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On this, the 70th anniversry of the sinking of the USS Mississinewa AO-59, let us remember those brave men who served, and particularly, those whom we have lost. May they always be remembered.
Kaiten by Mair and Waldron
ISBN-13: 978-0425272695

Kaiten: Japan's Secret Manned Suicide Submarine And the First American Ship It Sank in WWII

by authors Michael Mair and Joy Waldron

In November 1944, the U.S. Navy fleet lay at anchor in Ulithi Harbor, deep in the Pacific Ocean, when the oiler USS Mississinewa erupted in a ball of flames. Japan’s secret weapon, the Kaiten—a manned suicide submarine—had succeeded in its first mission.
The Kaiten was so secret that even Japanese naval commanders didn’t know of its existence. And the Americans kept it secret as well. Embarrassed by the shocking surprise attack, the U.S. Navy refused to salvage or inspect the sunken Mighty Miss. Only decades later would the survivors understand what really happened at Ulithi, when a diving team located the wreck in 2001.
In Kaiten, Michael Mair and Joy Waldron tell the full story from both sides, from the strategic importance of the USS Mississinewa to newly revealed secrets of the Kaiten development and training schools. U.S. Navy survivors recount their gripping experiences in the wake of the attack, as well as the harrowing recovery efforts that came later. Japanese pilots reveal their terrifying experiences training to die for their country and Emperor, never knowing when their moment of doom would come.

“A powerful tale about how an intersection of youth, patriotism and sacrifice ended in a fiery, suicidal assault on an American warship. More than recounting a battle, this is a very human story that relives one of the most painful episodes of World War II.”—James P. Delgado, Author of Silent Killers: Submarines and Underwater Warfare and Khublai Khan's Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada

“Mair and Waldron masterfully interweave World War II documents, interviews, and oral histories of two opposing nations in mortal conflict to create a rare and intimate view of the Pacific War that provokes the reader to rethink the boundaries of individual courage and national patriotism.”—Larry E. Murphy, Chief (Ret.), Submerged Resources Center, National Park Service

“A crisp, persuasive narrative about a little-known, but startling World War II attack…Mair and Waldron portray the story from both perspectives, constantly building to a dramatic, fiery crescendo. Their profiles of American and Japanese sailors add poignancy to a compelling story of battle disaster, death and survival.”—David Sears, Author of Pacific Air and At War with the Wind

“This doomed mission almost became lost in history after the atomic explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the authors of Kaiten have pulled together the story, and populated it with flesh-and-blood warriors on both sides of the conflict…This book can take its place alongside Shadow Divers and Unbroken as a graphic, living story from the worst war the world has ever known.”—Richard McCord, Journalist, Editor and Publisher of the Santa Fe Reporter and Author of The Chain Gang: One Newspaper versus the Gannett Empire

“If you like reading history with the details to bring it to back to life, you'll enjoy Kaiten.”—Ralph Wilbanks, underwater archaeologist and NUMA expedition leader

Now Available!

Need any help purchasing “Kaiten?”
Phone or e-mail Mike Mair for assistance at (608)778-6723 or mike@kaitenthebook.com


*”Kaiten" is published by Berkley/Penguin Book Group. Be sure to order a copy
from your favorite on-line book seller or local bookstore today. Here are a few:

Penguin Books
Barnes & Noble

Facebook Page
Visit the Kaiten Facebook pages

Mississinewa survivor, Herb Daitch, shown here with his wife, Laurel, passed away 16Sept2014. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Herb's family.

Ribbons and Awards Received

The U.S.S. Mississinewa was a T3-S2-A3 Auxiliary Oiler, commissioned on May 18, 1944. The role of the U.S.S. Mississinewa was to refuel ships, while underway, in the South Pacific during WWII. She, along with the other Auxiliary Oilers, played a crucial role in keeping combat vessels supplied with fuel.

On November 20, 1944, the U.S.S. Mississinewa was struck by a Kaiten (Imperial Japanese Navy manned suicide torpedo with a 3,418 lb. warhead), became totally engulfed in flames and subsequently sank with a loss of 63 U.S. Sailors and one Japanese Kaiten pilot. The sinking was captured in still photographs by Sid Harris, a sailor aboard fleet tug, Munsee.  See our Newsletter, Vol. 2 below for some of his pictures. It was also captured by 16mm film, which has been put into a YouTube video (see immediately below).

We want to express our utmost gratitude to all those brave veterans who risked their lives and especially to those who gave their lives to help ensure the freedom that we enjoy today.

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Related Video's:


View identified crewmen in picture
Click on crew photo to the left.  Then click on the enlarged photo to see section details.  

Margaret Pence christening Mississinewa 1944
Margaret Pence, now known as "Peggy" Howell, christening the USS Mississinewa on May 18, 1944. Click on Margaret's photo to see the autographed picture of her christening the ship, and the photos she shared with us given to her by Captain Beck in 1945. The photos were taken at the Shellback Ceremony held aboard the USS Mississinewa in 1944.  Also... read the latest Scuttlebutt Newsletter below.  I wrote about my meeting with Margaret, her two daughters and son-in-law. Wonderful people!         
- Ron Fulleman

Sadly, we say farewell to Margaret Pence Howell,
who christened Mississinewa back on May 18, 1944. 
Margaret "Peggy" passed away on 25August2013. 

Peggy's steadfast bond with the Mississinewa will always be remembered!

At right: Memorial on Mangejang Island, at Ulithi, for those lost in the sinking of the Mississinewa.  Click on them to enlarge. Photos courtesy of Lt. Cmdr.Carter, US Navy. 

Close up of plaque with names of those who perished as a result of the sinking of the USS Mississinewa in 1944.  Lt. Cmdr Carter beside AO-59 Memorial USS Salvor crew built.

<< Click on the picture to the left to view theNavy Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)'s web presentation on the removal of the oil from the sunken USS Mississinewa in 2003.


Related Sites of Interest:

The WWII Experiences of Marvin Cooper, GM2c, UDT . Marvin's memoirs chronical the formation of the Navy Underwater Demolition Team, the precursor to the Navy Seals, during WWII.  NEW

National Weather Service

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center  (Courtesy of FSM Lt. Governor Tony Tareg)


1999 USS Mississinewa Reunion by Ron Fulleman- (son of Raymond Fulleman, WT2c)

Ron's site describing the AO-59 reunion, in April of 1999, in Corpus Christi, TX.


Navel Force Web-Sites   & World War II Misc. Links

Many links to World War II Navel sites. NEW Link as of 4-25-02


Department of the Navy - Historical Center

Historical information of Navel Ships along with other links.


U.S.S. Canisteo, AO-99

Displaying photos, historical information, links to the U.S.S. Canisteo and other Oilers.


U.S.S. Conklin, DE-439

Displaying photos, historical information, links to the U.S.S. Conklin and other Destroyer Escorts.


Fleet Tanker Association  ***

This site displays Oiler reunion information and links to many Oiler sites.


Iwo Jima

This site show some great information and links to the battle of Iwo Jima.


U.S.S. Cimarron, AO-177

This site is dedicated to all tankermen and has a great many images of tankers at work.


The Bent Prop Project (Mississinewa Search Article) - View the first pictures of the AO-59 taken after 57 years

A group that searches for clues leading to the location & identification of wreck sites and remains of men who gave their lives in defense of America.


Bouwman U.S. Navy Page

A tribute to the Tankers and Oiler of the US Navy including the AO-59 and the USS Mississinewa, AO-144.

Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil:
The Story of Fleet Logistics Afloat in the Pacific During World War II
by Rear Adm. Worrall Reed Carter, USN (Retired)

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The AO-59 was 553' long with a beam of 75'.

Click here to view photos 

HullNumber.com is a site designed to help former crewmen get in contact with eachother.
Click above picture to go to HullNumber.com's AO-59 Site
sinking picture

Photo to right: Kaiten 

On display at the Bowfin Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii. The suicide torpedo has been modified with a glass panel under the conning tower to allow visitors to view the interior workings.

Photo by: Ron Fulleman 

kaiten      medal
Mike, Ray, Ron, Bob    Peacoat Memorial
Left to Right - Mike Mair, Ray, Ron, and Bob Fulleman
USS Lackawanna, AO-40 Reunion - Seattle, WA - 2000
Email comments or suggestions to:

Bob Fulleman
-Co-Webmaster & "Scuttlebutt"

- Son of survivor Ray Fulleman, WT2c

Ron Fulleman
- AO-59 Researcher & Reunion Co-Host

- Co-Webmaster
- Son of survivor Ray Fulleman, WT2c

Mike Mair
(800-236-4327 9am-5pm CDT)
- AO-59 Historian & Reunion Co-Host
- Son of survivor Jack Mair, F2c
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Page last updated 1/24/2015rf