Hurst Photographs


Fredericksburg, Texas
October 31, 1997

Captain William J. Hurst, USN (Ret.)

Today we dedicate a plaque to honor the USS Stoddard DD566 and the hundreds of men who served on her. After honorable service through three wars, it is very appropriate that only three months ago she was laid to rest in Davy Jones Locker off the Hawaiian Islands. I am honored to represent those who served on board during World War II. 

The Stoddard was built by Todd's Pacific Shipyards, Tacoma Division, Seattle, Washington. and commissioned on 15 April 1944. After shakedown she escorted a convoy to Pearl Harbor and then proceeded north to Adak, Alaska where she joined DesRon 57. The next few months she fought two enemies -- both the Japanese and the northern Pacific weather. 

The destroyer squadron along with three old cruisers, Richmond, Concord, and Trenton, formed Task Force 92 with the mission of protecting the Alaskan approaches to the US mainland and to harass the Japanese Kurile Islands. During this time the task force made several sorties against the Kurile Islands with names such as Matsuwa, Kurabu Zaki, and Suribachi Wan. The weather was always a major factor that on occasion prevented the ships from firing because of the rough seas and on one occasion caused the task force to turn around because of ice. Several of the ships sustained major storm damage during these raids. Luckily the weather usually grounded the Japanese planes for we had no friendly air coverage while near the Kuriles, some which were not too far from the northern Japanese mainland. 

In April 1945 DesDiv 113 departed the Aleutian waters and headed south to Pearl Harbor. The division then escorted the Ticonderoga to Ulithi. En route, the carrier made strikes against several Japanese islands. After arrival at Ulithi, the division proceeded to Okinawa for radar picket duty. While on picket duty, the ship controlled fighter aircraft to shoot down incoming planes. Despite this, some got through and attacked the picket ships. 

Probably the most memorable attack was on the 6th of June when the ship was credited with shooting down two Kamikazes and assisted with shooting down two more. I'll never forget the one plane that attacked the ship from dead astern that day. The first I knew of the attack was when I heard the 20 mm guns on the fantail firing. I ordered full rudder to bring the main battery director and 5" guns to bear. When the 5" fired, some members of the 20 mm gun crews on the fantail received flash bums and puncture wounds caused by the cork from the 5" powder cartridges. 

In July the division sailed as part of Task Force 38 to conduct attacks against mainland Japan. During this time the task force was frequently under air attack. The division was temporarily detached long enough to bombard the Japanese island of Chichi Jima. After 72 days at sea the ship entered Tokyo Bay -- a few days after Japan surrendered. 

Finally in late November we sailed for home via San Diego and the Panama Canal, arriving the 23rd of December 1945 in Philadelphia. The ship was originally scheduled to remain on active duty, but with the major military cutbacks at that time, the Stoddard was decommissioned in Charleston, South Carolina on the ninth day of July 1946. 

I am pleased to hear that those who recommissioned Stoddard said she was in good condition because we were forced to put the ship out early with fewer men than scheduled. The dehumidifying equipment and the gun and director covers had not arrived when we hauled down the colors. 

Unfortunately, with the passing of time, the ranks of World War II crew members are shrinking. I would like all those World War II members present to please stand for recognition. 

Thank you -- God bless you.

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