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Leutze

 

Eugene Henry Cozzens Leutze, son of Emanuel Leutze, the noted painter of American Revoluntionary War scenes, was born in Dusseldorf, Prussia, 16 November 1847. Appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy by President Lincoln in 1863, he witnessed part of the Civil War on board blockade ship Monticello the following summer.

 

His early career brought Leutze various surveying assignments, especially in Central America. In 1897, as commanding officer of Alert, he helped promote the peace when representatives from Costa Rica and Nicaragua met and signed a treaty of peace aboard his ship. As captain of Monterey, he sailed to reinforce Dewey’s fleet at Manila, and was present when the city capitulated.

 

A fine administrator, he was promoted to rear admiral in 1907 while Superintendent of the Naval Gun Factory and Commandant of the Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. Admiral Leutze ended his active career as Commandant of both the 3rd Naval District and the New York Navy Yard on 6 June 1912. He died at Brooklyn Naval Hospital 1 September 1931.

 

(DD-481: dp. 2,050; l. 376'5"; b. 39'9”; dr. 13'9"; s. 37 k.; cpl. 273; a. 5 5", 10 40mm., 7 20mm., 6 dcp., 2 dct., 10 21' tt.; cl. Fletcher)

 

Leutze (DD-481) was laid down 3 June 1941 by Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash.; launched 29 October 1942; sponsored by Miss Caroline Rowcliff, granddaughter of Rear Adm. E. H. C. Leutze, daughter of Rear Adm. G. J. Rowcliff; and commissioned 4 March 1944, Comdr. B. A. Robbins, Jr., in command.

 

Leutze completed the necessary performance trials and continued the training of her crew on escort missions to Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok during June and July 1944. On 2 August she departed Seattle for the war zone a sleek new destroyer and returned 1 year and 1 day later a battered veteran about to be scrapped. In this short interval she had played a part in five invasions and a major naval battle before a kamikaze ended her fighting days.

 

After departing Seattle, Wash., the destroyer rehearsed in the Hawaiian and Solomon Islands for the invasion of the Palaus. Arriving off Peleliu 12 September (D-3 Day), Leutze bombarded enemy positions ashore and suffered her first casualty when shrapnel from an enemy shell sprayed the ship. Withdrawn on the 24th, she joined TG 77.2 at Manus, Admiralties, for the invasion of the strategically important Philippines.

 

Action off Leyte began 18 October with little serious opposition to the preinvasion bombardment but rose to a crescendo climax with the Battle of Leyte Gulf 24 and 25 October. Leutze, first firing on an enemy plane 2 days earlier, suffered 11 casulties on the morning of the 24th when hit during an enemy bombing and strafing run. That night in Surigao Straits with Read Adm. J. B. Oldendorf’s 7th Fleet support ships, she attacked with torpedoes the ships of Japan’s Southern Force under Admiral Nishimura. During this phase of the last major battle between surface ships, Admiral Nishimura lost two battleships and three destroyers in a vain attempt to force his way through the Straits and attack the American invasion fleet. Thereafter with its surface fleet decimated, Japan again resorted to airstrikes. Although Leutze emerged unscratched, on a single day 1 November, four sister ships of her screen were crashed by suicide planes.

 

After a period of tender overhaul, she steamed out of Kossol Roads 1 January 1945 for the invasion of Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippines. En route the ship received ice cream for all hands for returning a sailor fallen overboard from Makin Island (CVE-93). She arrived in Lingayen Gulf 6 January for fire support. While supporting this operation, Leutze 7 January sank a Japanese patrol vessel and 9 January a small suicide boat loaded with explosives.

 

Careful preparations were made for the next assault. Iwo Jima, desired as an airfield site, was selected as the target. Practicing with underwater demolition teams at Ulithi and conducting exercises until beyond Saipan, Leutze arrived Iwo Jima 16 February. Despite intensive previous bombing and shelling, enemy fire was heavy.

 

While protecting Navy frogmen on the 17th, she took, a shell on the after part of the forward stack. Remaining until the completion of her mission, she then transferred her seriously wounded commanding officer and three other injured and resumed station. Ordered back to Ulithi the next day for repairs, she returned to Iwo Jima early in March but only for 4 days, as much of this fleet was now needed for operation “Iceberg,” the conquest of Okinawa.

 

This last big amphibious operation of the war, unlike Iwo Jima, took place within range of Japanese land-based planes. While escorting battleship New York (BB-34) for the preinvasion shelling of 27 March, Leutze made two depth charge runs which apparently sank a midget submarine. On a second voyage with Mobile (CL-63) and Oakland (CL-95), she arrived Okinawa 3 April. This was 2 days after D-Day but in time for the first of the Japanese operations “Ten Go,” the massed Kamikaze attacks.

 

Of the first wave to filter through on 6 April, she splashed two and later knocked down a third. Disregarding the danger, she proceeded alongside to assist the thrice-hit and burning Newcomb (DD-586). The fourth plane to hit this ship skidded across the deck and exploded its bomb against Leutze’s port quarter. The Kamikaze almost severed her fantail and left seven crew members missing, one dead, and 30 wounded. Lt. Leon Grabowski, Lentze’s acting commanding officer, for his part in aiding Newcomb and in the fighting of his own ship, received the Navy Cross.

 

Recalling her firefighting parties from Newcomb, she maneuvered clear, brought her flooding under control and was towed to Kerama Retto anchorage for emergency repairs. Departing 10 July via Guam and Pearl Harbor, she reached Hunter’s Point Drydocks, San Francisco, 3 Angust. Following the end of the war, her repairs were halted. Leutze decommissioned 6 December 1945, was struck from the Navy Register 3 January 1946, and ultimately purchased for scrap by Thomas Harris, Barker, N.J., 17 June 1947.

 

Leutze received five battle stars for World War II service.