Born 8 January 1896 - Died 11 April 1955
Navy Cross for the 25 October 1944 action off Samar. Admiral Sprague was aboard the escort carrier, USS Fanshaw Bay during this engagement.
Legion of Merit Medal for his command of the USS Wasp.
Gold Star in lieu of second Legion of Merit for the Morotai landings.
Gold Star in lieu of third Legion of Merit for the Iwo Jima and Okinawa operaitons.
Gold Star in lieu of fourth Legion of Merit for Operation Crossroads.
Presidential Unit Citation to Task Unit 77.4.3, the escort carriers and screen he commanded off Samar.
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation to Task Unit 77.4.3.
The guided missle frigate USS Sprague (FFG-16) was launched at Bath, Maine, on 13 February 1980.
Inducted into the Carrier Aviation Hall of Fame in Charleston, South Carolina, on 13 October 1985.
[History Panel "1"]:
Admiral Clifton A. F. Sprague led the thirteen ships of Task Unit 77.4.3 (known as Taffy 3) in a decisive battle against a vastly superior Japanese task force of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers on 25 October 1944.
"What chance could we have with 6 slow, thin-skinned escort carriers and 7 small screen vessels, each armed with 5-inch pea-shooters, against the 18-, 16-, 8- and 5-inch broadsides of the enemy warships bearing down on us at twice our speed?" - Admiral Sprague.
Sprague's decisive action came five days after General Douglas MacArthur's soldiers and Marines established a beachhead on Leyte Island in the Philippine Islands.
[Back, History Panel "2"]:
The courage and determination of the officers and men aboard the 13 ships and the valor of the men of the air squadrons memorialized here probably saved the lives of thousands of Allied fighting men on the shores of Leyte.
"If we can get the enemy task force to attack us, we can delay its descent on Leyte until help comes, though obviously the end will come sooner for us."
- Admiral Sprague.
The 7 Ameican screen vessels made effective torpedo attacks on the enemy battleships and cruisers and a number of salvos from their 5-inch guns struck the Japanese ships' superstructures. This unexpected counter attack by the Americans disrupted the enemy's plan of attack and forced several ships out of formation as they attempted to avoid the U.S. Navy's attack.
This monument has been funded by the men who served on the ships and flew the aircraft during this historic battle and by their families and friends. We are deeply grateful to the San Diego Unified Port Authority which has donated the land and will provide perpetual care for this monument. Dedicated 23 October 1996.
[History Panel "3"]:
Five American ships were sunk before the enemy turned away from the intended target that lay just over the horizon. Land and carrier-based aircraft sank or seriously damaged many of the enemy ships, negating their effectiveness as a fighting force for the remainder of World War Two.
"Few can compare with the courage, coolness and tactical genius of 'Ziggie' Sprague. His aggressiveness bewildered the Japananes and infected all his forces, surface and air." - quoted in John Wukovits' biography of Admiral Sprague, "Devotion to Duty."
Admiral Sprague survived the Battle of Leyte Gulf and was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic action and outstanding leadership.