(DE-104: dp. 1,240; l. 306’0”; b. 36’7”; dr. 8’9” (mean); s. 19.5 k.; cpl. 216; a. 3 3”, 6 40mm., 8 20mm., 3 21” tt., 8 dcp., 1 dcp (hh.), 2 dct.; cl. Cannon)
George Breeman, born on 15 September 1880 in Passaic, N.J., enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 2 June 1902 at New York City. Rated as a landsman for training, Breeman served briefly in the receiving ships Columbia (Cruiser No. 12) and Franklin before being assigned to the gunboat Topeka on 19 September 1902. On 23 March 1903 while still in Topeka, he was rated an ordinary seaman. In May 1903, Breeman was reassigned to Kearsarge (Battleship No. 5).
On 13 April 1906, a flash fire occurred in Kearsarge’s forward 13-inch turret where Breeman was serving, killing several officers and men. Burning powder fell into the 13-inch handling room below. Breeman rushed from his battle station in the adjacent powder magazine into the handling room and stamped out the fires. He then returned to the magazine, closed the hatch to the handling room, and began replacing the covers on open powder tanks. For his bravery and intrepidity during that catastrophe, Seaman Breeman received the Medal of Honor and one hundred dollars as a gratuity.
Not long thereafter, his term of enlistment expired, and Breeman received an honorable discharge from the Navy. On 16 September 1912, he reenlisted at New York City. After a brief period of service in Nashville (Gunboat No. 7), he transferred to New Hampshire (Battleship No. 25) on 23 December 1912. Breeman served in that battleship for a little more than eight years. During most of that time, his ship operated in the Carribean-Gulf of Mexico area. However, during America’s participation in World War I, he and his ship helped to train gunners in northern waters. At the end of the war, Breeman made four voyages to Europe and back in New Hampshire bringing veterans home. During his long tour of duty in New Hampshire, he advanced to the rank of chief turret captain.
On 20 May 1921, he transferred to the receiving ship at Hampton Roads, Va., before moving on to a tour of duty at the Naval Air Station, Anacostia, in Washington, D.C. In March 1922, Chief Turret Captain Breeman returned to sea in the new battleship California (BB-44). That final sea duty assignment lasted for almost three years. On 31 May 1927, he went ashore for the last time. After successive tours at the Naval Training Station, Hampton Roads, and the Navy Recruiting Station, Newark, N.J., Chief Turret Captain Breeman was transferred to the Fleet Reserve on 3 January 1929. He died at Passaic of a heart attack on 10 April 1937 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Breeman (DE-104) was laid down on 20 March 1943 at Wilmington, Del., by the Dravo Corp.; launched on 4 September 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Marie Breeman Schellgell, niece of the late Chief Turret Captain Breeman; completed at the Norfolk Navy Yard; and commissioned there on 12 December 1943, Lt. Comdr. Edward N. W. Hunter, USNR, in command.
The destroyer escort spent the remainder of 1943 and the first week in 1944 outfitting at Norfolk. On 11 January 1944, she embarked upon her shakedown cruise to the waters around Bermuda. She completed the training period on 1 February and returned to Norfolk on 5 February for post-shakedown repairs. On 16 February, Breeman steamed out of Chesapeake Bay as an element of Escort Division (CortDiv) 48 which itself made up a part of the screen of Task Group (TG) 21.16, a hunter-killer group built around Block Island (CVE-21). After fueling off Fayal in the Azores, the task group headed north to provide antisubmarine support for transatlantic convoys. Though Breeman appears to have taken no direct part in the attacks, the task group accounted for at least two U-boats before entering Casablanca on 8 March. The destroyer escort put to sea with the Block Island task group again on 12 March. On the 19th, planes from Block Island sank U-1059, and Breeman assisted in the rescue of the U-boat’s survivors.
Breeman and Bronstein (DE-189) parted company with TG 21.16 on 23 March. The following day, the two destroyer escorts put into Dakar, French West Africa, and began loading an unusual cargo: 60 million dollars in gold belonging to the Bank of Poland. The two warships departed Dakar on 26 March and proceeded to New York by the most direct and safest route and arrived there on 3 April. Following repairs, Breeman returned to sea on 12 April with another hunter-killer force which formed a portion of the screen for Convoy UGS-39. She and her convoy entered Bizerte, Tunisia, safely on 3 May. On the return voyage, the destroyer escort helped to screen Convoy GUS 39, arriving in Norfolk on 29 May. After an availability at the New York Navy Yard, she spent nine days during mid-June engaged in training at Casco Bay, Maine.
On 21 June, the destroyer escort headed south to the vicinity of Bermuda where she joined TG 22.10another hunter-killer group built around Card (CVE-11). Once again, the task group attacked a number of sonar contacts and sank at least one U-boat. Breeman, however, shared none of the credit for the sinking. The warship returned to New York late in August and, after repairs, conducted training at Casco Bay in early September. On 18 September, she rejoined the Card task group near Bermuda for further training. Soon thereafter, Breeman suffered propeller damage that forced her to return to the New York Navy Yard. She completed repairs by 23 October and put to sea that same day for torpedo training at the Submarine Base, New London, Conn., and in Casco Bay. On 24 November the destroyer escort and the rest of CortDiv 48 joined company with Card once again to form TG 22.2. For about a month, the warship trained in antisubmarine warfare (ASW) tactics in the waters surrounding Bermuda. She returned to New York on 29 December.
Breeman rejoined TG 22.2 on 12 January 1945 to act as plane guard and escort during carrier qualifications off Quonset Point, R.I. On 22 January, the destroyer escort and her colleagues of CortDiv 48 joined Bogue (CVE-9) in shaping a course for Norfolk. In late February and early March, Breeman returned to sea with a hunter-killer group built around Bogue for a fruitless search for German weather submarines purportedly operating to the south of Iceland. She and the rest of her task group entered New York on 17 March. During the first part of April, the destroyer escort conducted training at New London as a unit of a hunter-killer group built around Card. Between 15 April and 5 May, that task group hunted for submarines off the Virginia capes. Later, in May, Breeman moved north to Quonset Point where she served as a plane guard during carrier qualifications.
In mid-August, the warship joined Mission Bay (CVE-59) in a voyage to Port Everglades, Fla. Once again plane guard operations occupied her time during the visit to the Florida coast.
On 2 October, however, she headed north once again. At the New York Navy Yard, Breeman began the inactivation process. That phase lasted until 13 November when she got underway for Florida again. On 16 November, the destroyer escort arrived in Green Cove Springs, Fla., to begin final preparations for decommissioning. Breeman was decommissioned on 26 April 1946 and berthed with the Green Cove Springs Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She remained there until 29 October 1948 at which time she was transferred to the Nationalist Chinese government based on Taiwan. She was commissioned in their Navy as Tai Tsang. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 22 December 1948.
Breeman earned one battle star for World War II service.
Raymond A. Mann
12 December 2005