USS Belleau Wood CVL-24 Sailor's Censored Mail December 15, 1943 - Kwajalein

USS Belleau Wood CVL-24 Sailor's Censored Mail December 15, 1943 - Kwajalein

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SKU: 2020-1114-266

USS Belleau Wood CVL-24 Sailor's Censored Mail December 15, 1943 - Kwajalein 

Originally laid down as the Cleveland-class light cruiser New Haven (CL-76), she was finished as an aircraft carrier. Reclassified CV-24 on 16 February 1942 and renamed Belleau Wood on 31 March 1942 in honor of the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I. She was launched on 6 December 1942 by New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey, and sponsored by Mrs. Thomas Holcomb, wife of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. She was commissioned on 31 March 1943, with Captain A. M. Pride in command. During the war, she was reclassified CVL-24 on 15 July 1943.

After a brief shakedown cruise, Belleau Wood reported to the Pacific Fleet, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 26 July 1943. After supporting the occupation of Baker Island (1 September) and taking part in the Tarawa (18 September) and Wake Island (5–6 October) raids, she joined TF 50 for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands (19 November–4 December 1943).

Belleau Wood operated with TF 58 during the seizure of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, Marshall Islands (29 January–3 February 1944), Truk raid (16–17 February); Saipan-Tinian-Rota-Guam raids (21–22 February); Palau-Yap-Ulithi-Woleai raid (30 March–1 April); Wakde and Sawar Airfield raids to neutralize the danger of air attack during the Battle of Hollandia landings in New Guinea (22–24 April); Truk-Satawan-Ponape raid (29 April–1 May); occupation of Saipan (11–24 June), 1st Bonins raid (15–16 June), Battle of the Philippine Sea (19–20 June); and 2nd Bonins raid (24 June). During the Battle Of the Philippine Sea, Belleau Wood's planes sank the Japanese carrier Hiyō.