Kamikaze Attack near Luzon
Zeilin completed the disembarking of troops and the unloading of their attendant supplies and equipment at San Fabian by the evening of January 12. That night, she formed up with a fast transport convoy and headed for Leyte. The next morning, just after the beginning of the forenoon watch, a single Japanese plane pounced on the convoy. Swooping down from a low cloud, the kamikaze bore in on Zeilin's port quarter. ... He feigned a bank at amphibious force flagship Mount Olympus (AGC-8) steaming astern of Zeilin, but quickly resumed his original course. Surprise and the feint at Mount Olympus rewarded the suicide pilot with success. ... He made it through the fire of Zeilin's after 40-millimeter mount, his right wing struck the port kingpost and boom serving No. 6 hatch while the fuselage swung inboard under the radio antenna and crashed the starboard side of the housetop. At that point, his payload, a cache of incendiary missiles constructed out of 3/4-inch gas pipe showered the decks and started a number of scattered, but small, fires. Damage topside was extensive at the point of impact. The superstructure deck was blown away, deck framing was bent and buckled, and several staterooms were completely destroyed. The plane's engine pierced the superstructure deck and the outboard bulkhead and ended up in one of the landing boats. ... Worst of all the attack cost the ship seven men killed outright, three declared missing, and 30 injured. ... The damage, however extensive, was not fatal, and Zeilin continued on her way with the convoy.