded on the flight deck near the bridge, “starting a furious fire,” and the other dived under the
flight deck into a row of officers’ staterooms.
The Hornet was identified by the navy yesterday as the carrier previously announced as lost in the battle
of the Santa Cruz islands last October 26 th . The story of her fighting death was told by Gunner’s Mate
Alvin Grahn, of Roseau, Minnesota, and fellow crewmen now in the navy yard base in Philadelphia. The
attacking planes came in two waves, Grahn said, while the Hornet’s attack planes and other units of a U.
S. task force were defeating a Jap force northeast of Guadalcanal.
“Our guns were all manned and ready,” Grahn related. “It was just like the pause before a football game
when everyone is listening for the referee’s whistle for the kickoff. And suddenly a shout: “here they
come, start firing.” Some of us had never fired at enemy planes and the boys were making bets on the
chances of getting a crack at dive bombers and torpedo planes. Within seven or eight minutes, we had
shot down 50 of 54 which came over in the first attack.”
The first wave, however, scored repeated hits and other vessels in the American force ranged alongside
her with fire hoses going to help put out the fires. The second combined dive bomber torpedo plane
attack began, Grahn related. “I counted six torpedo planes and four dive bombers and we shot down all
the torpedo planes and only one bomber got away,” he added.
“The shooting was so thick and fast,” the fourth naval district said, “that not all the Hornet’s men could
keep track of it as well as Grahn.”
Wikipedia gives extensive history of the Hornet:
USS Hornet (CV-8), the seventh U.S. Navy vessel of that name, was a Yorktown-class aircraft
carrier of the United States Navy.
Hornet was laid down on 25 September 1939 by Newport News Shipbuilding of Newport News,
Virginia, and was launched on 14 December 1940, sponsored by Annie Reid Knox, wife of Secretary
of the Navy Frank M. Knox. She was commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk on 20 October 1941,
with Captain Marc A. Mitscher in command. 
During World War II in the Pacific Theater, she launched the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and participated
in the Battle of Midway and the Buin-Faisi-Tonolai raid. In the Solomon Islands campaign, she was
involved in the capture and defense of Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, where
she was irreparably damaged by enemy torpedo and dive bombers.
The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands took place on 26 October 1942 without contact between
surface ships of the opposing forces. That morning, Enterprise's planes bombed the carrier Zuihō ,
while planes from Hornet severely damaged the carrier Shōkaku and the heavy cruiser Chikuma .
Two other cruisers were also attacked by Hornet's aircraft. Meanwhile, Hornet was attacked by a
coordinated dive bomber and torpedo plane attack.  In a 15-minute period, Hornet was hit by three
bombs from Aichi D3A "Val" dive bombers. One "Val", after being heavily damaged by antiaircraft fire
while approaching Hornet, crashed into the carrier's island, killing seven men and spreading
burning aviation gas over the deck. A flight of Nakajima B5N "Kate" torpedo bombers
attacked Hornet and scored two hits, which seriously damaged the electrical systems and engines.
As the carrier came to a halt, another damaged "Val" deliberately crashed into Hornet's port side
near the bow. 
With power knocked out to her engines, Hornet was unable to launch or land aircraft, forcing her
aviators to either land on Enterprise or ditch in the ocean. Rear Admiral George D. Murray ordered
the heavy cruiser Northampton to tow Hornet clear of the action. Japanese aircraft were
attacking Enterprise, allowing Northampton to tow Hornet at a speed of about five knots (9 km/h;
6 mph). Repair crews were on the verge of restoring power when another flight of nine "Kate"
torpedo planes attacked. Eight of these aircraft were either shot down or failed to score hits, but the
ninth scored a fatal hit on the starboard side. The torpedo hit destroyed the repairs to the electrical
system and caused a 14° list. After being informed that Japanese surface forces were approaching
and that further towing efforts were futile, Vice Admiral William Halsey ordered Hornet sunk, and an
order of "abandon ship" was issued. Captain Mason, the last man on board, climbed over the side,
and the survivors were soon picked up by the escorting destroyers.
American warships attempted to scuttle the stricken carrier, which absorbed nine torpedoes, many of
which failed to explode, and more than 400 5-inch (130 mm) rounds from the
destroyers Mustin and Anderson. The destroyers steamed away when a Japanese surface force
entered the area. The Japanese destroyers Makigumo and Akigumo finally finished off Hornet with 4
24-inch (610 mm) Long Lance torpedoes. At 01:35 on 27 October, Hornet finally capsized to
starboard and sank, stern first,  , with the loss of 140 of her 2,200 sailors. 21 aircraft went down with
Hornet was in service for one year and six days, and was the last US fleet carrier ever sunk by
enemy fire. For these actions, she was awarded four service stars and a citation for the Doolittle
Raid in 1942, and her Torpedo Squadron 8 received a Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary
heroism for its performance at the Battle of Midway.
In late January 2019, the research vessel Petrel located Hornet's wreck at more than 17,500 feet
(5,300 m) deep off the Solomon Islands. ] The expedition team, largely funded by Paul Allen, aboard
the Petrel, used information from the archives of nine other U.S. warships that saw the carrier shortly
before she was sunk. One of two robotic vehicles aboard the Petrel found the Hornet during its first
dive mission. The carrier lies upright on the ocean floor, with her signal bridge and a section of her
stern that broke away coming to rest around her.
Hornet was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 13 January 1943. Her name was revived less
than a year later when the newly constructed Essex-class aircraft carrier Kearsarge was
commissioned as USS Hornet (CV-12). ] CV-8 is honored aboard her namesake, which is now
the USS Hornet Museum docked in Alameda, California.
Thank you to (www.roseauonline.com) for letting us share our county’s history with your listeners by donating air time, studio time, and production staff every week.