During the French and Indian War, Richard Montgomery, born in northern Ireland 23 December 1739, fought at Quebec with Wolfe, and in the campaign against the Spanish West Indies. He returned to America in 1772, purchased an estate on the Hudson River, and married the daughter of Robert R. Livingston.
When war with England broke out, Montgomery sided with the Americans and was commissioned brigadier general in the fall of 1775. He succeeded General Schuyler in command of the expedition against Canada, captured Fort St. Johnís and Fort Chambly, and entered Montreal in triumph. Montgomery was killed by British artillery during an unsuccessful assault on Quebec, 31 December 1775.
(DD‑121; dp. 1,090; l. 314'5"; b. 31'8"; dr. 8'8"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 113; a. 4 4", 2 3", 12 21" tt., 1 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Wickes)
The fifth Montgomery (DD‑121), named for Rear Adm. John B. Montgomery (1794‑1873), built by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., launched 23 March 1918; sponsored by Mrs. Andrew Jones, a descendent of Admiral Montgomery; and commissioned 26 July 1918, Lt. Comdr. W. R. Purnell in command.
Following an east coast shakedown, Montgomery left Hampton Roads 25 August 1918 for her first antisubmarine patrol, alternating such patrols with coastal escort duty until the close of World War I. She conducted training and fleet maneuvers from Maine to Cuba until 19 July 1919, when she departed Hampton Roads for west coast duty.
Montgomery arrived San Diego 7 August to join Destroyer Squadron 4, Pacific Fleet. For the next 31⁄2 years she took part in fleet operations from Alaska to Panama, then on 17 March 1922 began inactivation at San Diego, where she decommissioned 6 June 1922.
Redesignated DM‑17, 5 January 1961, Montgomery was converted to a light minelayer and recommissioned 20 August 1931. In December she sailed to Pearl Harbor, her base until 14 June 1937, when she returned to San Diego, there to decommission 7 December 1937 and go into reserve.
With world tension increasing on the eve of World War II, Montgomery reactivated, recommissioning 25 September 1939. She trained for possible war service and completed several towing assignments on the west coast until 3 December 1940 when she sailed for her new home port, Pearl Harbor.
At Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack 7 December 1941, Montgomery immediately began antisubmarine patrols in the approaches to the vital base, as well as interisland convoy duty. Departing Hawaii 11 April 1942 for Suva, Fiji, Montgomery began 16 months operating from Suva, Espiritu Santo, and Noumea for escort and minelaying operations in the southwest Pacific, aiding In the struggle for the Solomons. One interruption to this service was 22 September to 12 November, when she sailed north to lay mines in the Aleutians in preparation for the recapture of Attu and Kiska.
While laying a minefield off Guadalcanal on the night of 24 to 25 August 1943, Montgomery collided with light minelayer Preble, losing 20 feet of her bow. She made temporary repairs at Tulagi and Espiritu Santo, then sailed 1 October for San Francisco, arriving 19 October.
Repairs completed, Montgomery began 10 months of activity which included 2 convoy escort voyages between San Francisco and Hawaii (8 December 1943 to 5 February 1944), defensive minelaying around Kwajalein (17 March to 4 April), convoy escort to Majuro (May 1944), and local convoy escort in the Hawaiians. Montgomery attacked an enemy submarine contact 25 June 1944 without evident result. After an escort voyage to Eniwetok and return (28 June to 16 July), she sailed for Guadalcanal to prepare for the invasion of the Palaus.
Getting underway for the assault 6 September, Montgomery took station off Peleliu 12 September to destroy mines swept from the Japanese minefields. On 17 September she screened transports landing assault troops on Angaur, and 2 days later sailed for mine destruction and patrol duties at Ulithi until 14 October. She bombarded Ngulu 15 October and acted as mother ship for small minelayers during the capture of the atoll.
While anchored off Ngulu 17 October, with her engines secured, Montgomery sighted a mine floating close aboard to port. The wind swung the ship down onto the mine before she could get underway or destroy it. The resulting explosion flooded both enginerooms and one fireroom, ruptured fuel tanks, and killed four of her crew. Salvage efforts kept her afloat until she could be towed to Ulithi for repairs. Underway on her own power 12 January 1945, Montgomery arrived San Francisco 14 February. There it was recommended that she be decommissioned, which she was 23 April 1945. Montgomery was sold 11 March 1946.
Montgomery received four battle stars for World War II service.