Captain Thomas Haggard [or Hoggard] commanded the U.S. armed ship Louisa, which engaged French and Spanish privateers on 20 August 1800 off Tarifa, Spain, during the Quasi-War with France. Louisa fought off boarders and escaped, although damaged severely in the rigging. Captain Haggard was wounded in the engagement.
(DD-555: displacement 2,050; length 376'6"; beam 39'4"; draft 13'5"; speed 35.5 knots; complement 329; armament 5 5-inch, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 10 40-millimeter, 7 20-millimeter, 6 depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge tracks; class Fletcher)
Haggard (DD-555) was laid down on 27 March 1942 at Seattle, Wash., by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 9 February 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Janet M. McKinney, wife of Lt. Cmdr. Eugene B. McKinney, commanding officer of submarine Salmon (SS-182); and commissioned on 31 August 1943, Lt. Cmdr. David A. Harris in command.
Immediately following her commissioning, Haggard moved from the Seattle-Tacoma Shipyard to Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., where, upon arrival, the ship began an availability period for fitting out through 19 September 1943. For the next several days, the destroyer operated in the Puget Sound area, loading her ammunition and making other preparations to put to sea.
Haggard, in Measure 31, Sea Blue, off Point No Point, Wash., on 22 September 1943. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS 53909, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
On 26 September 1943, Haggard sailed for San Diego, proceeding independently, where subsequent to her arrival there she took part in shakedown training. At this time, the destroyer and her crew tested systems and equipment and practiced essential skills required for operational readiness. Beginning on 1 October 1943, the ship conducted evolutions in gunnery and torpedo exercises, antisubmarine warfare exercises, sound training, day and night battle practices, tactical exercises, shore bombardment, radar exercises, fueling at sea, and torpedo firing.
On 6 November 1943, Haggard departed for Seattle, arriving at Puget Sound Navy Yard on the afternoon of 9 November. After unloading her ammunition the next day, she began a post-shakedown availability to address lingering issues with the ship. The destroyer spent the week of 11–18 November on blocks in Dry Dock No. 2. She completed her availability on 22 November and got underway the next morning, loaded ammunition and then put in to Seattle at Pier 41 that afternoon.
Sailing independently with Capt. Richard F. Stout, Commander Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 94 embarked, Haggard set course for the Territory of Hawaii on 24 November 1943. After an uneventful transit, she arrived at Pearl Harbor on the afternoon of the 30th and immediately began to reprovision, load ammunition, and refuel to begin local operations and training. On 1–2 December, the destroyer in company with Bell (DD-587) steamed to meet Task Group (TG) 54.13, led by battleship Mississippi (BB-41), to escort them in to Pearl Harbor. With the Reconnaissance Company, 7th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, embarked for training, Haggard got underway on 3 December for amphibious training in Pokai Bay, Oahu, with the Fifth Amphibious Force, returning to Pearl Harbor the next afternoon. On the 5th, she escorted TF 52 into Pearl Harbor, and then served as school ship for her next two underway periods. The ship embarked a group of antisubmarine warfare officers and students for sound school on the 6th, operating with destroyer Miller (DD-535) and submarine S-41 (SS-146) and then on 8 December held antiaircraft and surface firing exercises for a group of gunnery school students. Returning to escort duty on the 9th, Haggard accompanied the small carrier Princeton (CVL-23) on the first 100 miles of her voyage to the West Coast.
After pausing from 10–14 December 1943 to complete an availability alongside destroyer tender Black Hawk (AD-9) for repairs to her SC-2 radar antenna, Haggard got underway on the morning of 15 December with Hazelwood (DD-531), heavy cruiser Wichita (CA-45), and light cruiser Biloxi (CL-80) for several days of training exercises focusing on various gunnery and battle practice evolutions. On the 18th, the group steamed to Kahoolawe off Maui to conduct shore bombardment exercises. Overnight on the 19th, Haggard departed with Wichita and McCord (DD-534), which had joined the group on the 16th, to search for a missing airplane, which the cruiser recovered, and then the warships returned to Pearl Harbor at midday. Shortly thereafter, Cmdr. Joseph H. Nevins Jr. embarked in Haggard, assuming command of DesDiv 94 from Capt. Richard F. Stout, who had left the ship prior to her departure on the 15th.
For the next month, Haggard continued to operate out of Pearl Harbor as she prepared for her first major wartime assignment. In company with Hazelwood, the destroyer steamed to Maalaea Bay, Maui, on 20 December 1943 to screen Transport Division (TransDiv) 4, returning to port the next day. She completed numerous underway trainings into the New Year, including FD radar calibration practice, torpedo exercises, battle practices, shore bombardment, call fire, battle tactics, antiaircraft gunnery, and air and torpedo attack tactics. Pausing for a tender availability alongside Prairie (AD-15) from 3–7 January 1944 to have her fuel oil pumps repaired, Haggard resumed her training with torpedo practices on the 8th. Then from 13–18 January, the destroyer was underway with TG 52.9, led by escort carrier Manila Bay (CVE-61) and also including Franks (DD-554), Coghlan (DD-606), and Caldwell (DD-605), and escort vessels Wintle (DE-25), Dempsey (DE-26), and Duffy (DE-27), during carrier air operations training and antiaircraft gunnery practices.
Putting to sea on the morning of 22 January 1944, Haggard departed Pearl Harbor as a member of Task Unit (TU) 52.7.2, the Southern Transport Screen, part of the larger Joint Expeditionary Force (TF 51) and Southern Attack Force (TF 52) en route to the Marshall Islands to attack and capture the enemy-held territory. The task unit, also including Franks, Hailey (DD-556), Schroeder (DD-501), Zane (DMS-14), and Perry (DMS-17), exercised along the way, and Haggard’s transit proved relatively routine until 30 January. That afternoon, McKee (DD-575) made a sound contact and Haggard was tasked to help her sister ship investigate. The two destroyers searched until the evening, but neither ship was able to regain the contact and at 2235 they joined TG 52.5, as the task force had split up according to plan during their absence. The following morning, a Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat (BuNo 40036) flying from Belleau Wood (CVL-24) splashed ahead of Haggard. The destroyer rescued Ens. Lawrence E. Graham, USNR, the pilot, who was not injured, but the plane sank.
Meanwhile the American forces began their assault on Kwajalein Atoll on 31 January 1944. Haggard joined the battle on the evening of 1 February. From her position inside the lagoon, from 1810–1911 the destroyer fired 400 rounds from her main battery into Loi and Gugegwe Islands at the southern end of the atoll, targeting and destroying buildings, pillboxes, gun positions, and trucks. Following the bombardment, Haggard anchored overnight 2,000 yards west of Gea Pass. At 0737 on the 2nd, she relieved Sigsbee (DD-502) at a position about 3,000 yards off the northwest end of Kwajalein Island. Shortly before 0900, she commenced her second day of bombardment, responding to call fire requests from the fire control party on shore and also shooting at targets of opportunity, pounding buildings, pillboxes, gun emplacements, and an ammunition dump that blew up in a “violent” explosion of smoke and fire.
Two hours into the bombardment, at 1103 on 2 February 1944, the No. 5 five-inch gun fired a shell that exploded about four feet from the muzzle. The blast sent shrapnel flying around the starboard aft section of the ship. One piece propelled into a compartment, striking S2c Albert B. Jean USNR in the head behind his left ear, killing him instantly. Two other sailors received serious injuries, and the ship sustained non-critical damage, particularly to her starboard depth charges and projector. An investigation following the accident determined that the concussion from that gun’s previous shot had knocked the davit for loading the depth charge racks loose, putting it directly in the gun’s line of fire. Although Ens. Robert F. Stevens USNR, the after 20-millimeter group control officer, noticed the problem and tried to warn the gun captain, his alerts were not heard inside the gun mount, and when the No. 5 gun fired again, the projectile hit the davit head and exploded. Despite the accident, Haggard’s other four main battery guns kept up the bombardment of Kwajalein for more than an hour. That evening, the ship went alongside the tank landing ship LST-484 to replenish her ammunition and then anchored in the lagoon for the night.
Just before midday on 3 February 1944, Haggard got underway with Franks and Sigsbee to rendezvous with the three task groups carrying the garrison forces bound for Kwajalein. That afternoon, she held a burial at sea for Seaman Jean. The destroyers joined the screen for the task groups and returned to Kwajalein Lagoon on the morning of the 5th. On 8 February, Haggard departed with Cruiser Division (CruDiv) 6—heavy cruisers Minneapolis (CA-36), San Francisco (CA-38), and New Orleans (CA-32)—escorted by Bailey (DD-492), Franks, and Trathen (DD-530) and headed for the recently-captured Majuro Atoll, arriving the next morning. Sailing on the 11th, the destroyer rendezvoused with the stores ship Bridge (AF-1) the next morning and escorted her to Kwajalein, arriving on the afternoon of the 13th.
Haggard stood out from Kwajalein with TG 51.11, the Eniwetok Expeditionary Group, on 15 February 1944. The next night, she detached from the task group with TU 51.17.1—heavy cruiser Louisville (CA-28), battleship Colorado (BB-45), and fellow DesDiv 94 destroyers Hailey and Johnston (DD-557)—and the group made their approach to the next objective in the Marshall Islands campaign. At 0715 on the morning of 17 February, the two capital ships began to bombard the shores of Engebi Island at the northern end of Eniwetok Atoll while the three destroyers screened. Haggard made a sound contact at midday but determined it to be false. The group retired for the evening and returned to the atoll again on the morning of the 18th to continue the bombardment of Engebi. Haggard left her screening station at 0930 to assume call fire support duty. She shot only 21 rounds, with high winds and seas keeping ship gyrating on the ocean and allowing her to bring no more than two guns to bear at a time. Haggard later anchored in the lagoon but continued to be available for call fire support. The next day, the ship fired at Eniwetok Island from several different stations as troops worked to secure the island and provided searchlight illumination at night.
Joining the screen for Carrier Division 22 on the afternoon of 20 February 1944, Haggard steamed east and southeast of Eniwetok Atoll with the escort carriers Sangamon (CVE-26), Suwannee (CVE-27), and Chenango (CVE-28) as their planes attacked Parry Island on the 21st in preparation for landings rescheduled to take place the next day. Haggard detached from the group on the morning of 22 February, refueled with auxiliary oiler Gazelle (IX-116), and then anchored in the lagoon as the fighting drew to its conclusion. The U.S. forces officially captured the atoll on the 23rd. Haggard remained at anchor until 25 February, when she got underway with Trathen and spent the day transporting troops around the atoll.
With three major positions in the Marshall Islands now secured, the Allied strategy in the Pacific began to shift further west to the Marianas Islands and beyond to the Philippines. Over the next month, Haggard moved south and then west to meet objectives, departing Eniwetok on 26 February 1944 to escort Gazelle and a division of four infantry landing craft—LCI(G)-365, LCI(G)-440, LCI(G)-441, and LCI(G)-442—to Kwajalein. She then sailed independently to Majuro for an availability alongside Prairie (1–5 March), and from 7–12 March, she screened escort carriers Manila Bay and Natoma Bay (CVE-62) to Espíritu Santo, New Hebrides [Vanuatu], with Hailey and Johnston. The next day, Haggard rendezvoused with U.S. merchant tanker Sheldon Clark (Sinclair Refining Co.) and escorted her to the Florida Islands in the Solomons, arriving at Purvis Bay on the afternoon of 15 March. At Port Purvis, the destroyer commenced another availability period, scheduled to end at dawn on the 20th.
At midday on 19 March 1944, however, Haggard put to sea with her squadron, Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 47, less Johnston and Trathen to relieve DesRon 23 in TF 39. The group sailed via Indispensable Strait to an operational area north of Emirau Island in the Bismarck Archipelago of New Guinea. After two days patrolling the area for enemy shipping, early on 23 March Haggard and Franks detached from the rest of the squadron to conduct a special mission. Stopping first at Emirau to pick up two observers, Haggard began firing at her first target, a fuel dump on nearby Eloave Island. That afternoon, she shifted positions and trained her guns on targets suspected to be a radio station and a bomb dump. Completing the bombardment mission at 1541 without visible results due to thick vegetation, the ship returned to Emirau to debark the observers and then rendezvoused with DesDiv 93 that evening.
Reunited with her squadron, Haggard continued her search for enemy shipping. At 2230 on 24 March 1944, the destroyer investigated a radar surface contact, but the ship proved to be friendly. On the 25th, the squadron rendezvoused with oiler Cacapon (AO-52) for refueling at sea and then dispersed in pairs to assigned patrol areas. Haggard and Franks searched an area off of Byron and Steffen Straits between the islands of New Hanover and New Ireland overnight but did not spot any shipping. After rejoining the squadron the next morning, on the afternoon of 26 March, Haggard, Hailey, and Johnston broke away to patrol off Mussau Island. The squadron reformed at dawn but again the destroyers broke off into smaller units, with Haggard and Franks together patrolling near Mussau and Emirau.
Early on the morning of 28 March 1944, Johnston and Hailey joined Haggard and Franks, and DesDiv 94 set off for Kapingamarangi Island on a special mission to destroy a transport (AK) and a float plane that had been reported in the lagoon there. Upon arrival after dawn, the destroyers found neither a transport nor a float plane, but they began firing at targets of opportunity along the shore, and the combined fire of the division destroyed a radio station on Nunakitau Island. At 0731, the destroyers made a counterclockwise circumnavigation of the atoll and then departed, heading southeast. That afternoon Haggard made a sound contact but determined it to be false. After a fueling rendezvous at dawn, the destroyer arrived at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville Island, later on the 29th.
Haggard left the division on the morning of 30 March 1944 to bring ComDesDiv 94 ashore at Cape Torokina. That afternoon, she returned to the other ships and distributed charts of the area for their next mission. The group then got underway for antisubmarine patrol southwest of Bougainville. The next evening, Haggard and Franks broke away to patrol for enemy barges near the mouth of the Puriata River on the southwest coast of Bougainville. Finding no hostile vessels overnight, the destroyers regrouped with the rest of the division. They completed the same duty overnight on 1–2 April with the same result. When they returned to the area on the night of the 2nd, a Consolidated PBY Catalina spotter plane reported three enemy barges operating approximately 11 miles ahead of Haggard, but when the destroyers reached the reported position, they found no barges. They continued to search, and at 0315 on the 3rd, Haggard fired at the shoreline in the vicinity of the barges’ last reported location, with no visible results. The two ships then sailed to rejoin the rest of the division and later completed turnover with DesDiv 44. The group less Franks then steamed to Purvis Bay, arriving the next morning.
Following a short availability alongside destroyer tender Whitney (AD-4) for repairs to her radar antennae, Haggard got underway again on the morning of 9 April 1944 with TG 36.3, consisting of DesDiv 94 less Franks as well as escort carriers Manila Bay and Natoma Bay. After spending the morning conducting maneuvers and gunnery exercises in the vicinity of Florida Island, the task group departed via Indispensable Strait to rendezvous with fleet oiler Millicoma (AO-73) north of New Ireland on the morning of 11 April. After refueling, the task group spent the rest of the day performing maneuvers as the carriers’ planes conducted flight operations. Arriving off Emirau before dawn on the 12th, the task group remained patrolling offshore while the aircraft conducted combat air patrol and antisubmarine patrol in the vicinity of Emirau and Mussau. The group remained on station until DesDiv 95 less Stembel (DD-644) arrived on the morning of 16 April to relieve DesDiv 94.
With her division-mates, Haggard refueled at sea with Patuxent (AO-44) on 17 April 1944 and then the next morning circuited Tench Island. That afternoon the division met up with cargo ship Mintaka (AK-94) and U.S. cargo vessels James Oliver Curwood and Elisha P. Ferry to escort them to Seeadler Harbor, Manus. Arriving on the morning of 20 April, the destroyers screened the entry of the convoy ships and then returned to the patrol area off Emirau. Once in the patrol area, the destroyers separated and proceeded to their individual stations, with Haggard patrolling a 40-mile trackline between Mussau and New Hanover. Regrouping the next morning, DesDiv 94 headed north. Haggard detached and made a brief stop to rendezvous with Heermann (DD-532) to exchange information, rejoining the group in the afternoon. They patrolled near Emirau and Mussau until 2315 when they departed for Blanche Harbor in the Treasury Islands. Arriving on the morning of the 23rd, Haggard departed on the 25th with Franks. The next morning, they joined with TF 39 for antiaircraft practice and then continued on to Port Purvis.
On the morning of 6 May 1944, Haggard departed with TF 39, consisting of light cruisers Montpelier (CL-57) and Cleveland (CL-55) with DesDiv 94 plus Hoel (DD-533) in the screen. Arriving at Hathorn Sound, New Georgia Island, that afternoon, Hoel and the two cruisers entered the sound, as did Hailey to pick up parts. The rest of the division continued on to Blanche Harbor in the Treasuries, anchoring there the next morning. With the division reunited, on the evening of 9 May DesDiv 94 got underway in company with light minelayers Breese (DM-18) and Sicard (DM-21). Steaming to the eastern entrance of Buka Passage at the northern end of Bougainville Island for a minelaying operation, at 1930 on 10 May, Haggard led the two minelayers in to the operation area as the other three destroyers screened. In less than 20 minutes, Breese and Sicard finished their work and detached from the destroyers. Haggard rejoined her division and the group returned to Blanche Harbor, arriving the next afternoon.
DesDiv 94 sailed once again for the area east of Buka Passage on 12 May 1944, this time to hunt for enemy submarines. Beginning their search at 1900 on the 13th, the patrol was relatively quiet until midnight the next night when the group began to pursue a reported submarine along a track northeast of Buka Passage. On the morning of the 16th, DesDiv 93 less Trathen joined in the search as well. That evening as the squadron steamed along scouting lines at 15,000 yard intervals, at 2133 Haggard made a sound contact 2,800 yards distant, which she evaluated as a submarine. The destroyer positioned herself and made two depth charge attacks, the force of the explosions knocking out her gyro during the second attack. Following Haggard’s offensive, the ship observed an oil slick and determined the submarine to be making 1–2 knots. ComDesDiv 94 ordered Johnston to continue to pursue the target while the rest of the division retired in different directions and DesDiv 93 continued on their original track. Johnston dropped her first pattern of depth charges at 2250 and made her second attack at 2330. Ten minutes after the second attack, all of the division ships heard a heavy explosion. Shortly after midnight on 17 May, Franks made one final attack on the boat. At 0200 with no further contacts made, Johnston and Hailey commenced a retiring search while Haggard and Franks investigated in the area of attack. Haggard spotted an oil slick at 0900, which over the course of the day developed into a heavy slick ten miles long and two miles wide with a point of origin 6.5 miles west of Haggard’s second attack position. The destroyers of DesDiv 94 spotted and recovered debris indicative of a Japanese submarine, including cork, sandalwood, large quantities of oil, and papers with Japanese characters on them. At 1830, with a good amount of oil continuing to emanate from the same point, the destroyers set course for Hathorn Sound. It would later be determined that Haggard, Johnston, and Franks had sent the Japanese submarine I-176 (Lt. Cmdr. Okada Hideo, commanding) to the bottom. Lt. Cmdr. David A. Harris, Haggard’s commanding officer, received a Bronze Star for this action; he commended SoM2c Victor H. van Sant “for [his] skillful operations of his detection gear during the attack.”
After refueling and replenishing depth charges and ammunition at Hathorn Sound, Haggard put to sea on the morning of 20 May 1944 with Cleveland, Montpelier, and Denver (CL-58) and DesDiv 94 and headed to nearby Shortland Island to conduct a shore bombardment. The cruisers began their attack at 1036 and a four-gun shore battery at the eastern end of the Poporang Ridge promptly returned their fire. One salvo straddled Cleveland and another shot struck Montpelier’s forecastle. The cruisers moved out of the guns’ range and continued firing for nearly two hours. Upon completion of the mission, the task group retired to Purvis Bay, arriving the following morning.
For the rest of the month, Haggard participated in a variety of training exercises. On 22 May 1944, the destroyer rendezvoused with TransDiv 8 at Koli Point, Guadalcanal, and then operated near Savo Island for the rest of the day. Early the next morning, she patrolled for submarines offshore as the transports conducted amphibious training on Guadalcanal. On the morning of the 24th, Haggard screened the transports back to their anchorage and then returned to Purvis Bay. On 26 May, she completed antiaircraft exercises with DesDiv 94 and CruDiv 12 north of Savo Island. Late that night, the same group of ships headed to Hathorn Sound, pausing en route the next morning to complete an indirect fire shore bombardment exercise at Kolombangara Island. Haggard and Franks returned to Kolombangara on the 28th with light cruiser Birmingham (CL-62) and on the 29th with Cleveland for additional shore bombardment exercises, returning to Hathorn Sound each afternoon.
CruDiv 12 and DesDiv 94 returned to Purvis Bay on the morning of 3 June 1944. After refueling, Haggard moved to Guadalcanal and patrolled off the eastern entrance of Lengo Channel. The next morning, she assumed her station as screening ship for TG 53.1, Attack Group Three, and departed for Kwajalein. Detaching from the formation on the evening of 7 June, Haggard and McKee screened Montpelier and Cleveland en route to Roi Island on the northern side of the atoll, joined that night by Birmingham and Franks. Upon arrival on the morning of 8 June, Haggard then proceeded to the southern anchorage at Kwajalein to make final preparations for her next major assignment. The following day, Cmdr. Luther K. Reynolds relieved Cmdr. Joseph H. Nevins Jr. as commander of DesDiv 94, with Haggard continuing to serve as division flagship.
Early on the morning of 12 June 1944, Haggard sortied as a member of TU 53.3.5, the Northern Transport Group screen, en route to Guam to participate in the campaign to take the Mariana Islands as the Allies advanced across the Pacific towards the Philippines and to the ultimate target of Japan itself. Approaching the objective on 16 June, the planned landing day, the task unit learned that the operation would be delayed. The next day, word arrived that the operation would be postponed indefinitely, and as a result, the task group steamed on an east-west course to remain 50–400 miles east of Guam and Saipan. Finally after more than a week of sailing back and forth, TG 53.1 charted a course for Eniwetok on the evening of 25 June. Two days later, Haggard had a short in her after engine room exhaust blower, and several hours later just after midnight on 28 June, President Monroe (AP-104) dropped out of the formation after an engineering casualty. Haggard and minesweeper Skylark (AM-63) screened the transport back to Eniwetok, reaching the atoll that evening.
Haggard refueled and remained at the atoll for the next ten days, awaiting orders for her next assignment. Despite her extended stay in port, little repair work could be completed because the ship was on a two-hour sail notice. Finally on the morning of 9 July 1944, Haggard put to sea with TU 53.1.13, composed of battleships New Mexico (BB-40), Pennsylvania (BB-38), and Idaho (BB-42) with Hailey, Franks, Hogan (DMS-6), Hamilton (DMS-18), Long (DMS-12), and Williamson (DD-244) in the screen, headed once again for Guam. Three days later on the 12th as the forenoon watch began, Haggard screened New Mexico as the battleship began her bombardment of the island. For this and the next two days, the ships pounded shells into the shore during the day and retired at night. Haggard took the opportunity to fire at some floating oil drums with her 40- and 20-millimeter guns on the 13th. On the night of the 14th, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Haggard, Hailey, and Hamilton sailed for Saipan to rearm and refuel.
Returning to Guam on the morning of 17 July 1944, Haggard and her sailing companions joined TU 53.5.1, which included Idaho, Colorado, Franks, MacDonough (DD-351), Long, Perry, and Williamson. The destroyer once again screened the battleships as they conducted their bombardment of the island during the day and retired at night. This pattern repeated for the next several days and continued as troop landings on Guam commenced on 21 July. Assigned to Fire Support Area No. 1 with New Mexico, Haggard relieved McKee in Fire Support Area No. 5 off Agana on the central western side of the island on the morning of the 22nd. Overnight she expended 200 rounds on harassing fire at Japanese shore installations. At midday on 23 July, she relieved Aylwin (DD-355) on her transport screening station. For more than two weeks, as the marines and soldiers fought to establish and expand their positions and then battled their way north on the island, Haggard generally alternated between providing call, harassing, and starshell illumination fire from Fire Support Area No. 5 and screening capital ships or transports, ever-watchful for Japanese aircraft and submarines. At 1814 on 28 July while on fire support duty, Haggard suddenly observed shells splashing in the water around her. Moving immediately, she was not hit and took no damage, but she also could not locate the enemy shore installation that had fired on her. On the afternoon of 3 August while on patrol station No. 13 north of Asan Point, lookouts on the destroyer noted a “large puff of oily, black smoke” rising from the water 2,000 yards off the ship’s port bow. Believing that a plane had splashed, Haggard investigated the scene but found neither debris nor survivors and surmised that an airplane might have ditched a fuel tank.
Finally, on 9 August 1944, the American forces on Guam had most of the island under their control. That afternoon, Haggard left her patrol station off Uruno Point and rendezvoused with battleship California (BB-44) and cruisers Cleveland and Minneapolis for departure. The group joined with the rest of their task unit south of Guam shortly before the end of the first dog watch and steamed for Eniwetok, arriving three days later. At Eniwetok, Haggard held a two-day repair availability alongside destroyer tender Piedmont (AD-17) to fix her SC-2 radar antenna. She then steamed with TU 53.5.4 to Espiritu Santo (19–24 August) and from there screened TU 32.19.2 to Purvis Bay (27–29 August). After screening CarDiv 28 as the group sortied from Tulagi on the afternoon of 29 August, she then joined the antisubmarine screen for CarDiv 27 during training exercises west of Guadalcanal. She joined the carriers again on 31 August and 1 September as they continued training for their upcoming operation.
Haggard stood out with TU 32.7.2, the Western Escort Carrier Group, on 4 September 1944. Moving slowly after two tractor groups joined up that evening, the task unit headed for the Palau Islands to continue the Allied advance across the central Pacific. After an uneventful transit, the group approached Palau early on the morning of 15 September. Parting company with the tractor groups, the carriers and their escorts took position southeast of the islands. At dawn, the carrier planes headed for Peleliu to support the marines who began their landings on the island. After a long day of carrier flight operations, the task unit retired at sunset. This pattern continued for the next two days until on the afternoon of 18 September, DesDiv 94 less Franks plus Welles (DD-628) detached and reported to TU 32.7.3 to complete a fueling rendezvous.
The task unit returned to the Palau area before dawn on 20 September 1944. The carriers conducted two more days of flight operations and then on the evening of the 21st, the task unit dissolved and became TU 33.12.2 and took leave for Ulithi Atoll in the Caroline Islands. The group arrived at dawn on 23 September, and later that morning army forces occupied the island without opposition. The following morning, the task unit entered the lagoon. At dawn on 25 September, Haggard and Johnston departed to screen the escort carrier Gambier Bay (CVE-73) as she conducted flight operations south and east of the atoll. That afternoon, the ships joined TU 32.18.1 and sailed for Hollandia, reaching Humboldt Bay on the morning of 28 September. The following afternoon, the task unit continued on for Manus, arriving at Seeadler Harbor on the morning of 1 October. Haggard then tied up alongside destroyer tender Sierra (AD-18) for a repair availability. When her tender overhaul ended on the morning of 6 October, Lt. Cmdr. Harris, the commanding officer, remarked that the availability had been “the first competent and complete overhaul of the ship since her post shakedown availability.”
Haggard, now under the operational control of Seventh Fleet, remained at Seeadler Harbor until 12 October 1944. On that morning, she stood out with TG 77.4 of the Central Philippines Attack Force. Under the command of Rear Adm. Thomas L. Sprague, the task group consisted of three task units composed of escort aircraft carriers and their destroyer and escort ship screens, informally known as Taffy 1, Taffy 2, and Taffy 3. Haggard was a member of Taffy 2, the Southern Escort Carrier Group (TG 77.4.2), along with the escort carriers Natoma Bay, Manila Bay, Marcus Island (CVE-77), and Savo Island (CVE-78), and in the screen the destroyers of DesDiv 94 less Johnston, which was assigned to Taffy 3, as well as the escort ships Oberrender (DE-344), LeRay Wilson (DE-414), and Walter C. Wann (DE-412). As the warships proceeded towards the objective, the weather turned rough on 15 October, with overcast skies, rain squalls, and turbulent seas. Steaming towards a typhoon, the carriers discontinued air operations, and several ships of the task group sustained damage as the intensity of the storm increased over the next two days. At 1000 on the 17th, the task group, with task units now operating independently and approaching the area of operations off the Philippines, changed course to due east to steam away from the typhoon, and the weather finally moderated that afternoon.
Heading west once again on the night of 17–18 October 1944, Taffy 2 headed for their assigned station slightly northeast of the entrance to Leyte Gulf. At dawn, the carrier aircraft commenced airstrikes on Leyte in advance of troop landings on the island while Haggard and the other screening ships kept a watchful eye on the sea and the sky to defend the vulnerable carriers from enemy attack. On the first two days of flight operations, Haggard spent a good deal of time pursing American aviators in the water. At 1401 on the 18th, the destroyer received word that a General Motors TBM Avenger from Manila Bay had splashed and she headed to the scene. Franks rescued the surviving airmen from this incident, but Haggard would have another chance for a rescue five hours later during night operations when Marcus Island reported that one of her planes had gone down. Proceeding to the scene, Haggard spotted a flare in the water and used her searchlights to locate the pilot. A half hour later, the aviator was in good condition, safely on board one of Haggard’s motor whaleboats. Early the next morning, the destroyer was called upon to investigate another downed aircraft. She searched the scene for two hours and found an oil slick but unfortunately no survivors.
On landing day, 20 October 1944, Petrof Bay (CVE-80), Saginaw Bay (CVE-82) and their escort ships Richard S. Bull (DE-402) and Edmonds (DE-406) joined the task unit at 0702. Meanwhile carrier flight operations continued, now supporting the troops working to secure the central eastern coast of Leyte. Flight operations continued to be relatively uneventful for the next several days, with Taffy 2 operating about 60 miles east of Leyte Gulf during the day and retiring 70 or so miles to the east at night. With the arrival of Kadashan Bay (CVE-76), Ommaney Bay (CVE-79), Richard W. Suesens (DE-342), and Abercrombie (DE-343) at dawn on the 22nd, Petrof Bay, Saginaw Bay, Richard S. Bull, and Edmonds left the group, leaving the task unit with six escort carriers, three destroyers, and five escort ships.
Although there had been a major engagement between Japanese surface forces and other elements of TF 77 in Surigao Strait overnight, the morning of 25 October 1944 looked to be more of the same routine for Haggard and her fellow Taffy 2 ships as they steamed west towards their daytime launch position. The first hint that this would be no ordinary day came shortly after 0700 as members of the group began to intercept radio traffic from ships of Taffy 3, operating 15 miles to the northwest. Within a quarter hour, it became clear to the group that they were actually in a great bit of danger, as much to the surprise of the Americans, a force of Japanese warships was closing fast from the northwest, only 35 miles away from Taffy 2. All sailors manned their battle stations, and at 0730, Rear Adm. Felix B. Stump, task unit commander, ordered his three destroyers to station themselves between the enemy and the relatively slow-moving escort carriers. Haggard, Hailey, and Franks took position at bearing 330°T, 10,000 yards from the closest carriers. Over the next 45 minutes as Taffy 2’s airplanes launched to attack the Japanese force from the air and the task unit’s ships tried to outrun their much speedier foes, Haggard could observe the shellfire threatening to overwhelm Taffy 3 and also get a better sense of the strength and power of the enemy. As a cruiser and then a battleship came into Haggard’s view, it was not lost on anyone that the destroyers with their five five-inch guns were the most potent weapons in the task group. Large-scale surface combat with hostile capital ships had never been envisioned as a primary objective for the escort carrier task units.
As Taffy 3 resolutely engaged with the Japanese warships, estimated to be a force of four battleships, eight heavy cruisers, and 11–14 escorts, Taffy 2 tried to outrun the enemy as a Japanese cruiser was already within 25,000 yards of the destroyers, which increased speed to 25 knots. Ominously, at 0842, four greenish-yellow splashes of an enemy salvo disturbed the sea a mere 250 yards astern of Haggard, near Franks. The destroyers began weaving as two more salvos quickly splashed nearby, prompting the division to increase their speed again to 30 knots. The salvos kept coming in, always falling short of the destroyers, yet gradually falling closer to their targets. As the destroyers began to close on the carriers, it seemed for a time that Taffy 2 had moved out of enemy range, but at 0933 another salvo splashed only 150 yards short of Haggard. At 0959, the destroyer faced a new threat from the air, as a Mitsubishi Ki-21 Army Type 97 heavy bomber (Sally) closed in on the formation. Haggard brought her main battery to bear against the aircraft, and although the gunfire did not appear to damage the intruding plane, the Japanese pilot turned away without attacking the ships.
Suddenly, just after 1000, the Japanese warships appeared to reverse course, calling off their pursuit of the American task units. “Why the enemy turned away when at least partial destruction of TU 77.4.2 seemed inevitable in a very short time, remains the greatest sort of mystery,” Haggard’s commanding officer wrote in his action report, but the decision allowed all of Taffy 2’s ships to emerge from the conflict unscathed as they headed generally southeast, away from the danger. During the rest of the morning and afternoon, carrier planes kept up their attacks on the Japanese ships making their hasty retreat, while the fate of the ships of Taffy 3, which had borne the brunt of the surprise attack, came into greater focus. Carrier planes reported a large group of men floating in the water around midday, survivors of one or more U.S. ships that had apparently gone down. Outnumbered and outgunned, the destroyers and escort ships of Taffy 3 had bravely engaged the powerful Japanese attackers despite the odds that morning to give the group’s vulnerable escort carriers a chance at escape. Sadly, Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), Hoel (DD-533), and DesDiv 94’s Johnston did not survive the Battle off Samar. Japanese gunfire also claimed escort carrier Gambier Bay, and after the enemy ships had already turned around, a single kamikaze struck a fatal blow to St. Lo (CVE-63) as well.
Having narrowly avoided disaster the previous day, Taffy 2 resumed her regular flight operations on 26 October 1944 in support of the troops working to secure Leyte, launching from a position south of her regular daytime operating area. Haggard with her division-mates and escort ships continued to protect the carriers as regular flight operations continued through 29 October. The next day most of the surviving ships of TG 77.4 joined with units from TG 77.2 and set course for Manus, reaching Seeadler Harbor on the morning of 3 November. At Manus TG 77.4 reorganized under the leadership of Taffy 2’s Rear Adm. Felix B. Stump and now consisted of escort carriers Natoma Bay, Manila Bay, Marcus Island, Kadashan Bay, Savo Island, Ommaney Bay, Saginaw Bay, and Petrof Bay, the remaining ships of DesDiv 94, and escort ships Richard W. Suesens, Abercrombie, Oberrender, LeRay Wilson, and Walter C. Wann. Haggard held an availability period from her arrival at Seeadler Harbor until dawn on 7 November and remained at anchor for an additional two weeks awaiting her next assignment.
Haggard finally got underway again early on the morning of 19 November 1944, joining her division-mates Hailey and Franks as well as escort ships LeRay Wilson and Coolbaugh (DE-217) in the screen for the escort carriers of Carrier Division 27—Marcus Island, Petrof Bay, and Savo Island—as they headed back to Leyte Gulf. During the day, the group completed antiaircraft exercises and routine flight operations. At 1755, Haggard lost oil pressure in her hydraulic system, and her rudder jammed in full right position. She was able to quickly shift steering control to the engine room and resume her station in the formation, and she completed repairs within a half hour. Late on the 21st, Halligan (DD-584), Twiggs (DD-591), and Haraden (DD-585) relieved the destroyers of DesDiv 94 in the screen, and Haggard, Hailey, and Franks sailed to Kossol Passage to refuel, rejoining the task unit at midday on the 22nd. The trio detached from the task unit again at 2300 on 23 November and proceeded to Ulithi to join Third Fleet. The destroyers arrived at the beginning of the afternoon watch on 25 November, and Haggard commenced a ten-day availability period on the 29th.
Early on the morning of 10 December 1944, Haggard stood out from Ulithi and joined the screen for TG 38.1, led by carrier Yorktown (CV-10), en route to the Philippines. The three task groups of Task Force 38 rendezvoused at noon on 12 December. TG 38.1 arrived on station in the Philippine Sea 60–100 miles east of the main island of Luzon at dawn on 14 December, and the carrier planes flew off to commence airstrikes against enemy airfields, conduct surveillance operations, and to fly combat air patrol (CAP) missions. The group maintained this routine for two more days and then at the end of operations on the 16th, the entire task force retired to the east in order to meet up with TG 30.8, the replenishment group. Arriving to the rendezvous point at dawn, the task force did not realize at the time that they had sailed straight into the path of a brewing typhoon.
As the storm that came to be known as Typhoon Cobra continued to develop over the course of the morning of 17 December 1944, the ships of TF 38 commenced their underway replenishments as they tossed about in the growing seas. Haggard began refueling at 1110, and around midday, the destroyer noted that her barometer began to drop. In the course of her replenishment, the deteriorating weather conditions caused both the forward and aft fueling lines to part. “Long swells appeared,” the ship’s war diary recorded. “Soon after, nimbo-stratus clouds formed, the wind rose in intensity to 8 on Beaufort scale [34–40 knots], and intermittent squalls occurred.” Finally at 1300, given the weather conditions and sea state, all of the task force’s refueling operations were ordered to stop for the day, to resume the next morning.
As the morning of 18 December 1944 dawned, TG 38.1 was only 60 miles from the typhoon’s center, and the eye of the growing tempest was moving their way. Conditions remained too perilous for fueling operations to resume, and with the storm rapidly intensifying, many of the ships in the task force and the replenishment group struggled as the sea churned around them, particularly several destroyers rendered less stable by their dangerously low fuel levels. Shortly after the forenoon watch began, the task force changed course to head south, and the small aircraft carrier Monterey (CVL-26) began to roll heavily in the swells. By 0900 with winds at 65 knots, several of her aircraft had become unmoored and rolled overboard. Ten minutes later, the ship’s rolling motion caused a plane on the hangar deck to come lose and crash into several other nearby aircraft, rupturing gasoline tanks and setting off an explosion. Battling the serious fire that ensued, the carrier changed course and then lay to. Haggard soon received orders to remain with Monterey, but the high seas prevented the destroyer from reaching the carrier, so she rejoined the formation.
For the many ships of Task Force 38 and TG 30.8, the typhoon reached its peak intensity during the midday hours of 18 December 1944. Haggard’s war diary reported that “At 1100 the wind rose to 14 on Beaufort scale. Seas were high, visibility became limited by fog and rain to 200 yards.” The wild weather continued for several more hours, with winds averaging over 70 knots with gusts to 85 knots or more. Finally by around 1500 the storm began to abate with wind speeds at 24 knots at 1700.
Haggard rode out the typhoon without any serious damage and was able to refuel on the afternoon of 19 December 1944. Not all of the ships of the combined task groups were so fortunate, however, as Monterey and 20 other vessels sustained serious damage as a result of Typhoon Cobra, and, sadly, three destroyers—Spence (DD-512), Hull (DD-350), and Monaghan (DD-354)—foundered. The task force began searching for survivors from the missing ships after completing refueling operations the evening of the 19th. Just after midnight on 20 December, Haggard investigated reports of cries and lights in the water astern of heavy cruiser Baltimore (CA-68). After nearly two hours of searching, however, the destroyer did not locate anyone in the water, and she left the scene to rejoin TG 38.1. The task group continued to look for survivors all day, and in the afternoon the ships turned to the west to return to their position to resume strikes on Luzon at dawn. During the transit very early in the morning on the 21st, however, Adm. William “Bill” Halsey, Jr., Commander Third Fleet, cancelled the operation due to adverse weather conditions, and the entire task force reversed course to return to the typhoon area to search for storm survivors once again. Searching from 1000 until 2300, Haggard located only an empty life raft. Sadly a total of only 92 men from the three fallen destroyers were rescued by task force ships. On 22 December, Haggard refueled from battleship Alabama (BB-60) in the morning, the rest of the task group replenished over the course of the day, and then that evening the battered task group set course for Ulithi, arriving on Christmas Eve.
After spending Christmas at Ulithi, Haggard sortied with TF 38, now as a member of TG 38.2, on the morning of 30 December 1944. The task force steamed northeast toward the island of Formosa [Taiwan] on a mission to attack and destroy Japanese naval and air forces there to prevent them from interfering in the Allied landings at Lingayen Gulf on the Philippine island of Luzon that were scheduled for 9 January 1945. Haggard and DesDiv 93—then consisting of McCord, Trathen, Hazelwood, Franks, and Buchanan (DD-484)—plus 15 additional destroyers would screen the task group’s five aircraft carriers, two battleships, and four light cruisers. At dawn on 3 January, the task group arrived on station 100 miles southeast of Formosa, and the carriers launched their planes for a full day of air strike operations. The group retired from the area at night, returning again at dawn on the 4th for a second day of air strikes. Haggard went to general quarters twice that day for possible enemy air attacks that did not materialize.
The task group refueled with the replenishment group on 5 January 1945, and then that evening carriers Enterprise (CV-6) and Independence (CVL-22) with DesDiv 93 including Haggard screening detached as TG 38.5 to conduct night flight operations before returning to the larger group in the morning. TG 38.5 detached again for the next two nights as well. On the afternoon of 8 January 1945, Haggard went alongside escort ship Riddle (DE-185) to receive mail as well as to embark Lt. Cmdr. Verner J. Soballe, the destroyer’s new commanding officer. The ship then joined with TG 38.5 for a fourth night of flight operations.
On the morning of 9 January 1945, TG 38.5 rejoined TG 38.2 and conducted more airstrikes against Formosa as the operation in Lingayen Gulf proceeded as scheduled. Following the day’s operations, TF 38 transited the Bashi Channel between Formosa and Luzon. The warships then steamed south in the South China Sea. During routine general quarters on the morning of the 10th, the task group’s CAP shot down three Japanese twin-engine airplanes flying over the formation, one of which plunged into the water in flames very close to Haggard. The destroyer continued to operate with TG 38.5 nightly and rejoin the larger group in the morning for daytime operations. On the morning of the 11th, she refueled and then that afternoon went alongside battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) to transfer a patient for an emergency appendectomy. On 12 and 13 January, TG 38.2 conducted airstrikes of enemy shipping along the coast of French Indo-China [Vietnam] in the vicinity of Cam Ranh Bay. Strike operations moved to the Hong Kong area on the 15th before returning to French Indo-China on the 16th. While the task group refueled on 17 January, Haggard transferred a group of 12 pilots from carrier Hornet (CV-12) to Altamaha (CVE-18) before she refueled. The carrier planes directed their firepower towards an area south of Hong Kong on the 18th before heading for another fueling rendezvous the next day, when Haggard transferred another appendectomy case to Hornet. On the night of 20 January, TG 38.2 transited the Balintang Channel and launched air strikes against Formosa the next day. The group then headed north and struck at the Sakishima Gunto island chain on the 22nd. After refueling on the 23rd, TG 38.2 set course for Ulithi on the morning of 24 January, arriving two days later.
At Ulithi, Haggard completed a four-day availability alongside Piedmont (29 January–1 February 1945) and then anchored in the southern anchorage. During this time, DesRon 47 came under the operational control of TF 58, with Haggard assigned to TG 58.4. Finally on the morning of 9 February, the destroyer put to sea leading DesDiv 94—Franks and Hailey—as well as escort ships Donaldson (DE-44) and Lake (DE-301)—in a scouting line to sweep for enemy submarines in an area south of Ulithi. After completing their assignment the following afternoon, the escort ships detached and the trio of destroyers set off to join with TG 58.4 east of Ulithi. Making the rendezvous shortly into the second dog watch, Haggard and her task group headed for the waters off Japan. During the transit towards the Japanese homeland, the group conducted numerous exercises, with Haggard drilling extensively in antiaircraft gunnery and damage control. The task group arrived in the operating area 95 miles southeast of the main Japanese island of Honshu in the early morning hours of 16 February, and at dawn the carriers launched their planes to attack enemy airfields in and around Tokyo, approximately 140 miles away. Haggard, screening the larger ships, went to general quarters at 1025 for a possible air attack, with several unidentified aircraft flying in the area, but stood down after five hours with no attack. Her war diary noted that “A heavy overcast over the operating area has provided an excellent defense measure for TF 58 since our arrival.”
Air strikes against the Japanese capital continued during the day on 17 February 1945. At 1825 that evening as the task group reorganized into a new cruising formation, Haggard experienced a severe roll of 60 degrees. The wild tilt caused salt water to enter the ship’s port ventilation duct, which in turn shorted the forward electrical control panel in the forward engine room, sparking a fire. Haggard temporarily lost lights and power in the forward section of the ship as well as all of her radars and echo-ranging equipment. Rerouting the electrical load to the after electrical control panel quickly restored power, while the crew put out the fire in three minutes and the radars came back online quickly as well. Fortunately, as Haggard recovered from this mishap, no enemy planes approached the task group.
About 90 minutes after Haggard’s extreme roll, the carriers recovered their planes and the task group headed south to take position in a new operating area. While making repairs to her damaged equipment, the destroyer detached briefly at 2300 to pursue a radar contact but soon returned to the formation without finding anything. On the night of the 18th, Haggard detached as part of TU 58.4.3 plus DesDiv 99 proceeding to the vicinity of Iwo Jima. On 20 February, the destroyer steamed in picket station No. 2 as the carrier planes launched their air strikes at dawn to support the morning’s landings on the island and then rejoined the screen at 0830. The following afternoon, Haggard used her 20- and 40-millimeter gunfire to destroy a Japanese mine initially spotted by Hailey. Four hours later, an unidentified aircraft approached the formation, and with reports of additional unidentified aircraft in the vicinity, the task group made evasive maneuvers for an hour until all bogies disappeared from radar screens. At midnight on 23 February, Haggard steamed ahead of the task group to deliver a message from CTF 58 to CTG 50.8. The task group refueled with TG 50.8 all day and then at 2305 set course for the Tokyo operations area. The group operated east of Honshu (25 February) and then near Tokyo (27 February).
Upon her return to Ulithi on 1 March 1945, Haggard commenced a maintenance availability with Piedmont, which included a day (3–4 March) in dry dock ARD-13 to inspect and repaint her hull bottom and repair her underwater sound dome. Wrapping up her availability on the 5th, she refueled and anchored in the lagoon awaiting her next assignment. Getting underway again at dawn on 9 March 1945, Haggard escorted carrier Randolph (CV-15) from the lagoon in company with Laffey (DD-724) and Hazelwood. At 0945, a plane splashed on Randolph’s starboard bow, and within minutes, Haggard rescued Ens. Charles E. Barr, USNR, the uninjured pilot. The group then conducted antiaircraft gunnery practice on the 9th and 10th. After returning Ens. Barr to the carrier on the morning of the 10th, Haggard escorted Randolph back into Ulithi lagoon and then joined with McCord and Hailey for antiaircraft and antisubmarine training. The three destroyers soon rendezvoused with TU 58.4.4 and the submarine Skipjack (SS-184) to conduct night torpedo exercises. Haggard detached with Hailey and Hazelwood at dawn on the 11th for more antiaircraft gunnery exercises and returned to the anchorage that afternoon.
Haggard weighed anchor from Ulithi on the morning of 14 March 1945, sailing as a member of TG 58.4—with flagship Yorktown plus carriers Intrepid (CV-11), Enterprise, Independence, and Langley (CVL-27); battleships Wisconsin and Missouri (BB-63); large cruisers Guam (CB-2) and Alaska (CB-1); light cruisers St. Louis (CL-49), San Diego (CL-53), and Flint (CL-97); and in the screen the destroyers of DesRon 47 and DesRon 54—en route to Japan for operations off Kyūshū Island in advance of the planned invasion of Okinawa. Right away, however, the ship developed a leak in the main condensate line to her No. 1 condensate pump. The destroyer was able to screen the sortie of the task group, but she then received orders to return to Ulithi to complete repairs and then catch up with the task group. Haggard soon tied up alongside Piedmont and immediately set to work to fix the issue. Completing the necessary repairs the next morning, the ship topped off her fuel and somewhat after midday she set off independently to rejoin the task group. Earning a “well done” from CTF 58 for her speedy return to duty, the destroyer took her place in the formation of TG 58.4 at 1940 on the evening of 16 March. The next day, she took fuel from battleship Missouri and the task group began a high-speed run to the area of operations.
On the morning of 18 March 1945, the carriers of TG 58.4 launched their planes and commenced air strikes against Kyūshū, one of the five islands that constitute mainland Japan. In the screen, Haggard remained at general quarters for most of this day due to the presence of enemy aircraft. At 0848, Haggard fired at one hostile plane that was ultimately taken down by another ship. That afternoon, more Japanese planes approached the formation, but not within the range of Haggard’s firepower. That evening, the destroyer assumed a picket station 24,000 yards ahead of the task group and made radar contact with an unidentified plane immediately after taking her station. Forty minutes later, Haggard fired at a plane that approached to within 3,000 yards but did not observe any hits on the aircraft. During the second day of airstrikes, enemy planes did not pose a problem for Haggard, but early in the day, aircraft carrier Franklin (CV-13) was hit by a plane and wracked by multiple explosions. Also on the 19th, Haggard sank two floating mines with her 20- and 40-millimeter gunfire. Kyūshū airstrikes continued on 20 March, and the task group’s CAP kept the enemy’s planes away. That night, the TG 58.4 set a southerly course for a planned rendezvous with the replenishment task group.
After spending the day of 22 March 1945 completing underway replenishments with the oilers, TG 58.4 turned for Okinawa that evening. Once again operating on a picket station 24,000 yards ahead of the formation, Haggard made a surface radar contact on an unidentified vessel at 2333 that disappeared just before midnight. At 0013, the ship then made a sonar contact at only 3,000 yards. Haggard quickly dropped 11 depth charges on the target, causing what was later identified as the Japanese submarine RO-41 (Lt. Honda Yoshikuni) to emerge from the depths 1,500 yards away. With his ship vibrating violently after the first depth charge explosion apparently misaligned one of her propeller shafts, Lt. Cmdr. Verner J. Soballe, Haggard’s commanding officer, made the call to ram the enemy, stopping his engines at 50 feet distance and at 0027 plowing the bow of his ship into the enemy boat’s starboard quarter at 19 knots. Shortly after Haggard backed away, the mortally wounded RO-41 rolled over onto her port side and sank to her watery grave by the stern “with violent explosions.” A sweep of the area revealed oil in the water and a floating body, but low visibility and an unsettled sea permitted Haggard to retrieve only three pieces of wood from her sunken foe. The kill, however, did come at some cost to the destroyer. The first ten feet of her bow was bent back to starboard with two flooded compartments, the salt water piping system had sprung some minor leaks, and the starboard shaft was still shaking violently and making rubbing noises. The task force commander ordered Haggard to return to Ulithi in company with destroyer Uhlmann (DD-687) at 0207. With her starboard engine secured, the destroyer could steam no faster than 15 knots, and she arrived at Ulithi on 25 March.
The following day, 26 March 1945, Haggard offloaded her extra fuel to Sierra and then entered dry dock ARD-23. An inspection of her underwater hull and fittings determined that the ship’s starboard propeller could not be repaired. Work then commenced on replacing the propeller and fixing the damage to the bow. An approaching typhoon interrupted the work however on 29 March, forcing Haggard to leave the dry dock and ride out the storm at anchor in the fairway. By this time, the ship’s starboard propeller had been replaced but the starboard engine was still out of commission. The destroyer attempted to return to ARD-23 on the evening of the 30th but as the water was being pumped out of the dry dock, continued high seas caused Haggard to bounce on the holding blocks, knocking them loose. As such, the ship returned to her anchorage position. She got underway briefly on 2 April to test her starboard shaft and again the next day to go alongside Sierra to have her SC radar antenna removed, returning to anchor both days. Finally at midday on 6 April, Haggard entered ARD-15 to continue repairs on her bow and underwater sound dome. With her repairs finally completed nine days later on the 17th, Haggard exited the dry dock, went alongside Sierra to have her SC antenna reattached, and then replenished her fuel and ammunition.
For the next three days, Haggard was underway around Ulithi calibrating her equipment and conducting antiaircraft exercises with Stembel and antisubmarine exercises with Stembel and Skipjack, returning to the anchorage each night. On 21 April 1945, Haggard loaded additional ammunition from Rainier (AE-5) and “made all preparations for an extended period at sea.” That afternoon, she departed Ulithi with battleship Iowa (BB-61), carrier Shangri-La (CV-38), and Stembel to rendezvous with TF 58 and TG 50.8, the replenishment group. The ships made the rendezvous on 24 April. Haggard refueled from oiler Tappahannock (AO-43) and then that afternoon steamed for Okinawa, now reunited with TG 58.4. For the next three days, the destroyer screened the task group as the carrier planes flew strike missions in support of the Okinawa invasion forces. On the afternoon of the 25th, Haggard believed she made a sonar contact on a submarine and dropped a single depth charge before deciding that the contact was not in fact a boat. The task group departed the operations area on the night of 27 April to make another rendezvous with the fueling group.
By the afternoon of 29 April 1945, TG 58.4 had returned to the operations area roughly 75 miles northeast of Okinawa, and at 1627, Haggard went to general quarters in anticipation of a possible air attack. Several minutes later, the task group changed to a new formation, with Haggard assigned to assist Uhlmann in picket station No. 10, 24,000 yards out from the formation center, and also changed course to due east. Haggard picked up an unidentified aircraft on radar 30 miles distant at 1640 but lost contact five minutes later. At 1653, she arrived on her picket station, taking position 1,000 yards astern of Uhlmann, which informed the destroyer of the presence of two Japanese aircraft identified as Mitsubishi A6M5 Type 0 carrier fighters (Zeke 52s) flying in the area. Suddenly, one of those hostile planes materialized, coming in through the low clouds on a shallow dive 5,000 yards off Haggard’s starboard quarter. The foe evaded four friendly Hellcat fighter planes, and the destroyer opened up with four of her 20-millimeter guns and one 40-millimeter gun on the incoming kamikaze. But at 1657, the plane crashed into Haggard’s starboard side at the waterline at frame 112, her 500-pound bomb exploding into the forward engine room and creating two large holes in the hull, one 18'x20' and the other 8'x4'. Water rushed into the forward engine room and forward and after fire rooms, flooding those compartments to the waterline and causing the ship to settle very low in the water. The ship lost propulsion and slowed to a stop. Just one minute after the kamikaze struck, the second enemy plane dove toward the stricken ship from 1,000 yards, passed close astern, and flew up her port side. The second Zeke splashed ten feet off Haggard’s port bow, skidded on the water another 20 feet, and exploded with enough force to cause water and debris to spray the front of the ship to the bridge.
At 1711, Haggard dumped her depth charges and torpedoes. She then lowered her motor whale boats to the railing and put all of her life rafts into the water to be ready to abandon ship. As damage repair parties worked to shore up the forward bulkhead of the after engine room, San Diego and several destroyers were ordered to assist Haggard. By 1840, Haggard’s damage control teams had stemmed the ship’s flooding, and destroyer Walker (DD-517) made preparations to take Haggard under tow. San Diego came alongside at 1842 to transfer casualties. A preliminary tally counted four officers and 36 enlisted men as wounded, and the light cruiser took 30 of those casualties for treatment. In addition, Haggard reported one officer and 10 enlisted as missing, all from the forward engine room. Haggard jettisoned her loading machine at 1905 to save additional weight, and ten minutes later, Walker passed a tow line over to her sister. Haggard had no power or fresh water, and enemy planes remained a potential threat. Without power, the ship’s weary crew could have no hot meals, and they would also not be allowed to sleep below decks because of the very real danger of the after engine room bulkhead giving way and causing the ship to sink suddenly and quickly.
At 1950 on 29 April 1945, Walker got underway with Haggard in tow, proceeding at four knots to the fleet anchorage at Kerama Retto off Okinawa. DesDiv 104 less Hickox (DD-673) plus Uhlmann screened the convoy, and San Diego patrolled to the rear. Shortly thereafter, Haggard connected emergency power to her steering engines, allowing her to steer by the trick wheel. Gradually the ships increased their speed to six knots and then seven knots an hour later. The tow line parted at 2146 and took nearly two hours to reestablish, and the group continued on a quarter hour into the mid watch on the 30th. At 0530, the rest of TU 58.4.10 joined the formation, but nearly three hours later, Hazelwood—also damaged by a Japanese suicider but operating under her own power—escorted by light cruiser Flint and DesDiv 108 left the group to proceed independently.
Haggard received the sobering news of the first confirmed death from the kamikaze attack early on the morning of 30 April 1945 when San Diego informed her that GM3c Russel R. Haukendahl USNR, one of the casualties transferred to the cruiser the previous evening, had died during the night. Later that day, the body of MM3c Orla D. Jennings USNR was recovered from the forward engine room. The destroyer committed his remains to the deep in a ceremony that afternoon. Meanwhile, fleet tug Cree (ATF-84) had assumed the tow from Walker. Very early on 1 May, Haggard cut her no. 2 motor whaleboat adrift to protect the ship from further damage after the boat’s lines parted and its bow dropped into the water. The group arrived at Kerama Retto later that morning. At midday, Capt. Luther K. Reynolds, ComDesDiv 94, and his staff departed Haggard and embarked in San Diego to shift his pennant to Hailey.
On the afternoon of 1 May 1945, Haggard moored alongside battle damage repair ship Oceanus (ARB-2), and salvage and repair authorities completed an initial inspection of the destroyer. They estimated that repair work could not even begin on Haggard for another six to eight weeks due the extensive damage to her engineering plant as well as a lack of repair facilities at Kerama Retto to handle the number of damaged ships already in the harbor. In addition, the weight of the flooded compartments made her draft much greater than normal, and Haggard would not be able to enter the dry dock without first reducing her draft. An officer noted that “It looked for a while as if it might be necessary to scrap the ship right there in Kerama Retto.”
In the meantime, divers from Zaniah (AG-70) began the grim task of searching the flooded spaces for the bodies of Haggard’s missing men. During the first week of May, they recovered the remains of eight additional fallen sailors who had lost their lives in the forward engine room as a result of the kamikaze attack. MM2c Lawrence P. LeBlanc, MM2c Stanley J. Weymann, EM2c Joseph A. Belanger USNR, CMM(AA) John K. Tolan, MM2c Henry W. Keil USNR, MM3c Leland V. Crocker USNR, MMR1c Andy Krupsa USNR, and MM1c George A. M. Gustafson were all interred at the U.S. Armed Forces Cemetery at Zamami Shima in Kerama Retto. Lt. (j.g.) Harry B. Quandee USNR, MM3c John F. Kern USNR, and WT3c Frank E. Roubicek also died as a result of the attack.
The Zaniah divers, a “very enthusiastic and energetic” group under the direction of Lt. (j.g.) T. T. Cosden, also assisted Haggard’s officers and repair parties to envision and implement a creative solution to address the issue of the flooding in her engineering spaces. The inspired men set about on a scavenger hunt around the harbor to find materials with which to construct a large patch to cover the hole in the hull, which would then enable the flooded compartments to be pumped out to decrease her draft. One salvage party discovered a cache of flight deck lumber, and another group located some dunnage wood on a merchant vessel. Haggard’s crewmen transported these materials back to the destroyer and with the divers’ help began to construct the makeshift patch. Six inches thick, the ingenious patching solution “was backed with two layers of heavy canvas. Mattresses from the crew’s bunks were rolled tightly and secured around the edge of the patch to act as a padding or gasket. The [wooden planks] were secured together by 5/8" steel cable to give flexibility so the patch would form itself to the contour of the ship’s hull.”
Two weeks later, the patch was completed and ready to be installed. With the assistance of fleet tug Lipan (ATF-85), which used her anchor to help sink the nearly seven-ton patch, the Zaniah divers after some trial and error successfully secured the temporary wooden patch to Haggard’s hull on 16–17 May. They similarly placed another patch on the smaller hole, and then on the evening of the 17th, the crew began to pump out the flooded compartments and shore up additional openings that allowed more water to enter the ship as it was being pumped out. Draining the engineering spaces meant that the destroyer could now be dry docked to further assess and repair the underwater damage to the ship sufficiently to make Haggard watertight and seaworthy and ready to make the trip back to the U.S. to fully refurbish her damage.
Although Haggard could have been towed back to the United States, her captain and crew were determined to return their ship home under her own power. To do so, the destroyer would require one functioning boiler to provide steam for the remaining good engine, and also the evaporators would need to be functional to meet the ship’s fresh water needs. As she awaited her turn in dry dock, Haggard’s resourceful crew set to work cannibalizing spare parts from her damaged machinery to be able to make those essential repairs. Colorfully described in a Navy press release, the ship’s force displayed impressive ingenuity to bring Haggard back to operational condition: “Rate was forgotten and Gunner’s Mates, Signalmen, Seaman [sic], Quartermasters and Engineers worked together in the engine and fire rooms. Pipe fittings were unobtainable, so pipe lines which had been twisted into pretzel designs by the explosion were cut out and used as elbows in the steam and water lines. Boilers were stripped and the parts used to put No. 4 boiler back in operation. Electric pump motors were removed and taken to the battle damage repair ship Nestor [(ARB-6)] to be dried out and repaired.”
Haggard entered dry dock ARD-28 on 25 May 1945, and when authorities completed her hull and underwater fittings inspection three days later, they estimated that the destroyer would need to spend an additional three weeks under repair in dry dock to be ready to make the long journey across the Pacific. There were, however, some complications along the way. Kerama Retto was subject to frequent bogey alerts and attacks from Japanese aircraft, and Haggard’s crew experienced frequent calls to general quarters, sometimes twice or three times per day, for possible incoming air raids for the duration of her stay, including several during her dry dock period. With a typhoon approaching the area on 4 June, workers quickly installed new, more secure patches over the holes in the hull and prepared to flood the dry dock should weather conditions deteriorate further. By the next morning, however, the storm danger had passed without needing to refloat Haggard, and the repair work continued. On the evening of 6 June, crewmen spotted a smoldering fire amongst some winter clothing and chemical warfare equipment stowed in a compartment, possibly ignited by active welding on the outside of the hull. After nearly four hours, the fire was extinguished, with damage limited to several gas masks and other chemical warfare equipment. Tests of the safety valves on the No. 4 boiler and the reinforcement and strengthening of the hull patches over the next several days completed the major repair work, and on 10 June, Gwin (DM-33) towed Haggard out of the dry dock to the anchorage.
With boilers Nos. 1–3 and her starboard engine still out of commission from the kamikaze damage, Haggard stood out of Kerama Retto for sea trials on the morning of 14 June 1945. She returned to the anchorage that afternoon and remained there until early on the morning of 18 June, when she made the short trip to Hagushi anchorage, Okinawa. She got underway again at 1100 to rendezvous with TU 31.29.12 for transit to Saipan. As the group steamed eastward on the morning of the 20th, the formation reversed course in order to avoid a typhoon headed their way, but by afternoon the ships resumed their original course. Haggard made a sonar contact early on 22 June but a brief investigation indicated that the contact was not a submarine. That same morning, Lt. Cmdr. Soballe, who had been awarded a Legion of Merit for the sinking of Ro-41, held a meritorious mast to recognize the commendable performances of duty by several members of his crew during the ship’s ramming of the Japanese submarine on the night of 22–23 March: Bronze Stars went to Lt. (j.g.) James D. McLaughlin USNR, Lt. (j.g.) Oliver C. Sills USNR, Lt. (j.g.) Basil D. Slaymaker, Lt. (j.g.) Harry D. Quandee USNR (posthumous), RT1c Aubrey G. Smith Jr. USNR, SoM1c Victor H. van Sant USNR, and RdM3c Roy G. Palmer USNR. The ceremony also honored those who distinguished themselves in the kamikaze attack of 29 April, with Bronze Stars being awarded to: Lt. W. D. Crossley (for damage control), Lt. W. E. Watts (MC) USNR (for his handling of casualties), Sea1c(FC) Charles H. Rademaker, Sea1c(FC) Frederick J. Pinne, Sea1c Clarence J. Peterson, WT2c Wayne C. Templeman, EM1c Roy L. Thompson, CMM Frank J. Lamb and CMM Fernando I. Jones. The destroyer evaluated another contact later in the morning, and the next afternoon she dropped a single depth charge before deciding that a sonar contact was false. Late on the afternoon of 24 June, Haggard screened the entry of the task unit into Saipan and then anchored.
Resuming her voyage independently on the afternoon of 26 June 1945, Haggard made the overnight trip to Guam, where she had her no. 5 five-inch gun (Mt. 55) removed and received four torpedoes on the 29th. She departed on 1 July, escorting Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) to Pearl Harbor, still steaming on a single engine and boiler. Escort carrier Bougainville (CVE-100) joined the formation on 6 July.
Haggard receives Lt (j.g.) Wilson Bennett, ChC-V(S), USNR, from Kalinin Bay on 8 July 1945 so that the Presbyterian chaplain could conduct services on board the destroyer. Bougainville (CVE-100) steams in the distance. Close investigation of other images in this sequence show artwork on the port side of Mt. 51, “Man Killer,” with the words flanking the image of a leaping tiger. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-366687, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Haggard and the two CVEs continued on to Hawaii, arriving on the morning of 11 July 1945., after which Haggard began the next leg of her journey on the morning of the 13th, traveling to the West Coast with destroyer Braine (DD-630). At San Diego (19–21 July), Haggard offloaded the torpedoes and refueled. Joined by high speed minesweeper Forrest (DMS-24) on 22 July, Haggard and Braine continued on to Balboa, Panama Canal Zone. On the 27th, Braine temporarily transferred her medical officer, Lt. (j.g.) F. A. Byrne USNR, to Haggard to assist her medical officer, Lt. (j.g.) E. L. Barrett USNR, with an emergency appendectomy. The ships paused at Balboa (29–30 July) and then transited the Panama Canal to the Caribbean Sea on the 31st and set course for Norfolk, Va. Late on 4 August, Haggard detached from the group and proceeded in to port independently. She moored at Naval Operating Base (NOB) Norfolk at 1300 on 5 August and began offloading her ammunition and fuel. The next morning, she was moved to the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Va., where repair work on the ship commenced.
Haggard received word of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies on 14 August 1945, and with the war over and the Navy’s future needs uncertain, pursuant to orders issued by the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, all repair work on the destroyer came to a halt two days later. On 23 August, crews received the go-ahead to complete only repair work needed to make the ship safe and habitable at anchor. She spent 11–13 September in dry dock and then moved back to NOB Norfolk. On 17 September, representatives of the Board of Inspection and Survey visited Haggard to examine her damage and determine her future.
While the crew waited for the board to make its determination, Haggard was moved back to Norfolk Navy Yard (soon to be redesignated the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 1 November 1945) on 24 September 1945. Two days later, Lt. Lendall B. Knight assumed command of the ship. Finally, on 16 October, word came that the destroyer would not be repaired. Haggard was decommissioned on 1 November 1945 and stricken from the Navy Register on 16 November 1945. She was scrapped at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in early 1946.
Haggard being scrapped at Norfolk, February 1946; this view shows part of the after deckhouse, weighing about ten tons, being removed by a large crane. On the original print, the ship’s name, HAGGARD, in steel letters fillet-welded to the plating on the stern, can be seen. A Fletcher-class destroyer, with the earlier rounded bridge, lies in the next berth. (Haggard (DD-555) Ship History File, Naval History and Heritage Command)
Haggard was awarded ten battle stars for her World War II service.
Date Assumed Command
Lt. Cmdr. David A. Harris
31 August 1943
Lt. Cmdr. Verner J. Soballe
8 January 1945
Lt. Lendall B. Knight
26 September 1945
2 June 2020