PHALANX AGAINST THE DIVINE WIND: Protecting the Fast Carrier Task Force During World War II

Admiral William Halsey’s Fast Carrier Task Force was the ultimate naval armada during WWII. To protect the carriers from kamikazes, squadrons of destroyers were placed in harm’s way on the outer flanks of the formation.

The USS Haynsworth DD 700 was one of the nine sister destroyers that formed Squadron 62 in 1944. Her warrior-captain and his twenty-five year old executive officer led a mostly teenage crew through bold engagements in the South China Sea, Iwo Jima, Tokyo, and Okinawa. The destroyers battled Japanese warships, submarines, torpedoes, mines, and planes. On the road to victory in the Pacific, the young crew matured from boys to men as they endured typhoons, took prisoners on the high seas, and rescued pilots.

But, on April 6, 1945, Kikusui No.1 was initiated, the largest kamikaze attack of World War II. After months of protecting the aircraft carriers from danger, the USS Haynsworth found itself in the crosshairs when it was the first warship struck. For the Haynsworth and the Fifth Fleet, it was a fight for survival against nearly seven hundred enemy planes in an epic battle that spanned thirty hours.

The crew of the USS Haynsworth carried the weight of the attack through their lifetimes. For one young radioman, Jack McAllister, the attack defined his life in unexpected ways.

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Reader Reviews

“This was the best reading of the Pacific Fleet’s battles since James D. Hornfischer’s The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailor. I could make no better recommendation that that.” -The Destroyer Veterans Association (formerly the Tin Can Sailors Association)

“This book is worth reading. You’ll get a good idea of what our ship did in the war. This very readable, long book is profusely illustrated with photos, maps, charts, etc, highlighting the last year of the Pacific War.” -Jack Melnick, LT. USNR, USS Waldron DD 699

“What a fantastic read! If anyone would like to know about life on a (Tin) can is like, they should read it. Whether a Sailor or a civilian, you will not be able to put it down. Thanks Martin from all us ‘Tin Can’ sailors. It’s great, great, great!” Art Patton QM3, USS Haynsworth DD 700

“It’s fabulous! So much detail and research! It’s all there and Phalanx Against the Divine Wind is an achievement! Philip S. Wilmot, 1LT, USMCR, VMF-451, USS Bunker Hill CV-17, WWII.

“Phalanx Against the Divine Wind is an exceptionally well-told and comprehensive account of the last year of the Pacific War. As the Allies got ever closer to Japan, Allied task forces got bigger and bigger, with dozens of cruisers and sometimes up to a hundred destroyers protecting twenty of more carriers. The ships were arranged in concentric circles around the carriers in formations rather like the phalanxes of ancient Greece. The research is impressive. A very complicated story is told with elegant simplicity, plus hundreds of dramatic photographs. Highly recommended.” – Robert Fowler, author The Gun Club: The U.S.S. Duncan at Cape Esperance

“I’ve just starting reading and am enjoying every page. I wish that my books at the Naval Academy had been written as well as Phalanx Against the  Divine Wind. I would have done much better on my Naval History final exam!”- Peter Lothrop, CDR, USN (Ret.)

“I have spent hour after hour going through the book and discovered what I consider a truly WWII historic document. The detail that the research has produced and recorded is truly amazing.” Morris Gillett, CRT, USNR, USS John W. Weeks DD 701, USS Badger DD 126

“I just finished reading your book and it is one of the best books I have read on WW2 naval operations, especially on the Haynsworth.”  Walter Evans, SM3

“I received the book today and been reading through it most of the afternoon. WOW!! You did a fantastic job. What a great tribute to the men who served in the task force and all the men and women who served in the Navy in World War II, especially those who faced the Divine Wind.”  James K. (Son of USS Borie  DD 704 sailor).

“I am more than halfway through it and have found it to be an incredible read.  It is such a great history on the closing days of the Pacific campaign.  Once again, I find myself in utter awe as I learn about what those young guys went through!” Tom T. (Nephew of a USS Haynsworth DD 700 officer).

“An excellent work of history – the author’s mastery of the topic gives you the drama and excitement of WW2 naval operations in the Pacific while providing a well-research and documented focus on the historical facts.The number of interviews with sailors who participated in these actions is incredible. Mr. Irons has excelled in bringing their stories to life while placing them in context of the greater Pacific War. A gem.” John M. Neal, LTC, US Army (Ret.)

“Phalanx Against the Divine Wind is a true story of courage and an honest tribute to those men who gave so much. Wonderfully written by an author who went to great lengths to ensure the facts are accurate by recording such detail derived directly from those who were there. I’m looking forward to more from Mr. Irons.” Edward J. McGuiness

“Intriguing detailed account of the war in the Pacific with insights from the sailors when they were there. Well researched with many pictures.” Robert Hamilton

“As a history buff, I have been an avid reader of our history in America for most of my 77 years. Phalanx was a revelation to me in the role our destroyers have played in our wars. The big capital ships always seemed to be the focus. Your excellent tome has given me a new awareness and perspective on the role of these valiant ships and crews.  I want to thank you for autographing my copy of your incisive story of our wonderful Navy in World War 2. The “700” was the perfect example of the valor of our service people.”
-Rich D.
“Irons has done a masterful job of setting the stage for a story about a destroyer assigned to a Fast Carrier Task Group…Irons extensive research and skilled writing has made the technical aspects of their day to day battle operations fascinating. Personal accounts from Haynsworth shipmates bring the story to life…You’ll join young men as they walk the ship’s decks, stand tedious hours at battle stations, fight blazing fires, and attend a solemn burial at sea. Many of these stories were never shared with their families. Now this book preserves them for all.”
-Jeff Veesenmeyer, Author of Kamikaze Destroyer and Kamikaze Terror.
“I finally finished Phalanx. I have to tell you, it’s probably the most enjoyable book I’ve ever read on naval warfare! Bearing in mind that I spent 3 years on a DLG (Guided Missile Frigate), I was able to empathize with all the mariner stuff you wrote. The warfare element, especially for the tin cans, has always been glossed over in what I’ve read before. Being this close aboard a DD in combat was a new experience.”
-Tom H., Maps at War