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USS Hugh W. Hadley DD-774

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This is the first time I wrote anything like this, so I apologized if it's not good enough. Also English isn't my first language.

USS Hugh W. Hadley DD-774

 

A Sumner-class Destroyer with an unbeatable record she held: The Champion Kamikaze Killer

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11th May 1945, USS Hugh W. Hadley DD-774 (Sumner-class) and USS Evans DD-552 (Fletcher-class) found themselves under one of the biggest kamikaze attack of ww2.  A formation of the rising sun’s suicide bombers flew toward US fleet while those 2 tin-cans were stationing at Radar Picket Station 15 northwest of Okinawa.

 

At 06:36, above Hadley, was 12 USMC F4U Corsairs flew CAP for 2 destroyers and 4 smaller crafts. The fighters spotted an enemy bomber and sent it down with their 50 cal. But everyone knew, that was just the beginning. That bomber was just the frontrunner of a plane group that was approaching from the North and by 07:50 Hadley's radar reported the bad news. Estimated 150-planes formation were now flying of the toward the American fleet, If you asked how bad was the situation, the USS Laffey DD-724," the ship that would not die", faced off against 40 attackers a month earlier, and barely survived. Now it’s 150 against 2.

 

07:55, Radio-guided by Hadley, the Corsairs started blowing Japanese plane out of the sky. But with the odds of 150 to 12, the whistling deaths couldn’t shot down the enemy fast enough and some went through their CAP and headed toward the 2 Tin-cans.

 

At first the Japanese ignored them but the gunner of those 2 didn’t. Both destroyers’ AAA unleashed barrage of flak and lead into the sky, forcing the Japanese no other option but to attack them.

 

By 08:30 the Japanese started diving on Hadley and Evans, the destroyers responded, maneuvered sharply through the wave and filled the sky with barrage from their radar-guided AAA. In 30 minutes Hadley managed to shot down 12 attackers without a single hit. The Sumner-class heavy AAA design were doing their job well, her twin rudder made sharp turning in the water possible and evaded wave after wave of attackers, but… that was not the case for Evans, her Fletcher-class design was inferior when compare to Hadley.

 

At 09:00, USS Evans was hit hard and now death in the water, leaving Hadley alone with the rest of the suicide bombers. Low on ammunition, Hadley kept on fighting. The Corsair’s pilots were now risking their life getting close in Hadley’s AAA range, they try to shot down as many plane as possible under guiding of Hadley’s radio operator but now their 50cals were low on ammunition too.

 

Under 20 minutes of solo fight without any help from the fellow crippled destroyer, Hadley kept on firing and looks like it would end soon. But at 09:20, the Japanese unleashed their last assault.

 

10 planes were now diving on Hadley and with the Corsairs were now literally out-of-ammunition, Hadley had to take those attackers head-on. 4 from starboard bow, 4 form port bow, and 2 from stern. Hadley’s AAA yet again greeting the enemy with barrage of flak and machine-gun's bullet-hail but exhausted gunner and low on ammunition, Hadley couldn’t shot the enemy fast enough. She was then hit by a bomb at the stern, then a suicide rocket MXY7 Ohka, or the American-slang “the baka bomb”, and eventually hit by another 2 kamikazes.


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Critically hit by the enemy, the deck was burning and painted red by the blood of the wounded sailor, the hull ripped open and tons of sea water flooded her badly, still Hadley managed to shot down all of those 10 attackers, and now the rest of Japanese air group were attacked by “dry run” of the Corsairs and forced to stop attacking Hadley.

Even though she started lifting, her crews try their best to save her. Jettison her torpedo, weights removed from the starboard side and more. The damage control team tried their best, one of her crew even fought the fire without shoes. And finally, the fire was extinguished and the list and the flooding controlled.

 

Hadley and Evans were later towed back for some repaired before heading back to the state. And for Hadley, after spending 801 rounds of 5" /38, 8,950 rounds 40mm, and 5,990 rounds 20mm and downed 23 aircrafts with her own guns, Hadley received the title “The Champion Kamikaze Killer” and is the holder of the all-time individual ship single-engagement anti-aircraft gunnery record, not counting around 40-50 planes shot down by the Corsairs under her radio-coordinated. And for that, the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION was awarded.

 

THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY

WASHINGTON

 

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to the

 

UNITED STATES SHIP HUGH W. HADLEY

 

for service as set forth in the following

 

CITATION:

 

“For extraordinary heroism in action as Fighter Direction Ship on Radar Picket Station Number 15 during an attack by approximately 100 enemy Japanese planes, forty miles northwest of the Okinawa Transport Area, May 11, 1945. Fighting valiantly against waves of hostile suicide and dive-bombing planes plunging toward her from all directions, the U.S.S. HUGH W. HADLEY sent up relentless barrages of antiaircraft fire during one of the most furious air-sea battles of the war. Repeatedly finding her targets, she destroyed twenty enemy planes, skillfully directed her Combat Air Patrol in shooting down at least forty others and, by her vigilance and superb battle readiness, avoided damage to herself until subjected to a coordinated attack by ten Japanese planes. Assisting in the destruction of all ten of these, she was crashed by one bomb and three suicide planes with devastating effect. With all engineering spaces flooded and with a fire raging amidships, the gallant officers and men of the HUGH W. HADLEY fought desperately against almost insurmountable odds and, by their indomitable determination, fortitude and skill, brought the damage under control, enabling their ship to be towed to port and saved. Her brilliant performance in this action reflects the highest credit upon the HUGH W. HADLEY and the United States Naval Service.”

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source

http://www.usshadley.com/indexh.htm
http://destroyerhistory.org/sumner-gearingclass/usshughwhadley_puc/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Hugh_W._Hadley

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