Lt. Kenneth MacLeish, USNR, was born in Glencoe, III., in 1894 and appointed ensign in the Naval Reserve Flying Corps 31 August 1917. In France he participated in many raids over the enemy’s lines before he was transferred in September 1918 to Eastleigh, England. On a raid with the RAF 14 October, his plane was shot down and Lieutenant MacLeish instantly killed. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for “distinguished service and extraordinary heroism.”
(DD‑220: dp. 1,190; l. 314'5"; b. 31'9"; dr. 9'3"; 9. 35.5 k.; cpl. 101; a. 4 4", 13" AA., 12 21" tt.; cl. Clemson)
MacLeish (DD‑220) was laid down 19 August 1919 by William Cramp & Sons of Philadelphia, Pa.; launched 18 December 1919; sponsored by Miss Isabel MacLeish, sister of Lt. Kenneth MacLelsh; and commissioned 2 August 1920, Lt. Comdr. F. T. Berry in command.
After brief duty with the Pacific Fleet, MacLeish sailed 5 June 1922 from Philadelphia to join the U.S. Naval Forces in Turkish waters. Until June 1924 she operated in the Black Sea and in the eastern Mediterranean, protecting American interests and assisting in the evacuation of refugees. In October 1922 members of her crew participated in the landings at Smyrna, Turkey. Joining the scouting fleet in 1924, the destroyer visited various ports in Europe before returning to the United States in July.
Shortly after arriving at Boston, MacLeish departed for west coast duty. On 7 May 1925 she sailed for the China station, arriving at Shanghai 21 June. Operating between ports in China and the Philippines, the destroyer patrolled and trained while protecting American interests. In 1925, while on this station, members of her crew joined a force which landed at Shanghai to protect American lives during the civil disorder following shooting of Chinese students by municipal police. MacLeish remained in Asiatic and Pacific waters until 11 March 1938, when she decommissioned and entered the Reserve Fleet at San Diego, Calif.
With the outbreak of hostilities in Europe in 1939, MacLeish recommissioned 25 September 1939. Assigned to the eastern sea frontier, she was ready for sea by 1 February 1940 and engaged in maneuvers and patrol duty in the Caribbean before being rearmed in preparation for convoy duty. By the end of January 1941, with new armament and additional fuel tanks, and following intensive training, she escorted several convoys on coastwise voyages. In July, she was transferred to North Atlantic patrol and convoy operations, and continued this duty after the United States entered the war. In the spring of 1942, she was reassigned to coastal patrol and on 2 May was credited with a probable kill off the Florida coast. By February 1943, MacLeish had safely escorted 12 convoys between Norfolk and Key West and 9 between New York and Guantanamo Bay.
With the Allied offensive in north Africa calling, by February 1943, for an ever increasing flow of supplies, every available escort was assigned to transatlantic duty. MacLeish made two voyages between New York and Casablanca. In June she joined one of the first escort carrier groups, and for the next 7 months steamed over 50,000 miles covering the Norfolk‑Casablanca convoy route. On the second trip, in July, planes from MacLeish’s group made three probable sinkings.
MacLeish served the first 3 months of 1944 as a target ship for marine torpedo planes off Key West. Following overhaul, she returned to convoy duties, departing in May for ports in the Mediterranean as flagship of TF 63. After D‑Day, MacLeish escorted one more convoy across the Atlantic, this time to Cherbourg. Next she served as target ship for submarines, passing through the Panama Canal on their way to the Pacific. At Boston on 5 January 1915 the four stacker was redesignated AG‑87 and her topside armament stripped. Following conversion she returned to Panama to resume duties as target ship, training 25 submarines before steaming for Rhode Island to tow targets for naval aircraft.
Decommissioned 8 March 1946, MacLeish was struck from the Navy list 13 November, sold 18 December to Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md., and wrapped.
MacLeish received one battle star for World War II service.