The storm did not dampen Halsey’s aggressive spirit. Once his ships were mended, he requested permission to raid the enemy in the South China Sea. This he did throughout December 1944 and January 1945. His planes ranged far and wide, destroying what was left of Japanese commercial shipping and land-based planes from Saigon to Formosa.
“Bull” Halsey’s Legacy
In June 1945, the Third Fleet blundered into another typhoon with more loss of life and damaged ships. Fortunately, the war ended before the new court of inquiry could ruin reputations. The Missouri was now Halsey’s flagship, and when it was chosen as the vessel on which the surrender was to be signed, Halsey played host for the ceremonies that ended the war.
In 1946, Halsey was promoted to Fleet Admiral and a fifth star was the reward for his wartime contributions. He passed away in 1959 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He never got to fight the pitched battle he had always wanted. Historians would say that he was not a brilliant commander, that he was a bit old fashioned and out of touch with new types of warfare.
This assessment ignores Halsey’s fighting spirit, which helped rally a nation. It ignores his dogged determination to save Guadalcanal and thus the American offensive in the Pacific. He is faulted for being lured away from Leyte. Yet, he knew far better than armchair historians do that the best defense is a good offense. That is the legacy of Bull Halsey.
This article first appeared at the Warfare History Network.