The Marianas Campaign

Under the command of her new skipper, the BRAINE proceeded north to the war zone. A fueling stop was made at New Caledonia and the ship was repainted with a camouflage. Additional fueling stops were made at the New Hebrides Islands and Guadalcanal. The BRAINE conducted training exercises in the area with the battleships USS NEW MEXICO - BB40, USS PENNSYLVANIA - BB38 and USS IDAHO - BB42. The task force then proceeded to the recently captured Kawajalien Island in the Marshall Islands. Here Captain Fitts inspected his new ship and crew and made preparations for another large invasion. At Kawajalien and Eniwetok, Task Forces of aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers and destroyers were being formed, along with the troop transports, LST’s, tankers and escort vessels for the invasion of the island of Saipan in the Marianas Island Group. The Marianas Island Group consisting of the large islands of Saipan, Tinian and Guam and smaller islands in the chain. The task force arrived off Saipain on 14 June 1944. Fire Support Unit 7 consisted of the battleship USS NEW MEXICO - BB40 and the heavy cruisers USS MINNEAPOLIS - CA 36 and USS SAN FRANCISCO - CA38 along with the BRAINE and other screening destroyers. The unit bombarded Saipan prior to the landings scheduled for the next day.

Reports were received that Japanese AK’s and luggers were reported being in Tinian Harbor, the large island south of Saipan. The Commander of Fire Support 7 ordered the BRAINE to “ work them over. ” With the battle ship NEW MEXICO backing us up, the BRAINE entered Tinian Harbor and the range was closed. The boats appeared to be all small sampans or luggers and were taken under fire. Return fire from a Japanese 4.7 shore battery was observed from the north of Tinian and the BRAINE shifted its firepower to this target. Hits were observed and the battery was silenced. At about the same time, a second shore battery to the south of town commenced fire and the BRAINE shifted its firepower to this target. The shore battery hit the BRAINE amidships, port side with many near misses. The BRAINE was ordered to clear the area and did so at flank speed.

The engagement cost the lives of three crew members and fifteen were wounded. The NEW MEXICO transferred a doctor to the BRAINE and the BRAINE transferred the three most seriously wounded to the NEW MEXICO as the two ships returned to the fire support area off Saipan. That afternoon the BRAINE crew sadly buried their fallen shipmates at sea. The shore battery hit caused considerable damage to the 40mm mounts, the torpedo mount, three torpedoes, the uptake area of No. 2 stack, and the ammunition storage areas.

On 15 June 1944 during the landings on Saipan, the BRAINE was attacked by six Japanese dive bombers at about 3000 yards; the planes were driven off.

About 300 miles west of the Marianas a large Japanese aircraft carrier task force was approaching. On 17 June the BRAINE with DesDiv 90 was ordered to join Task Force 58.2 as a screening destroyer for our aircraft carriers headed for a showdown with the enemy task force.

While part of the screen for our aircraft carriers, the BRAINE was attacked three times by enemy planes which were driven off. Our pilots destroyed over 300 enemy aircraft and their pilots while suffering minimal losses. The engagement was officially the Battle of the Philippine Sea, but was more popularly called “The Marianas Turkey Shoot” and was a major turning point of the war in the Pacific. Our pilots had to return to their carriers after dark. Admiral Mitchner made a daring decision. The screening destroyers ringing the formation all turned on their searchlights and the carriers turned on all their landing lights. The returning aircraft were low on fuel and the pilots landed on any convenient carrier. Many crash landed into the sea within the formation. The BRAINE picked up five airmen. Because of the damage to the BRAINE caused by the hit from the enemy shore battery, the ship left the task force at the Marianas and proceeded to Pearl Harbor via Eniwetok, crossing the International Date Line on 5 July 1944. The ship arrived in Pearl Harbor on 10 July 1944 to await orders for repairs.

The good news was received with joy--the BRAINE was going back to the states to San Pedro Navy Yard for repairs.

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