Francis Hoyt Gregory was born in Norwalk, Conn., 9 October 1780. While in the merchant service, he was impressed by the British in an incident typical of those which led in part to the War of 1812. After escaping, Gregory was appointed a midshipman 16 January 1809 by President Jefferson and reported to Revenge, commanded by Oliver Hazard Perry. In March 1809 he was transferred to the Gulf Squadron at New Orleans. While serving in Vesuvius and as captain of Gun Boat 162, Gregory participated in the capture of an English brig smuggling slaves into New Orleans and three Spanish pirate ships. During the War of 1812, he served on Lake Ontario under Commodore Isaac Chauncey and participated in attacks on Toronto, Kingston, and Fort George. In August 1814 Gregory was captured by the British; refused parole, he was sent to England and remained there until June 1815.
After he was released by the British, Gregory joined the Mediterranean Squadron and operated along the North African coast until 1S21. In that year he became captain of Grampus and spent the following 2 years cruising the West Indies, to suppress piracy. While in the Indies. Gregory captured the notorious pirate brig Panchita and destroyed several other pirate ships. After fitting out, the frigate Brandywine, destined to carry LaFayette back to France, in 1824, Gregory sailed a 64 gun frigate to Greece for the revolutionary government. From 1824-1828 he served at the New York Navy Yard, and in 1831 reported to the Pacific Station for a 3-year cruise in command of Falmouth. Gregory served as commander of the Station for 1 year.
From the Pacific, Gregory—appointed a Captain in 1838—sailed to the Gulf of Mexico, where he commanded North Carolina and Raritan and served in the blockade of the Mexican coast during the war with that country. After the Mexican War, Gregory commanded the squadron off the African coast, with Portsmouth as his flagship, until June 1851. Returning to the States, he became Commandant of the Boston Navy Yard in May 1852 and served there through February 1856. His subsequent retirement ended a navy career which spanned nearly 50 years. When the bloody Civil War rolled across the land, Gregory returned to naval service to superintend the building and fitting out of naval vessels in private shipyards. Promoted to Rear Admiral 16 July 1862, he served throughout the 4 years of war and then retired again. Admiral Gregory died 4 October 1866 in Brooklyn, and was buried at New Haven, Conn.
(DD-82: dp. 1,191; l. 314'4"; b. 30'll"; dr. 9'2"; s. 34.75 k.; a. 4 4", 12 21" tt.; cpl. 141; cl. Wickes)
Gregory (DD-82) was launched 27 January 1915 by the Fore River Ship Building Co., Quincy, Mass.; sponsored by Mrs. George S. Trevor, great-granddaughter of Admiral Gregory; and commissioned 1 June 1918, Comdr. Arthur P. Fairfield in command.
Joining a convoy at New York, Gregory sailed for Brest, France, 25 June 1918. She spent the final summer of the war escorting convoys from the French port to various Allied ports in Britain and France. As the war neared its close, Gregory was assigned to the patrol squadron at Gibraltar 2 November 1918. In addition to patrolling in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, Gregory carried passengers and supplies to the Adriatic and aided in the execution of the terms of the Austrian armistice. After six months of this duty, the flush-deck destroyer joined naval forces taking part in relief missions to the western Mediterranean 28 April 1919. In company with USS Arizona. Gregory carried supplies and passengers to Smyrna. Constantinople, and Batum. She then sailed for Gibraltar with the American counsul from Tiflis, Russia and some British army officers. Debarking her passengers on the rocky fortress, Gregory sailed for New York reaching the States 13 June 1919.
After brief tours in reserve at Tompkinsville, N.Y., the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Gregory sailed to Charleston, S.C., 4 January 1921. A year of local training operations out of the southern port ended 12 April 1922 when Gregory entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She decommissioned 7 July 1922 and went into reserve.
As war broke again over Europe, threatening to involve the United States, Gregory and three other four-stackers were taken out of mothballs for conversion to high-speed transports. The DDs were stripped of virtually all their armament to make room for boats, while other important modifications were made for troops and cargo. Gregory recommissioned 4 November 1940 as APD-3 and joined Little, Colhoun, and McKean to form Transport Division 12. None of these valiant ships were to live through the Pacific war—all but McKean were lost during the Guadalcanal campaign.
Gregory and her sister APD's trained along the East Coast for the following year perfecting landing techniques with various Marine divisions. On 27 January 1942. with war already raging in the Pacific, she departed Charleston for Pearl Harbor. Exercises in Hawaiian waters kept TransDiv 12 in the Pacific through the spring, after which they returned to San Diego for repairs. They sailed for the Pacific again 7 June, reaching Pearl Harbor a week later to train for the upcoming invasion of Guadalcanal, America's first offensive effort in the long Pacific campaign.
Departing Noumea 31 July 1942, Gregory joined TF 62 (Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher) and steamed for Guadalcanal. After sending her Marines ashore in the first assault waves 7 August, Gregory and her sister APD's remained in the area performing a variety of tasks in one of history's most desperately fought over areas. The versatile ships patrolled the waters around the hotly-contested islands—waters which were to gain notoriety as "Iron Bottom Sound"—and brought up ammunition & supplies from Espiritu Santo.
On 4 September Gregory and Little were returning to their anchorage at Tulagi after transferring a Marine Raider Battalion to Savo Island. The night was inky-'black with a low haze obscuring all landmarks, and the ships decided to remain on patrol rather than risk threading their way through the dangerous channel. As they steamed between Guadalcanal and Savo Island at ten knots, three Japanese destroyers (Yudachi, Hatsuyuki, and Murakumo) entered the Slot undetected to bombard American shore positions. At 0056 on the morning of 5 September, Gregory and Little -saw flashes of gunfire which they assumed came from a Japanese submarine until radar showed four targets—apparently a cruiser had joined the three DD's. While the two outgunned but gallant ships were debating whether to close for action or depart quietly and undetected, the decision was taken out of their hands.
A Navy pilot had also seen the gunfire and, assuming it came from a Japanese submarine, dropped a string of five flares almost on top of the two APD's. Gregory and Little, silhouetted against the blackness, were spotted immediately by the Japanese destroyers, Who opened fire at 0100. Gregory brought all her guns to bear but was desperately overmatched and less than 3 minutes after the fatal flares had been dropped -was dead in the water and beginning to sink. Two boilers had burst and her decks were a mass of flames. Her skipper, Lt. Comdr. H. F. Bauer, himself seriously wounded, gave the word to abandon ship, and Gregory's crew reluctantly took to the water. Bauer ordered two companions to aid another crewman yelling for help and was never seen again; for his brave and gallant conduct he posthumously received the Silver Star.
At 0123, with all of Gregory's and most of Little's crew in the water, the Japanese Ships began shelling again— aiming not at the crippled ships but at their helpless-crews in the water. All but 11 of Gregory's crew survived, 6 of them swimming through the night all the way to Guadalcanal. Gregory sank stern first some 40 minutes after the firing had begun, and was followed 2 hours later by Little. Fleet Admiral Nimitz, in praising the courageous ships after their loss, wrote that "both of these small vessels fought as well as possible against the overwhelming odds . . . With little means, they performed duties vital to the success of the campaign." Gregory's name was struck from the Navy List 2 October 1942.
Gregory received two battle stars for service in World War II.