John R. Litchfield, born 7 March 1899 at Flanagan, III., died 15 September 1918 near Thiacourt, France. As a Navy pharmacist’s mate serving with the 6th Regiment, USMC, he displayed exceptional bravery in treating the wounded while under shellfire. He was killed attempting to remove a casualty from a frontline trench and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
(DD-336: dp. 1,215; l. 314'5"; b. 30'11½”; dr. 9'4"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 126; a. 44", 1 3"; 12 21" tt.; cl. Clemson)
Litchfield (DD-336) was laid down 15 January 1919 by Mare Island Navy Yard; launched 12 August 1919; sponsored by Mrs. Martha D. Litchfield, mother of Pharmacist’s Mate Litchfield; and commissioned 12 May 1920, Lt. Comdr. J. F. McClain in command.
This new flush-decker sailed to Bremerton, Wash., on her shakedown cruise but her initial tour on the west coast was brief. Before the end of 1921 she had departed San Diego and arrived Charleston, S.C. Following the annual fleet maneuvers, Litchfield steamed to Newport, R.I., to join Division 39 for duty in the eastern Mediterranean, arriving Constantinople 28 June 1922.
The division served under the direct command of Rear Adm. M. L. Bristol, U.S. High Commissioner for Turkey. The Allied Commissioners were attempting to end a war between this former ally of Germany and Greece. Litchfield served in humanitarian causes and as an instrument of American foreign policy as Admiral Bristol’s destroyers evacuated 262,000 Greek and Armenian refugees after a fire swept Smyrna, Turkey, 13 September. The destroyers also assisted civilian relief agencies attempting to feed and evacuate additional thousands suffering from famine and war.
The following fall Litchfield returned to the United States and entered the New York Navy Yard 30 October 1923 for overhaul. Litchfield joined Destroyer Squadron 12 based at San Diego 24 May 1924. During maneuvers and tactical exercises with the battle fleet in October, she was awarded prize money for her competitive short-range firing.
Annual competition and monthly maneuvers were supplemented in 1925 by a training cruise to Australia and New Zealand. On 4 June 1927 she participated in her first presidential review off Newport, R.I. Returning to the Pacific, Litchfield spent most of July off the coast of politically disturbed Nicaragua. Though over age, she survived both the cutback in naval tonnage agreed upon at the 1930 London Naval Conference and the economy measures of the early years of the great depression.
In April 1937, Litchfield, as part of the battle fleet, changed her permanent base from the west coast to Pearl Harbor. On 20 May she became flagship of Submarine Squadron 4, Submarine Force, Pearl Harbor, and continued to operate with submarines as war approached and training drills intensified during 1941. In company with Thresher (SS-200), she departed her base 6 December and returned the 9th to the destruction wrought by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
With the outbreak of war in the Pacific, Litchfield’s duties involved the escort of U.S. submarines both in and out of port and antisubmarine patrol off the entrance to Pearl Harbor. Several times she made depth charge runs but no kills were confirmed prior to her departure 6 November 1943 for overhaul at Bremerton, Wash.
Upon her return to Pearl Harbor 14 January 1944, she escorted a series of convoys to Midway and Eniwetok. Twice near Midway, she rescued crews of downed patrol planes and she salvaged a PBM 8 August. Litchfield also conducted submarine training exercises in the vicinity of each of these two bases. On 17 March 1945 an escort mission brought her to Guam, her furthest wartime penetration of the western Pacific. While performing escort and training duties with U.S. submarines at Guam on 31 March, she was redesignated AG-95, a miscellaneous auxiliary. Ending these duties 21 July, she arrived San Diego 9 August.
The next week the Board of Inspectors recommended Litchfield be scrapped. Arriving Philadelphia in October, she decommissioned 5 November and was struck from the Navy Register 28 November. Scrapping was completed by the Philadelphia Navy Yard 29 March 1946.