Bruce Godfrey Brackett--born on 16 October 1915 in Seattle, Wash.--enlisted in the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps in 1936 and served on board New York (BB-34), Colorado (BB-45), and Hopkins (DD-249). He was appointed an aviation cadet on 5 September 1939 and, following training as a naval aviator (heavier than air) at Pensacola, Fla., received a commission as an ensign on 15 April 1940. Brackett's first assignment was to Cruiser Scouting Squadron (VCS) 9 on board Honolulu (CL-48) to which he reported on 22 June. The light cruiser operated out of Pearl Harbor through 1941 and was moored in the Navy Yard when the Japanese attacked on 7 December. Honolulu suffered only minor hull damage and was initially assigned convoy escort duty between the United States, Australia, and Samoa.
Promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) in June 1942, Brackett spent the summer months of 1942 in the Aleutian Islands on board Honolulu. He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 October 1942 and began to fly combat scouting missions with Task Force (TF) 67 during the Battle of Tassafaronga in November and out of Espiritu Santo early in 1943.
From 16 December 1942 to 14 January 1943, Lt. Brackett flew hazardous missions to seek out the "Tokyo Express," the nightly reinforcement runs of warships down the slot that separated two chains of islands in the Solomons group. On his missions, he distinguished himself by valor when faced with heavy Japanese antiaircraft fire. Without regard to his personal safety, he illuminated hostile targets for PT boat squadrons to attack.
During the stormy night of 14 and 15 January, he was shot down over Savo Island while assisting the PT boats engaging a nine-destroyer "express" run. Lt. Brackett was officially declared dead on 23 January and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his heroism.
(DE-41: dp. 1,140; l. 289'5"; b. 35'2"; dr. 11'0"; s. 21.5 k. (tl.); cpl. 198; a. 3 3", 4 1.1", 9 20mm., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.), 2 dct.; cl. Evarts)
Brackett (DE-41) was laid down as BDE-41 on 12 January 1943 at Bremerton, Wash., by the Puget Sound Navy Yard; redesignated DE-41 on 16 June 1943; launched on 1 August 1943; sponsored by Mrs. George G. Brackett, the mother of Lt. Brackett; and commissioned on 18 October 1943, Lt. John H. Roskilly, Jr., in command.
The destroyer escort reported to the Operational Training Command in San Diego on 12 November for shakedown training. Post-shakedown repairs were completed on 15 December, and Brackett took on provisions before departing San Francisco on 21 December. Eight days later, she moored at Pearl Harbor and immediately commenced training for her part in the invasion of the Marshall Islands.
Brackett stood out of Pearl Harbor on 20 January 1944 and anchored in Funafuti Atoll, Ellice Islands, on the 25th. The destroyer escort got underway again on 29 January with 5th Fleet warships heading for Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The Japanese had abandoned Majuro in November 1942, and Allied troops, who prepared for an assault on enemy territory, simply raised the Stars and Stripes on 31 January. The atoll's value as an advanced base was apparent, and work to improve existing facilities began immediately. Thanks to the efforts of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, a large-scale anchorage chart was available on 2 February; and, two days later, Brackett escorted several of the 5th Fleet ships into safe harbor.
Brackett continued escort duty for supply ships travelling between the Marshall and Gilbert Islands until 9 May when she set course for Pearl Harbor. There, she underwent repairs to her starboard shaft. When she got underway again on 19 June, the destroyer escort set course for the Mariana Islands, arriving at Saipan during the struggle to wrest that island from Japan. She resumed convoy escort duty, protecting ships that constituted the vital pipeline conveying fuel, ammunition, and food to the advanced bases. On 28 July, while en route to Saipan from Eniwetok, Brackett pursued an underwater sound contact, dropping a series of depth charges. No visible evidence of a sinking could be found, and Japanese records opened after the war indicated no submarine lost that could have been Brackett's target.
Late in 1944, the destroyer escort added Manus in the Admiralty Islands to her regular patrol and escort circuit, stopping there for the first time in October and returning again in November. Brackett saw no action other than sinking an occasional floating mine. On 4 December, the escort arrived off the Marshall Islands to assume lifeguard duties during air strikes on the islands bypassed earlier: Wotje, Jaluit, Milli, and Maloelap. Brackett fired on an enemy gun emplacement on Taroa Island on 5 January 1945, destroying one battery before retiring. The destroyer escort was relieved of patrol duty and set course for Pearl Harbor on 7 February. After a four-week availability and rest period, Brackett got underway on 8 March for Ulithi, where preparations for the invasion of Okinawa were underway.
Ulithi was an advanced link in the supply chain reaching to the forward combat areas. Brackett provided convoy protection for the 40 fleet tankers shuttling fuel to the Ryukyus, the "reefer" ships carrying fresh and frozen provisions, and the ammunition ships replenishing the 5th/3d Fleet during the Okinawa campaign.
In May, Brackett departed Ulithi bound for Guam and then received orders stateside. Underway on 27 June, the destroyer escort arrived in San Francisco on 14 July for an overhaul at the Mare Island Navy Yard. Japan surrendered before the yard work was completed, and Brackett received orders to begin removing salvageable material in preparation for sale. Brackett was decommissioned on 23 November 1945 at Mare Island, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 5 December 1945. She was sold to National Metal and Steel Corp. at Terminal Island, Calif., in May 1947 and was scrapped.
Brackett earned three battle stars for her World War II service.
14 December 2005