8th December 1942
COMSOPAC was alive with the signals coming from Maloelap. Firstly from the Washington saying she was engaging incoming enemy ships. Consternation gripped HQ as it was feared the Japanese fleet, elements of which are known to be based at Truk, had sortied against the landings. The US Admirals were confident that the Washington and the South Dakota could easily handle themselves against the main Japanese battle line but they feared the worst if carriers intervened, three of which are definitely operating in the area. Fears, however, were rapidly allayed as a short message followed on saying the enemy vessel (in the singular) had been dispatched. Observers also confirmed that it was a small vessel, possibly a damaged escort of the trio of oilers engaged by the ANZAC cruisers earlier in the week.
Aerial support for the main landings was at full pelt and the squadrons involved put in a maximum effort to keep the ships secure and the incoming bombers escorted. Years into the future scholars studying the battles in the Marshalls would have come across the operations report for the Battle of Maloelap dated 8th Decemebr 1942:
Sorties flown 8-12-42 in Area of Operations SOPAC
VMF-221 & VMO-251 39
VF-71 (remnant) 15
90th Bomber Group 16
28th OG 14
All these missions were flown in support of the land assault on the second Japanese line of defence. Further overnight landings had reinforced the Marine presence on the atoll. The 8th Marines was fully unloaded and prepared to spearhead the assault while the 1st Marines would be in reserve. As it turned out the 8th supported by the Stuarts of the 1st USMC Tank Battalion and the tubes of the 1st USMC Artillery Battalion were enough to penetrate the Japanese lines and totally wipe out, to a men the garrison of roughly 2,000 men. A large amount of material was captured but very little in terms of ammunition and supplies, a testament to the ferocity of the Japanese defence. The Americans now had another well developed airfield from which to base their bombers and search plan.