…..During the night of 22-23 December 21-22December, it was at Pearl, where the closenessof the race against time was forcefullyapprehended, Admiral Pye, acting as CinCPacpending arrival of Admiral Nimitz fromWashington, was in conference with Capt. CharlesH. McMorris, USN, and Rear Admiral Milo F.Draemel, USN, both of the CinCPac staff.
Thequestion was whether or not to risk losing whatwas left of the Pacific fleet in what might wellbe a vain attempt to relieve Wake. During thenight, as a compromise measure, it was decided tosend in the Tangier, a fast new ship, to Wake byherself, fly off the Marine fighters from theSaratoga at maximum range, and retire.
But beforeAdmiral Fletcher could execute this hazardousdecision which would have spelled destructionfor the Tangier and her relief force of Marines,the orders were countermanded. To add to thedifficulties of decision, Admiral Pye knew thatWake was already, in the minds of many, writtenoff as lost, and that some doubted if we couldcontinue holding, even if this crisis wasaverted.
Finally, as day was breaking over Makalapa, thedecision was reached. At 0811, Hawaiian time,some two and a half hours before Wake was tosurrender, Task Force 14 was recalled.Aboard the Astoria, Saratoga, and Tangier,reactions varied from astonishment to shame andanger. There were even some staff officers whocounseled Admiral Fletcher to disregard ordersand make a dash in to Wake.
They did not now thatat this very moment, some four enemy heavycruisers Cruiser Division 6 were patrollingeast of Wake, separated from any Japanese carrierair support by hundreds of miles, a sittingtarget for the airmen of the Saratoga; nor didthey know that the Japanese attack force wasdisposed about Wake with no apparent measures forsecurity against surface attack.
Had all thisbeen known, the story of Wake might have beenvery different.
But it was not known, and Task Force 14, whichmight have relieved Wake, spent most of 23December refueling its cruisers, and that nightretired on Midway
“Aboard the Astoria, Saratoga, and Tangier,
reactions varied from astonishment to shame and
anger. There were even some staff officers who
counseled Admiral Fletcher to disregard orders
and make a dash in to Wake.
They did not now that
at this very moment, some four enemy heavy
cruisers (Cruiser Division 6) were patrolling
east of Wake, separated from any Japanese carrier
air support by hundreds of miles, a sitting
target for the airmen of the Saratoga; nor did
they know that the Japanese attack force was
disposed about Wake with no apparent measures for
security against surface attack.
Had all this
been known, the story of Wake might have been