A Tin Can Sailors
Destroyer History


By John W. "Bill" Colton

After reporting to the precommissioning detail for USS LEARY (DD-879) in Norfolk, VA, for training we subsequently went to Orange, Texas, where we commissioned LEARY on May 7, 1945.

We went to Mobile, AL, for drydocking and bottom paint, made a short trial run, then back to Mobile for some more yard work. Upon leaving Mobile, we proceeded to SW Pass, Mississippi River for fuel, then on to Gitmo for shakedown.

When the shakedown cruise was completed, we proceeded to Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, VA., for conversion to DDR, upon completion departed for Boston, Mass where some fire control work was done. This work was interrupted by VJ Day. After all the celebrating was done we steamed on up to Casco Bay where we operated with a Task Force to develop defenses against the Kamikaze.

After completing the above task we went to Boston Navy Yard again where the ship was painted to participate in a Presidential Review of the Fleet on Navy Day 1945. Harry Truman rode a DD around the fleet, which was anchored in the Hudson River.

After the review, we steamed up to Norfolk, joining DESRON 1, the squadron proceeded through the Panama Canal to San Diego. We transported some short timer army troops from CZ to SD. From SD steamed to Yokosuka, via Pearl.

After Christmas at Yokosuka the squadron broke up into divisions for occupation duty. Our division was sent to Kure. We stayed there about a couple of months, then went back up towards Yokosuka, while on an exercise up there we caved in the faceplate on Mt 51. This damage necessitated a stay in Yokosuka for repairs. The rest of the division departed for Guam before our repairs were complete, so we enjoyed an independent trip to Guam. By the way, the division was VESOLE (DDR-878), DYESS (DDR-880), and BORDELON (DDR-881).

In Guam we joined the then Wespac Strike Force, Task Force 77, consisting of CVs BUNKER HILL, ANTEITAM, Cruisers BOSTON, TOPEKA and DULUTH, our Desdiv, and one other Desdiv consisting of BLUE and three others. We operated with this out of Saipan for a while at our base was Apra Harbor, Guam but most of the time was day operations out of Saipan.

During the above time we made a cruise to China the cruisers and the other Desdiv went to Manila while our div took the carriers to Hong Kong. After these visits the force joined up, steamed to Tsingtao, China, with an overnight stay in Buckner Bay, Okinawa. During that stay the cruisers and DDs carried liberty parties from the carriers to Shanghai.

We returned to Guam where I left LEARY in June '46 as my minority enlistment was nearly up.


From The Tin Can Sailor, October 1995

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