Air Attack on USS Meredith
While pulling a barge carrying barrels of gasoline and quarter-ton bombs from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal Vireo in company with Meredith was spotted by Japanese aircraft on 15 October. Cautiously proceeding, the pair drove off a two-plane Japanese attack before receiving word that Japanese surface ships were in the area. At noon, Meredith ordered old, slow, and vulnerable Vireo abandoned and took off her crew. Meredith then stood off to torpedo the tug at 1215 so that she would not fall into enemy hands intact. Suddenly, a whirlwind of destruction swept down from the sky and descended upon the destroyer. Like hawks, 27 planes from the Japanese carrier Zuikaku pounced on Meredith and deluged her with bombs, torpedoes, and bullets, sinking her in an instant. Vireo and the two gasoline barges, however, drifted to leeward, untouched. The majority of Vireo's old complement were lost in the ordeal with Meredith.