Built in Camden, New Jersey in 1943, USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) is a small aircraft carrier. One of the many light cruisers that was converted to a carrier during World War II, Belleau Wood joined the war against Japan in the summer of 1943.
Once she joined the war, she participated in raids on Tarawa and Wake Islands and the Gilbert Island invasion. In 1944, she became one of the carriers sent to support the operations on the Marshall Islands, raiding the enemies to secure Saipain.
During her service, she saw many successes including:
- Her planes sunk the aircraft carrier Hiyo during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
- Participated in takeover of Guam, Palaus, and Morotai
- Raids on the Philippines
- Participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf
While in the Philippines, she was hit by a Japanese suicide plane, causing her to set fire and lose 92 members of her crew. She returned to the U.S. for repairs.
In 1945, she returned to war to participate in raids and support the Marines on Iwo Jima. Her planes participated in the flyover that caused the eventual surrender of Japan. She received a Presidential Unit Citation and 12 battle stars for her role in WWII.
After the war, Belleau Wood transported veterans back to U.S. soil and was placed out of commission in 1947. In 1953, she was loaned to the French and reactivated for the use of the French Navy. In 1960, she returned to the U.S. and was sold for scrap.