The Death of a Lady: The USS Lexington (CV-2) at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Part III: Battle Report

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

This is the third, and final, in a series of posts on the fate of the USS Lexington at the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 8, 1942.

The previous posts (1) described the Battle of the Coral Sea, included a transcript of portions of the log of the USS Lexington describing the action on May 8 1942, and included images of the entire log for that day and (2) presented a gallery of photographs.

On May 12, 1942, only four days after the battle, Captain Frederick C. Sherman submitted his battle report.  That report included a narrative of the events of May 7-8, drew conclusions about the action, and made numerous recommendations.

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In 1947, President Harry Truman presented the Legion of Merit to now-Vice Admiral Sherman.  The citation read, in part:

For exceptionally meritorious conduct . . . as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. LEXINGTON during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 7-8, 1942.  A skilled and resourceful leader, Vice Admiral (then Captain) Sherman directed his Air Squadrons in two daring attacks on enemy carriers and succeeded in sinking one and damaging or probably destroying another. . . .  When enemy dive bombers and torpedo planes staged a fierce counterattack, Vice Admiral Sherman handled his ship with superb seamanship, avoiding many torpedoes and bombs.  Later when an explosion made it necessary to abandon ship, he calmly conducted the orderly disembarkation of more than 2700 survivors who were subsequently rescued by accompanying vessels of the Task Force. . . .

Source: The battle report comes from: LEXINGTON, Serial 0100, May 15, 1942, World War II Action and Operational Reports (NAID 305236), Record Group 38: Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. The text of the citation comes from Board of Decorations and Medals Alphabetical Awards Citation Files, 1920-1970, Entry UD-WW-85, (NAID 599836), Record Group 428: General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1947- .