Known for his economic use of ammunition, Hamilton ‘Mac’ McWhorter became the first ‘ace’ on the Hellcat. Thomas McKelvey Cleaver explains
Task Force 14 headed west out of Pearl Harbor on September 30, 1943. A year before, off the Solomon Islands, at the Battle of Santa Cruz the USS Hornet had been sunk, leaving the damaged USS Enterprise as the only American aircraft carrier in the South Pacific. The fleet steaming out of ‘Pearl’ included the first ships constructed following the passage of the ‘Two-Ocean Navy’ Act of 1940. There were three new large carriers: Essex, Yorktown named for the carrier sunk at Midway and Lexington, namesake of the first US carrier lost in combat. Accompanying these were the light carriers Independence, Belleau Wood and Cowpens.