The Heroic Men and Ships of World War
II’s Most Decorated Navy Destroyer Squadron.
This book tells the story of the first of
the new Fletcher-class destroyers that joined the Pacific
fleet in fall of 1942. They held the line against the Japanese fleet until
America’s shipyards produced the new ships that would eventually
defeat the Japanese Navy. These first three ships would later be formed
into Destroyer Squadron 21 (Desron 21), which became the battle hardened
US Naval squadron of World War II.
The USS O’Bannon (DD 450), the USS Nicholas
(DD 449), and the USS Fletcher (DD 445) arrived in the Pacific
theater in September 1942 and were immediately put to work escorting
ships, patrolling against enemy submarines, bombarding enemy positions
on Guadalcanal, and shooting down enemy planes. There was a severe
shortage of destroyers and they were in constant demand and were
working and fighting almost nonstop. Other new destroyers arrived in 1943
and were also put to work immediately. Over time, some were sunk,
others were damaged, but they were constantly in service.
When Admiral William Halsey selected Destroyer
Squadron 21 (Desron 21) to lead his victorious ships into Tokyo Bay to
accept the Japanese surrender, he chose the most battle-hardened US naval
squadron of the war. But it was not the squadron of ships that had accumulated
such an inspiring résumé; it was the people serving aboard them who won
the battles. This is the story of Desron 21’s heroic sailors whose battle
history is the stuff of legend. Through diaries, personal interviews with
survivors, and letters written to and by the crew during the war, John
Wukovits brings to life the human story of the squadron and its men who
bested the Japanese in the Pacific and helped take the war to Tokyo. – King
County Library Review.
(ed. note: Later in the Pacific war, the
destroyer’s role in the battle of Okinawa was described as “absorbing
torpedoes” on behalf of the larger combatants and troopships, resulting in
the heaviest Navy casualties of the war.)