Three Forgotten Destroyers

Open letter from the crews of three US Navy destroyers
September 1945

We, the personnel of the DD-662, DD-663, and DD-664, would like to express our sentiments to the general public. It is acknowledged that an organization as large as the US Navy cannot, necessarily, heed the wishes of every individual in it. It might, however, make a sincere effort to remove some of the more obvious examples of inequality which continue to exist even after the cessation of hostilities.

One such example concerns the destroyers USS Bennion (DD-662), USS HL Edwards (DD-663), and the USS Richard P Leary (DD-664). The personnel of the above ships served faithfully through six major campaigns from the Marianas through Okinawa; made a torpedo run against the Jap battle line at Surigao Strait; braved the picket line at Okinawa; and saw six sister ships of their squadron seriously damaged by enemy action.

The DD-662 has been a radar picket ship throughout her tour of duty. She was the only original radar picket ship on station at the completion of the Okinawa campaign.

All three ships were at Okinawa prior to the initial landings an remained there for a period of 90 to 120 days. They also participated in the initial landings at Saipan and Tinian, in the Marianas (except the DD-664), Peleliu and Angar in the Palaus, Leyte and Luzon in the Philippines, Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, and the occupation of Mutsu Bay in northern Honshu.

During the above operations DD-663 and DD-664 fired so many rounds of ammunition with their main battery during shore bombardments and enemy air attacks that it was necessary to replace their guns, this being accomplished alongside a destroyer tender. During the Okinawa campaign, the Commander of the Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet said that these destroyers would be the last to be relieved because they were so good he could not spare them.

Shortly after Japan had accepted the Potsdam Proclamation, a statement of Secretary of the Navy Forrestal was broadcast to the armed forces in which he said that ships with the most combat duty and longest time out of the United States would be returned at the earliest moment. Since that statement was made destroyers with as little as seven months away from the states have been returned. The above ships have had 22, 20, and 19 months of sea duty and 19, 17, and 16 months away from the United States on this tour of duty.

Men are still aboard who have sufficient points for discharge and are being held awaiting replacements who usually take months in arriving or never arrive. At this time it appears that these ships may continue their tour of duty for another 4 to 6 months in Japanese waters.

The personnel of the Bennion, HL Edwards, and Richard P Leary have seen the worst that naval warfare has to offer over an abnormally long liberty-lacking period. Recreation of the personnel of these ships has consisted of several hours of recreation on some desolate island with two or three bottles of beer. The personnel of these ships are not envious of the glory which deserving ships  may receive on navy day in New York. They are just interested in getting home to see the loved ones they left many months ago.