Harold William Bauer--born in Woodruff, Kansas, on 20 November 1908--entered the Naval Academy in 1926 and graduated on 5 June 1930, whereupon he accepted a commission as a 2d lieutenant in the Marine Corps. After service at several shore stations, Lt. Bauer went to sea as executive officer of the marine detachment in the heavy cruiser San Francisco (CA-38) from 4 January to 11 September 1934. On 31 December, he reported to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla., and began flight training. Bauer received his promotion to 1st lieutenant on 25 January 1935 and was designated a naval aviator on 24 February 1936.
Detached from Pensacola on 6 April, Lt. Bauer reported to Marine Scouting Squadron (VO) 7-M on 11 May. After just over a year, he transferred to VO-1-M on 1 July 1937, three weeks before being promoted to captain on 23 July. Over the next three years, he saw service with Marine Fighting Squadrons (VMF) 1 and 2. He remained with VMF-2 into July 1941 when the Marine Corps' expansion of its aviation program split VMF-2 into VMF-211 and VMF-212. Reassigned to VMF-221 shortly thereafter, Capt. Bauer served a tour of duty ferrying Brewster F2A-3 "Buffalo" fighters from Long Island to San Diego through October.
When the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Bauer was embarked in Saratoga (CV-3) as executive officer of VMF-221. Sailing in Saratoga the following day, the squadron arrived at Hawaii on 14 December. After the abortive attempt to relieve Wake Island, which fell on 23 December, VMF-221 went to Midway, arriving there on Christmas Day. Promoted to the temporary rank of major on 6 January 1942, Bauer was detached on 9 February to return to Hawaii and take command of VMF-211. Soon ordered to the South Pacific, Maj. Bauer assumed command of VMF-212 on 1 March and deployed to the New Hebrides. At Efate he directed improvements to the airfield and prepared VMF-212 to defend the American logistical route to Australia. Bauer was appointed lieutenant colonel on 11 August 1942.
Following the landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi on 7 August, land-based aircraft were needed to protect the American foothold in the Solomons. Long Island (AVG-1), carrying reinforcements from Hawaii, stopped at Efate on 17 August and embarked the carrier-qualified pilots of VMF-212. They were safely transferred to Henderson Field ("Cactus") on Guadalcanal three days later, though Lt. Col. Bauer remained behind on Efate to organize the logistics pipeline for Henderson-bound pilots and aircraft.
On 28 September, during one of Bauer's visits to Henderson on squadron business, coast-watchers and "Cactus" radar detected a large Japanese air raid coming in from Rabaul--the 16th such attack since 7 August. Bauer commandeered one of VMF-224's Grumman F4F-4 "Wildcat" fighters and joined the 34 other Navy and Marine Corps planes that took off to intercept the raid. Although 40 Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 carrier fighters (“Zeroes”) covered the bombing raid, only six flew close escort for the 25 Mitsubishi G4M1 Type 1 land attack planes intercepted by the American "Wildcats." In the ensuing melee, Bauer made two passes on one bomber which, having its fuselage riddled by at least two F4Fs, dived for Guadalcanal. Eager for the kill, Bauer nearly exhausted his ammunition in a pursuit that ended when the bomber crashed into the jungle not far from Henderson Field. Though five "Wildcats" suffered damage and one Douglas SBD-3 "Dauntless" dive bomber went down, the Japanese lost eight bombers and another 17 sustained damage.
Early on 2 October, Bauer led three VMF-212 pilots from Efate to Guadalcanal. That afternoon he took to the air to repulse a Japanese fighter sweep. Though his section encountered no enemy, the Japanese scored eight American kills-six fighters and two search planes. The next day, when they tried another fighter sweep, the Japanese did not prove as successful. Five Marine Corps F4Fs ambushed nine of the "Zeroes" and broke up their formation. Bauer dived on a fleeing section of five "Zeroes." This high-rear attack quickly damaged the trailing aircraft, which fell away and eventually ditched off Gizo, New Georgia. Bauer then cut inside the "Zeroes" as they executed climbing turns to avoid his attack. The new trailer fell in flames, but he lost power to five of his six machineguns. Although he had only one working gun, he continued on alone after three of the "Zeroes," harrying the enemy until running low on ammunition. After ducking into the clouds to try and recharge the five other guns, Bauer suddenly spied one "Zero" just below him. Diving on the enemy aircraft, he set the fighter aflame for his fourth victory of the day, his fifth overall. Afterwards, he chased off another "Zero," leaving it smoking badly, before landing when his fuel ran out.
Now an ace, Bauer returned to Efate to organize reinforcements. On 14 October, the day after a Japanese shore bombardment had knocked out most of the "Cactus" planes, his VMF-212 pilots ferried SBDs from Efate to Espiritu Santo. They then hopped a transport plane back to Efate to pick up their own desperately needed fighters. On 16 October, Bauer led 19 VMF-212 fighters, seven dive bombers, and two Douglas R4D transports on the 600-mile reinforcement flight from Espiritu Santo to Henderson Field. During the landing at Guadalcanal, he spotted Japanese Aichi D3A Type 99 carrier bombers attacking the seaplane tender McFarland (AVD-14). One of the last fighters still in the air and low on fuel, he immediately pursued the eight retreating Type 99s. Catching them by surprise, he single-handedly destroyed three of the retiring Aichis in quick succession. As in the action of 3 October, only a low fuel supply compelled him to break off the battle.
Later that day, Bauer took over "Cactus" Fighter Command, as VMF-212 replaced one of the original Henderson Field squadrons. In the ensuing weeks, he led the squadrons in a series of air battles and strikes against Japanese surface ships. He also directed improvements to Henderson Field that kept it operational during those crucial weeks, and helped in selecting sites for additional airfields in the Solomons.
In early November, intelligence indicated that the Japanese had another offensive in the works. Fresh, land-based squadrons and other reinforcements were rushed to Guadalcanal. On 11 and 12 November, Bauer organized the combat air patrol that disrupted the preliminary Japanese air raids on Henderson Field. He also helped complete the destruction of the Japanese battleship Hiei on the 13th, begun the night before in an engagement with American cruisers, and supported the bomber attack on Rear Admiral Tanaka Raizo’s convoy the following day.
In the late afternoon of 14 November, Bauer joined 14 Marine Corps F4Fs escorting 17 SBDs and three TBFs on yet another strike against Tanaka’s damaged convoy. When the American bombers tried to get at the transports, eight "Zeroes" and eight float seaplanes blocked the way. The marine fighters joined the fray and a large, confused melee developed. Bauer's section of three F4Fs circled the southern edge of the convoy, watching as several American bombers broke through and scored hits on the Japanese transports. Finally, not seeing any Japanese planes in the area, his section strafed two stricken troopships.
As the section reassembled, however, a pair of "Zeroes" jumped it. Bauer reacted quickly, turning for a head-on shot, and blew up one attacker. The two other "Wildcats," piloted by Capt. Joseph J. Foss and 2nd Lt. Thomas W. Furlow, pursued the remaining "Zero" in a long chase over the convoy to the northwest. Unable to catch him, they turned south to rejoin Bauer. About a dozen or so miles north of the Russell Islands, however, Foss spotted Bauer in the water but proved unable to drop a life raft. He returned to Henderson at dusk and led a J2F-5 amphibian back to the site, but darkness shrouded the ocean, and Bauer was never found.
For his "intrepid fighting spirit and distinctive ability as a leader and an airman, exemplified in his splendid record of combat achievement," Lt. Col. Bauer was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Robert J. Cressman
(DE-1025: dp. 1,950 (f.); l. 314'6"; b. 36'9"; dr. 17'4"; s. 25 k.; a. 4 3", Weapon ALFA, 6 15.5" tt.; cpl. 170; cl. Dealey)
Bauer (DE-1025) was laid down on 1 December 1955 at San Francisco, Calif. by the Bethlehem Pacific Coast Steel Corp.; launched on 4 June 1957; sponsored by Mrs. Harold W. Bauer, widow of the late Lt. Col. Bauer; and commissioned on 21 November 1957, Lt. Comdr. Lawrence D. Cummins in command.
Built as a mobilization test platform, Bauer was designed to meet the mass production requirements that a war with the Soviet Union might generate and to counter the growing threat from advanced Russian submarines. Assigned to Escort Squadron (CortRon) 3 at San Diego, she underwent six months of preparatory training exercises. On 12 June 1958, she departed San Diego for duty with 7th Fleet in the Far East. Arriving at Yokosuka, Japan, on 2 July, she joined the antisubmarine warfare (ASW) task group on its patrols in the East China Sea. For the next five months, the destroyer escort cruised western Pacific waters, visiting ports in Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan, before returning to San Diego on 4 December.
Bauer resumed training with CortRon 3, conducting local operations out of San Diego until 9 September 1958, when she sailed again for the western Pacific. On this deployment--which included port visits to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan the destroyer escort participated in President Eisenhower's "People to People" program. This included offering tours of the vessel to civilians, contributing to local charities, and participating in competitive sports with members of foreign military units. In mid-October, Bauer visited Tacloban City, in the Philippines, for the annual celebration of the 20 October 1944 Leyte landings during World War II.
The destroyer escort remained in Far Eastern waters into the new year before returning to San Diego in mid-February 1960. Normal training, including weapons firing drills and sonar tracking exercises, continued until 1 July when the warship was assigned to the newly formed CortDiv 31. Together with her sister ships Evans (DE-1023), Bridget (DE-1024), and Hooper (DE-1026), Bauer continued to practice submarine hunting and to test new tactics and equipment out of San Diego. In March 1961, the destroyer escort sailed for her third 7th Fleet deployment. Much as in her previous overseas assignment, the warship conducted ASW exercises with 7th Fleet warships, patrolled Far Eastern waters, and participated in the ongoing "People to People" program.
Returning to San Diego on 18 September, the warship resumed a regular schedule of local operations. Drills with submarines, such as a mid-January 1962 sonar training exercise with Redfish (AGSS-395) and Queenfish (SS-393), kept her busy until 6 March when she entered drydock at the Naval Repair Facility, San Diego. During the ensuing upgrade, part of the fleet rehabilitation and modernization (FRAM) program, the warship lost her after 3-inch/50 twin mount to the initial flight deck modifications for the drone antisubmarine helicopter (DASH), but received a modern SQS-23 sonar and two triple-mount lightweight ASW torpedo tubes.
On 6 June, Bauer returned to ASW training out of San Diego. Over the next several months, the warship held sonar tracking exercises with nuclear submarine Scamp (SSN-588) and provided underway services for the antisubmarine warfare support carrier Yorktown (CVS-10) in September. The following month, she made preparations to return to the Far East and sailed from San Diego on 26 October. The destroyer escort, in company with Yorktown and the other escorts of CortDiv 31, moored at Pearl Harbor on 1 November. After two ASW exercises held near the islands, the task group left Hawaii on 26 November for Japan. Arriving at Yokosuka on 6 December, Bauer spent the next four months conducting operations with 7th Fleet units. In January 1963, she operated in the waters off Japan, training with submarine Charr (SS-328) and providing screen services for Yorktown. In February and March, the warship patrolled in the South China Sea before joining the nuclear submarine Swordfish (SSN-579) on 9 April for tracking exercises in Philippine waters.
After anchoring at Manila on the 13th, the destroyer escort spent 11 days in port before returning to sea again on 24 April. Bauer steamed to the South China Sea, where she joined British, Australian, Thai, and Pakistani warships, for Operation "Sea Serpent." During this exercise, she helped the foreign warships to practice convoy-screening operations and to learn American naval tactics. She returned to the Philippines on 8 May but put to sea again almost immediately with orders to the site of an Australian helicopter crash just outside Manila harbor. Sadly, Bauer found no sign of the flight crew. The following day, the warship set course for Japan, arriving in Sasebo on the 13th. After local exercises and screening duty with Yorktown, she departed Yokosuka on 6 June to return to the United States.
Arriving at San Diego on the 18th, Bauer operated out of that port through the end of the year. Underway training filled much of her time, including a hold-down exercise with radar picket submarine Salmon (SSR-573) in August, shore bombardment practice in September, and an electronic counter-measures test with auxiliary submarine Catfish (AGSS-399) in December. In January 1964, the warship provided screening services for antisubmarine warfare support carrier Kearsarge (CVS-33), and conducted ASW training in February with nuclear submarine Permit (SSN-594) and submarine Pomodon (SS-486). These exercises ended on 19 March when the destroyer escort entered the Naval Repair Facility at San Diego for a three-week overhaul. On 13 April, she began two months of refresher training, preparatory to another Far Eastern deployment, upon which she embarked on 19 June.
On the 26th, Bauer stopped at Pearl Harbor for three weeks of training. Designed to familiarize her crew with Vietnam-theater operating procedures, this training continued until 20 July when she headed for Japan. Arriving at Yokosuka 10 days later, the destroyer escort remained in port until 5 August when she set out for Vietnamese waters. Taking up a position at "Yankee Station" on the 11th, the warship provided ASW protection for the growing number of American carriers operating in the South China Sea. These duties included ASW patrol, sonar contact investigation, and lifeguard station watch. This assignment--broken only by brief stops at Subic Bay, Sasebo, and Hong Kong--lasted until 30 November when she sailed for home.
Following her 16 December arrival, the destroyer escort spent the holidays in port at San Diego. She began a heavy schedule of local operations on 25 January 1965. These ranged from sonar exercises, with 12 trainees from the Pacific Fleet ASW school on board, to screening operations for attack carrier Oriskany (CVA-34) and antisubmarine warfare support carrier Bennington (CVS-20). Various other drills, with submarines, escorts, and amphibious forces, also took place out of San Diego. In early March, the destroyer escort twice encountered a Russian trawler snooping around the exercise area. At the end of the month, the warship conducted two days of ASW drills off Coronado Island with the Greek submarine Triaina (S-86).
In mid-June, following a sonar project for the Fleet ASW School, the destroyer escort began preparations for a drydock period at Long Beach Naval Shipyard. After receiving services from Dixie (AD-14), the warship moved to the shipyard on 30 June. She entered drydock on 27 July, left it again on 26 August, but continued to receive repairs until 10 October. Underway the next day, Bauer commenced refresher training and remained so employed until 11 January 1966 when she returned to Long Beach Naval Shipyard for modifications. These repairs lasted until the 26th when the warship returned to San Diego.
Following two months of preparatory training, Bauer got underway for Alaskan waters on 29 March 1966. The destroyer escort stopped at Esquimalt in British Columbia and at Juneau and Kodiak in Alaska before anchoring off Adak Island on 15 April. She steamed to Attu on the 17th and conducted special operations in the Bering Sea for the next five weeks. After refueling at Adak on 26 May, the warship sailed for a visit to Pearl Harbor before returning to San Diego on 13 June. For the next five months, she conducted only local exercises out of that port before sailing for the Far East on 4 November.
Arriving at Pearl Harbor on the 11th, Bauer joined Bennington for training exercises before setting out for Japan on 28 November. After mooring at Yokosuka on 8 December, the destroyer escort headed for Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on the 10th. A week later, she began patrolling the Taiwan Strait. These patrols occupied her until 12 January 1967 when she moved on to Vietnamese waters. Arriving on "Yankee Station" on the 18th, Bauer provided screen and plane guard services to the carriers for the next 10 weeks. On 7 March, she steered for Sasebo, putting into that port on the 12th. The warship entered S.S.K. Shipyard for eight weeks of repairs on 3 April. The work was completed on 30 May and she steamed for home.
Bauer sailed via Midway and Pearl Harbor and arrived at San Diego on 16 June. Following leave and upkeep, the warship conducted local training operations, including a few DASH flights, until 5 September when she sailed for Alaskan waters. Mooring at Adak on the 13th, Bauer remained in that port owing to a severe storm that crossed into the area. The next day, the storm swept medium harbor tug Pawtucket (YTM-359) into the warship, punching a small hole in Bauer's hull. The destroyer escort suffered more damage on the 15th when rough seas drove her against the pier. Although she moved to Amchitka the following day, the weather conditions allowed only one day of Arctic sonar tracking training before forcing her south for calmer waters. The warship refueled at Pearl Harbor on the 30th and made San Diego on 8 October.
After repairing the hull damage received in the Aleutians, Bauer conducted normal training exercises out of San Diego for the next 11 months. These activities were interrupted in early January 1968 when the warship helped track California gray whales with sono-buoys while off Baja, Mexico. On 30 August, Bauer moved to the Reserve Training Compound, San Diego. Reassigned to Reserve Destroyer Squadron (ResDesRon) 27, she carried out training missions with reservists through the end of the year.
In January 1969, Bauer participated in Exercise "Bellcurve," during which she conducted raider surface attacks against an ASW task group, before resuming reservist training out of San Diego. In April, the warship embarked two groups of naval reservists for active duty training; and, in early May, the destroyer escort conducted ASW exercises for the Pacific Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare School. On 21 May, she entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard, for a regular overhaul but continued to train reservists throughout the overhaul period. With repairs and alterations complete on 26 August, Bauer returned to reserve training out of San Diego, which occupied her time through the end of the year and into 1970.
On 24 March 1970, Bauer got underway for a two-week training cruise, including a port visit to Mazatlan, Mexico, before returning to her usual schedule of weekend drills and underway exercises. For the next three years, Bauer continued this pattern of reserve training operations. Highlights included training cruises to San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, and even one voyage to Hawaii in June and July of 1972. Target ship services were provided to such fleet units as Darter (SS-576), and the reserve crew provided planeguard services for Ticonderoga (CVA-14) and Coral Sea (CVA-43) in January 1973. On 13 July, however, the destroyer escort failed her service inspections. Material deficiencies such as inadequate communications systems, worn out machinery, and poor habitability, combined with a lack of environmental and crew safety gear, led to a recommendation for disposal.
Following a final reserve cruise on the last weekend in September, the warship stood down at San Diego on 1 October. Bauer was decommissioned on 3 December 1973, and her name was struck from the Navy list that same day. After a possible Military Assistance Program transfer to the Turkish Navy was cancelled, she was sold for scrap to the National Metal & Steel Corp., Terminal Island, Calif., on 22 August 1974.
Bauer received two battle stars for Vietnam service.
Timothy L. Francis
28 February 2006