John Henry Russell, born at Frederick, Md., on 4 July 1827, was appointed midshipman 10 September 1841 and served in the sloop Cyane in the Pacific until 1843. He returned in the frigate United States in 1844 and served in St. Marys in the Gulf of Mexico from 1844 to 1846; participating in operations at Galveston, Corpus Christi, Brazos, Resaca, and Vera Cruz. After duty in Alleghany in 1847, he graduated at the Naval Academy in 1848. Briefly assigned to coast survey duty, he made a cruise to Brazil in 1849, then served on the New York-West Indies mail line from 1853 to 1856, and served as navigator in Vincennes during explorations of the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Assigned to the Mediterranean Squadron at the end of the decade, he returned to the United States and ordnance duty at the Washington Navy Yard just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. In April 1861, he assisted in preventing ships at Norfolk from falling to the enemy; and, in September, he led a boat expedition into Pensacola Harbor to destroy the Confederate privateer Judah. He next assumed command of Kennebec and in that gunboat participated in operations on the Mississippi up to Vicksburg and served in the blockade of Mobile. Commanding Pontiac in 1863, he returned to ordnance duty at Washington in 1864 and to the Pacific Squadron to serve as commanding officer of Cyane in 1864-65. Various duties, afloat and ashore, on both coasts, Atlantic and Pacific, followed, and he completed his last assignment, 3 years as Commandant Mare Island Navy Yard, in 1886. Appointed rear admiral 4 March 1886, he retired on 27 August and resided in Washington, D.C., until his death 1 April 1897.
(DD - 414: displacement 1,570; length 348’2”; beam 36’1”; draft 11’5”; speed 35 knots; complement 192; armament 5 5”, 8 21” torpedo tubes, 2 depth charge tracks; class Sims)
Russell (DD-414) was laid down 20 December 1937 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.; launched 8 December 1938; sponsored by Mrs. Charles H. Marshall, granddaughter of Rear Admiral Russell; and commissioned 3 November 1939, Lt. Comdr. J. C. Pollock in command.
Commissioned 2 months after the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Russell cruised in the western Atlantic and in the Caribbean on Neutrality Patrol until the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Then ordered to the Pacific, she transited the Panama Canal and proceeded to San Diego, whence, on 6 January 1942, she sailed west, screening reinforcements to Samoa. By the time of her arrival, 20 January, the Japanese had moved into Malaya, Borneo, the Celebes, the Gilberts, and the Bismarck Archipelago. Within the week, Rabaul fell and the Japanese continued on to New Ireland and the Solomons while further west they extended their occupation of the Netherlands East Indies.
On the 25th, Russell sailed north with TF 17, screened Yorktown (CV-5) as her planes raided Makin, Mili, and Jaluit on 1 February, then set a course for Pearl Harbor. In midmonth, the force sailed again. Diverted from its original destination, Wake, it covered forces establishing an airbase on Canton Island, important on the Hawaii-Samoa-Fiji route to Australia and less than 1,000 miles from Makin. Raids on Rabaul and Gasmata were next ordered to cover a movement of troops to New Caledonia, but on 8 March the Japanese landed at Salamaua and Lae in New Guinea and Port Moresby was threatened. The force, again joined by the Lexington (CV-2) force - as in the Gilberts' raid, steamed into the Gulf of Papua, whence, on the 10th, planes were sent over the Owen Stanley Range to bomb the newly-established Japanese bases on the Huon Gulf.
Through April, Russell continued to screen the Yorktown force, operating primarily in the ANZAC area. Detached on 3 May to screen Neosho (AO-23) during fueling operations with TF 11, she rejoined TF 17 early on the 5th and resumed screening duties for the force's heavier units. On the 7th, in the Coral Sea, she engaged enemy planes closing the formation to threaten Yorktown and Lexington and to support Japanese forces in an assault on Port Moresby. Lexington hit and heavily damaged, but still in action, continued to recover and launch planes. Three hours later, however, she reported a serious explosion. A second followed. Her fires were no longer under control. She soon commenced abandoning ship. Russell joined her screen; circled the crippled ship as rescue ships evacuated personnel; and, with the completion of that work, departed the scene of the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Retiring to Tonga, Russell debarked 170 survivors from Lexington and sailed for Pearl Harbor. Arriving on the 27th she headed out again on the 30th, this time toward Midway. On 4 June, Task Forces 16 and 17 again met the enemy in an air duel, through which Russell steamed in the screen of Yorktown. In the afternoon, enemy torpedo planes broke through the screen and scored successfully on the carrier. The patched-up survivor of the Coral Sea was abandoned. Russell took on 492 of her crew and aviation personnel. The next day she transferred 27 to Astoria (CA-34) to assist in salvage operations on the carrier, but the Japanese torpedoes negated the effort and Yorktown and Hammann (DD-412) were lost. On the 10th, Russell covered the transferral [sic; transferal] of replacements from Saratoga (CV-3) to Hornet (CV-8) and Enterprise (CV-6); and, on the 13th, she returned to Pearl Harbor.
Engaged in training exercises for the next 2 months, Russell again sortied with TF 17 on 17 August; took station screening Hornet; and headed southwest. On the 29th, TF 17 joined TF 61, becoming TG 61.2. On the 31st Saratoga took a torpedo and Russell conducted an unsuccessful submarine hunt, the first of many in the long and costly campaign for Guadalcanal. On 6 September, one of Hornet's planes dropped an explosive off Russell's starboard quarter to detonate a torpedo. Another submarine search commenced. At 1452 she established contact and dropped six 600-pound depth charges. At 1513, she sighted an oil slick 1 mile by one-half mile, but contact was lost at 700 yards and never regained.
Through the remainder of the year, and into the new, Russell continued to operate in support of the Guadalcanal campaign. On 25 and 26 October, she participated in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, during which she again joined in rescue operations for a sinking carrier, this time Hornet, from which she transferred the commander of Task Force 17, Rear Adm. George D. Murray and his staff to Pensacola (CA-24), seriously wounded personnel to Northampton (CA-26), and other survivors to Noumea where Russell's superstructure - damaged during rescue work - was repaired. During December and into January 1943, she screened convoys to Guadalcanal and Tulagi, then to Rennel [sic; Rennell]. In February, she screened Enterprise; then, in March, resumed convoy escort work, making one run to Australia and back by mid-April.
On 1 May the destroyer set a course for the west coast. At the end of July, after overhaul at Mare Island, she steamed north to join forces staging for the "invasion" of Kiska. Aleutian patrol duty followed; and, with the arrival of autumn, she turned south to escort landing craft to Hawaii. In October, she continued on to Wellington, New Zealand; and, in early November, she escorted transports to the New Hebrides where she joined TF 53, then preparing to push into the Gilberts. Underway on the 13th with the Task Force, she arrived with the troop transports off Betio, Tarawa, on the 20th, then screened heavier units as they shelled the shore. Remaining in the area until the 25th, she provided gunfire support and screened the transports as they filled with Marine casualties. On the 27th, she joined TG 50.3 and, with TG 50.1, sailed for the Marshalls. On 4 December, carrier planes raided Kwajalein and Wotje; and, on the 9th, the force returned to Pearl Harbor, whence Russell continued on to the west coast.
On 13 January 1944, Russell, screening TG 53.5, departed the California coast. Training in the Hawaiian Islands followed. On the 22d the force headed west. On the 30th, Russell joined other destroyers and heavier units in shelling Wotje. On the 31st, she rejoined the main force off Kwajalein and, after initial screening duties, added her guns to the naval gunfire support line. On 2 February, she screened CarDiv 22 and on the 3d, entered Kwajalein lagoon. Standing out 5 days later, she arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 15th and was directed on to Puget Sound for repairs.
Repairs completed in March, Russell returned to Hawaii in early April; then escorted U.S. Army tug, Willard Holbrook to New Guinea where she rejoined her squadron, DesRon 2. Arriving at Finschafen [sic; Finschhafen] 4 May, she reported to the commander of TF 76 at Sudest on the 6th and commenced 5 months of intensive and navigationally difficult escort work along the New Guinea coast. Assigned initially to escort LSTs resupplying Hollandia and Aitape, she joined TF 77 on the 16th and covered LCIs and ATs to the Wakde-Sarmi area. From the 17th to the 20th, she stood off Wakde, marking the approach channel on the first day of the campaigns there and providing fire support and screening services on the others. On the 20th, she returned to Humboldt Bay and 5 days later sailed with LSTs for Biak to commence Operation "Horlick." On the 27th, she shelled Padiator Island [sic; Padaido Islands], patrolled between Pai and Pandiadori [sic; Padaidori] Islands, blasted targets on Biak, and then got underway to return to Humboldt Bay. Into June, she continued to escort convoys to and provide cover for operations at Biak and Wakde. In mid-June, she participated in a bombardment of the Toem area, then resumed escort runs along the coast. In early July, Noemfoor, with its two Japanese airfields, became the target. At midmonth Russell gained a brief respite at Manus, then at the end of the month commenced Operation "Globetrotter," the capture of Sansapor. Through August, she continued operations in support of the campaign and, in mid-September, moved forward to the Moluccas to cover the occupation of Morotai, the last stepping stone on the southern route to the Philippines and on the eastern route to Borneo and the Netherlands East Indies.
On 13 October Russell sailed with TF 78 for the Philippines and on the 20th, as the troops of the Northern Attack Force landed south of Tacloban, patrolled off Alabat Point. 0n the 21st she took up fire support duties to the north of the unloading area. Through the 24th she remained in San Pedro Bay; resumed patrol in Leyte Gulf on the 25th; and, on the 26th, got underway for New Guinea, whence during November and December, she escorted reinforcements to Leyte.
On 28 December Russell departed Aitape for her next amphibious operation - the invasion of Luzon - and steamed into the Mindoro Sea on 5 January 1945. Two days later, she joined three other destroyers in forming an interceptor force 5 miles on the starboard of the San Fabian Attack Force to destroy any enemy ships attempting a sortie from Manila Bay against the convoy. At 2230 an enemy destroyer, Hinoki was detected and fired on. The shells found their mark, Hinoki exploded and sank within 20 minutes.
On the 9th, the force, having survived harassing attacks by planes, boats, and ships, arrived in Lingayen Gulf and Russell assumed screening duties off the transport area. For 9 days she patrolled, illuminated, bombarded, and fought off kamikazes. From the 18th to the 23d, she escorted damaged ships back to Leyte and, on the 27th, sailed north again. On the 31st, she arrived off Nasugbu Bay, covered YMSs as they cleared approach channels, then fired on enemy emplacements on Nasugbu Point. Relieved in late afternoon, she returned to Lingayen Gulf, thence, on 2 February, to Leyte, New Guinea, and the Solomons.
Russell arrived at Guadalcanal 15 February, rejoined the 5th Fleet and prepared for Operation "Iceberg", the Okinawa offensive. On 1 April, she arrived off the assault beaches and commenced screening the Northern Transport area. From the 3d to the 5th, she patrolled north of Ie Shima, then returned to the transport area to escort a convoy to Ulithi. Returning to the Hagushi beaches with reinforcements on the 21st, she shifted to Kerama Retto, whence she patrolled in carrier operating area "Rapier," south of Okinawa, into May. Detached from carrier screening duty on the 27th, she proceeded to the Hagushi anchorage and got underway the following day for the United States and a yard overhaul.
Still undergoing overhaul at Seattle when the war ended Russell was prepared for inactivation during September; and, on 15 November, she was decommissioned. Thirteen days later she was struck from the Navy list and, in September 1947, she was sold for scrap to the National Metal & Steel Corp., Terminal Island, Calif.
Russell earned 16 battle stars during World War II.
21 October 2005