Following a brief west
coast shakedown cruise, on the eighth of June, Makin Island left for
San Diego, California, stopping at Alameda, California, to load
bombs and aviation gasoline. Makin Island departed San Diego on 19
June 1944, to ferry aircraft and men to Pearl Harbor, Majuro, and
Kwajalein, returning to San Diego 24 July. The escort carrier then
trained out of San Diego, preparing for combat until 16 October,
when she sailed for Ulithi via Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok, arriving 5
On 10 November, the ship got underway for Leyte, protecting convoys
in transit to the invasion beachhead. Extensive air operations were
conducted, but no enemy resistance was encountered. On 22 November,
she sailed to Manus for the forthcoming invasion of Luzon.
Flying the pennant of Rear Admiral C. T. Durgin, Commander TG 77.4,
Makin Island left Manus 27 December to rendezvous with the invasion
force in Surigao Strait, Leyte. Sailing for Lingayen Gulf, 3 January
1945, the carrier was subjected to fierce, almost continuous enemy
air attack during the passage to the assault beaches. Though sister
carrier Ommaney Bay was sunk and a number of other ships damaged,
Makin Island arrived unscathed 6 January. For the next 11 days, she
remained off the beachhead flying air support for the amphibious
operation, then sailed for Ulithi.
Admiral Durgin flew his flag in Makin Island once more, during the
invasion of Iwo Jima, off which she arrived 16 February. Her planes
made pre-invasion strikes and after the landings provided aerial
fire support, essential to success in the hot action ashore, until 8
March. The carrier group again came under heavy Japanese kamikaze
attacks, but Makin Island once more was not hit. After replenishing
at Ulithi, she sailed for Okinawa, again as flagship.
From her arrival off Japan's last great island bastion, Okinawa, 25
March, Makin Island remained on station for 67 days, flying constant
fire support, supply, and reconnaissance missions for the ground
forces. The ship’s aircraft, from Composite Squadrons 84 and 91
(VC-84 and -91), flew 2,258 combat sorties, recording over 8,000
hours of flying time. Relieved 1 June, the carrier sailed for Guam,
arriving 5 June.
She sailed again 11 July, to provide air cover for ships conducting
minesweeping and raiding operations in the East China Sea and to
launch airstrikes against Japanese targets on the Chinese coast. On
13 August she anchored in Buckner Bay, Okinawa, and on 9 September
proceeded to Wakanoura Wan, in southern Honshū, for occupation duty.
Among her missions was providing air cover for the evacuation of
Allied prisoners of war. She sailed for San Francisco 18 October,
arrived 5 November, then voyaged to Shanghai to return troops (including
the famous Flying Tigers) to the United States at Seattle 30
Makin Island was decommissioned on 19 April 1946 at Puget Sound, was
stricken from the Navy list on 11 July, and sold on 1 January 1947.