USS Lawrence V - History

USS Lawrence V - History

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Lawrence V
(DLG-4: dp. 3,370: 1. 437'; b. 47'; dr. 20'; s. 35 k.; cpl. 3.54: a. "Tartar" guided missiles, 2 5", ASW rocket
launcher, 6 torpedo launchers; cl. Charles F. Adams)

Lawrence ( DLG-4 ), a guided missile destroyer was laid down 27 October 1958 by New York Shipbuilding Corp.. Camden, N.J.; launched 27 February 1960: sponsored by Mrs. Fernie C. Hubbard, great-great-granddaughter of Capt. James Lawrence: and commissioned 6 January 1962, Comdr Thomas W. Walsh in command.

Shortly after a Great Lakes shakedown cruise, Lawrence departed Norfolk 22 October 1962 to take up station during the Cuban Missile Quarantine. Surprised at the firm stand taken by the United States, Russia agreed to dismantle her of offensive weapons, thereby averting an atomic crisis. While on her patrol in the Caribbean, the guided missile destroyer investigated-four foreign merchant tankers to verify their cargo. Following additional exercises with the nuclear carrier Enterprise, Lawrence returned to Norfolk 6 December.

Sailing 6 February 1963, she steamed to the Mediterranean on her first 6th Fleet deployment. After 4 months of operations in Europe she returned to Norfolk 1 July, and for the rest of the year engaged in training exercises along the Atlantic coast. During 1964, Lawrence made another Mediterranean cruise ( April-August ), performing support and antisubmarine operations and joining in exercises with British and French navies. She returned to Norfolk and operated along the coast until 20 November when she entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for regular overhaul.

Lawrence completed overhaul 27 April 1965 and commenced refresher training out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On 30 July she returned to Norfolk to make preparations for a forthcoming 6th Fleet deployment. The guided missile destroyer departed Norfolk 24 August 1965, visited numerous Mediterranean ports, and participated in vital training and readiness exercises with the 6th Fleet before returning to her home port 17 December 1966.

Through the first half of 1966 La?orence alternated time in port in Norfolk with diverse exercises in the Caribbean and off the Atlantic coast. On 7 June she embarked midshipmen from Annapolis, Md., for their annual summer cruise. For the next 6 weeks these future naval officers received valuable training and at Yea experience.

On 3 August Lawrence got underway for a North Atlantic cruise. After operating with ships of other NATO countries, she returned to Norfolk 5 September. On the 27th of the same month, she departed for another 6th Fleet deployment. On 22 November, Laurence went to the aid of a sinking merchantman, New Meadow off the coast of Crete. Survivors were taken aboard a French command ship, and the American destroyer remained by the stricken vessel to lend assistance until the following afternoon. After a valuable 4 months, Lawrence returned to Norfolk l February 1967.

From 12 June to 3 August she again conducted midshipmen training in the Atlantic and Caribbean. The remainder of the gear was spent on various exercises in the Caribbean and in port in Norfolk in preparation for a Mediterranean deployment which commenced 10 January 1968. Arriving in the Mediterranean 20 January, she relieved Tattnall (DDG-19) and then steamed for Naples. Departing Naples 30 January, she conducted at-sea operations throughout the Mediterranean until relieved by MacDonough (DLG-8) on 4 May. The same day, she commenced her voyage home arriving at Norfolk 19 May. She commenced overhaul 1 July at Norfolk Navy Yard and remained in the yards until 10 January 1969. Lawrence then spent her time conducting refresher training and local operations.

USS Lawrence V - History

USS Lawrence , a 3370-ton Charles F. Adams guided-missile destroyer built at Camden, New Jersey, was commissioned in January 1962. She made a shakedown cruise on the Great Lakes and, in the Fall of 1962, took part in Cuban Missile Crisis operations in the Caribbean. In February 1963 Lawrence began the first of more than a dozen overseas cruises, steaming across the Atlantic to join the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Further Mediterranean tours took place in 1964, 1965, 1966-67, 1968, 1969-70, 1971, 1977-78 and 1979. During the latter cruise, in June 1979, she briefly visited the Black Sea. Lawrence also passed through the 6th Fleet area en route to deployments in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf areas that took place in 1974-75, 1980 and 1983.

The much-travelled destroyer made one Vietnam War tour to the Western Pacific in 1972-73, providing naval gunfire suport, dodging enemy return fire and serving as plane guard during aircraft carrier operations. Lawrence also saw frequent service closer to home, in the western Atlantic and Caribbean, and occasionally visited the waters of Northern Europe. In 1986 she steamed around South America as part of Operation Unitas XVII, exercising with Latin American navies and visiting ports in Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil. USS Lawrence was decommissioned in late March 1990 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register a few months later. She was sold in April 1994, but was repossessed in October 1996 after the failure of the ship breaking firm. Following several more years in Navy custody, and an abortive attempt to have her scrapped in 1999-2000, Lawrence 's hulk was broken up by a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania contractor beginning in November 2003.

USS Lawrence was named in honor of Captain James Lawrence (1781-1813), who lost his life while commanding the frigate Chesapeake in battle with HMS Shannon on 1 June 1813.

This page features all our views of USS Lawrence (DDG-4) and her insignia, plus selected views related to her construction.

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Off the New York Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard, Camden, New Jersey, 6 October 1961. She was then running trials.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 79KB 740 x 510 pixels

Underway at sea, 26 December 1961.
Photographed by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 143KB 740 x 610 pixels

In Buffalo Harbor, New York, September 1962.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 94KB 740 x 605 pixels

Underway near Cape Henry, inbound to Norfolk, Virginia on 3 May 1973
Note the Destroyer Squadron 22 insignia painted on the side of her forward superstructure.
Photographed by PH2 Dupuis.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 69KB 740 x 485 pixels

Jacket patch of the insignia adopted about 1961-1962.
The eight devices on the shield are Tartar guided missiles.

Courtesy of Captain G.F. Swainson, USN, 1969.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 164KB 650 x 675 pixels

Plaque presented by the ship to the Chief of Naval Operations, on the occasion of her commissioning, 6 January 1962.
It includes an example of Lawrence 's insignia.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 107KB520 x 765 pixels

Is christened by Mrs. Fernie C. Hubbard, during launching ceremonies at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard, Camden, New Jersey, 27 February 1960.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 149KB 585 x 765 pixels

Launching, at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard, Camden, New Jersey, 27 February 1960.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 137KB 595 x 765 pixels

Immediately after launching, at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard, Camden, New Jersey, 27 February 1960.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 86KB 740 x 605 pixels

In addition to the images presented above, the National Archives appears to hold other views of USS Lawrence (DDG-4). The following list features some of these images:

The images listed below are NOT in the Naval History and Heritage Command's collections.
DO NOT try to obtain them using the procedures described in our page "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions".

Reproductions of these images should be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system for pictures not held by the Naval History and Heritage Command.

The images listed in this box are NOT in the Naval History and Heritage Command's collections. DO NOT try to obtain them using the procedures described in our page "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions".

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Page made 28 March 2003
Introductory text and credit lines updated 14 January 2010

The Battle

In the first stages of the battle, Perry moved forward to engage the British on the Lawrence, where the British navy focused their long-range guns on him and battered the ship into a bulk easily. Still, the Lawrence steadily advanced to close the gap between her and the Detroit, which took half an hour. But Perry’s second in command, Jesse Elliot, who was in charge of the Niagara, didn’t move forward with the rest of the ships. Instead, he remained outside the range of his designated opponent, the Queen Charlotte. This caused the Charlotte to move ahead, and join Barclay’s flagship in attacking the Lawrence.

For a full 90 minutes the British ships wreaked havoc on the Lawrence. The scene on Perry’s ship was a gruesome one blood, brains, hair and bone littered the deck, and crewmen witnessed their comrades being exploded by cannonballs right in front of them. Still Elliot hung back, and Perry’s men would die wondering where the Niagara was. At 2:30 pm, none of the flagship’s guns worked, and the sails could hold no wind.

Perry was ready to surrender, and at that moment Elliot brought his ship up into close combat. Perry then made the decision to move to the Niagara by rowboat, accompanied by 4 of his crew, and assume command of it. While Perry captained the ship, Elliot was tasked with taking a rowboat to regroup with the rest of the American fleet. Perry ran up his battle flag while the Lawrence surrendered in the distance. Perry decided that with their superiority in firepower, the best course of action was to go in hard and fast. He maneuvered the Niagara to cut between the British line of formation, so that the Lady Prevost and Chippewa were on the left, and the Queen Charlotte and Detroit were on his right. The British saw the Niagara drawing near, and in their haste to take evasive action, the Charlotte fouled the Detroit, causing their rigging to get tangled, and the two ships were stuck together.

Ship positions at approx. 2:50 pm, from Roosevelt, p. 270

Perry ordered the cannons on both sides of the ship to be loaded, sailed the Niagara between the four British ships and fired from both sides. Once between them, the Niagara spilled the wind from her sails, remaining in place and launching volley after volley, raking the entire length of the British ships. Meanwhile, Elliot had succeeded in regrouping the rest of the American fleet, and they continued firing their heavy guns at the British as well. They caused enough damage to the remaining ships to make the entire fleet surrender. Within 15 minutes of the Niagara’s first broadside, an officer on the Queen Charlotte started waving the white flag. Immediately after, the Detroit surrendered as well. Hunter and Lady Prevost also lied vulnerable and surrendered rather than have the Niagara shoot at them. The two smallest British ships tried to get away, but also surrendered once the American schooners caught up with them.

DDG 110 - U SS William P. Lawrence

July 2016

Mk-45 Mod.4 5"/62 caliber gun aboard USS Lawrence - July 2016

June 2016

June 2016

June 2016

June 2016

March 2016

March 2016

February 2016

February 2016

February 2016

San Diego, California - January 2016

San Diego, California - January 2016

San Diego, California - January 2016

Standard Missile SM-2 was fired from the forward Mk-41 VLS - November 2015

August 2015

August 2015

August 2015

with USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) - August 2015

August 2015

May 2015

May 2015

San Diego, California - January 2015

November 2013

August 2013

Mk-38 Mod.2 25mm machine gun fire exercise - June 2013

June 2013

April 2013

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia - February 2013

January 2013

January 2013

January 2013

MK-45 Mod.4 gun - January 2013

San Diego, California - January 2013

USS Dewey (DDG 105) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) - Portland, Oregon - June 2012

Portland, Oregon - June 2012

Portland, Oregon - June 2012

San Diego, California - September 2011

San Diego, California - August 2011

San Diego, California - July 2011

San Diego, California - July 2011

San Diego, California - July 2011

San Diego, California - July 2011

commissioning ceremony - Mobile, Alabama - June 4, 2011

commissioning ceremony - Mobile, Alabama - June 4, 2011

trials - Gulf of Mexico - January 2011

William Porter Lawrence was born in Nashville Tennessee on January 13, 1930.
As a boy in Nashville, he graduated first in his high school class and was President of the Student Body. He was ranking officer in the ROTC, all-city in football, all-state in basketball, member of the state championship basketball team and state Boys Tennis champion. He was a recipient of the William Hume award, given by the Superintendent of City Schools to the high school football player, “most outstanding in scholarship, leadership, sportsmanship and value to his team.” He attended the U. S. Naval Academy, where he played three varsity sports and ranked 8 out of 725 academically, graduating “with distinction” in 1951. He also served as Class President, Commander of the Brigade of Midshipmen, and led the establishment of the present-day Brigade Honor Concept, a key element in Midshipmen moral development.

Upon receipt of his Naval Aviator Wings in Pensacola FL in November 1952, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 193 at the Naval Air Station Moffett Field CA during the Korean War, and deployed twice to the Far East aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany. He next attended the Naval Aviation Safety School at the University of Southern California, and the U. S. Naval Test Pilot School at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River MD, where he graduated number one in his class. Subsequently, he served as a test pilot in the Flight Test Division and as an instructor on the Test Pilot School staff. While a test pilot in 1958, he became the first Naval Aviator to fly twice the speed of sound in a Navy airplane, the F8U Crusader III. In 1959 he was a Navy nominee for the initial astronaut selection and was among the final 32 candidates for the Project Mercury program, being disqualified for a minor physical defect. With regard to VADM Lawrence's test pilot years, the following is an excerpt from the novel Space by James Michener:

"On her weekends Penny came to know the older test pilots who were either still working on the base or returning to it to compare notes or drink beer with their earlier associates, and she saw that John Glenn, quiet and sober, was much like her husband, a true straight arrow…Al Shepard was all dignity and power, while Scott Carpenter was relaxed and amiable….She was overawed by Bill Lawrence, perhaps the ablest flyer, all things considered, that Pax River was to produce."

Lawrence, as a Lieutenant, served as Personal aide to RADM Thomas H. Moorer, USN, Commander Carrier Division Six, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, deploying to the Mediterranean and North Atlantic. He next served as Assistant Operations Officer of Fighter Squadron 101, Naval Air Station, Oceana, VA responsible for the introduction of the new F4H Phantom jet to the fleet, followed by a tour as Navigator of the gun cruiser USS Newport News.

As Maintenance Officer of Fighter Squadron 14, Naval Air Station, Cecil Field FL, he deployed to the Mediterranean aboard the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. He next served as Executive Assistant to General Paul D. Adams, USA, Commander-in-Chief U.S. Strike Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base FL.

VADM Lawrence made combat deployments to Vietnam aboard the aircraft carriers USS Ranger and USS Constellation. While Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron 143, he was shot down over North Vietnam in June 1967 and held as a Prisoner of War until March 1973. The following is an excerpt from the citation of the Silver Star, awarded to VADM Lawrence for the mission in which he was shot down:

“He was assigned as the flight formation and flak-suppression leader for the attack force. Although weather conditions en route required several course deviations….Commander Lawrence approached the target area in the lead of the strike group, immediately coming under an intense barrage of heavy caliber enemy anti-aircraft fire. He unhesitatingly proceeded to carry out his attack in order to neutralize the enemy’s capabilities against the strike aircraft. Although his aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire during the attack, Commander Lawrence pressed on to deliver a deadly blow to the most prominent threat site for the aircraft following him. His selfless courage and determination throughout were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the country’s third highest military award, for his inspirational leadership of fellow POWs while under constant pressure and mistreatment from his captors. The following is an excerpt from this citation:

“For exceptionally meritorious service to the government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility as the Senior Ranking Officer of Camp Vegas Prison of War Camp and at various intervals, other cellblocks, from June 1967 to March 1973. By his diligent efforts, perseverance, devotion, and loyalty to his country under the most adverse conditions, he resisted all attempts by the North Vietnamese to use him in causes detrimental to the United States. He provided superb leadership and guidance to his fellow prisoners during periods of severe pressure from his captors in their attempt to gain information for propaganda purposes. Formulating firm and explicit guidelines, he set a pattern of resistance for all to follow. His extraordinary courage, resourcefulness, and sound judgment reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces."

The following is an excerpt from the evaluation of then Captain Lawrence’s performance in captivity by the senior Navy POW, VADM James B. Stockdale, USN:

“The record of his achievement in Hanoi is a chronicle of patriotic loyalty, personal bravery, physical toughness, compassionate aid to his fellows, and inspirational leadership. From the time of his capture he was consistently stalwart and resilient in the absorption of torture from his enemies….He repeatedly paid the price of being perceived by the enemy as a source of their troubles through his ‘high crime’ of leadership….He could not be intimidated and never gave up the ship.”

After repatriation and convalescence at the Naval Hospital Memphis TN, he attended the National War College, where he was designated a distinguished graduate. During the same period, he pursued a course of study at George Washington University, leading to the award of a master’s degree in international affairs in July 1974.

After promotion to Rear Admiral in July 1974, VADM Lawrence served asCommander Light Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet at the Naval Air Station,Lemoore CA. Subsequently, he served as the Director, Aviation ProgramsDivision and Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air Warfare) in thePentagon. He became Superintendent, U.S. Naval Academy on 28 August, 1978 and promoted to Vice Admiral on 1 August 1980. VADM Lawrence assumed command of the U.S. Third Fleet in September 1981, the Fleet whichAdmiral Halsey commanded in World War II. In 1983, while COMTHIRDFLT, he won the Hawaii Armed Forces singles tennis championship in the seniors division (over 45).

On 28 September 1983, he became the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Manpower, Personnel and Training)/Chief of Naval Personnel, responsible for formulating and executing Navy policies on personnel and training matters. During his period, VADM Lawrence was dubbed by the men and women in the fleet as the “Sailor’s Admiral.”

He retired from active duty on 1 February 1986 and subsequently occupied the Chair of Naval Leadership at the Naval Academy until 1994, and served as the President of the Association of Naval Aviation from 1991 to 1994. He was a Visiting Professional Scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, conducting research and preparing a report on the relationship between the military and the U.S. news media.

While a POW in North Vietnam, VADM Lawrence composed a poem entitled “Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee,” which was designated by the state legislature as the official poem of the State of Tennessee. The following is a quotation from the moving ending of this poem:

“Beauty and hospitality are the hallmarks of Tennessee and o’er the world as I may roam no place exceeds my boyhood home. And oh how much I long to see my native land, my Tennessee.”

In 1973, the Nashville Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame established the William P. Lawrence Award, given annually to the outstanding football scholar-athlete in the city’s public and private schools.

VADM Lawrence received the 1979 National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Gold Medal, the Foundation’s highest honor, awarded to a former college player who has distinguished himself by his personal qualities, professional life, and contributions to his country. Former gold Medal recipients include President Dwight Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, John Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, Supreme Court Justice Byron White, Coaches Amos Alonzo Stagg and Earl Blaik, and actor John Wayne.

In 1980, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Fisk University in Nashville TN, a prominent historically black school.

In 1982, the Naval Academy established the Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence Award, a sword given annually to the most outstanding woman athlete in the Brigade of Midshipman.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association selected him for the 1984 Theodore Roosevelt Award, the Association’s highest honor, recognizing VADM Lawrence as one “For whom competitive athletics in college and attention to physical well-being have been important factors in a distinguished career of national significance and achievement.” Former recipients include Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and George Bush, US. Senator Leverett Saltonstall, Golfer Arnold Palmer, and General of the Army Omar Bradley.

In 1984 he received The Liberty Bowl’s Distinguished Citizen Award, presented annually to a deserving citizen who has contributed mightily to his community and profession. The impressive list of citizens who have received the Award since 1972 include: Paul “Bear” Bryant ’74, Danny Thomas ’79, William Simon ’83 (former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury), Fred Russell, ’86 and the New York City Police Officers, Fire Fighters and Emergency Workers 2001.

In 1985, the Navy established the Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence Award, a trophy given annually to the most outstanding Air Traffic Control Maintenance Technician in the Navy.

In 1997 he received the Navy League’s Admiral Arleigh Burke Leadership Award for outstanding leadership, personal integrity, professional achievement and unselfish dedication to America.

On October 21, 2000 he received the U. S. Naval Academy Alumni Association’s Distinguished Graduate Award. The award is given to those who have provided a lifetime of service to the nation. Other honorees were: John J. McMullen, Class of 1940 ADM James L. Holloway, Class of 1943 MAJGEN William A. Anders, USAF, Class of 1955 and Roger T. Staubach, Class of 1965.

November 17th, 2003 he was honored as an award winner at the National Caring Awards Ceremony, Ronald Reagan Building, Washington DC. The Caring Institute celebrates those special individuals who, in transcending self, devote their lives in service to the disadvantaged, the poor, the disabled, and the dying. Other honorees were: William Austin, Dr. Gloria Johnson-Rodgers, Steven & Michele Kirsch, Jerry Lee, Tom Osborne and Betty Tisdale.

February 27th, 2004, he was honored as an inductee into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. The mission of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is to honor the outstanding achievements of Tennesseans in the realm of sports, and to perpetuate the memory of their careers and service.

He has also received the State of Tennessee’s Outstanding Achievement Award, the Liberty Bowl’s Distinguished Service Award, the Military Chaplains Association Citizen of the Year Award, and the Harvard Business School Distinguished Speakers Program “Outstanding Speaker of the Year” award.

October 23rd, 2004 he was honored by The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame at a Naval Academy football pre-game ceremony with midshipmen on the field in formation. His recognition reads For a lifetime defined by superior leadership, valor and dedication to our nation and the game of football. And whose exemplary contributions, heroic deeds and distinguished service will forever resonate throughout this game and this nation: "Given with much appreciation - October 23, 2004, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland."

March 1st, 2005 he was honored by the Nashville Alliance, Public School Hall of Fame, Class of 1947 West High School, 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award.

October 15th, 2005 Admiral J. L. Holloway III, U. S. Navy (Ret) honored him with the Dedication of the VADM W.P. Lawrence “N” Room at the Navy and Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

VADM Lawrence’s organizational affiliations include: Secretary of the Navy’s Advisory Committee on History Vice President, Naval Historical Foundation Trustee, U.S. Air Force Historical Foundation Trustee, Naval Aviation Museum Foundation Director National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, Inc. Consultant to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports United States Olympic Training Center-San Diego Campaign Steering Committee Director, Institute for International Sport Director, Atlantic Council of the U.S. Trustee, Naval Academy Foundation and Early and Pioneer Naval Aviation Association. In addition, he is on the Boards of Directors of several corporations and is listed in Who’s Who in America.

He is married to the former Diane Wilcox of Montoursville PA. They have four children: Bill Jr., Frederick, Laurie and Wendy. Bill Jr., is Manager of Operations and Technology for Southern California Edison at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. He has written and spoken about computer networking and authored the Using NetWare series for Que. Frederick is an Engineering Specialist with Electric Boat Corporation, Groton CT. Laurie is an M.D. and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Wendy is a Naval Academy Graduate and Navy pilot who is currently serving as an astronaut. A veteran of four shuttle missions, she has logged 1225 hours in space. She was the first woman naval aviator and Naval Academy graduate to fly in space.



ADM Arleigh A. Burke and VADM William P. Lawrence

VADM William P. Lawrence, commander, 3rd Fleet, is knighted on board the guided missile cruiser
USS LEAHY (CG 16) during ceremonies by the Sea Fair royalty - Seattle, Washington - October 6, 1982

William P. Lawrence (far left) behind President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan and George H. W. Bush on the right

USS William P. Lawrence Holds Change of Command

Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Oki | PEARL HARBOR, HAWAII (January 21, 2021) – Cmdr. Kevin S. McCormick assumes command of USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) during a change of command ceremony on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Jan. 21, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Cara Edwards/Released) see less | View Image Page



Courtesy Story

Commander Navy Region Hawaii

Cmdr. Kevin S. McCormick, Jr. relieved Cmdr. Dawn C. Allen as commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) in a change of command ceremony on board Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Jan. 21.

Allen assumed command in August 2019 as William P. Lawrence’s seventh commanding officer and led the ship through two deployments in support of operations in U.S. 7th and 4th Fleets including enhanced counter-narcotics operations that disrupted more than $200 million of narcotics. Under her command, the ship completed several freedom of navigation operations, participated in numerous exercises including an integrated Air Defense Exercise with Colombian and U.S. Air Forces, PASSEXs with Brazil, and supported humanitarian aid in Central America after Hurricanes Eta and Iota.

“It has been an absolute honor to serve with the resilient, capable and highly engaged warfighters of the William P. Lawrence, they never cease to impress and they epitomize the ship’s motto: Never Give In!” said Allen.

Allen is transferring to Yokosuka, Japan to assume the duties as Reactor Officer aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Allen, a Texas native, enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving as an aviation ordnanceman and helicopter rescue swimmer prior to commissioning as a Surface Warfare Officer with a specialty in nuclear power.

McCormick, a Delaware native, is a 2002 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He most recently served as the ship’s Executive Officer from July 2019 until August 2020. His previous sea tours include USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), executive officer of USS Defender (MCM 2) and Command of USS Warrior (MCM 10).

“It is a privilege to join and lead such a talented crew and the best ship in the Navy. We will continue to honor Admiral Lawrence’s legacy serving with honor as we defend our Nation’s interests at home and abroad,” said McCormick.

USS William P. Lawrence Returns from Drug-Busting Deployment

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) departs San Diego Bay in this 2016 photo. U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea Troy Milburn

SAN DIEGO — Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor, Jan. 11, following a deployment to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations, the U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs said in a release.

William P. Lawrence, along with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37 Detachment 7, deployed in September to conduct U.S. Southern Command and Joint Interagency Task Force South’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations missions in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean.

“I am overcome with pride when I reflect on the accomplishments of the crew while we were deployed,” said Cmdr. Dawn Allen, the commanding officer of William P. Lawrence. “The crew executed a broad spectrum of missions over the past few months with unsurpassed professionalism.”

Along with their embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 101, William P. Lawrence disrupted approximately 2,921 kilograms of cocaine which has an estimated street value of 204 million dollars. In addition, William P. Lawrence was instrumental in providing hurricane assistance and disaster relief in Honduras, collecting and delivering more than 25,600 pounds of supplies, conducting 19 rescues and two medical evacuations in support of U.S. Southern Command’s Hurricane Iota relief efforts in Central America.

Additionally, William P. Lawrence participated in two passing exercises with the Brazilian training ship BNS Brazil (U 27), an air defense joint exercise with Colombian Air Force Kfir fighter jets and performed freedom of navigation operations off the coast of Venezuela.

USS Lawrence V - History

Charles Lawrence was born in Portland, Oregon, on 29 December 1916 where he spent his childhood. he was a big baby, weighing over 9 pounds and the nurses called him "Buster," a nickname that stayed with him. he loved to play softball. As a young boy, he and his playmates spent time building forts with scrap lumber form a nearby mill. They had hills to coast on in the summer and sledding in the winter. he went to elementary school about 8 blocks from his home and then to Benson Polytechnic High School, where he majored in aviation mechanics, graduating in June 1935. This was in the middle of the Depression, so it was hard to find a job.

Charles wanted to join the Navy after graduating form high school, but every time he went for a physical, his blood pressure was too high. he later found out that his high blood pressure was the result of having to walk up eight flights of stairs to the Recruiting Office. He finally gave up on joining the Navy and applied and was accepted by the Army on 24 August, 1973. After recruit training he was sent to the Army Aviation Machinist School, graduating with high grades. he was then transferred to Luke Filed, Hawaii, and was later transferred to a B-18 squadron stationed at Hickam Field in Hawaii. he didn't want another tour of duty in Hawaii so when his tour was over, he was returned to the States and was discharged on October 11, 1939.

On 12 February 1940, he joined the Navy at San Francisco. he went through 'boot' camp at San Diego and was then sent to Aviation Machinist Mate School at North island in San Diego. After graduation, he was transferred to a PBY squadron at Naval Air Station, Pearl Harbor. In March 1941, his PBY-1 Squadron was transferred to the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, the first PBY squadron to be located at this Naval Air Station. Later on, two more PBY Squadrons were sent to Kaneohe.

In November 1941, Charles Lawrence, along with others, flew their old PBY-1 planes from Kaneohe to San Diego to pick up new PBY-5 Flying Boats. Navy PBY-1 squadrons had never flown from Hawaii to the mainland before. It was an historic first flight and took approximately 20 hours to cross the pacific Ocean to the states. It was unheard of in those days to have such young Naval personnel occupy such important positions on a Flying Boat.

On 7 November 1941, the new PBY Flying Boats returned to Kaneohe Naval Air Station and 30 days later, the Japanese attacked and destroyed all the new planes. Kaneohe Naval Air Station was attacked before Pearl Harbor because it was first in the lines of flight by the Japanese forces.

[See the Action Report of the attack filed by Patrol Squadron 12.]

Charles Lawrence was in charge of an anti-aircraft battery as his battle station during the attack. He was wounded twice but continued to give directions and encouragement to his crew until he was struck down. He was one of the first casualties, if not the first, of World War II.

Charles Lawrence was described by his shipmates as steady, truthful, and dedicated and was looked upon as a leader. He was a few years older than the rest of the crew and was nicknamed "Pop." Said one shipmate, "You couldn't ask for a nicer person or a friend." His hobbies were swimming and baseball. He was once hit in the face with a ball and his jaws were almost closed for six weeks, living on ally liquids during that time. he was never married. His parents died in 1945 and 1947. He had a sister who till lives in Oregon [2000]. He had no brothers. Charles Lawrence was one of 19 sailors who defended, with their lives, the U.S. Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay against enemy attack on 7 December 1941. He was awarded the Navy Department Commendation Medal, citing his bravery and devotion to duty under attack.

USS Charles Lawrence (DE-53/APD-37)

When USS Charles Lawrence was commissioned, Lieutenant Commander Leon S. Kintberger, USN, assumed command as her first Commanding Officer, and the ship spent several weeks at the Boston Navy Yard for fitting out. After her fitting out period, she sailed for Bermuda on her shakedown cruise. After a three-week shakedown, which consisted of drills and exercises of all kinds, such as firing all guns and torpedoes, laying smoke screen, fueling at sea, antisubmarine warfare drills, antiaircraft gunnery practice and station keeping, USS Charles Lawrence headed back for the east coast to await assignment to the fleet.

On 1 August 1943, USS Charles Lawrence was in Norfolk Navy Shipyard awaiting her first convoy, which was due to sail in about two weeks. In the meantime, she was available for general duty and she soon got it. She received orders to proceed in company with USS Hopping and search for an enemy submarine which had been reported off the coast. After searching for two days, a suspicious radar contact was made. The USS Charles Lawrence immediately went to General Quarters, closed the target, and illuminated it with starshells and searchlights. The target was a large German submarine, estimated at over 1600 tons, which submerged immediately. Sound contact was made and an attack followed. However, no results were observed and the submarine slipped away into the darkness and depths without further contact being made.

Assigned first to escort central Atlantic convoys of tankers between Norfolk and Casablanca, USS Charles Lawrence made one such voyage. On 16 August 1943, she sailed from Norfolk with her first convoy, proceeding to Casablanca. It was a quiet orderly convoy, both over and back, with no enemy contacts.

Upon returning from Casablanca, Lieutenant Francis Kerning, USNR, relieved lieutenant Commander Kintberger, USN, as Commanding Officer of USS Charles Lawrence in August 1943.

USS Charles Lawrence and five sister destroyer escorts (USS Griffin (DE-54), USS Donnel (DE-56), USS Sims (DE-154), USS Hopping (DE-155) and USS Reeves (DE-156) comprised Escort Division SIX, with USS Charles Lawrence serving as flagship. Escort Division SIX was transferred to the high-speed tanker convoys formed at New York from t ships which had sailed independently up the East Coast. Between 13 October 1943 and 23 September 1944, Escort Division SIX in USS Charles Lawrence escorted eight (8) such convoys to Northern Ireland, returning with the tankers in ballast to New York. This flow of the fuel of war was so safely guarded by this escort group that only one tanker and one escort were lost in the sixteen (16) crossings of the Atlantic.

In February 1944, Lieutenant George r. Seidlitz, USNR, assumed command of the USS Charles Lawrence, relieving Lieutenant Francis Kernan, USNR.

The Division was escorting a convoy to the United States about three days out of Londonderry, Northern Ireland in march 1944, when USS Daniel T. Griffin reported a sound contact and commenced dropping depth charges. About the same time as the depth charges exploded, a torpedo struck the tanker Seakay which had a cargo of planes and fuel oil and burst into flames. USS Griffin pursued its attack on the submarine. The tanker sank very slowly and USS Reeves dropped back and picked up all 86 men of the tanker's crew with but only one casualty. USS Griffin made several depth charge attacks on the submarine but got no positive evidence of having sunk the U-boat. [Saturday, 18 March 1944: U.S. tanker Seakay, in Avonmouth, England-bound convoy CU 17, is torpedoed by German submarine U-311 at 51°10'N, 20°20'W, and abandoned. One Armed Guard sailor perishes in the abandonment destroyer escort Reeves (DE-156) rescues survivors. Escort ships scuttle the irreparably damaged tanker with shells and depth charges.]

One the next crossing, in approximately the same general location, the Division and convoy came under submarine attack again. USS Donnel picked up a sound contact and started her attack on the U-boat. At 0955 on 3 May 1943, she took an acoustic torpedo hit in the stern however, she remained afloat. [Wednesday, 3 May 1944: Destroyer escort Donnel (DE-56) is damaged by German submarine U-765, 450 miles southwest of Cape Clear, Ireland.] After much time, difficulty, and danger, she was towed into Londonderry. Casualties among the USS Donnel consisted of five known dead, 31 missing and 29 wounded. The Donnel was later reclassified as IX-182 and was towed across the channel where she was used to provide electric power for the city of Cherbourg during critical weeks during and after the Normandy invasion.

The USS Charles Lawrence had to maintain a high standard of seamanship to keep sailing the seas in all kinds of weather. During the Winter of 1943-1944, she ran into some bad weather in the North Atlantic, the worst being what became known as the "Christmas Hurricane." For about 20 hours, the ships in the convoy , as well as the escorts, were virtually hove-to. The seas were so high that the ships could make no headway against them, and the convoy became wildly scattered. There were reports of 'green' water coming in over the flying bridge. All ships came through safely and with only minor damage, and by noon the next day, the convoy had reformed and was on its way again.

USS Charles Lawrence arrived in New York with her last convoy in September 1944, and on 23 October 1944, entered the Sullivan Drydock and Repair Corporation facility in Brooklyn, NY, for conversion from a Destroyer Escort (DE) to a High-Speed Transport (APD). The conversion was completed in January 1945, and she was again ready for another short shakedown cruise and the long journey to join the Pacific Fleet. She left Norfolk on 27 January 1945, and arrived at Cristobal, Canal Zone on the morning of 2 February. By midafternoon she was underway through the Panama Canal and up the West Coast to San Diego. From San Diego, she sailed to Pearl Harbor for a short stay.

On 5 march 1945, she left Pearl Harbor enroute to the Solomon islands by way of Funafuti, Ellice Islands. When she arrived at Guadalcanal, the staging area for the coming Okinawa invasion, she was assigned to Commander Amphibious Group FOUR. This group had left a couple of days before she arrived, so she was routed onward to Ulithi, Caroline Islands. At Ulithi, logistics were completed and she sailed for Okinawa on 27 March 1945, as one of the eight escorts for Task Group 51.11, which consisted of 20 troop transports.

"Love Day" was set at 0830 on 1 April 1945 at Okinawa. After the initial landings, USS Charles Lawrence was assigned a station in the anti-submarine screen which was a semicircle of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and high-speed transports. They formed around Hagushi Beach where the landings were made.

Patrolling was her duty for the next three months, steaming back and forth in a 7000-yard station, searching for submarines and looking for suicide boats and suicide planes. Occasionally she would be relived from the screen to escort task groups that were returning to Ulithi or Guam, but she always returned to Okinawa.

During the first few weeks after the invasion of Okinawa, there were a few attacks by Kamikaze planes, but after that, suicide planes came in force. usually from 100 to 300 planes would come in just before sunrise and again at night just prior to sunset. This routine kept up until after Okinawa was secured. Several escorts on the perimeter patrols were hit by the Kamikazes. Firing often against these desperate Kamikazes, USS Charles Lawrence escaped injury. She did not get credit for any planes shot down, however, she came under attack several times. On one occasion, a Kamikaze plane made two attacks one evening, missing on the first run and crashing close aboard on the second attempt.

In early July 1944, USS Charles Lawrence was released and ordered into Leyte Gulf for a tender availability and overhaul. During this availability period, Lieutenant Commander Seidlitz was relieved as Commanding Officer on 21 July 1945 by Lieutenant Commander D.F. Larkin, Jr., USNR.

She was ready for sea and at anchor in Leyte, awaiting her next assignment, when the Japanese capitulated. her last major job was as escort with the USS Griffin to cover the landing of the Kure Occupation Force in the Japanese Inland Sea. She then acted as transport between the Philippines and Manus. She returned to San Diego on 16 December 1945, and through the Panama Canal to Norfolk on 30 December. On 21 June 19456, she was decommissioned, in reserve at Green Cove Springs, Florida.

USS Charles Lawrence earned one Battle Star in the Asiatic-Pacific Area for participating in the Assault and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto from 1 April 1945 to 30 June 1945. She also earned the Navy Occupation Service Medal for the period 25 September to 12 October 1945.

USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/05/2020 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Arleigh Burke-class of guided missile destroyers is one of the largest United States Navy (USN) surface fighting ship groups with 61 of the 62 completed ships currently in active service (2012) and 75 total vessels planned in all. The class makes use of a variable array of weaponry coupled with the powerful AEGIS system which allow it to tackle aerial, surface and underwater threats with regular accuracy. The USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) is the 60th ship of the class and was ordered on September 13th, 2002. Her keel laid down on September 16th, 2008, and she was officially launched on December 15th, 2009 to undergo the requisite sea trials and evaluation period. The vessel was formally commissioned on June 4th, 2011 with Commander Thomas R. Williams II at the helm and, today (2012), remains in active service. The vessel was constructed by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding at the Ingalls Shipbuilding ship yard of Pascagoula, Mississippi. The USS William P. Lawrence makes her homeport out of San Diego, California and fights under the motto of "Never Give In".

The USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) is named after the US Navy's own William P. Lawrence (1930-2005) who led a storied aviation career during his active service term. He was shot down over Vietnam during the Vietnam War and remained a prisoner of war from 1967 to 1973 before his release. He retired from service to the USN in 1986 at the rank Vice Admiral and is fondly remembered as a strong leader of men and a "People's Admiral".

As a destroyer class vessel, the Lawrence is required to support larger class vessels of the main fleet while being called upon to fight on her own as the situation requires. Destroyers, by USN standards, are typically fast and agile watercraft for their size, capable of keeping pace with the accompanying convoy or tracking down enemy combatants with equal fervor. The guided missile inventory (primarily made up of Tomahawk cruise missiles) is what graduates the basic destroyer (DD) to the guided missile destroyer classification (DDG) in the United States Navy classification system. Historically, the destroyer as a naval surface fighting ship has been a multirole vessel intended to supply a variety of solutions to growing issues in open water - in this way, the Lawrence does not disappoint, her crew recognizing her appropriately as a "multi-mission" platform.

As part of the Arleigh Burke-class of guided missile destroyers, the USS William P. Lawrence utilizes much of the same design lines, internal arrangement and external configuration as her sister ships. The vessel is crewed by 270 personnel made up of officers and enlisted personnel - many trained in multiple duties to keep operational costs down while allowing for crew flexibility. Her forecastle is relatively featureless, only disrupted by the 5" gun emplacement on the deck and the first of two vertical launch missile cells directly behind. The deck gun is purposely given complete unobstructed access to targets ahead of the bow, to portside and to starboard. The bridge sits high atop the main superstructure (noted by its large, rectangular window array) which is also home to the main mast serving powerful communication and air/surface search radar as well as the Fire Control System. Just aft of the main superstructure is the first of two funnels exhausting the turbine arrangement within, the funnel encased in a slab-sided structure. Aft of this is the second covered funnel with a noticeable design gap found between the two structure. The second funnel sits atop the aft superstructure which is attached to the second VLS emplacement and this connects to the open-air helicopter flight deck in a stepped arrangement. A pair of watercraft are stored along the starboard side and these can be used for active nearby patrolling, armed investigation and general interception. As a weapon of war, the Lawrence certainly looks the part and is equally capable of running down Somali pirates as it is in hunting North Korean submarines. An AN/SQQ-89 A(V) 15 series sonar system is fitted to the underwater portion of the bow in a bulbous assembly.

Power for the USS William P. Lawrence is made possible by the internal conventional arrangement of 4 x General Electric LM2500-30 series gas turbines delivering up to 100,000 shaft horsepower to 2 x shafts at the stern. Maximum speed in ideal conditions is approximately 30 knots and she displaces at 9,200 tons. She features a running length of 509.5 feet from bow to stern and a beam of 66 feet while her draught runs 31 feet.

The armament of a destroyer is the heart and soul of the vessel. As such, the Lawrence makes use of a 32- and 62-cell Mk 41 series vertical launch system (VLS) capable of firing BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, RIM-66 SM-2 medium-range surface-to-air-missiles or RUM-139 VL-ASROC anti-submarine missiles to fulfill a variety of mission requirements. Utilizing a combination of these missile types, a single Arleigh Burke-class destroyer can engage land-based, sea-based and aerial targets with proven lethality. Along her forward deck is the 5" (127mm) /62 deck gun for principle engagement of surface/land-based targets at range including offshore bombardment in support of amphibious landings. This armament is backed by a pair of 25mm guns for supporting defense. A 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) is used against incoming aerial threats (be they enemy aircraft or cruise missiles) at close-range. 4 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns protect the vessel from short-ranged incoming threats such as those proposed by Al Qaeda operatives using personal watercraft to reach the vessel. To counter both surface and underwater threats at range, the Lawrence is further equipped with 2 x Mk 46 triple torpedo tubes which can hone in on unsuspecting targets wherever they may be.

The air arm of the USS William P. Lawrence consists of up to 2 x Sikorsky SH-60 Sea Hawk naval helicopters. The Sea Hawk is a specially-bred navy model of the famous land-based Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk series and developed specifically for over-water operations in conjunction with the scanning, tracking and engagement systems aboard the USS William P. Lawrence itself.

USS Yorktown CV-5 History

U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5) was laid down on May 21, 1934 at the Newport News Shipbuilding company in Newport News, Virginia. Just under two years later she was launched on April 4th of 1936, sponsored by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Over the next two years she was fitted out and trained in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and proceeded on her shakedown cruise in the Caribbean in early 1938. She remained on the eastern seaboard and participated in war games and fleet problems for the next year, until transferring to the Pacific in April of 1939. Once there she operated out of San Diego and continued to participate in fleet problems that helped develop carrier doctrine that was still in its infancy. In 1940 she was fitted with an RCA CXAM radar, one of the first ships to carry this new technology.

In April of 1941, as a show of U.S. naval force, Yorktown and a supporting force of cruisers and destroyers was transferred back to the Atlantic. The rising toll of the German u-boat campaign against the British caused great concern on the East Coast, and the Navy needed to be able to show it could protect American interests, even though the United States was still neutral in the conflict. American warships began escorting American flagged merchant ships, and all cruises were done on a wartime-footing, even though the Germans had strict orders not to attack American vessels. Yorktown and her escorts completed several such cruises, until she returned to Norfolk for overhaul on December 2nd, 1941.

With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Yorktown immediately returned to the Pacific to reinforce the damaged fleet. She began her wartime career by escorting Marine reinforcements to American Samoa. Her charges safely delivered, U.S.S. Yorktown met up with her sister ship U.S.S. Enterprise and the two undertook one of the first offensive operations in the Pacific: The Marshalls-Gilberts Raids. Yorktown’s air group attacked targets at Jaluit, Makin and Mili. Damage was slight, both because of the air crews’ inexperience, and the fact that there was little of military importance at the locations. During the operation a Japanese “Mavis” flying boat that shadowed the task force was shot down by Yorktown’s Combat Air Patrol, the ship’s first enemy “kill”.

Following these raids, Yorktown put into Pearl briefly for replenishment and then on February 14th, 1942, headed for the Coral Sea. There she met up with the carrier U.S.S. Lexington and her escorts to patrol the South Pacific. March 10th saw a joint strike from the two carrier’s air groups against Lae and Salamaua. Again, military targets were attacked and damaged, but nothing of significance. One result of this raid, however, was to give the air crews more practice at dive bombing and torpedo runs experience that would be invaluable in the coming months.

Lexington returned to Pearl Harbor for a refit and Yorktown stayed in the Coral Sea for extended patrols. She continued to do so with only a minor visit to Tongatabu in the Tonga Islands, until the Lexington returned. Once rejoined the two carriers headed back to the Coral Sea. There they joined in battle with the Japanese in The Battle of the Coral Sea, May 4th through 8th, 1942. The battle, a result of an attempt by the Japanese to invade Port Moresby, New Guinea and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands, saw the Japanese invasion turned back in the first ever carrier battle, and the first naval battle in history where the opposing ships never sighted one another. The Japanese lost the light carrier Shoho, while the Americans lost the heavy carrier Lexington. Yorktown also sustained damage that many said would take months of shipyard work to repair.

Those months in the shipyard would not come, however, as Yorktown returned immediately to Pearl Harbor to prepare for another battle. U.S. Naval Intelligence had broken a top Japanese code and knew that the enemy’s next move would be to invade Midway Island, at the very northwestern tip of the Hawaiian island chain.

Yorktown entered Pearl Harbor on May 27th, and just three days later, patched up from a hurried dry dock visit, got underway towards Midway. Her repairs were nowhere near sufficient, but they would have to do. Yorktown rendezvoused with her sisters Enterprise and Hornet at Point Luck, northeast of Midway, and lay in wait for the Japanese.

Search planes from Midway detected the Japanese invasion force and the separate Japanese carrier battle group early on June 4th. Yorktown had the search duty that day, and stayed on station to recover her search aircraft while Enterprise and Hornet raced west to launch their strikes. Once Yorktown had recovered her aircraft, she followed and launched her own strike. This separated the two task forces, and would have dramatic consequences for Yorktown. Due to errors in plotting and aircraft getting lost, Enterprise and Yorktown’s dive bombers arrived over the Japanese carriers at the same time (all three carriers torpedo plane squadrons had been turned back with atrocious losses already, and Hornet’s dive bombers got lost and missed the action entirely). Within the space of minutes, the SBD Dauntless aircraft had turned three Japanese carriers into burning wrecks.

Of the Japanese carriers, only the fourth, Hiryu, had escaped the initial inferno. She subsequently launched a strike of 18 Val dive bombers and 6 Zero fighters, which found Yorktown just after 1400 hours. Three bombs struck Yorktown and knocked out all power. It took over an hour for the engineers to get the engines and boilers back online and functioning. With power restored, Yorktown began making headway again, just as another attack appeared on the radar screen at 15:50.

Yorktown immediately began to churn up to her now top speed of 20 knots, and launched what few fighters she had aboard, some with so little fuel in them that they were prepared to fight and ditch in the water. The Japanese strike, also from the sole surviving Hiryu, of Kate torpedo planes, pressed their attack and Yorktown, unable to dodge them due to her reduced speed and damaged state, took two torpedoes in her port side.

The ship took on an immediate list and lost all power. Captain Buckmaster passed the order to abandon ship once the list passed 26 degrees. With all of the crew off and the battle proceeding on without her (aircraft from the Enterprise, including many Yorktown orphans, found and destroyed the Hiryu), the Yorktown clung to life. After a full night of refusing to sink, a salvage party was assembled and returned to the carrier. Salvage and towing was well underway when, on June 6th, the Japanese submarine I-168 slipped through the escorting destroyer screen and fired a spread of torpedoes at Yorktown. The destroyer Hammann, tied alongside Yorktown to provide power, was struck by one torpedo and split in half, sinking in a matter of minutes. Two other torpedoes struck Yorktown. The carrier was again abandoned, and the hope was to board her and continue the salvage the next day, but dawn of June 7th saw Yorktown slowly settling and rolling over. Shortly after 0700 hours U.S.S. Yorktown rolled onto her port side, capsized, and sank.

How the Marines succeeded at Belleau Wood in World War I

Posted On September 12, 2019 02:53:33

In 1918, World War I was in its fourth year. Imperial Russia had succumbed to the Communist Revolution and capitulated to Imperial Germany. In the West, a race against time was on. The Allies of Great Britain and France were watching with mounting concern as German armies from the Eastern Front began reinforcing those on the Western Front. Their armies, having been bled white and wracked by mutiny after three horrific years of trench warfare, were at the breaking point. The last hope for Allied victory was the United States. It had entered the war in April 1917, and its troops began arriving in France later that year.

The American forces were hastily trained for the demands of total warfare in the European model, and for the most part were equipped with a hodge-podge of weapons supplied by their allies. The question on both sides of the trenches was not if the growing number of American units would fight, but rather how well? Only combat would answer that question. Field Marshal Paul von Hindenberg and Gen. Erich Ludendorff of Germany were determined to shatter Allied resolve and achieve victory with an offensive launched before the full weight of the U.S. Army could be felt.

On May 27, 1918, specially trained “shock units” led a three-pronged offensive that smashed into the British and French lines. At Aisne, the French lines bent, then broke. In less than two days, the German army was at the Marne River at Chateau Thierry. Once again, the German army had victory within its grasp, and once again, the road to Paris, about 50 miles away, was wide open. In 1914, France, and the Allied cause, was saved by a sudden influx of troops delivered to the front by Parisian taxis – the “Miracle of the Marne.”

This time France had no miracles of her own remaining. Allied Commander-in-Chief Gen. Ferdinand Foch turned to Gen. John Pershing, commanding general of the American Expeditionary Force. Previously, Pershing had resisted releasing units piecemeal to reinforce depleted British and French divisions. He stated that when Americans fought, they would do so as a unified army.

But Pershing recognized that the present crisis overrode national considerations and temporarily released his five divisions to Foch’s command. The American 2nd Division, containing the 4th, 5th, and 6th Marine Brigades, was assigned to Gen. Joseph Degoutte’s French 6th Army, located along the Marne Front. Not since the Civil War had American troops been involved in a conflict of such magnitude. And it had been more than 100 years, at the battles of Bladensburg and New Orleans during the War of 1812, since the Marine Corps had faced an armed foe at the professional level as it did now against the 461st Imperial German Infantry regiment.

Though Pershing, an Army general, harbored little love for the Marines, he did not allow service parochialism to blind him to the Marines’ capability. Shortly after Ludendorff’s offensive began, when the 4th Marine Brigade’s commander, Brig. Gen. Charles Doyen, had to return to the States due to a terminal illness, Pershing assigned command of the brigade to his chief of staff, Army Brig. Gen. James Harbord, telling him, “Young man, I’m giving you the best brigade in France – if anything goes wrong, I’ll know whom to blame.”

It was not without some concern that Harbord assumed his new command. He was replacing a respected and loved commander he was a National Guard cavalry officer, a temporary brigadier general and his two regimental commanders were Col. Albertus Catlin and Col. Wendell “Whispering Buck” Neville, both recipients of the Medal of Honor. He worked hard at his new command and earned the respect of the Marines. Harbord would retire a major general and later write of his experience, “They never failed me. I look back on my service with the Marines Brigade with more pride and satisfaction than on any other equal period in my long Army career.”

The fighting ended, exhausted and seriously depleted ranks of the 6th Marines gather outside Belleau Wood before moving on.

(USMC History and Museums Division)

The 4th Marine Brigade was ordered to shore up defenses and assume a blocking position north of the important east-west Paris- Metz highway. They dug into position along a line just above the village of Lucy-Le-Bocage. Immediately in front of the Marine line was a large wheat field, and beyond that was a mile square game preserve. The French called it Bois de Belleau. To the Marines and America, it would be immortalized as Belleau Wood. The Marines had barely gotten into position, digging shallow individual trenches they called “foxholes,” when the German army renewed its offensive on June 2. Demoralized French troops in the forest began falling back. One French officer, as he passed through the Marine lines, advised the Americans to join in the retreat. Capt. Lloyd Williams responded, “Retreat, hell! We just got here!” The French officer and the other French troops continued on. Soon the Marines were alone.

The rest of the day and the following morning were quiet. The heat of the early June sun parched the throats of the Marines as they waited for the enemy to appear. Finally, in the early afternoon, movement was seen at the southern edge of the forest, and the distinct shapes of German soldiers in their feldgrau began to emerge. Long line after long line of soldiers, slightly crouched and weapons low, began trotting through the ripening wheat. Veteran Marines of the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion in China, and the Veracruz Expedition lay side by side with unblooded men whose memories of the profane injunctions of their drill instructors were still fresh. The Germans confidently advanced. What they did not know was that no longer before them was a demoralized French foe. Instead, they were marching toward a fresh enemy with high morale that took pride in training its men in how to shoot. The Germans also did not realize they were already within range of the Marines’ shoulder arm, the .30-06 Springfield M1903 rifle.

The accepted combat range of rifles during World War I was a maximum of 250 yards. The Springfield 󈧇 was rated with an effective range of 600 yards. In the hands of an expert marksman, it could be deadly at ranges well beyond that. The line of gray-clad troops advancing through an open field presented the Marines with a shooting gallery. At 800 yards, the order was given, and sustained fire commenced. German soldiers spun, collapsed, and fell as bullets from the first volley tore into them. The German advance wavered, then astonished survivors fell to the ground seeking cover. Their officers ran through their ranks, shouting for them to get up and continue the advance. The troops rose and were hit with another volley fired at long range. A third attempt to advance was met by a third deadly volley that was also accompanied by machine gun fire. The stunned survivors retreated into the woods to take up defensive positions and plan their next move.

The commander of the German 28th Division facing opposite the American 2nd Division confidently told his men, “We are not fighting for ground – for this ridge or that hill. It will be decided here whether or not the American Army will be equal to our own troops.” It was a prescient statement. Unfortunately, for him, not in the way he expected.

After receiving news that the German attack had been blunted at Belleau Wood, Degoutte ordered the 2nd Division to counterattack the following day, June 6. The attack began with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines launching a dawn attack on the German-held Hill 142 on the division’s left flank. German machine guns raked the Marine ranks during the half-mile advance. The Marines succeeded in capturing the hill at about noon. But doing so had cost the battalion 410 casualties. It was a foretaste of what was to come.

Meanwhile, two battalions of the 6th Marines and one battalion of the 5th Marines were preparing for the main attack on Belleau Wood. The attack was launched at 5 p.m., and the Marines advanced in a formation and at a fast pace taught by the veteran French officers who had rounded out their training shortly after the Marines arrived in France. It was the same formation that had doomed thousands of French poilus during the disastrous offensives of 1914 and 1915. It achieved the same results on the Marines. As the Marines began crossing the battle-scarred wheat field, it was the German machine gunners’ turn. The lead troops were quickly cut down. Surviving Marines dove for the ground and continued the advance crawling on all fours, pausing and, like pop-up targets, taking aim and quickly firing back before dropping down for cover in the wheat stalks. Even so, the advance slowed dangerously, with the German machine gun fire continuing seemingly unabated. It appeared that the attack would fail just 50 yards before the Marines reached the German lines.

Reporter Floyd Gibbons was with the Marines during the attack and lay terrified among the dead and wounded in the wheat field. Not far from him was Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Daly, a double Medal of Honor recipient for heroism in the Boxer Rebellion and Haiti. In a report he later filed, Gibbons wrote, “The sergeant swung his bayoneted rifle over his head with a forward sweep, yelling at his men, ‘Come on, you sons-of-bitches, do you want to live forever?'” The Marines with him stood up, and with a roar, charged. By the end of the day, the first line of German defenders was overrun and taken. But the cost of the attack was severe. On that day, the 4th Marine Brigade had suffered 1,087 casualties, making it the bloodiest day in Marine Corps history up to that point. More Marines had fallen on June 6, 1918, than in the entire 143-year history of the Marine Corps.

The Battle for Belleau Wood would continue to almost the end of June and was fought in a series of savage actions. It was during this battle that, according to legend, the 461st Imperial German Infantry gave the Marines the nickname “Teufelhunden” – “Devil Dogs.” Finally, on June 26, Maj. Maurice Shearer of the 5th Marines sent to headquarters the message: “Woods now U.S. Marine Corps entirely.”

Convinced that the Marines had saved Paris, the French government renamed the game preserve Bois de la Brigade de Marine. And, more importantly, this action, as well as American success at Cantigny and Ch’teau-Thierry, Pershing later wrote, “… gave an indication of what trained American troops would do.” But the German high command was not finished. A final German offensive was launched on July 15. This time, the 2nd Division and its Marines joined the French XX Corps and repulsed the German attack at Soissons, sustaining another 2,000 casualties. When the German offensive was stopped, the initiative shifted to the Allies. They responded with the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

On July 29, 1918, Pershing made Gen. John A. Lejeune commander of the 2nd Division. His first assignment was to reduce the dangerous German salient at St. Mihiel. After four days of fierce fighting by the combined Marine and Army units, the salient was eliminated. The 2nd Division then was assigned offensive operations in support of the French Fourth Army, commanded by Gen. Henri Gourand. But German defenses along the Meuse River succeeded in slowing the French advance until it was stopped before Blanc Mont, or White Mountain, a ridge that dominated the region for miles. The Germans had held Blanc Mont since 1914 and had heavily fortified the ridge. To restart his stalled attack, Gourand wanted Lejeune to break up his division and disperse it into depleted French units. Lejeune’s reaction was quick and hot. Following Pershing’s example, he was not about to have his division broken up, particularly since there was no dire crisis now confronting the Allies. The Marine general told Gourand, “Keep the division intact and let us take [Blanc Mont].”

U.S. Marines in Belleau Wood (1918) by Georges Scott.

Gourand looked at Lejeune skeptically, then nodded his assent. Lejeune’s plan was to assault the German position with lead attacks from both flanks and, when they had closed to pinch out and isolate the center, the rest of his troops would advance and overwhelm the defenders. In what Pershing would later call “a brilliant maneuver against heavy machine gun resistance,” the attack kicked off on Oct. 3 with a short, five-minute artillery barrage of 200 guns. As soon as the cannon fire stopped, the 3rd Infantry Brigade launched its attack on the German right flank. Simultaneously, the 4th Marine Brigade attacked the German left. This was followed by an advance by the 6th Marines. Supporting the overall attack were French tanks. By noon, the 6th Marines had seized the crest and were clearing the heights. Additional troops from the 5th Marines moved up to add overwhelming power to the 2nd Division’s punch. On the left flank was a heavily fortified position known as the Essen Hook that was assigned to French units who were temporarily held in reserve. As the battle progressed, the French troops were released to seize the Essen Hook. When the French proved unable to do so, a company of Marines from the 5th Regiment led by Capt. Leroy P. Hunt was ordered to help. Hunt’s company succeeded in throwing out the Germans, and the Marines then handed over the Essen Hook to the French. The Germans returned and quickly overwhelmed the French defenders at Essen Hook, whereupon the 5th Regiment was forced to drive the Germans out a second time. This time they secured the position for good. When the day was over, Blanc Mont was in the hands of the 2nd Division.

Lejeune followed up the capture of Blanc Mont with an advance on the nearby village of St. Etienne on Oct. 4. The 5th Marines, who were leading the attack, literally ran into the Germans’ counterattack designed to retake Blanc Mont. Unfortunately, the Marines’ advance in the offensive had outpaced the French units beside them, causing them to form a salient that left them exposed to enemy fire from both flanks as well as their front. Despite the murderous fire falling on them, the Marines grimly kept the pressure on. After four days of intense fighting in which the Marines suffered more than 2,500 casualties, including the seemingly indestructible Daly, who was wounded, St. Etienne was liberated and, by Oct. 10, the Germans were in full retreat.

Not long after the battle, the grateful French government awarded the 5th and 6th Marines and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion their third citation of the Croix de Guerre for gallantry. As a result, the members of those outfits were now entitled to wear the scarlet and green fourragère. Field Marshal Henri Petain, the hero of Verdun, would add his own accolade, stating that, “The taking of Blanc Mont Ridge is the greatest single achievement in the 1918 campaign.”

Of the Marine Corps contribution in World War I, Col. Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret.) wrote in his book, A Fellowship of Valor, “Less than 32,000 Marines served in France. More than 12,000 of those given the opportunity to fight in France became casualties 3,284 died. The survivors had given their country and their Corps a legacy of courage, esprit, and ferocity which would remain the standard of combat excellence for the remainder of the violent century.”

This article originally appeared on Argunners. Follow @ArgunnersMag on Twitter.

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