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‘Fletcher, Task Force Commander’
December 2, 2013 - Mike Donahey
A book worth reading as the 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor draws near is “Fletcher, Task Force Commander — The Early Years of World War II in the Pacific.”
James Bauer of Marshalltown wrote it approximately three years ago and the former submariner and sailor goes to great lengths to describe the exploits of the late Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher of Marshalltown.
Bauer’s mission is clear: Fletcher contributed significantly to America’s victory in World War II. In several battles Fletcher either slowed — or stopped — the rapid Japanese advancement in the Pacific immediately after Pearl Harbor. After Pearl Harbor the American navy was severely crippled — except for its aircraft carrier fleet — and Japan saw an opportunity to gain a foothold while we rebuilt.
“The Japanese were able to rampage throughout the Pacific while their navy defeated five fleets of three nations in five months, without losing a single ship,” wrote Bauer. “The book on aircraft carrier-on-carrier warfare had not yet been written when Fletcher made the first attack where opposing ships did not see each other. He was the man on the spot who invented that book.” Bauer cited Fletcher's skill in the battles of the Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. “The Japanese navy was unbeatable until they met Fletcher,” wrote Bauer.
For more information on Fletcher, visit ww2pacific.com, a site created by Bauer. “Fletcher — Task Force Commander” can be found at the Historical Society of Marshall County museum or the public library.
In addition to his naval service, Bauer — who grew up in Pennsylvania — graduated from Penn State University and later pursued a career in engineering. He retired to farm in Marshalltown.