The day after she shelled Japanese positions on Guadalcanal, on 13 January 1943, Reid returned to her escort duties making daily round trip passages from Tulagi to Lunga and back again; this continued from 13 to 23 January. The destroyer’s routine broke slightly on 24 January when she got underway from Tulagi with TU 62.4.13 bound for Espíritu Santo. She arrived on the 26th and moored alongside sister ship Drayton (DD-366) for two days. On 28 January, she stood out from Espíritu Santo with TF 67 and conducted tactical exercises alongside the battleships Washington (BB-56), North Carolina (BB-55) and Indiana (BB-58). She continued steaming with TF 67 well into the next month.
The day after her arrival at Dumbéa, Reid stood out of the area to escort Algorab to Sydney, Australia. Only a few hours after leaving port the destroyer went to general quarters and executed an emergency turn to starboard, following the sighting of two torpedoes passing down her port side. Fortunately, nothing further developed, and she continued on her course, arriving safely at Sydney on 25 August 1943. Reid remained at port in ‘the land down under’ for just two days before weighing anchor for Milne Bay, New Guinea, on the 27th. She arrived at her destination without incident on 31 August and anchored in berth H-3.
In early September 1943, Allied Forces in the Pacific began staging naval and land forces in preparation for a bombardment, and subsequent amphibious landing at Lae, New Guinea. On 1 September, Reid stood out from Milne with TG 76.6 to aid in the upcoming operations at Lae. In addition to herself, TG 76.6 included the destroyers: Perkins, Smith (DD-378), Lamson (DD-367), Drayton and Mugford (DD-389). The task group arrived at Buna on the 2nd and then on the 3rd began steaming towards Lae.
As operations commenced on 4 September 1943, Reid and her cohorts quickly found themselves in the thick of the action. At approximately 1414, three Japanese Nakajima B5N Type 97 carrier attack planes jettisoned bombs, which fell close aboard of the destroyer. In reply, Reid opened fire with her main batteries; a Japanese fighter crashed about 5,000 yards distant of the ship and numerous ‘dogfights’ were observed in the skies above. Reid survived the initial engagement unscathed and then spent the next several weeks screening transport ships landing troops at Lae; during these operations, she fended off near daily air attacks but had no confirmed kills.
On 17 September 1943, Reid departed the Lae/Buna area with Perkins and Smith, steaming to Milne. They arrived on the 18th and after re-fueling and taking on supplies got back underway the next day to return to Buna. Reid arrived back at Buna on 20 September, and after nightfall, she accompanied the task force in covering the movements of amphibious forces headed for Huon Gulf. Upon their arrival at Huon Gulf the other escorts in the task force bombarded the shoreline near Finschhafen, while Reid fought off several enemy planes; one of which she managed to splash. During the engagement, two torpedoes passed aboard of the ship.
Having survived the previous night, Reid remained in the Huon area for several more days screening landing forces. Another Japanese counter attack by air occurred on 22 September 1943, and Reid managed to shoot down a second enemy plane. Afterwards, Reid surveyed the wreckage of the downed plane and ultimately pulled two Japanese aviators from the water; her crew killed a third man after he tried to turn one of the plane’s machine guns on them. The destroyer anchored at Buna on 2 October.
At 1500 on 3 October 1943, Reid got underway with the destroyer Henley (DD-391) escorting tank landing ships (LST) to Buna. At approximately 1818 one of Reid’s crewmembers reported seeing a wake, and less than seven minutes later Henley reported that she had been struck amidships by a torpedo. Joined by Smith, Reid initiated a search of the immediate area, but despite making a sound contact, she did not identify any enemy submarines. After searching for several hours Reid joined in the effort to rescue survivors from Henley, which had, in the intervening time, sunk stern first. Steaming roughly 25 miles off Cape Ward Hunt, New Guinea, from the late hours of the 3rd, well into the early morning hours of the 4th, Reid rescued approximately 225 Henley survivors, some 20 of whom were badly injured. At 0210, Reid received orders to steam independently to Buna, where she arrived at 0445.
Following her arrival at Buna, with a large number of Henley survivors, Reid shaped a course for Milne, where she arrived later that same night. Once at Milne, Reid transferred the Henley survivors to LST-464 and then proceeded to take on fuel and ammunition. The next day on 5 October 1943, Reid got underway for Buna and stood into “Red Beach,” off Lae, on the 6th. Once back in her primary operational area, Reid began a daily routine of screening convoys and patrolling for submarines between Lae, Buna, and Huon. She continued operating in this capacity for the remainder of October.
On 1 November 1943, Reid briefly broke away from the Lae area, to escort a convoy from Buna to Milne; arriving there the same day. On the 11th, she returned to Buna and then continued screening convoys on a daily basis between Buna and Lae. Reid departed Lae to rendezvous with a convoy bound for Morobe, New Guinea, on 21 November. The destroyer arrived on the 22nd and then steamed to Buna later that same day. The following morning, she made her way to Milne and got a few welcome days of rest at the port there. On 28 November, Reid stood out of Milne and steamed to Woodlark Island, anchoring there on the 29th. Operating with TU 76.6.3, Reid, Smith and Mugford then escorted four LSTs to Goshen, departing on 30 November and arriving on 1 December. For the next two weeks, the destroyer screened convoys in the area, traveling daily between Lae, Milne, and Buna.
As December 1943 progressed the Allied advance in the Southwest Pacific approached Arawe, New Britain. As part of a planned amphibious landing in the vicinity of Cape Gloucester, New Britain, Reid got underway from Milne on 14 December, in company with TG 76.6. Upon arriving in the area, on the 15th, landing craft from TG 76.6 approached the beach while Reid and the other destroyers bombarded the shoreline. Following the assault off Cape Gloucester, Reid returned to her screening duties, steaming daily between Milne and Buna.
Reid made her way to Cape Sudest, New Guinea, on 4 January 1944, and rendezvoused with fellow destroyers Mugford and Mahan (DD-364). On the 6th the destroyers stood out of Cape Sudest and proceeded to Saidor, New Guinea, in support of the recent Allied landings in that area. On the 8th Reid and Mahan bombarded Japanese shore emplacements at Gali, New Guinea, and then returned to Cape Sudest on 9 January. The following morning Reid got underway for Milne and arrived there later that evening. On 11 January, Reid steamed out of Milne Bay, bound for Sydney, and following a brief voyage, she stood into that port on the 15th, mooring starboard side to pier 8.
After spending ten days moored at Sydney, Reid got underway again for New Guinea on 25 January 1944. The destroyer arrived at Milne on the 30th, promptly departed on the 31st, and then via Cape Sudest, arrived at Finschhafen, with a re-supply convoy, on 1 February. Beginning with her arrival at Finschhafen, Reid screened a series of convoys in the area over the course of the next several weeks, steaming from Saidor to Cape Cretin (5–6 February); Cape Cretin to Gloucester (6 February); Gloucester to Cape Sudest (7–8 February); Cape Sudest to Saidor (18 February); Saidor to Dreger Harbor (19 February); Dreger to Cape Sudest (20 February); Cape Sudest to Gloucester (21 February); and Gloucester to Cape Sudest (25 February).
On 27 February 1944, Reid became the flagship for Rear Adm. William M. Fechteler, the operational commander of naval forces supporting U.S. Army landings at Los Negros Island, Admiralty Islands. This action was the first phase of the fight for the Admiralty Islands, also known as Operation Brewer. The assault on Los Negros included two primary groups of attack forces, TG 74 and TF 76.1, with Reid attached to the latter. Reid’s companions included the destroyers Bush (DD-529), Welles (DD-628), Flusser (DD-368), Mahan, Drayton, Smith, Stevenson (DD-645) and Stockton (DD-646). In addition to these, there were three high-speed transports: Brooks (APD-10), Humphreys (APD-12), and Sands (APD-13). U.S. Army troops were embarked on both the destroyers in the group, as well as the transports, and between them, they carried approximately 1,026 soldiers. The soldiers were under the operational command of Brig. Gen. William C. Chase, USA, embarked in Reid; and primarily consisted of soldiers of the Fifth Cavalry Regiment, First Cavalry Division, but also included a contingent of Australians assigned to the Australia New Guinea Administrative Unit.
Reid stood out from Cape Sudest with TF 76.1 on 28 February 1944, and by dawn the following day, she arrived off Los Negros, in company with the rest of the Brewer task force. The action commenced at 0740 with the cruisers of TG 74 bombarding Hyane beach; in conjunction with the shelling, North American B-25 Mitchell bombers from the Fifth Army Air Force, strafed the nearby Momote airstrip. Following this initial bombardment, the destroyers and transports of TF 76.1 landed the first wave of Army troops on the beachhead. The supporting gunfire of the destroyers in TF 76.1, eventually overcame the initial stiff resistance of the Japanese defenders, and all troops and supplies were landed on the beach by the late afternoon.
Excepting Bush and Stockton, left behind for fire support, the rest of TF 76.1 departed the Los Negros area at approximately 1850, and began steaming back to Cape Sudest to pick up the second wave of troops and supplies. Upon reaching Cape Sudest on 1 March 1944, Reid anchored in berth 21 and shortly thereafter Rear Adm. Fechteler disembarked the destroyer and boarded the amphibious force flagship Blue Ridge (AGC-2). In the succeeding week Reid accompanied several re-supply convoys, steaming from Cape Sudest to Los Negros (4–6 March), Los Negros to Cape Sudest (6–8 March), and Cape Sudest to Los Negros (11–13 March).
Upon her return to Los Negros on 13 March 1944, Reid began to take a more active role in supporting ongoing combat operations in the area. She patrolled Seeadler Harbor (14 March); bombarded Lorengau, Manus Island (15 March); and shelled enemy emplacements at Seeadler Harbor (16 March). Following her bombardment of Seeadler Harbor on the 16th Reid got underway for Cape Sudest, arriving there on the 18th. Well into the next month the destroyer continued to screen transports in the area as well as conduct anti-submarine patrols, steaming from Cape Sudest to Oro Bay, New Guinea (19 March); Oro Bay to Cape Sudest (22 March); Cape Sudest to Cape Cretin (25–26 March); Cape Cretin to Seeadler (26–30 March); Seeadler to Cape Sudest (1 April); Cape Sudest to Oro (2 April); Cape Sudest to Cape Cretin (7 April); Cape Cretin to Lae (7–8 April); Lae to Cape Sudest (8 April); and Cape Sudest to Cape Cretin (17–18 April).
Standing out of Cape Cretin on 20 April 1944, Reid joined TF 77 for the purpose of supporting three simultaneous landings on the northern coast of New Guinea at Humboldt Bay, Hollandia. Rear Adm. Fechteler and his staff again embarked on Reid for the duration of the operation. Peeling off from the main force, Reid arrived with TG 77.2 at Humboldt Bay in the early morning hours of 22 April. Shortly after her arrival, she took part in a heavy bombardment of the enemy held shoreline by surface ships, which were complemented by navy carrier plane strikes. Following the lightly resisted landings at Humboldt Bay, Reid remained in the area patrolling for submarines for several days.
On 26 April 1944, Reid stood out of Humboldt Bay and shaped a course for Madang, New Guinea, to deliver Rear Adm. Fechteler back to Blue Ridge. The destroyer arrived at Madang on the 27th and anchored in berth 3. Characteristic of her ceaseless operational tempo during this time period, Reid got back underway the following morning for convoy duty, steaming from Madang to Saidor (28–29 April); Saidor to Aitape, New Guinea (1–3 May); Aitape to Cape Sudest (3–5 May); Cape Sudest to Cape Cretin (5–6 May); Cape Cretin to Oro (8 May); Oro to Cape Sudest (12 May); Cape Sudest to Cape Cretin (13 May); Cape Cretin to Aitape (13–14 May); and Aitape to Humboldt Bay (14–15 May).
With her arrival back at Humboldt Bay, Reid again prepared to participate in a Seventh Fleet supported amphibious operation in the New Guinea area, this time at Wakde Island. She got underway with TG 77.2 on 16 May 1944, and arrived just west of Wakde Island the following morning at approximately 0551. Following an intense naval bombardment by TF 74, troop landings commenced at 0625. On 18 May, Cmdr. Samuel A. McCornock, Reid’s commanding officer, recalled that just “after sunrise the USS Reid stood in towards Wakde, which was again subject to heavy air and surface bombardment,” and despite the heavy shelling, “the enemy bitterly contested our occupation of Wakde.” Reid continued to support the landings in the area late into the evening of the 19th and then made her way back to Humboldt Bay where she maintained a watch in the bay for several more days.
On 25 May 1944, Reid stood out of Humboldt Bay with TG 77.4, screening an assault force headed for the southeastern coast of Biak Island. Arriving off Biak on the 27th, a bombardment commenced at 0630, which “raked the entire area with naval gunfire, assisted by heavy bombing from USAAF planes.” During the night, Reid patrolled the waters off the beachhead and the following morning she exchanged fire with a Japanese shore battery. Late in the afternoon on the 28th, her crew also bore witness to an unfortunate incident in which “a B-25, clearly showing proper insignia was shot down by friendly AA fire from the beach.” The destroyer stood into Humboldt Bay on the 30th and then during the two succeeding days screened several re-supply echelons from Humboldt Bay to Biak.
Reid arrived off the landing area at Biak on 2 June 1944, and took up a screening station approximately 2,500 yards north of Owi Island. At around 1633, the destroyer sighted and engaged eight enemy fighter planes that passed close aboard, bound for the landing area at Biak. Over the course of the next few hours, she engaged several more waves of enemy planes, but ultimately made no direct hits. The following day, on the 3rd, Reid stood in near the landing area at Biak and at around 1103 she picked up several bogies on her radar. In the ensuing firefight, the destroyer expended 152 5-inch, 600 40-millimeter and 785 20-millimeter rounds, successfully brining down two enemy fighter planes and damaging several others. The air attack wounded two of Reid’s crewmembers and killed one more. The sortie finally ended at approximately 1145 with the arrival of a heavy rain squall.
After several more days of patrolling around Biak, Reid steamed to Humboldt Bay on 6 June 1944, and took on fuel and ammunition. On 8 June, she escorted a convoy to Manus, arriving at Seeadler Harbor on the 10th. The destroyer spent ten days moored at Seeadler Harbor and then finally went back out to sea on the 20th escorting a convoy to Humboldt Bay. On 22 June, Reid stood out from Humboldt Bay and steamed to Cape Cretin, arriving there on the 24th. Rear Adm. Fechteler embarked on board Reid on 24 June, in preparation for the upcoming assault on Noemfoor Island, Dutch New Guinea. After steaming to Wakde on the 26th Reid rendezvoused with TF 77 on the 30th, and shaped a course for Noemfoor. The assault on Noemfoor commenced at 0633 on 2 July, with a joint naval and air bombardment followed by troop landings beginning at 0802. With the assault being only lightly opposed, land forces quickly captured the island. The following day, on the 3rd, Reid proceeded independently to Humboldt Bay.
Shortly after arriving at Humboldt Bay on 6 July 1944, Rear. Adm. Fechteler and his staff disembarked from Reid. On 10 July, the destroyer got underway for Cape Cretin, and arrived there on the 12th. Reid returned to Humboldt Bay on 15 July, and then on the 16th at about 1030 she “received a visual dispatch from the Commander Task Force 76 to dismantle all flag radio equipment and make preparations to proceed to Pearl Harbor.” Having re-supplied for her voyage, Reid stood out of Humboldt Bay on 19 July and shaped a course for Pearl. The destroyer made one stop at Majuro on the 21st and then finally arrived at Pearl on 30 July, anchoring in berth X-20.
On 15 August 1944, Reid entered dry dock at Pearl and underwent extensive maintenance that lasted through the 21st. The destroyer finally got underway again for her next wartime mission on 29 August, joining TU 12.5.3 en route to shell Japanese shore installations on Wake Island. Reid arrived off Wake Island with her task unit at 0600 on 3 September, but ultimately did not take part in the bombardment. A few hours prior to the attack, she started experiencing engine problems resulting from her fuel oil supply being contaminated by seawater. As a result, the destroyer made her way to Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, for repairs; she arrived there on 6 September and anchored at berth 571.
After her repairs were complete, Reid stayed in the vicinity of Eniwetok for several weeks conducting various patrols and exercises in nearby waters. On 20 September 1944, she got underway with TG 57.9 acting as a screen during the group’s voyage to Saipan. TG 57.9 arrived at Saipan Harbor on the 26th and Reid then participated in numerous offensive sweeps northwest of Saipan aimed at locating and destroying enemy surface vessels in the area. On 1 October, she returned to port at Saipan and re-supplied. Just before midnight, on the same day she arrived, Reid got back underway again steaming with Smith and Mahan, for Eniwetok.
Mooring at berth 571, at Eniwetok on 5 October 1944, Reid remained at anchor for several days after her arrival. Finally, on 8 October, she returned to convoy duty, steaming with TU 96.8.9 to Ulithi. The destroyer arrived at Ulithi on the 13th and then after spending five days at port she got underway with DesRon 5, en route to Humboldt Bay. On the 19th, the ship’s log notes that “King Neptune and his Royal Party was heralded on board at 1230 and all lowly landlubbers, who had incurred the wrath of His Majesty were duly initiated in the mysteries of the deep.” Reid anchored at Humboldt Bay the following day.
“Proceeding in company with DesRon 5,” Reid steamed from Humboldt Bay to Kossol Roads, Palau Islands, from 25 to 28 October 1944. On the 31st, she took up a screening station with Echelon L-9 en route to Leyte, arriving there on 3 November. Reid patrolled the waters of Leyte Gulf for the rest of the month, searching for submarines. On 6 December, she stood out from San Pedro Bay, Leyte, with DesRon 5 in order to rendezvous with TU 18.104.22.168 for an impending attack on Ormoc Bay, located on the east side of Leyte.
Reid joined with the rest of the Ormoc attack group just after dawn on 7 December 1944, and shortly thereafter, at approximately 0610, the combined force of warships began a furious bombardment of shore-based targets. For her own part, Reid expended 250 rounds of 5-inch ammunition during the initial shelling. Within an hour of the Allied attack, Japanese planes launched a desperate counterattack in which “suiciders” overwhelmed and disabled Mahan, ultimately resulting in the ship’s sinking. Using both her primary and secondary batteries Reid shot down at least one Japanese plane during the attack. Following the close of the action at Ormoc, just before dawn on the 8th, Reid arrived safely back at San Pedro “intact, but with plenty of dirty laundry,” and “all hands, praying for no more flashing red lights… all of whom turned in immediately after fueling.” The kamikaze attack Reid’s crew witnessed on the 7th was a foreboding sign of things to come and undeniably, a hallmark of Japan’s increasing desperation to stem the tide of advancing Allied forces.
Following a few badly needed days of rest at San Pedro, the “Rugged Reid” got underway on 11 December 1944, with TU 78.3.8, escorting a re-supply echelon to Ormoc Bay. At 1500, Reid proceeded through the Surigao Straight in a column with four other destroyers, ten medium landing ships (LSM) and three infantry landing craft (LCI). The convoy’s air cover consisted of four Vought F4U-1D Corsairs.
At 1700, while steaming approximately 1,000 yards off the starboard bow of the convoy, a group of twelve low-flying Nakajima B6N1 Type 92s bore down on Reid. At 1,000 yards, Reid opened fire on the swarm of enemy aircraft with everything she had and in the initial moments of the action, she managed to splash two of them. Within the next 15 seconds, one plane “hooked his wing on the starboard whaleboat and crashed at the waterline abreast No. 2 gun where his bomb exploded.” Immediately thereafter another plane hit gun No. 3 and then skidded into the 40-millimeter, his bomb exploding near the after magazine. She splashed several more enemy planes but, within seconds, all the ship’s communications went down and prevented the order to abandon ship from being heard throughout the ship. Battle stations remained manned until the last possible minute, but as the destroyer began violently lurching to starboard, those of her crew that were able, leapt into the water. It is estimated that within the space of only a few minutes Reid sank stern first in approximately 600 fathoms of water at 09°55’N, 124°55’E.
Reid’s commanding officer and 150 of her crew, scattered among the waves, astern of her wreckage, were pulled from the water by the convoy’s landing craft. In all, Reid ended up being the only victim of the suicidal Japanese pilots that day, who as Cmdr. McCornock recalled “didn’t attack anyone else” in the formation, and, although the desperate attack had claimed the lives of nearly a third of her crew, “she went down fighting… ultimately costing the Japanese seven planes to sink her.”
The harrowing news of Reid’s sinking was keenly felt by all those that had served with her. Later in his life, retired Adm. Robert B. Carney, Chief of Naval Operations from 1953 to 1955, and the “Rugged Reid’s” first commanding officer, reflected on his time on board the destroyer, stating that she “was a beautiful and graceful ship that handled to the Queen’s taste.”
Reid received seven battle stars for her service in World War II.
|Date Assumed Command
|Cmdr. Robert B. Carney
|10 Feb 1936
|Lt. Cmdr. Albert L. Hutson
|19 July 1937
|Lt. Cmdr. James B. Carter
|25 June 1938
|Lt. Cmdr. Harold F. Pullen
|30 May 1941
|Lt. Cmdr. Harry H. McIlhenay
|21 August 1942
|Cmdr. Samuel A. McCornock
|29 December 1943