Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Aaron Ward (DM-34)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Aaron Ward (DM-34).

The third USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) was laid down on 12 December 1943 at San Pedro, Calif., by the Bethlehem Steel Corp.; launched on 5 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. G. H. Ratliff; redesignated a light minelayer, DM-34, on 19 July 1944; and placed in commission on 28 October 1944, Cmdr. William H. Sanders, Jr., in command.

Between commissioning and the end of January 1945, USS Aaron Ward  (DM-34) completed fitting out and conducted her shakedown cruise off the California coast. On 9 February, she departed San Pedro, bound for Pearl Harbor where she arrived on 15 February. The warship conducted additional training in Hawaiian waters before loading supplies and ammunition and getting underway on 5 March to join the Fifth Fleet at Ulithi. She entered the lagoon of that atoll in the Western Carolines on 16 March but put to sea again on the 19th with Task Force (TF) 52 bound for the Ryukyu Islands.

In 1920, a bomb-laden tormentor made a high-speed, low-level approach and crashed into the base of her number 2 stack. The explosion blew the plane, the stack, searchlight, and two gun mounts into the air, and they all came to rest strewn across the deck aft of stack number 1. Through the night, her crew fought to save the ship. At 2106, Shannon (DM-25) arrived and took USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) in tow. Early on the morning of 4 May, she arrived at Kerama Retto where she began temporary repairs. She remained there until 11 June when she got underway for the United States. Steaming via Ulithi, Guam, Eniwetok, Pearl Harbor, and the Panama Canal, USS Aaron Ward  (DM-34) arrived in New York in mid-August. On 28 September 1945, she was decommissioned, and her name was stricken from the Navy Register. In July 1946, she was sold for scrapping.

USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) received the Presidential Unit Citation for her heroic battle on 3 May 1945, and one battle star for her service in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto (25 March-11 June 1945).

For the complete history of the USS Aaron Ward (DM-34), please see its DANFS page.