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Harwood (DD-861)

(DD-861: dp. 2,425 ; l. 390'6" ; b. 41'1" ; dr. 18'6" ; s. 35 k.; cpl. 367; a. 6 5", 4 40mm., 5 21" tt. 1 h.h., 6 dcp., 2dct.; cl. Gearing)

Bruce Lawrence Harwood was born 10 February 1910 at Claremont, Calif., and enlisted in the Navy 6 June 1935. After training as an aviation cadet at Pensacola, he was commissioned Ensign 7 July 1939 and began flying duty with a torpedo plane squadron. Harwood received the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism 24 August 1942 during the Solomons campaign. Leading his squadron in an unsupported aerial torpedo raid against a Japanese task force, Lieutenant Harwood pressed home the attack through a bursting hail of fire from hostile AA batteries. Under his leadership, the squadron scored one certain and two estimated hits on an enemy aircraft carrier. Harwood was awarded the Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism as squadron commander 20 September-5 October 1942. Leading an attack group of bombers through adverse flying conditions, Lieutenant Harwood located a force of enemy destroyers landing troops and supplies on Guadalcanal. Despite violent maneuvering by the enemy, he and his men scored at least one and probably more hits. On 4 October Harwood led another attack group of torpedo planes against an enemy light cruiser and three DD's. In spite of bad visibility and heavy AA fire, he pressed home the attack, scoring two positive and one possible hit on the cruiser. The following night he and his bombers again sought the enemy and, flying on instruments through a violent tropical storm to Rekata Bay, bombed shore installations there despite fierce opposition from Japanese fighter planes which swarmed to the attack. Appointed Commander 1 July 1944, Harwood was killed 24 October 1944 when Princeton received bomb hits which triggered a series of fatal explosions. While serving as air officer in Princeton, Commander Harwood had received another Gold Star in lieu of a third Navy Cross.

Harwood (DD-861) was launched 22 May 1945 by the Bethlehem Steel Co., San Pedro, Calif.; sponsored by Mrs. Bruce Lawrence Harwood, widow of the late Commander Harwood; and commissioned 28 September 1945, Comdr. Reid P. Fiala in command.

After shakedown along the California coast, Harwood Joined the 7th Fleet in Chinese waters. In addition to aiding in the occupation of Japan, the destroyer also participated in fleet and antisubmarine exercises before returning to San Diego 21 February 1947. Harwood entered the Mare Island shipyard after a second WesPac cruise in January 1949 to be equipped with the latest antisubmarine equipment. Redesignated DDE-861 4 March 1950, the escort destroyer reported to her new home port, Newport, R.I., 11 September 1949 to participate in research on cold weather ASW operations as well as fleet and training exercises. Departing Norfolk in late August, Harwood made her first Mediterranean cruise with the 6th Fleet and returned to the States 10 November 1950.

Subsequent years fell into a pattern for Harwood as, to maintain her battle readiness and stress America's commitment to the defense of democracy, she engaged in varied training maneuvers and made yearly cruises to the Mediterranean. Harwood sailed 4 January 1957 for a 3-month ASW demonstration which took her along the South American coast to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Panama and Cuba. Entering the New York Navy Yard 2 May 1961, Harwood underwent a Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) overhaul. Her bridge was totally reconstructed, new types of torpedo tubes were installed, and the 3-inch antiaircraft guns were removed to accommodate a hangar and launching deck for DASH, an antisubmarine helicopter. Departing the yard 2 February 1962, Harwood sailed to her home port, Mayport, Fla., and from there to the Caribbean. When the Cuban crisis erupted in October 1962, Harwood was ready and sailed with 4 hours notice to join the blockading fleet "quarantining" the Communist island. Redesignated DD-861 on 1 July 1963, she returned Mayport 2 November.

Harwood sailed for the Mediterranean 6 August and provided ASW service during Exercise "Riptide IV" en route. She transited the Straits of Gibraltar on the 22d for intense periods of AAW, ASW, and BCM exercises in the Med. Returning home 23 December, the destroyer operated along the Atlantic coast until getting under way 31 March 1964 for a brief visit to Brazil. She arrived Annapolis 1 June, embarked midshipmen, and sailed for Europe. She visited Norway, Belgium, France, and England before debarking the "Middies" at Norfolk.

In April 1965 she began overhaul and alterations at Norfolk which turned out to be a major face lifting. On 22 August she returned to Mayport en route to Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, for refresher training. She operated along the coast of the Southern states until departing Mayport 22 July 1966 for the Mediterranean deployment. On this tour she transited the Suez Canal and visited Aden and Kenya before rejoining the 6th Fleet in the Med 2 November.

Harwood returned home 17 December. She operated out of Newport, off the New England coast until sailing for her 10th Mediterranean deployment 29 June 1967. Reaching Rota, Spain, 10 July, Harwood soon joined the 6th Fleet, an element of stability in the ancient and volatile sea which had so recently been churned by the Arab war with Israel.

Published: Thu Apr 28 00:08:50 EDT 2016