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Loss of the U.S.S. William D. Porter (DD-579)

 

 

 

 

 

The story below is from two typed pages found in Tom Selby's stuff. I am not sure who the author is.

 

 

Loss of the U.S.S. William D. Porter

By the first of June, victory for the american forces on Okinawa was dimly in sight. Over Shuri Castle, Citadel of the Japanese defense line, a tattered Stars and Stripes slatted in the wind. Some 50,000 corpses, one-time men of the 32nd Imperial Army lay dead in the crumbled fortifications of the Shuri line. The troops of General Simon Buckner were slugging relentlessly forward, while General Ushijima retreated to a "previously prepared position" in the south to make a suicide stand.

On May 27 Admirals Spruance and Mitscher had relinquished sea-air commands to Admirals Halsy and McCain. The Naval forces at Okinawa now were designated "Third Fleet", but they were the same battle-scorched ships and combat weary men that had been there from the beginning of "iceburg".

On June 4, the Kamikazes struck in a series of 18 raids. They were shot down in flocks; no picket line destroyers were so much as damaged.

On the 5th the man-made "divine wind" was reinforced by a tempest of nature that played jhavoc with the American fleet. Swirling out of the ocean east of Formosa, a rampaged typhoon smote the Okinawa area and caught Halsey's heavy ships steaming northward to sstrike at Kyhshu. In this cataclysm of wind and water the bow was torn from the cruiser Pittsburgh, carrier Hornet was damaged, and about 20 other ships suffered injury. On June 5, battleship Mississippi and cruiser Louisville were struck by Kamikaze planes as the "Divine Wind" rushed into the vacuum in the typhoon wake. Attacking the mainstays of Halsey's fleet, the suiciders committed in the easy way. On the 7th the raids continued, and more suicide pilots died in flames. But the Kamikazes got a ship on the 10th of June. Victim was the USS William D. Porter.

Captained by Commander C.M. Keyes, the destroyer was on radar picket duty on station no. 15. She was a veteran ship with old hands on her bridge and at her guns, and she gave a good account of herself in this, her last, battle.

The Kamikaze showed up early in the forenoon watch. At a distance of four miles the plane was identified as a "bandit", and as it dove into near view it turned out to be a "Val".

William D. Porter and the four LCS "Pall Beares" with her sploched the air with ack-ack, then they splotched ack-ack on the plane, but it still came on.

Diving at the destroyer, the Kamikaze struck the sea close aboard, and blew up with a shattering blast. The tremendous concussion had the effect of a mine explosion, crushing the underside of Porter's hull and opening her stern to the flood. The inrush could not be stemmed, and in a short time the entire after part of the ship was swamped.

Moving up alongside, the four "Pall Beares" joined in the destroyer's battle for buoyancy. All available pumping facilities were rushed into action. Everything that could be done to bail out the flood was tried. But the flooding could not be controlled. As the deck went under foot and the ships stern settled deeper in the sea, commander keyes ordered the vessel abandoned.

The men had time to go overside with care, the badly wounded were handled gently, and those suffering from minor injuries--sprains, lacerations, a few burns--were not compelled to endure long immersion in salt water. All 61 of the wounded were thus enabled to recover, and the entire crew was removed from the William D. Porter before she sank.

At 1119 the abandoned ship went under. Her survivors, watching from the LCS's might well have pinched themselves to verify their salvation. William D. Porter was the eleventh American destroyer melted down in the cruicble of Okinawa. Her crew was the only one to come through without a single fatality.

The end.

   
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