"The Small Boys"

A small gray ship, her bows streaming spume, fights her way across the heaving slopes and sinking valleys of water. She is the protector, the tin can, awake, ever-searching. It was she whose unwearied watch brought thousand of our youths safely to distant shores to form the assault; whose guns blazed the way across the beach for them; and whose youth then returned to the wearied watch to escort yet more ships to distant shores with those thousands of tons of supplies required to make the assault successful.

The versatile destroyer was neither wholly nor largely engaged as an anti-submarine vessel; destroyer operations encompass a range wider than that of any warship type. The enemy suffered from the rapier-like thrusts of the destroyer--the torpedo for the battleship, the depth charge for the submarine, the gun for the airplane or the pillbox on the beach--the greatest concentration of power in a lightweight fighter the seas have ever seen.

Some of the numerous accomplishments of the destroyer and destroyermen include battles in the Coral Sea, the savage engagements of the Solomons Campaign, the bitter fight for the South Pacific. There follow the destroyer missions of "Operation Torch" and the greatest trooplifts to England and North Africa; the battle for the Mediterranean and the destroyer work in the drives on Sicily Salerno and Anzio; the Normandy landings and the landings in Southern France. With Fortress Europe unlocked by "Overlord" the spotlight returned to the DesPac effort in the Navy's trans-Pacific drives--destroyer operations in the patterns of "Galvanic," "Flintlock," Cherry Tree," and in the Third Fleet's drive through the Bismark Barrier to the doorstep of the Philippines. Following this came the battles of Surigao Strait, Leyte Gulf, and Ormoc Bay, which put destroyers and destroyermen to the ultimate test. Relentlessly, DesPac operations led to Saipan and to the epic struggle at Okinawa where the "small boys" fought the greatest destroyer battle of all history in their stand as picket boats against the revenging Kamikazes.

We, in particular, all recollect operations in the Gilberts, Marshall, Marianas, Philippine Sea, Lingayen Gulf, Hollandia, Brunei Bay, Balikpapan; the capture of the Japanese hospital ship Tachibana Maru, carrying 1600 troops and quantities of arms and ammunition, the sinking of the Japanese submarine I-21, and the prisoners which we took aboard off Truk.

And who can forget the typhoon of December 17. Rough on battleships and carriers, the typhoon was unmitigated hell for the destroyers. The storm came howling down from the north; the ocean surged up to meet the sagging sky; the seascape blurted out in a gray-white opacity of flying spume. During the peak of the storm, a number of DDs were rolled over on their beams and pinned down with their stacks almost flat against the sea. Somehow the destroyermen managed to survive the raving ocean.

The DDs and destroyermen in World War II waged and won the greatest sea, anti-submarine and surface-air battles in naval history. Here can be found a multitude of exploits of seamanship, marksmanship and leadership that highlight a record in which every Navy man may share the pride of partnership.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation