Navy ‘Stuff’…

Edit- Sorry about the screwed up pics and dates in the first go round this morning… Apparently something ‘glitched’ in the upload. My bad… All corrected now, thanks Grog for the comm date!

By popular demand, some WWII Destroyers that my readers have connections to…

These first three are Fletcher Class DDs…

First is USS McCord, DD534, she was attached to both TF38 and TF58 under Admiral’s Halsey and Spruance.

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo NH 107248 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo NH 78955-KN from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Here’s a pic of one of my reader’s dads who served on USS McCord during the war.

USS McCord survived the war, was shifted to the ready reserve, then brought back for Korea under TF77. She was decommed in the early 1970s.

Next is USS Hazelwood, DD531

Commissioned in 1942, was the second named for Commodore John Hazelwood; a naval leader in the American Continental Navy.

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo NH68373-KN from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Underway somewhere in the South Pacific…

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo USN 1045624 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

On April 29th, 1945, she and the carrier group came under attack. She sunk two kamikazes, but a third screamed out of the clouds from astern. Although hit by Hazelwood’s fire, the enemy plane careened past the superstructure. It hit #2 stack on the port side, smashed into the bridge, and exploded. Flaming gasoline spilled over the decks and bulkheads as the mast toppled and the forward guns were put out of action. Ten officers and 67 men were killed, including the Commanding Officer, Cmdr. V. P. Douw, and 36 were missing.

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-187592 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Larry’s dad was a GMG (Gunner’s Mate, Guns) on the Hazelwood, but rate changed to YN at some later point.

USS Hazelwood was decomm’ed, but brought back in service for Korea, staying in service through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the search for USS THRESHER, and was the test ship for the DASH unmanned helicopter.

And last but not least USS Haggard, DD555

Commissioned in 1943, named for Captain Haggard of the Louisa, who fought in the Quasi-War. I was unable to find a ship’s crest or patch for her. She was part of the Taffy-2 Group (Battle of Leyte Gulf) and TG38 and TG58.

U.S. Navy bureau of Ships – Official U.S. Navy photo from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

USS Haggard was acting as a forward picket on 22 March 1945 when shortly before midnight she detected a surfaced submarine with radar, and after the submarine dived attacked with depth charges. Ten minutes later the submarine surfaced on Haggards port beam. Commander Soballe brought his ship into a hard left turn toward his adversary. Haggard rammed the submarine I-371 amidships, sinking I-371 in three minutes.

On 29 April, she was proceeding to picket station and was attacked by a kamikaze making a shallow dive to starboard. The aircraft crashed close aboard and penetrated her hull near the waterline. Soon afterward, her bomb exploded in Haggard’s engine room. As water gushed through the gaping hole in the destroyer’s side and she began to settle, another suicide plane attacked, but was splashed by anti-aircraft fire. Wounded were taken by cruiser San Diego (CL-53) and destroyer Walker (DD-517) arrived to tow the stricken ship to Kerama Retto, near Okinawa.

She departed Kerama Retto 18 June 1945 and arrived Pearl Harbor via Saipan and Guam 12 July. From there she steamed to San Diego and the Panama Canal Zone, arriving at Norfolk 5 August 1945. Decommissioned 1 November 1945, Haggard was scrapped because of war damage.

And a picture of another reader’s father that served on USS Haggard.

HERE is a link to the Peripatetic Engineer’s blog, his dad also served on DDs in WWII and he recounts a story from his dad’s logs on USS Ericsson, DD 440, in the Atlantic, the Med and the Pacific. He also has links to earlier post on her in that post.

USS Ericsson was a Gleaves-class destroyer, one generation older than the Fletcher Class ships above, was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named after John Ericsson, who is best known for devising and building the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor. USS Ericsson was commissioned on 13 March 1941.

Here she is in camouflage paint #1 during Convoy Duty. She supported five Atlantic convoys before going to other assignments, culminating in Pacific duty in September 1945.

 They all served with honor, in some of the most trying times in the South Pacific…

And I must add this LINK, Typhoon Cobra or Halsey’s typhoon. 790 men were lost as ships sank in that typhoon during operations off the Philippines.


Navy ‘Stuff’… — 17 Comments

  1. Fantastic history. I love this stuff. Because if we don’t keep talking about it, it will be forgotten too soon.

    My father was regular navy during WWII. He and his best friend skipped school one day and on a whim, joined the navy in 1939. By the time the U.S. actually got into the war, my father was the leading seaman of the deck department, working towards getting his rating as a Bos’n’s Mate. He would talk about the fun things he did as a bos’n but rarely ever talked about the war itself. I can only remember one time that he related a story about a kamikaze attack on his convoy. One of his friends was going up a weather deck ladder when the plane impacted the ship. The resulting explosion blew his friend through the rungs of the ladder and painted the bulkhead with his blood. My father served in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters, saw action in both. But he never told anyone which ships he served on or what happened during the war. There were some very deep scars. He finished the war as a BM2 in charge of the shore patrol detachment in Trinidad/Tobago. Now THAT he would talk about. And those stories are not for the faint of heart or the prudish.

    I grew up surrounded by veteran’s like my father. They were a different breed of men and they are quickly disappearing from our society and our memory. To me, that is a tragedy.

    Enough of my rambling.

  2. These men and their ships are part of the greatest generation. And that generation is all but gone. I’m not nearly as impressed with many of their replacements in the current generation as I’d like to be. In a way, I’m glad that they didn’t live to see the current navy, shrunk to pre-WW2 size with readiness at an all time low, and commands that spend a lot of time discussing their options to “transition” at public expense…

  3. Thanks Jim.
    I hope I speak for all the guys who’s dads are represented here when I say
    Truly the greatest generation.

  4. A different bread of men then than now. I toured a Fletcher class DD in Buffalo, NY, and was amazed at the close quarters as compared to my Sumner class DD. The Fletcher’s were a little more narrow. All the main deck compartments were entered from the outside, where as, except for the paint locker, we had an internal passageway running almost the length of the ship. We could go from one end to the other during foul weather without getting wet.

  5. So the Haggard made it across the Pacific, through the Canal, and up the Atlantic to Norfolk and then was scrapped because of war damage…makes me wonder 2 things: what was the damage that was so extensive that, even after going all that distance, was not fixable (because there must have been some repairs made to enable her to get that far) and how did the crew fare on that voyage, which must have been very challenging even though they were no longer in the fight. Bet there are a few interesting stories there.

    Thank you for these snippets. We need to keep this history alive so we do not repeat it.

  6. Ray- Thanks for the comment and your dad’s service. MANY of the vets would never talk…

    Grog- Thanks, updated!

    LL- Concur… dammit…

    PE- More than welcome sir!

    Craig- You’re welcome, and yes, they WERE the greatest generation.

    CP- They weren’t built for comfort, not in the least…

    Suz- My guess, and it’s just that, is that they ‘knew’ they were going to be decommissioning a number of ships, keeping only the best going forward. Hence the Haggard ended up on that list due to damage. I’m SURE there were a number of ‘interesting’ stories about that crossing…

  7. I love reading the stories of those older tin cans, after having served on a Gearing-class (commissioned Feb. 1945). You just keep right on telling the stories, sir, and we’ll keep soaking ’em up. Thanks.

  8. Amusing to listen, at family gatherings, to the destroyer vets talking smack.

    “You can’t call yourself a real sailor if you didn’t………….

  9. Speaking of the battle of Leyte Gulf, that is the name of the Tecumseh class cruiser my son is stationed aboard, the Leyte Gulf. She was involved in the Gulf war, and did some anti-drug war stuff, and is based in Norfolk,VA. He was just here in MI for a visit, and got back to Portsmouth last night. They are scheduled to go out for a 6 month sea tour in the spring. I think the North Atlantic, Denmark, etc. but also the Straits of Hormuz might be on their agenda. He is a sonar technician, he has a little less than 3 years left of his 6 year hitch, as over a year was spent in school. He also is into guns, so he is one of the guys who gets to be a first responder in case of trouble, and also when they pull into port.

  10. Thanks so much. So many ships went through so much I think its hard for most to comprehend. Re: The Haggard. The initial patch was a large patchwork plywood rig. While at Kerama Retto a metal patch was welded on. The trip back was slow with only one engine. The bonus was not being kamikazed. After returning to Norfolk my father then boarded a troop ship and proceeded back around the world all the way east through the panama canal and India picking up troops returning home. He spent the rest of his life until retiring farming. He turns 94 next month. He thinks the Haggard survived the typhoon because they had recently refueled and had enough ballast. Shipmates maintained they “pegged” out the inclinometer during the worst of it.

  11. Pigpen- USS Leyte Gulf is a Ticonderoga Class Cruiser, she’s going to be getting some ‘quality’ underway time! 🙂

    Alan- You are most welcome sir. And ballasting down probably DID save the ship! Please thank him for his service!

    Paul- Thanks, yes that is the ‘standard’ crest all ships have. There is usually a second designed ‘for’ that ship by the plankowners…

    Rick- You’re welcome sir!

  12. You’re welcome, of course. I’m still looking for the crest for Haggard, will let you know if I find it.