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
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.