Constructed by the Charleston Navy Yard in South Carolina, the destroyer USS Bryant (DD-665) was named in honor of Rear Admiral Samuel Wood Bryant, USN, who was born on 24 May 1877 in Washington, Pennsylvania. Admiral Bryant was awarded the Navy Cross while serving as CO of USS Allen during World War I protecting convoys in waters infested with enemy mines and submarines. Admiral Bryant died on 4 November 1938 in Asheville, NC.
The ship's sponsor was Mrs. Samuel W. Bryant, widow of the admiral.
The keel of USS Bryant was laid on 30 December 1942 and she was launched on 29 May 1943. Her sistership was USS Albert W. Grant (DD-649). On 4 December 1943 she was commissioned at the Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina. On 26 January 1944 the ship departed for Bermuda for shakedown training. Her first commanding officer was Cdr Paul L. High USN who took her from Charleston to the Pacific until 28 January 1945 when Cdr G. C. Seay relieved him.
After completion of the shakedown cruise, the ship proceeded to join the Pacific Fleet. She was one of nine square-bridge ships commissioned between November 1943 and March 1944—Newcomb (DD 586, flagship), Bennion (DD 662), Heywood L. Edwards (DD 663) and Richard P. Leary (DD 664) from Boston Navy Yard; Albert W. Grant (DD 649) and Bryant (DD 665) from Charleston Navy Yard; Robinson, (DD 562) and Ross (DD 563) from Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding and Leutze (DD 481) from Puget Sound Navy Yard—that made up Destroyer Squadron 56 (DesRon 56) one of three squadrons of 2,100-ton Fletcher-class destroyers that joined the Pacific war in time for the Marianas operation in 1944.
During the fourteen months that this ship served in the Pacific, an enviable record was established. The ship participated in the following operations, seven of which are "star" operations.
- Amphibious assault on Saipan and Tinian Marianas Islands, and first battle of the Philippine Sea. (2 stars)
- Palau and the assault and capture of Ulithi Atoll. (1 star)
- Support of minesweeping operations and amphibious assault on Dinigat and Leyte Islands. (1 star)
- Battle of Surigao Straits (second battle of the Philippine Sea).
- First Mindoro resupply echelon.
- Amphibious assault on Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands. (1 star)
- Amphibious assault, coverage of underwater demotion team and minesweepers at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands. (1 star)
- Amphibious assault, underwater demolition teams and minesweeper coverage at Okinawa. (1 star)
Saipan and Tinian
(15 June - 2 August 1944)
During the earlier stages of the Saipan and Tinian operations this ship engaged largely in screening and radar picket duties. The nature of this action was such that positive claim of specific damage by a single unit seems inappropriate; however, the gunfire of this ship contributed materially to the destruction of enemy planes, and also assisted in repelling numerous enemy air raids directed against the transport area, and engaged enemy aircraft night after night on radar picket stations. The ship also rescued the pilot and crew of a TBF and towed a PBM 40 miles to safety. The commanding officer, Comdr. P. L. High, USN, was awarded the Bronze Star for Saipan-Tinian operations.
As a result of the ship's sustained operations in the forward area during the period 12 June to 15 July, 1944 the following honors were awarded as noted below:
Bronze Star Medal:
Lt. Comdr. Fred E. McIntire, USN; Lt. (jg) Frank A. Yett, USNR; Ens. Chester t. Shablowski, USN; Paul L. Biggle, CEM, USNR; Richard J. Archer, CRT, USNR; Leslie J. Teuton, CFC, USN; John A. Maruca, MM1C, USNR.
Letter of Commendation with Ribbon: LaPlante, Robert J., RDM3C, USNR, King, J. E. S2C, USN
(6 - 20 September 1944)
The primary work carried on during the Palau operations was that of covering the underwater demolition teams at Peleliu, delivering call fire, and night harassing fire. One enemy mortar battery and one tank were destroyed on invasion day and another tank was left burning. On 20 September 1944 the ship departed in company with the U.S.S. Denver and the U.S.S. Ross for Ulithi Atoll. Night harassing fire was rendered on 21 September to prevent any troop movements. Slow and deliberate fire was delivered the following day in support of the underwater demolition teams. Although no enemy opposition was encountered, it is noteworthy that fire was so well controlled that only one of the natives was killed in the two days of bombardment and night harassing fire. The ship was operating in heavily mined waters during the entire time at Ulithi Atoll.
(12 October - 16 November 1944)
During the Leyte operations the ship, as a part of task force 76, contacted a Japanese task force in Surigao Strait, and in company with U.S.S. Robinson and the U.S.S. Halford executed a well coordinated torpedo attack which contributed to the destruction of the Japanese battle forces.
The following officers and men received Letters of Commendation for this action:
Lt. Robert L. Gilbert, USNR; Lt. Augustus P. Hughes, Jr., USNR ; Lt. (jg) William M. Thomason, USNR ; Fred P. Huffman, Chief Torpedomanâ€™s Mate, USN; Harry D. Thompson, Chief Quartermaster, USN; Horace R. Hawk, Torpedomanâ€™s Mate First Class, USNR; Richard C. Lanier, Torpedomanâ€™s Mate Second Class, USN.
The commanding officer, Commander P. L. High, USN, was awarded a Navy Cross for this operation.
Mindoro supply echelon
In operation with the first Mindoro supply echelon this vessel was primary fighter director with one Army and two Navy fire director officers aboard. At 0940, 22 December 1944, one "Zeke" appeared at relative bearing 030, range 4000 yards. The plane commenced a steep dive toward the ship and was immediately taken under intense machine-gun fire. At about 3000 yards the plane pulled out of its dive, turned left, and began to open its range. This ship continued evasive tactics as the "Zeke" headed in for another run on the starboard beam. During its approach the plane absorbed a great amount of 40 MM and 20MM fire. It passed over the ship about fifteen feet above gun #45; it was turning right at the time and hit the water on the port side just forward of number two stack about 25 yards from the ship. One man was slightly injured; twenty-three punctures were made in the shell plating above the waterline by flying debris. This was the first suicide run experienced by the shipâ€™s personnel, and it was only by radical high speed maneuvering and effective machine-gun fire that the ship was saved from a direct hit.
The following officers and men received the below listed citations for this action:
Silver Star: Clarence M. Ralston, BM2C, USN
Lt. Alvin L. Gallin, USN; James Highfield, CMIC, USNR; Walter S. Kowelezky, BM2C, USNR; George Edward Jones, GM2C., USNR; Alfred D. Padgett Jr., CO, USNR; Martin Sivacek, GM3C., USNR
Letters of Commendation:
Lt. (jg) Meigs W. Bartmess, USNR; Ens. Thomas N. Bridge, USNR; Andrew Robert Currera, SF1C, USNR; Thomas Osborne Kennedy, MSMC, USNR
(16 February - 9 March 1945)
Relief map of Iwo Jima 1945
During the amphibious assault at Iwo Jima this vessel closed the beach at 2000 yards under heavy fire, to cover beach reconnaissance and demolition. She laid effective smoke screens, destroyed three enemy coastal installations, and was complimented several times for the excellent work in holding the enemyâ€™s fire down. Just prior to darkness on 21 February 1945, this ship recovered one pilot from the U.S.S. Saratoga. During this operation the ship dropped a full pattern of depth charges on a good sound contact. The contact was not regained after the initial attack and no evidence of the submarineâ€™s presence in the area was indicated thereafter. The commanding officer, G. C. Seay, was recommended for the Silver Star for the U.D.T. operation at Iwo Jima, and was awarded a Letter of Commendation by the commander amphibious forces, United States Pacific Fleet. The ship alternated on radar picket duty and shore bombardment after the first phases of the Iwo Jima Campaign.
(21 March - 18 April 1945)
The early stages of the Okinawa campaign were spent in covering underwater demolition teams. Thereafter the ship was assigned mainly to radar picket stations. On 16 April 1945, while patrolling on radar picket station number two, some twenty five miles due north of the island of Okinawa in company with LCS 32 and LCS 35, this ship was subjected to violent enemy air activity. About 0930 the ship underwent a coordinated attack by six enemy planes, three of which were destroyed. The fourth was observed to be smoking before crashing the ship at port bridge structure. This plane was carrying a bomb which exploded upon impact, causing extreme damage to bridge structure and contained equipment. The action of personnel was highly commendable. Gun crews remained at their stations, ready to repel any additional attacks,. Damage control parties had numerous hoses covering all fires in the matter of minutes. The medical department did one of the most outstanding jobs of the day in rendering aid to the injured in a quick and efficient manner. The commander officer, George C. Seay, was recommended for the Navy Cross as the result of this action.
Personnel casualties were as follows:
Thirty six men killed or missing in action in action.
Thirty-three men wounded in action.
In spite of the heavy damage sustained by the ship in her last battle, the inexorable fighting spirit manifested by officers and men throughout her history, brought her from the forward area to a haven at the United Engineering Co., Ltd. Shipyard in Alameda, California. There she remained in the process of effecting repairs until September 14, 1945.
During the fourteen months of operation with the Pacific Fleet this ship was continually in the forward areas with only brief periods for logistics and routine upkeep. She definitely destroyed nine enemy planes and had an estimated total of over twenty-five assists to her credit. This ship or the task force in which it was operating was subjected to an estimated total of over 300 air attacks during operations with the Pacific Fleet. Every commitment was met with all machinery ordnance, radar, and other equipment operating efficiently and reliably, due mainly to efforts of personnel in maintenance and upkeep.
"The present commanding officer, after having observed the action on being hit by a suicide plane, is convinced that the officers and crew of the U.S.S. Bryant was surpassed by none, and equaled by few, if any."
/s/ Cdr. G. C. Seay, USN, Commanding Officer
Repaired at Alameda, California, until September 1945, the Bryant arrived at San Diego on 27 September 1945. She was decommissioned and placed in reserve commission 9 July 1946. She was removed from reserve commission on 15 January 1947 and sold to a scrap dealer in April 1976.
USS Bryant Memoirs
For a first hand account of the USS Bryant history you can read or download the following memoir of its medical officer, LT Jackson Allgood, who was aboard the Bryant from commissioning through the kamikaze event. I am editing a similar memoir of LT Scott C. Daubin, an officer who joined the crew later, but who has a more operational view of the tour. When it is ready, I will post it here.