(DE-747: dp. 1,240; l. 306'0"; b. 36'8"; dr. 11'8"; s. 20.9 k. (tl.); cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 2 40mm., 10 20mm., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.), 2 dct.; cl. Cannon)
Graham Paul Bright, born on 4 September 1912 in Wilkinsburg, Pa., was appointed a midshipman at the Naval Academy on 17 June 1931 and graduated on 6 June 1535. After service in Idaho (BB-42) and study at the Naval Finance and Supply School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Bright transferred from the unrestricted line to the Supply Corps in June 1937 and reported to his first fiscal billet as disbursing officer for Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 24, Battle Force, on 15 June 1937.
Advanced to lieutenant (junior grade) a year later, Bright served as disbursing officer for DesDiv 11, Battle Force, from 15 October 1938 to 12 July 1939 and then become disbursing and commissary officer at the Anacostia Naval Air Station in Washington, D.C. Eventually becoming assistant to the supply officer at Anacostia in the summer of 1940, Bright served for a month with the 12th Naval District before reporting to Guam on 19 August 1941.
When war came to that lightly defended American possession, Lt.(jg.) Bright was serving as assistant supply officer with the naval government of Guam, working in the administrative unit at Agana. He was killed by machinegun fire during the fighting that followed the Japanese landing on 10 December 1941.
Bright (DE-747) was laid down on 9 June 1943 at San Pedro, Calif., by the Western Pipe and Steel Co.; launched on 26 September 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Miriam Engle Bright, Lt.(jg.) Bright’s widow; and commissioned on 30 June 1944, Lt. Comdr. William A. McMahan, USNR, in command.
Standing out San Diego on 19 September with SS John B. Floyd, Bright escorted her to Hawaii and then carried out training in the Hawaiian operating area well into November. Assigned to Task Group (TG) 12.3, the destroyer escort took part in a series of six hunter-killer operations out of the Hawaiian and Marshall Islands between 24 November 1944 and 23 April 1945. During those cruises, she conducted depth-charge attacks on three sound contacts, but obtained no evidence of success.
A week after her last hunter-killer cruise on 30 April 1945, Bright sailed from Eniwetok for Saipan, where she reported to the Commander, Task Force (TF) 51 for duty in the Escort Pool. On 5 May, as an element of an escort group, she cleared Saipan with Convoy SOK-1, bound for Okinawa. Two incidents highlighted the otherwise uneventful passage. On 9 May, Bright picked up a sonar contact and made two unsuccessful depth-charge attacks. The second attack, though, was soon followed by a torpedo wake approaching her on the port quarter. Bright maneuvered to avoid the "fish," and it passed 20 feet from her bow. The following day, she sank a mine with rifle fire and arrived at her destination without further incident.
The destroyer escort took station in the transports' antisubmarine screen on 11 May and was so engaged on the 13th when she took a low-flying Mitsubishi A6M5 "Zeke" under fire at 1919, scoring hits on the plane's engine and port wing. Although her gunfire sheared off the "Zeke's" port wing, the Japanese pilot continued his suicide approach and crashed on Bright's fantail. The plane's bomb exploded upon impact, and the warship immediately lost steering control with her rudder jammed in a hard left turn. With her after engine room completely demolished, both port and starboard depth charge tracks inoperative, her smoke generators pierced, the main deck buckled and pierced, and three compartments of her hull opened to the sea, Bright circled for the next hour. Still full of fight, however, she teamed up with nearby Barr (APD-39) just minutes after that attack to open up on another "bogey" and splashed him.
Towed to Kerama Retto for emergency repairs, Bright got underway in convoy on 22 May and, proceeding via Ulithi and Eniwetok, arrived at Pearl Harbor on 14 June. Heading thence to Portland, Oreg., the destroyer escort underwent extensive repairs and alterations between 23 June and 8 September. The war ended while she was in the yard, and so Bright received orders to steam via the Panama Canal to the Atlantic. She arrived at Charleston, S.C., on 25 September 1945 but, soon thereafter, moved to Green Cove Springs near Jacksonville, Fla. She was decommissioned and placed in reserve there on 19 April 1946.
Reactivated on 18 March 1950 for transfer to France under the Mutual Defense Assistance Pact (MDAP), Bright was turned over to the French at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 11 November 1950. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 20 December 1950. Renamed Touareg (F.721), she served the French Navy until placed in reserve in 1960. In May 1964, the French struck her name from their navy list and then sold her for scrapping in May of 1965 to the Compagnie Métallurgique et Minière, of Paris.
Bright earned one battle star for her World War II service.
Robert J. Cressman
6 December 2005