Lewis Heermann was born on 3 August 1779 in Cassel, Holy Roman Empire [Kassel Stadt, Hesse, Germany] the son of Johann Heermann, a property owner in Cassel. Although baptized under the name Adolph Ludwig Heermann, following his immigration to the United States, he dropped Adolph and anglicized Ludwig to Lewis. Heermann inherited a sizeable fortune from his father and upon reaching adulthood studied medicine in Europe, presumably in his native country. Heermann arrived in the U.S., sometime in 1800, although the precise date of his arrival is not definitively known. He received appointment as a surgeon’s mate in the U.S. Navy on 10 September 1801, in Virginia. Upon accepting the appointment, Heermann was initially attached to the frigate Chesapeake and then temporarily furloughed.
After waiting nearly five months, Heermann commissioned as a surgeon’s mate on 8 February 1802, and reported for duty on board the schooner Enterprise. With the onset of the First Barbary War (1801–1805), Heermann deployed with U.S. naval forces bound for the Mediterranean Sea. Of particular note is the role he played in the navy’s daring action at Tripoli Harbor, [Tripoli, Lebanon], on 16 February 1804. Endeavoring to set fire to the captured American frigate Philadelphia, Lt. Stephen Decatur, USN, commanding the ketch Intrepid, entered Tripoli Harbor under the cover of darkness. Decatur and 60 of his men then disembarked Intrepid in small boats, leaving the ketch with only a small force of men under the command of Surgeon Heermann.
Lt. Decatur recognized that those remaining on board Intrepid would be in great danger, as, once discovered, the harbor batteries would likely target the ship. In expressing his concern at leaving the surgeon on board, Heermann replied, “My life sir is not more valuable than that of any of the other brave officers and men who are to accompany you. Should I be killed or wounded, the officers and crew would be as well provided for after their achievement by Dr. Marshall alone.” With all resolved to do their part Decatur and his selected crew set about their mission.
The American sailors swiftly overcame the guards on board Philadelphia, and successfully set the frigate ablaze. During the action, the harbor cannons opened fire on Intrepid, but the vessel and her crew managed to escape—making the mission an immense success. In fact, the exploits of Decatur and his crew at Tripoli have been immortalized in Navy lore, but Heermann’s actions, as a navy surgeon, also established a precedent for all navy doctors thereafter; to serve alongside sailors and marines wherever they go, no matter what the danger. Having proven himself during the conflict Heermann was promoted to surgeon on 27 November 1804.
With the cessation of hostilities in 1805, Heermann returned to Norfolk, Va. Just a few months after his return to the United States, Heermann applied for an extended period of leave to work in the medical clinics in London, England. Accordingly, he was furloughed on 1 July 1806, and then spent the better part of two years working in London. On 9 November 1808, Heermann returned to duty at Norfolk and remained there for several years before eventually applying for a transfer to New Orleans, La.
Heermann officially received orders to report to New Orleans on 20 August 1810 and shortly thereafter, he took up a permanent residence in the city. Finding the U.S. Navy’s shore based medical clinic in New Orleans wholly inadequate for effectively treating patients, Heermann personally financed the purchase of a building and furnished it accordingly. Having established a suitable facility, he then rented it out to the government at minimal cost and additionally, built up a large consolation practice.
Along with Edward Cutbush and William Barton, Heermann strongly advocated for, and worked with the U.S. Congress, to provide funding for naval medical facilities; an effort, which directly contributed to the passing of a law in February 1811, for the establishment of various naval hospitals. Dr. Heermann also authored and self-published (at great financial cost to himself) a medical book titled The Medicine Chest, which listed numerous diseases of the age and prescribed medications for their treatment. Heermann was known to be a “Gentleman of an acute and vigorous mind, well versed in his profession, especially in military surgery, and abounding in kind and generous feelings.”
While he maintained a residence in New Orleans for the rest of his life, Heermann also established a residence in New Haven, Conn., where his children received their education. Heermann made two other important journeys during his time as a USN surgeon. On 28 August 1823, he received orders to report to the West Indies Squadron, to attend sailors on board the schooner Shark, then operating with Capt. David Porter’s flotilla, combating piracy in the Gulf of Mexico. On 26 November of that year, he temporarily reported to Boston, Mass., and then, on 24 January 1824, returned to New Orleans.
On 11 June 1830, a letter from the Navy Department informed Heermann that he had been appointed fleet surgeon of the Mediterranean Squadron and was ordered to proceed to Norfolk and “report to Commodore Barron for passage in the U.S. sloop of war Concord.” After arriving in European waters in September 1830, Heermann made an inspection of the hospitals in London and thereafter inspected several facilities in France and Italy. In January 1821, Heermann became exceedingly ill and was admitted to the Civil Hospital at Gibraltar, British Overseas Territory. Having notified the Navy Department of his declining health he returned to the United States on board the bark Grecian, and arrived in New York on 29 September 1831. Departing N.Y., Dr. Heermann joined his family at his residence in New Haven.
With the winter months approaching, Heermann decided to winter in New Orleans, writing to the Navy Department, on 26 October 1831 “the state of my health, greatly impaired by a long course of arduous service for this country, demands a more temperate climate.” Although a winter storm on the East Coast briefly delayed him, he eventually arrived in New Orleans in early February 1832. In April, that same year, Heermann journeyed back to the northeast to clear up some ongoing expense issues with an auditor at the Navy Department and from there went to New Haven to be with his family. On 6 November 1832, he notified the Department of his intent to return to New Orleans for the winter.
Heermann’s health had declined considerably by the spring of 1833 and on 21 May, he dictated a will and testament. Heermann died at his residence in New Orleans, located at the corner of Camp St. and Julia St., sometime between 21 and 25 May 1833. The exact date of his death has been a matter of some confusion due to the conflicting accounts provided on official documentation. Heermann was buried in the old Protestant cemetery located on Girod St., New Orleans. He was survived by his wife Eliza (Potts) Heermann, originally of Norfolk, Va., and their five sons.
An extensive although by no means exhaustive account of Dr. Heermann’s life, Lewis Heermann, Surgeon in the United States Navy was written by Capt. Frank L. Pleadwell, USN, and published in 1923.
(DD-532: displacement 2,100; length 376'3"; beam 39'8"; draft 13'; speed 30 knots; complement 273; armament 5 5-inch, 6 40-millimeter, 10 20-millimeter, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 6 depth charge projectors; 2 depth charge tracks; class Fletcher)
Heermann (DD-532) was laid down on 8 May 1942 at San Francisco, Calif., by Bethlehem Steel Corp.; launched on 5 December 1942, and sponsored by Mrs. Edward B. Briggs, wife of Lt. Edward B. Briggs, USCGR, the great grandson of Fleet Surgeon Lewis Heermann.
Following her commissiong on 6 July 1943 at San Diego, Calif., Cmdr. Dwight M. Agnew, USN, in command, Heermann provisioned and began her shakedown period in the vicinity of San Diego. Mooring daily at buoy 18, in the San Diego Harbor, Heermann went out to sea and conducted speed trials and firing drills for several weeks.
Having completed her trials on 26 August 1943, the destroyer steamed from San Diego to San Francisco, and arrived there, amid heavy fog, the following day. Heermann moored port side to pier 7 at the Bethlehem Steel Corp. Dock, to begin her “post-shakedown availability” and undergo repairs.
With her upkeep completed on 1 October 1943, Heermann got underway the following day for San Diego. Passing Point Loma “abeam to port,” at 1206 on 3 October, the destroyer shortly thereafter moored to buoy 26, in San Diego Harbor. With all preparations made, Heermann stood out of the area on the evening of 4 October, and commenced her first voyage to Pearl Harbor, T.H. Passing through the submarine nets at Pearl at 1055 on 10 October; Heermann moored starboard side to berth Mike 3 at Merry Point. In the week following her arrival in Hawaiian waters, from 11 to 20 October, the destroyer conducted daily firing exercises while remaining in the local area.
Joining company with the Fifth Fleet on 21 October 1943, Heermann stood out of Pearl Harbor at 0819. Steaming with Task Unit (TU) 53.3.6, she took up a screening station for the aircraft carrier Bunker Hill (CV-17), en route to the Gilbert Islands. On the 23rd, the destroyer made a mysterious sound contact, which she tracked to 500 yards and attacked with depth charges; but nothing came of it. On 28 October, at approximately 1430, Heermann left formation to rescue the survivors of a Vought OS2U-3 Kingfisher (BuNo 5646) assigned to the battleship Indiana (BB-58).Two officers and one enlisted sailor were “brought aboard by means of a survivor net,” and later “transferred by breeches buoy” back to Indiana.
On 2 November 1943, Heermann left formation at 0537, in company with Hazelwood (DD-531), to escort the oilers Platte (AO-24) and Guadalupe (AO-32) to Nandi, Fiji Islands. At approximately 1030, the two destroyers safely delivered the oilers to Nandi Bay and then rejoined their task unit at sea, at about 1400 the same day. On 5 November, Heermann arrived in the New Hebrides Islands and shortly after entering Hilliard Channel, moored to buoy 8, in Havannah Harbor, Efate. Getting underway early the next day Heermann, still steaming with Hazelwood, joined with Task Force (TF) 53. Operating with the task force the following day the destroyer maintained an anti-submarine screen, safeguarding transports entering Fila Harbor, Efate; she continued in this capacity through the 9th.
Just before dawn on 10 November 1943, Heermann stood out of Efate to escort the provision ship Boreas (AF-8) to Espíritu Santo, New Hebrides. Patrolling 3,000 yards ahead of the provision ship, the pair arrived safely at Espíritu Santo at 0630 on 11 November and the destroyer moored to buoy 19 in Havannah Harbor. Heermann returned to Fila Harbor on the 13th, screening ships, occasionally passing mail between the larger ships of the task force and maintaining a “picket station,” as the fleet made its way towards the Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands Group.
Steaming in station number four, Heermann arrived with Rear Adm. Harry W. Hill’s Southern Attack Force, in the vicinity of Tarawa, on 20 November 1943. At 0208, Heermann maneuvered with the other escort ships of the task force to form a screen attending transports. At 0559, her crew identified a small surface vessel traveling on a northerly course and in tracking the ship, in order to “take her under fire,” Cmdr. Agnew observed that, “With the approach of dawn and improved visibility it was seen that the ship was inside the lagoon.” Only 10 minutes after spotting the enemy vessel, Heermann opened fire at 1,200 yards, and made several confirmed hits, which “started extensive fires.” The Japanese ship, estimated to be between 100 and 200 tons, attempted to beach herself but sank just short of the shoreline.
Heermann returned to the transport area to maintain her screening station. At 1829, she “sighted a Betty Jap light bomber,” [Mitsubishi G4M Type 1 land attack plane], and approximately four minutes later commenced firing at a distance of 8,000 yards. Despite the efforts of her gunners, the enemy plane escaped and the destroyer returned to the screening line. Later that night at 2020, Heermann briefly ran aground on a reef, in little less than 2.5 fathoms, but did eventually manage to get free a few hours later by “periodically backing full as the tide came in.” Other than some minor embarrassment, the incident caused only minor damage, “making the sound gear inoperative,” likely “because of the vibration.”
The following day, “in the early twilight hours,” of 21 November 1943, and while steaming on a northeasterly course, Heermann encountered another “Betty, traveling close aboard to port on an opposite course.” At a range of 400 to 500 yards, the plane launched a torpedo and Cmdr. Agnew ordered “full right rudder and emergency back full on the starboard engine.” The torpedo passed close aboard “tangential to our track,” and Heermann’s 5-inch let loose. The aircraft escaped unscathed, due largely to some confusion among the crew of the main battery, as to whether or not they should open fire on positively identified targets. Cmdr. Agnew remarked that it had been “a beautiful opportunity missed.”
Later that same morning, Heermann entered the lagoon to provide “close-in fire support,” for troops assaulting Tarawa. The destroyer remained in the area through the night and well into the next day, commencing another bombardment at 0559 “using creeping fire in 40 yard steps to suppress observed Japanese troop movements.” At one point her guns single handedly annihilated a large number of troops and a machine gun nest. Cmdr. Agnew observed that the shelling was “very effective at moving the Japanese troops.” Although she had to replenish her ammunition stores, more than once, Heermann continued to operate in a fire support capacity well into the evening.
By 23 November 1943, the assault on Tarawa had all but concluded. The day prior at about 1930, Heermann steamed out of the area and joined company with Task Group (TG) 54.13, bound for Pearl Harbor. On 1 December, Heermann arrived at Pearl and received some badly needed voyage repair work that lasted through 8 January 1944. Following the completion of her repair and upkeep work, Heermann spent the majority of January 1944, conducting exercises and firing drills in Hawaiian waters. This included “a speed run exercise,” on the 9th, “torpedo practice,” on the 11th, and “landing attack training,” on the 14th. Beginning on 17 January, the destroyer moored in berth X-2, at Pearl, and the crew enjoyed a few days of shore leave.
In support of the U.S. assault on the Marshall Islands, Heermann stood out of Pearl on 23 January 1944, and headed for Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands Group, steaming in company with TG 51.2. Largely engaged in anti-submarine screening during the course of the voyage, Heermann and TG 51.2 arrived within 30 miles of Kwajalein on 31 January. As Rear Adm. Richmond K. Turner’s Joint Expeditionary Force, commenced landings on the atoll, Heermann assumed a patrolling station near the northern part of the transport area. At 1400 on 4 February, the destroyer steamed into Kwajalein Lagoon and anchored in the northeast corner of berth C-14.
Underway from Kwajalein Lagoon on 5 February 1944, Heermann steamed to a patrol station southeast of the atoll where she remained for several days. On the afternoon of 7 February, the destroyer left her patrol station to locate a disabled Martin PBM Mariner flying boat. After searching for several hours, Heermann located the plane, “securing a tow-line” to it, and rescued the surviving crew. After towing the plane through the night at a speed of 4 knots, Heermann rendezvoused with the minesweeper Revenge (AM-110) the following day, and transferred both the towline and rescued aviators. That night, the destroyer anchored in Kwajalein Lagoon.
On 14 February 1944, Heermann stood out of Kwajalein Lagoon and took up a patrolling station west of the atoll. Late the following morning the destroyer got underway for Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, joining with TG 51.11. At 0602 on the 17th, Heermann left the task group formation and proceeded “on various courses and speeds,” to Eniwetok Lagoon through “Deep Entrance.” At 0906, in company with fellow destroyer McCord (DD-534), Heermann commenced firing on Japanese shore positions located on Parry Island, Eniwetok. Throughout the day the destroyer continued to provide fire support for ground forces, shelling enemy troops and buildings located on the islands of Parry, Rujiyoru, Bogon and Engebi. The following morning at 0820, Heermann bombarded Engebi Island a second time and then “stood by for calls for fire support,” but none were requested for the rest of the day.
Late in the afternoon, on 19 February 1944, Heermann briefly steamed back to Eniwetok to re-supply and then returned to the vicinity of Parry Island on 22 February, dropping her anchor southwest of the island and standing by to provide fire support. Her services were requested only once at about 1232, on the 22nd, and conducted “harassing fire,” on Parry Island. The following day she proceeded back to Eniwetok and then at 0817, on the 24th, got underway to take up a patrolling station in nearby waters. Anchoring again to re-provision on the 28th, Heermann returned to “patrolling station 4” on 2 March, and remained there for several days.
Relieved from her station on 5 March 1944, Heermann got underway for the Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands. Arriving on the 7th, the destroyer anchored in Majuro Lagoon and remained there for several days. On 14 March, she weighed anchor and accompanied Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 93, en route to Purvis Bay, Florida Islands, Solomon Islands. After four days of hard steaming, on 18 March, Heermann came within sight of Ulawa Island, Solomons, and by the early afternoon entered Purvis Bay. The following morning she stood out of the port and got underway with Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 47, bearing for Emirau Island, Bismarck Archipelago. On the 21st, Heermann came within sight of Mussau Island, St. Matthias Islands, Papua New Guinea and the following day she arrived at her designated patrolling station northeast of Emirau.
On 25 March 1944, Heermann steamed to the southern entrance of the Byron Strait, New Hanover, Bismarck Archipelago. The following day at 0600, the destroyer left her patrol area and rendezvoused with DesDiv 93, whence she proceeded in company to shell an abandoned freighter on a nearby beach. While still steaming in formation with DesDiv 93 in the area of Emirau, the warship’s radar picked up “enemy aircraft, closing at 19 miles.” Shortly thereafter, a lookout on Heermann spotted the hostile planes, but they were subsequently driven off by anti-aircraft fire from Hoel (DD-533).
The following evening, Heermann steamed independently back to her assigned patrol area southwest of Emirau. A few hours before midnight on 2 April 1944, Heermann left her patrol station to assist McCord, in tracking a Japanese submarine in the vicinity of 0°1'S, 149°29'E. She arrived in the area at approximately 2255, and still steaming McCord and Hoel, proceeded to search the area 40 miles northeast of Mussau Island well into the early morning hours of the next day. Heermann made a sound contact at 600 yards and “dropped a full pattern of depth charges.” Followed up by five more depth charge attacks, “the target was tracked as dead in the water,” and “about thirty seconds after the last detonation, a burst of flame appeared.” Despite Cmdr. Agnew’s aforementioned observations, an examination of both U.S. and Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) records has failed to determine the identity and/or fate of the submarine Heermann engaged.
On 5 April 1944, Heermann returned to Purvis Bay, and anchored in berth 12, at about 1250. A few days later, on the 8th, the destroyer stood out of Purvis Bay and steamed to “patrol station 3,” northeast of Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, guarding the seaward side of transports en route to Emirau via the “western route.” As of 13 April, the warship had not encountered any Japanese forces and on the 14th, she began screening vessels of TG 31.8, as they steamed into their assigned anchorage off Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal. At about 1832, she departed the area and later that night moored in Purvis Bay.
Idle for several days, Heermann replenished supplies and then on 16 April 1944, got underway as an escort for TG 31.8, screening transports off Lunga Point. As of the 20th, the destroyer again took up a patrolling station seaward of transports unloading at Emirau. Her screening and patrol duties during the subsequent week were relatively uneventful with the exception of an incident on the 21st, in which, “an unknown group of destroyer escorts displayed very poor sea manners by passing through the formation,” a transgression that “they could have easily avoided.”
Heermann concluded her time in the area of Emirau on 1 May 1944, getting underway at 1046 that day with DesDiv 93 bound for Espíritu Santo, New Hebrides [Vanuatu]. On the 3rd, she moored in the Segond Channel, Espíritu Santo, and then later that afternoon got back underway as a part of TG 34.8.1, to rendezvous with DesDiv 44, located 120 miles north of the Santa Cruz Island, Solomons. Having reached her rendezvous point on 5 May, Heermann proceeded in company to New Georgia Sound, Solomons, mooring at that location early the next day. On 10 May, following a few days of re-supply, Heermann stood out of New Georgia Sound, in company with light cruisers Montpelier (CL-57) and Cleveland (CL-55). The group of warships then shaped a course for the area of Kolombangara Island, Solomons, for shore bombardment practice.
From 11 to 14 May 1944, Heermann moored alongside the destroyer tender Dixie (AD-14) for upkeep. On the 15th, at 0605, she got underway with DesDiv 93, en route to the Buka, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, and the following day aided in a search for a reported Japanese submarine in the area. On 17 May, the submarine search ended and Heermann steamed to a designated patrol area north of Bougainville Island, approximately 13 miles from the east entrance of Buka Passage. The destroyer concluded her patrol duties in the area on 20 May, getting underway at 0422 for Blanche Harbor, Treasury Islands. On the 21st, Heermann shifted course, steaming with DesDiv 93 to rendezvous with the escort aircraft carrier Hoggatt Bay (CVE-75).
Joining company with Hoggatt Bay on 23 May 1944, Heermann began operating as a part of TG 30.4. On the 25th, the destroyer took on fuel from Hoggatt Bay, at a notably slow pace of “an hour and twenty minutes.” The incident inspired Cmdr. Amos T. Hathaway, Heermann’s commanding officer, to observe “If this type of ship is intended to fuel destroyers at sea, special transfer pumps should be incorporated in the design and installed on those ships already in commission.” The day after her frustrating fueling experience, Heermann responded to the scene of a crashed Eastern TBM-1C (BuNo 25388) Avenger torpedo bomber, attached to Hoggatt Bay, and successfully rescued the plane’s pilot Lt. (j.g.) James W. Hartzell. On the 31st, the destroyer parted company with the task force and proceeded to Hawthorne Sound, New Georgia Island, to rendezvous with Dixie. She arrived at her destination on 2 June, at 0710 and then, just a few hours later, proceeded with Dixie and DesDiv 93 to Purvis Bay, entering the port there the following morning.
Moored at Purvis Bay for maintenance through 8 June 1944, Heermann got underway just before dawn on the 9th to join TG 30.2, en route to conduct a bombardment mission at Fangelawa Bay, New Ireland, Bismarcks. The destroyer arrived along with the other ships of the task group in the area of Fangelawa Bay, on 11 June and the crew immediately went to general quarters. Taking a firing station 5,000 yards off Lakurumau Palm Oil Plantation, New Ireland, Heermann, fired five salvos at enemy gun emplacements located in the area and then following the action, anchored at Blanche Harbor. Beginning on the 14th, Heermann joined company with TG 12.2, screening Allied vessels traveling through the sea-lanes between the Solomon, Admiralty, Caroline, and Marshall Islands.
Heermann broke off from screening and patrol duties on 19 June 1944, and proceeded to Seeadler Harbor, Admiralty Islands, for fuel and supplies. At 1728 the next day, she got underway with TG 12.2, en route to Eniwetok, however, on the 21st, she shifted course and “stood by” north of Emirau to obtain urgently needed spare parts for aircraft assigned to Hoggatt Bay. Having completed her mission, Heermann continued on to Eniwetok on 22 June. The destroyer arrived at her destination at 1311, on the 26th, and then conducting a quick turnaround, departed that same day at 1724, in company with DesDiv 93 for Tarawa. Heermann arrived at her destination on the morning of 29 June, and then, later that same afternoon, got underway again for Purvis Bay.
On 3 July 1944, Heermann dropped her anchor in Purvis Bay and commenced a full week of maintenance and upkeep. Ready for sea again on 12 July, she proceeded to escort the general stores issue ship Talita (AKS-8) to Tarawa. Heermann rendezvoused with Talita at sea on the 13th, and guider her safely to their destination, arriving on the 17th. Departing the same day she arrived, Heermann steamed back to Purvis Bay mooring there on the 20th. The following day the destroyer set out in company with Hoel to conduct anti-submarine exercises in the vicinity of Indispensable Strait, Solomons. On 22 July, Heermann quit her exercises and proceeded to screen the War Shipping Administration (WSA) troopship President Tyler during a portion of that vessel’s journey to Milne Bay, New Guinea. The following day at 1210, Heermann parted company with the ship and proceeded to Lunga Point.
Anchored at Lunga Point on the morning of 24 July 1944, Heermann, departed the area later that evening, steaming to Purvis Bay, where she moored at about 2234. After spending a week in Purvis Bay, the destroyer got underway on 31 July to escort the WSA troopship Monterey to Lunga Point, mooring at the anchorage there on 2 August. She later stood out from Lunga Point, again screening Monterey, but parted company with the vessel midday and continued independently to Nouméa, New Caledonia. On the 5th, at 1615, Heermann reached her destination and subsequently began a routine overhaul that lasted through the 9th.
Underway at 0533, on 10 August 1944, Heermann accompanied the transport fitted for evacuation of wounded Pinkney (APH-2) to Lunga Point, arriving at that location at 1617 on the 12th. The morning after her arrival, Heermann steamed back out into open waters and proceeded to a rendezvous point with the light mine layer Gamble (DM-15) in the vicinity of Coleridge Bay, Malaita Island, Solomons, to search for enemy submarines. While still steaming, at about 2228 that night, the destroyer began experiencing “excessive vibration,” in her starboard cruising turbine. Despite the mechanical issues, Heermann arrived at her destination and joined company with Gamble at 0830 on the 14th, whereupon, the pair conducted an anti-submarine patrol, which ultimately resulted in “negative findings.” In light of her ongoing mechanical issues, Heermann parted company with Gamble later that afternoon and steamed to Purvis Bay, arriving there that evening. Once moored she had a complete inspection done of her cruising turbines, which lasted from the 16th to the 19th.
After attempting to address her mechanical problems, Heermann got underway on 20 August 1944 to run some trials, but with the vibration issue re-occurring, she returned to Purvis Bay and had “all possible sources of the vibration overhauled.” The diagnostics and repair work kept her anchored through the 25th. Heermann sallied back out to sea on another test run on 26 August, but again encountered the same mechanical issues, which prompted a quick return to port. Heermann’s turbine problem kept her at anchor through 5 September. Finally ready for sea again on the 6th, the warship stood out of Purvis Bay in company with an escort carrier force, under the command of Rear Adm. William D. Sample, en route to provide air support for the invasion of the Palau Islands. Beginning on 12 September, the destroyer took a position screening Carrier Division (CarDiv) 27 as its aircraft conducted a pre-invasion aerial bombardment of the Japanese held islands.
While engaged in screening duties with the carrier force on 16 September 1944, Heermann rescued the survivors of a crashed TBM-1C (BuNo 46219) Avenger, and eventually returned the crewmembers to Composite Squadron (VC) 21 on board Marcus Island (CVE-77). On the 27th, the destroyer anchored briefly at Kossol Passage, Palau Islands, but in short order, returned to her screening duties with Task Unit 32.7.1. Heermann continued to provide support for these operations until 2 October, at which time she shaped a course for Seeadler Harbor. The destroyer arrived at her destination two days later and remained at anchor there well into the next week.
As the first days of October 1944 slipped away, Allied naval, land, and air forces began maneuvering for a major assault on the Philippines. In support of planned landings at Leyte on 17 October, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Thomas L. Sprague was put in command of TG 77.4, which consisted of three escort carrier task units, later referred to as the “Three Taffies,” because of their radio call signs, “Taffy 1,” “Taffy 2,” and “Taffy 3.” At 0452 on 12 October, Heermann stood out of Seeadler Harbor in company with elements of Sprague’s force and shortly thereafter assumed a screening station with the ships of Taffy 3. Once in position on the 17th, Heermann diligently did her part, as U.S. Navy aircraft provided air support for amphibious operations. Her involvement in the assault remained at least initially, relatively calm. Things picked up slightly on the 24th, when Heermann rescued Lt. (j.g.) W. A. Dahlan and two members of his TBM-1C (BuNo 45964) Avenger crew, from VC-10, attached to Gambier Bay (CVE-73).
Just after sunrise on 25 October 1944, Heermann’s relatively limited role in the operations changed dramatically with the eruption of the unexpected and chaotic fleet engagement known thereafter as the Battle off Samar. Steaming east of the island of Samar, and proceeding on a northerly course Heermann, and the rest of Taffy 3, suddenly came under fire from a large force of Japanese surface ships, under the command of Adm. Kurita Takeo, whose task force consisted of four battleships, six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and 11 destroyers. For her part in the battle, the first sign of enemy activity occurred at 0645 when the “CIC watch,” observed that “SG-A Radar was being jammed.” Ten minutes later the destroyer’s gunnery officer noticed a “large splash near the carrier formation, and reported that the formation was being bombed,” by what he presumed to be “high level bombers.” All hands went to general quarters and word came that the ships of the task force were under fire by the enemy fleet.
With the onset of the Japanese attack, the U.S. carriers maneuvered into the wind and planes started flying off the decks in the hopes that the aircraft could slow the advance of the Japanese warships while the carriers withdrew towards Leyte. In support of such efforts, Heermann steamed at flank speed, to form into a column on Hoel. Once in position the destroyer helped lay down a smoke screen, although, in reflecting on the action later Cmdr. Hathaway admitted “no column was ever really formed.” Chaotic maneuvering resulted in several near collisions with friendly ships.
Heermann had to take evasive action to avoid Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), and shortly afterwards had to back “emergency full,” to avoid crashing into Hoel. Just as she untangled from the ships in her group, Heermann came under fire by enemy heavy cruisers. Heermann moved aggressively towards the enemy warships firing seven torpedoes and a half-salvo. Heermann’s gunnery officer then observed, “an enemy battleship sharp on our port bow,” prompting an immediate course change. Aiming her 5-inch at the Kongō-class battleship Haruna, (Capt. Shigenaga Kazu in command) “all torpedoes and both salvos ran hot.” The ship’s rangefinder operator observed at least one torpedo hit to the enemy’s starboard quarter, however Japanese records do not confirm that Haruna was hit by any torpedoes during the engagement.
Heermann broke off her engagement with Haruna and proceeded hastily to the starboard side of the carrier formation. As she proceeded, she continued to “lay smoke,” in an effort to conceal the other American ships, and all the while, remained, “under continuous enemy fire.” Heermann narrowly escaped yet another collision, this time with the bow of Johnston (DD-557). She avoided the mishap despite “all hands on both vessels,” believing the ships would collide, and the happy outcome resulted in a “spontaneous” cheer which “arose from all hands topside on both vessels.”
Just moments afterwards, Heermann made visual contact with a “Tone-class,” enemy cruiser that fired “full salvos at point blank range,” at Gambier Bay. Cmdr. Hathaway then attempted to position the ship directly ahead of the embattled escort carrier. Within moments however, fires broke out amidships of Gambier Bay, and the carrier developed a list of “at least 20 degrees.” The enemy heavy cruiser Tone (Capt. Mayazumi Haruo, commanding), shifted her fire over to Heermann at 0845, and the two began to “slug it out.” During the exchange, a Japanese shell plunged into Heermann’s pilothouse killing three sailors and fatally wounding a third. However, it soon became clear that Heermann was taking fire from more than one enemy warship.
Cmdr. Hathaway recounted that as they chased “the salvos and engaged the enemy,” he saw “red, yellow, green and no-color,” splashes, indicating that at least four enemy ships were targeting the destroyer. Heermann received two more shell hits forward, resulting in flooding in several compartments, and then a third enemy shell exploded near her keel. One of these later hits was likely from the battleship Kongō (Rear Adm. Toshio Shimazaki), whose red dye shells had been observed by Cmdr. Hathaway inching towards Heermann moments before. At about 0902, Tone, with fire observed on her fantail, “turned sharply to her port and retired eastward.” Just minutes later, all action with enemy surface forces seemed to cease just as suddenly as it had begun. Somehow, a small number of carrier planes and the brazen tenacity of a few “Tin Cans,” had fended off the bulk of a Japanese battle force.
Obeying a direct order from Rear Adm. Sprague, Heermann, being “one of the only remaining effective destroyers,” proceeded forthwith to the port bow of the carrier formation to “make smoke.” Experiencing flooding at frame 42 and five feet down by the bow, Heermann struggled at 10 knots towards the formation. During her approach, the destroyer’s crew observed a “Japanese Val,” [Aichi D3A carrier bomber] fly directly into the deck of St. Lo (CVE-63). Within seconds, “three enemy dive-bombers appeared,” and Heermann’s gun crews immediately fired on them. By the time, she arrived within proximity of St. Lo, the escort carrier had almost completely settled beneath the waves, prompting Heermann to begin conducting rescue operations. In all, Heermann rescued 81 of St. Lo’s crew including Capt. Francis J. McKenn, the sunken carrier’s commanding officer.
Following rescue operations, which concluded at approximately 1534 on 25 October 1944, Heermann rejoined her task force. Shortly thereafter, she accompanied the also damaged Dennis (DE-405), to Kossol Passage. Heermann and Dennis arrived at their destination on 27 October. Heermann promptly transferred all the wounded sailors she had on board, as well as a number of survivors from St. Lo, to the hospital ship Bountiful (AH-9). In all, four of Heermann’s crew were killed in action and 17 others wounded during the Battle off Samar. Those killed included QM3c Howard F. Doan, SoM2c Thomas P. Evanowski, MM2c Althon L. Rossum and RM2c Chester E. Warren. Lt. (j.g.) Dahlan, who had been rescued by Heermann the night before, also died during the action.
For “heroism and meritorious conduct during the surface battle east of Samar Island,” the following officers and enlisted men received commendations: Cmdr. Hathaway was awarded the Navy Cross, and Lt. Edwin Corlett Bebb, USN, received the Medical Corps Legion of Merit Medal; Lt. Cmdr. William L. Carver, USNR, Lt. William W. Meadors, USNR, QMC John P. Milley, USN, YNC Harold E. Whitney, USN, and QM2c Jack J. Woolworth received Silver Stars; S1c Richard C. Martindale, USN, and SD1c Raymond H. Calloway received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal; Lt. Robert F. Newsome Jr., USNR; Lt. (j.g.) William H. Sefton, USNR, SF1c Edward R. Hodeges, USNR, and MN1c Albert B. Kramer Jr., USN, received Bronze Stars.
On the 28 October 1944, Heermann went alongside the repair ship Prometheus (AR-3) to have temporary repairs done to her battle-damaged hull. With her patchwork completed on 30 October, Heermann took on fuel and then at 0830, got underway with Dennis, headed for Seeadler Harbor. The pair of destroyers arrived on 3 November, and then on the 5th, Heermann entered the floating dry dock White Sands (ARD-20). Finding her damage to be, too significant for repair at Seeadler Harbor, Heermann shaped a course for the West Coast. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on the 19th, and then continuing on the next day, Heermann finally arrived at the Mare Island Navy Yard on 26 November and commenced a major overhaul.
Again ready for sea, Heermann emerged from Mare Island on 8 January 1945. She first steamed to San Francisco Bay for degaussing, and then remained moored there for several days. The destroyer conducted power trials on the 10th and then anchored at the San Francisco Navy Yard. Early, on the morning of the 14th, Heermann stood out of San Francisco Bay in company with light cruiser Detroit (CL-8), and voyaged to Pearl Harbor, eventually mooring there at 1600, on 23 January. Beginning on the 26th, Heermann began making daily sorties out of Pearl to conduct exercises and firing drills in nearby waters.
Heermann returned to combat operations in the Pacific at 0745 on 1 February 1945, getting underway with Hamul (AD-20), and shaping a course for Eniwetok. Arriving at her destination on 9 February, Heermann briefly replenished her stores and then got underway with TU 50.8.24. The destroyer joined with TF 58 on the 12th and then took up a screening station off Detroit as the task force steamed south of Honshu, Japan, in preparation for an aerial bombardment of the Tokyo area. With TF 58 in position on the 16th, Heermann maintained a screening station while carrier aircraft began launching daily strikes on Tokyo. These operations continued unabated until 24 February, when the task force “encountered heavy seas and swells, which increased during the night.” In the course of the tempest, Heermann received some minor topside damage.
With the seas calming on the morning of 25 February 1945, aerial attacks on Tokyo promptly resumed. The following day however, Heermann, and her accompanying task force departed the area and steamed to Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, for upkeep and replenishment. The destroyer arrived at Ulithi Lagoon on 1 March, and promptly went alongside Piedmont (AD-17) for upkeep. At anchor for the better part of a week, Heermann stood out from Ulithi, in company with Yorktown (CV-10), on 9 March in order to conduct an exercise at sea. Returning a few days later, Heermann remained at anchor for several days until her task group got underway on the14th, at which time she set a course for the area of Kyūshū, Japan. Arriving in her “designated operational area,” on 17 March, Heermann took up a screening station as carrier aircraft began “scheduled air strikes on Kyushu Island, Shikoku Island and Southern Honshu Island.”
Heermann’s screening duties remained relatively calm until the following morning when multiple enemy aircraft attacked the task force. Heermann fired on several of them but scored “no observed hits.” The next day on 19 March 1945, another wave of Japanese aircraft attacked and badly damaged Franklin (CV-13), which “appeared to be burning and have no way on.” Heermann survived the air raid unscathed, but encountered further excitement the next day. At approximately 0859 on the 20th, Heermann steamed independently to engage a small enemy surface vessel, which had already been damaged earlier that day by Allied aircraft. Upon sighting the enemy ship which, consisted of a “metal hull-wooden deck construction, roughly 100 feet in length,” the crew went to general quarters, and Heermann’s guns made several direct hits on the vessel which shortly thereafter sank, stern first.
Upon inspecting the wreckage of the sinking vessel, Heermann’s crew identified multiple Japanese survivors and subsequently pulled five of them out of the water. “Reluctant to come on board,” the injured prisoners were given medical care and “as none of them professed a knowledge of English, and there were no interpreters aboard, no interrogation was attempted.” The victorious destroyer returned to TG 58.4, and transferred her prisoners of war to Yorktown. As the task group shifted its focus to supporting invasion operations against Iwo Jima, Heermann took up a radar picket station. While patrolling in that capacity on 26 March 1945, the destroyer conducted a search for the crew of a crashed Curtiss SB2C-4E Helldiver (BuNo 20967), and subsequently, rescued one of them—returning him shortly thereafter to Intrepid (CV-11). The next day Heermann steamed out independently to join a bombardment group en route to shell Japanese defenses located on Minami Daitō Jima, Japan. After successfully completing the attack the warship returned to her assigned radar picket station.
As of 1 April 1945, TF 58 and TG 58.4 shifted their focus to Okinawa Jima, operating at sea, just east of that location. On the 4th, Heermann’s task group proceeded farther east and the destroyer took up a screening station alongside the fleet oiler Merrimack (AO-37). Some heavy weather on the 4th, gave way to several days of relatively calm operations. The destroyer’s tempo increased again however, on 11 April, when she endured a full day of enemy air attacks, during which, she returned fire several times, but counted no confirmed hits.
At 0800, on 14 April 1945, Heermann’s crew, having been notified of the recent death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, their commander-in-chief, lowered the colors to half-mast. “Steaming as before” on 16 April, the destroyer arrived in the vicinity of Okinawa Jima and joined company with TF 58. Keeping their eyes to the horizon for enemy planes, Heermann’s crew maintained a “guard station” for task force carriers. With Japanese air attacks beginning almost immediately, Heermann took numerous planes under fire on the 16th but had no clearly observable hits.
On 17 April 1945, in addition to fending off another wave of enemy planes during the day, Heermann made contact with a submarine. Although she eventually lost track of the boat, she made contact with another one (possibly the same one) the following day. Believed to be I-56 (Lt. Cmdr. Masahiko Morinaga, commanding), Heermann laid down an initial barrage of “three full pattern depth charges.” Joined in her hunt by Mertz (DD-691), McCord, and Collett (DD-730), as well as by planes from the small carrier Bataan (CVL-29), Heermann, although believing she had only “damaged the submarine,” in fact managed to help sink I-56. Unknown to the destroyers at the time, I-56 had been armed with the dreaded “kaitens,” manned suicide torpedoes.
Following the victory over I-56, on 18 April 1945, Heermann rejoined TF 58, operating east of Okinawa. She continued in that capacity for the remainder of the month, receiving fuel from nearby oil tankers, screening task force carriers, and occasionally, delivering mail to larger vessels. On 11 May, the destroyer retired from these operations and steamed to Ulithi Atoll, for voyage repairs. Heermann moored at Ulithi Lagoon on 14 May, and then underwent several weeks of maintenance. She briefly stood out of Ulithi on 22 May, for a daytime exercise in the area, but otherwise remained moored at Ulithi through the end of the 23rd.
Just before the break of dawn on 24 May 1945, Heermann got underway with TG 58.4, consisting of Yorktown and the rest of CarDiv 6 for more fast carrier strikes and bombardments on Japan. Heermann arrived with her task group eastward of Okinawa on the 27th and moved to “screening station six.” On the 30th, the destroyer shifted over to a radar picket station located 12 miles from the task group’s center. Air strikes by carrier planes continued daily into June.
On 10 June 1945, Heermann set a course for San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, for a period of “relaxation and recuperation.” The destroyer arrived at San Pedro Bay on 13 June, and then shortly after anchoring began going on shore in watches. Following several weeks of much needed rest that “went by too quickly,” Heermann’s sailors boarded their destroyer and returned to the war at sea.
Heermann stood out of San Pedro Bay on 1 July 1945, steaming as a screen for Cruiser Division (CruDiv) 17. On the 3rd, the destroyer broke off from CruDiv 17 to join TG 38.3, providing anti-aircraft cover for Randolph (CV-15) and Essex (CV-9). As of 6 July, the carriers of Heermann’s task group began launching air strikes against the Tokyo Plains and Honshu areas of Japan. For her part, the destroyer took up a radar picket station in the immediate vicinity. Heermann continued to operate in this capacity on “picket duty” for the next week. On 14 July, the warship had a brief break from her picket duties, when at approximately 0640 she steamed with DesRon 48, to take part in a bombardment of industrial targets located at Kamaishi, Honshu. Arriving at her designated area, Heermann, from a range of 1,000 yards, “fired at a ‘Sugar Dog’ type vessel in the vicinity of Okama Saki.” The enemy ship subsequently sank and with the bombardment complete at 1417, Heermann steamed to an assigned screening station south of Hokkaido, Japan.
In support of ongoing naval air strikes against Honshu, Hokkaido and Tokyo, over the course of the next several weeks, Heermann continued steaming in a screening and anti-air capacity. On 29 July 1945, she joined DesRon 48, screening the “heavy units” of TU 34.8.1, as they conducted a surface bombardment of industrial targets at Hamamatsu, Japan and Honshu. With shelling commencing abruptly at 2320, the bombardment lasted until 0030 the next day, at which point, Heermann, and the rest of the task unit “retired southward.” Within a few hours of departing the bombardment area, Heermann proceeded with DesDiv 96 escorting Battleship Division 8 to a nearby replenishment area. Once on station on the 31st, Heermann took up a plane guard station.
Continuing to provide anti-aircraft protection over the course of the next week, on 9 August 1945, Heermann steamed with TU 34.8.1, to shell industrial targets at Kamaishi and Honshu. Cmdr. Hathaway noted in Heermann’s log that while en route to their mission he received a communication at about 0500 that “a state of war exists between the Soviet Union and the Empire of Japan.” While not of immediate concern to him or his crew, the development had major strategic implications for the war at large. Heermann and her task unit arrived in their assigned firing positions at 1132 on the 9th, and the destroyers maintained a watch, as the larger ships of the TU 34.8.1, commenced the bombardment. Following a thorough, four-hour shelling, Heermann and the others retired to the southeast.
On the following day, 10 August 1945, Heermann returned to her plane guard duties as the carrier aircraft in her group continued launching relentless air strikes in the vicinity of Honshu and Tokyo. On the 13th, the destroyer steamed with TG 30.8, to an area southeast of Tokyo and Heermann took up a radar picket station, while air attacks on the Japanese mainland persisted. Steaming 50 miles from her task force on 15 August, Heermann’s crew received “word that the Japanese government has accepted the surrender terms of the Potsdam Conference.”
Only one hour after receiving word of the cessation of hostilities, Heermann’s gunners spotted a Yokosuka D4Y Suisei carrier bomber [Judy], emerge from a cloudbank. The airplane, which had no bombs or torpedoes attached to it, then went into a shallow dive just off the destroyer’s port beam indicating a “suicide attack.” Heermann’s 5-inch guns scored multiple hits causing the plane to spin into a dive and crash into the sea. The dive-bomber may have been one of the last Japanese planes shot down in the war.
Late in the afternoon, on 16 August 1945, Heermann set a course to join TG 30.8, and arrived in company with that task group at 0432, on the 18th. The destroyer replenished needed supplies and then returned to her screening duties as the task group proceeded to an operating area southeast of Kyūshū. Once in that area Heermann provided air cover and air-sea rescue services while Gen. Douglas MacArthur, USA, and Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, USN, began preparing forces to occupy the Japanese mainland. On 2 September, Heermann’s crew received word of the “formal declaration of the unconditional surrender of Japan,” and on the 16th, the destroyer steamed into Tokyo Bay. Anchored in berth F88 at Tokyo, Heermann spent the rest of the month undergoing upkeep and maintenance. She got underway from Tokyo at 1017 on 1 October, steaming with TU 58.1.10; en route to Buckner Bay [Nakagusuku Bay], Okinawa, in order embark passengers for transport back to the West Coast of the United States.
At 1410 on 4 October 1945, Heermann arrived at her destination, and anchored in berth B211. Following a brief two-day stay at port, the destroyer embarked a number of U.S. military personnel and early on the 6th, shaped a course for “West Coast ports.” On 19 October, following her voyage across the Pacific, Heermann steamed independently up the Columbia River to Vancouver, Wash., where she moored portside to Municipal Dock Number 2. Just over a week later on the 29th, she made her way to Astoria, Ore., stopping over there for only a few hours before continuing on to San Pedro, Los Angles, Calif., for her “pre-in Reserve Overhaul.”
On 1 November 1945, Heermann anchored in berth R4 at San Pedro Bay. The destroyer had to await “facilities” to unload her ammunition stores from 2-8 November, and then on the 9th, conducted engineering trials westward of Point Fermin, Calif., before returning to her berth at San Pedro. She finally managed to unload her ammunition on 13 November, and then moored at Todd Shipbuilding Corporation at San Pedro the following day. Heermann’s pre-reserve overhaul commenced on 15 November, and for the next five months, she remained moored at Wharf C.
“Underway at 0813” on 9 April 1946, assisted by tugs, Heermann’s pre-reserve overhaul concluded and the destroyer proceeded to anchor at Long Beach, Calif. On 16 April, Heermann was towed to the Repair Base at San Diego. Preparation for inactivation continued through April and May and finally at 0800 on 12 June, Lt. John L. McGehee, Jr., Heermann’s commanding officer, mustered her crew on the forecastle and the destroyer was placed “out of commission in reserve.”
In reserve at San Diego for five years, mounting Cold War tensions and the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, created a renewed need for increased U.S. naval power, resulting in many reserve warships, Heermann among them, returning to service. Moored on the south side of Pier 4, at U.S. Naval Station, San Diego, at precisely 1136 on 12 September, Heermann was placed back in commission, Cmdr. Edward C. Spencer in command.
In the months immediately following her re-commissioning, the destroyer conducted trials and exercises in local waters. Having made “all preparations for getting underway,” on 17 November 1951, Heermann steamed to San Francisco, arriving there on the 19th and mooring portside to berth 7. The destroyer spent the better part of a month in San Francisco undergoing maintenance work, and then, on 21 December, steamed back to San Diego, arriving there late the following day.
With the coming of the New Year, Heermann prepared for her first major voyage since coming back into service. On 4 January 1952, at 1348, the destroyer stood out of San Diego Harbor in company with TU 52.2.1, consisting of Hazelwood (DD-531), Wadleigh (DD-689), Cassin Young (DD-793) and Cowell (DD-547), en route to the Atlantic. The destroyer and her cohorts arrived at Rodman Naval Station, Balboa, Canal Zone, on 12 January, and remained at anchor there for several days. Early on the 14th, Heermann commenced her transit of the Gatun Locks, passing through “the Cristobal Breakwater at 2342” that night. Continuing in company with her fellow destroyers, Heermann steamed without intermission to Narraganset Bay, Newport, R.I., anchoring there on 20 January.
Heermann remained at Newport well into the next month. On 16 February 1952, she weighed anchor and steamed singly to the U.S. Naval Shipyard at Boston, Mass., mooring starboard side to pier 9 at about 0802 that same day. On the 23rd, the destroyer retuned to Newport and then following a brief three-day stay, got underway on 26 February with several other units of DesRon 34, bound for Norfolk, Va. Heermann arrived at Naval Operating Base Norfolk, on the same day as her departure from Newport. On the 28th, she set out with TU 60.25.1, escorting convoy VGF 1 from Norfolk to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Arriving on 4 March, the destroyer moored starboard side to the cargo, attack ship, Libra (AKA-12), on the east side of pier A, Guantánamo Bay.
The day after her arrival at Guantánamo, Heermann, steaming as part of TU 64.89.1, set out on a number of convoys that took her to numerous ports around the Caribbean Sea. She voyaged from Guantánamo to Coco Solo Naval Base, C.Z., (5–10 March 1952), Coco Solo to San Juan, Puerto Rico (12–14 March), and San Juan to Norfolk (15–19 March). Released from convoy duty on 19 March, Heermann returned to Newport with several other ships of DesRon 34.
The following month on 15 April 1952, Heermann stood out of Narragansett Bay, R.I., as part of Task Element (TE) 47.8, bound for San Juan. Arriving at her destination on 23 April, the destroyer remained at the Caribbean port for two days before steaming back to Newport on 25 April, in company with TG 47.8. Heermann stood into Narragansett Bay, on 2 May, and spent the next month largely inactive at her designated moorings. She stirred for only a few day exercises during that time, once on 20 May and another time on 5 June. On 16 June, Heermann joined TE 82.11.1, and subsequently participated in an extensive anti-submarine exercise in local waters, which lasted through the 27th. Following the conclusion of the exercise, the destroyer returned to her moorings at buoy M-18 in Narragansett Bay and then remained largely inactive well into the next month.
Heermann got underway from the Newport area on 7 August 1952, and steamed to the Boston Naval Shipyard, where she arrived the same day at approximately 0659, and anchored on the west side of pier 5. The destroyer remained inactive in Boston for the next several months and eventually went into Dry Dock No. 2, on 21 October, for an extensive overhaul. Re-entering the water on 9 November, Heermann moored starboard side to the east side of Pier 5, where she remained idle well into the New Year.
Early, on the morning of 25 January 1953, Heermann stood out of Boston Harbor and steamed independently to Newport. The next day at 1123, she got underway for Guantánamo, arriving at her destination on the 30th, and mooring starboard side to pier BB1. In the course of the next few months, Heermann again traversed the ports of the Caribbean. Standing out of Guantánamo, she steamed to Santiago, Cuba (12–13 February), Santiago to Guantánamo (15 February), Guantánamo to Kingston, Jamaica (28 February), Kingston to Guantánamo (1 March), Guantánamo to Target Bay, Culebra Island, Puerto Rico (11–13 March), Target Bay to West India Pier, Long Bay, St. Thomas Island, U.S. Virgin Islands (14 March), St. Thomas to Boston (16–20 March) and Boston to Newport (1 April).
Heermann remained in her home moorings at buoy M-14 at Narragansett Bay for only a single day before returning to the Caribbean. Standing out from the Newport area on 2 April 1953, the destroyer voyaged south and later arrived at the Naval Fuel Pier, Culebra, on 6 April. The following morning she conducted a brief bombardment exercise in the area and then spent nearly a full week at port. On 15 April, Heermann again headed north arriving back in Newport on the 19th.
Again, in New England waters the destroyer spent the rest of April and most of May 1953, conducting numerous, near daily, exercises. She steamed from Newport to Vineyard Sound, Mass., (12 May), Vineyard Sound to Newport (12 May), Newport to Block Island (13 May), Block Island to Portland, Maine, (14–15 May) and then Portland to Boston (18 May). Shortly after entering Boston Harbor, Heermann moored starboard side to pier 5, South Boston Annex, Boston Naval Shipyard. On 26 May, the destroyer made her way to Bedford, Mass., arriving there on the 28th.
The following week on 9 June 1953, the destroyer steamed to Hampton Roads, Norfolk, and moored at pier 23. Tasked with a trans-Atlantic mission, late on the evening of 11 June, Heermann joined company with TG 44.0, and shaped a course for Portsmouth, United Kingdom. Upon her arrival on the 23rd, Heermann anchored in berth 6 at Spithead Harbor, Portsmouth. The destroyer remained in British waters well into the next month.
Steaming with TU 100.2, on 16 July 1953, Heermann departed Portsmouth, bound for the east coast of the U.S. On 23 July as the task unit neared Norfolk, Heermann parted company with her formation and steamed for her home waters in Newport, arriving there later that day. The destroyer remained in the Newport area until 3 August, at which time she got underway as part of CTG 81.2, to conduct an exercise with Block Island (CVE-106). Heermann remained at sea, conducting anti-submarine exercises with Block Island well into the next month; steaming first in the vicinity of New England and then from 8 to 23 September, off the Virginia capes, during which time the destroyer maintained a plane guard station as well as screened the carrier.
Concluding her exhausting training operations on 24 September 1953, Heermann returned to Newport and re-provisioned there over the course of the next week. On 5 October, the destroyer steamed south to Norfolk, arriving on the 6th, and then beginning on the 8th, spent almost the entire month conducting exercises in the “Bloodsworth Island Operational area.” She returned to Newport on the 26th and then steamed to Boston on the 28th, mooring portside to pier 1, Boston Naval Shipyard.
Heermann spent all of November 1953 at port in Boston, and then, on 3 December, steamed out of Boston Harbor and returned to her regular moorings in Newport. Upon returning to her home station, the destroyer began preparations for an extensive cruise to the Pacific. Following a week of loading supplies and ammunition, Heermann set out on her voyage on 13 December, standing out of Newport with DesDiv 341, comprising Charles J. Badger (DD-657), Hazelwood and Stockham (DD-683). The destroyer arrived at San Cristobal, on 22 December, and then continued on direct to San Diego where she arrived on the 27th. After re-fueling, Heermann departed San Diego the same day she arrived, steaming for Pearl as a part of TU 52.3.7. Eventually arriving in Hawaiian waters on 2 January 1954, she moored starboard side to pier M-4 at Pearl.
Following her arrival at Pearl, Heermann continued on at the same seemingly non-stop pace. On 3 January 1954, she put back out to sea en route to Midway Island, still in company with TU 52.3.7. Arriving at Midway on 5 January, she then departed two days later, on the 7th, and made the brief voyage to Tokyo Bay arriving there on the 12th.
Despite the fact that active fighting on the Korean Peninsula had ended on 27 July 1953 with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement, the region was still technically at war and thus U.S. military forces continued operating in the area in support of the Republic of South Korea. Upon her arrival in Tokyo, Heermann became active in supporting ongoing U.S. naval operations in the region, particularly in the East China Sea. Steaming with TU 90.8.1, the destroyer steamed out of Tokyo Bay on 14 January 1954, and made her way to Okinawa (16 January), where she remained through the 19th.
Underway on 20 January 1954, Heermann steamed independently to the East Coast of Korea and began patrolling between the “Demarcation Line,” and Sokoho-ri, South Korea. Quitting her patrol on 29 January, Heermann joined company with Hazelwood, at sea, and the pair steamed to a rendezvous point in the East China Sea to link up with TF 77. Operating with the task force as of the 30th, Heermann voyaged from the Tsushima Strait to the Sea of Japan (1 Feb-3 Feb) and then, as of 8 February, returned to an assigned patrol zone in the East China Sea. On 10 February, the destroyer accompanied DesDiv 341 to Sasebo, Japan, arriving there that same day and mooring port side to the “Moto Fuew Pier.”
Heermann remained at Sasebo for nearly a week before getting underway on 15 February 1954, and steaming independently to a designated operating area in the East China Sea for a two-day exercise. Joining up with DesDiv 341 on the 19th, Heermann then returned to Sasebo, but made a quick turnaround, getting back underway the following morning and steaming to Okinawa, where she arrived on the 21st. “Operating in Zone 9,” off Okinawa, Heermann, patrolled in the area with Hazelwood through 23 February. On the morning of the 24th, Heermann steamed into Buckner Bay and anchored there overnight. The next day the destroyer got underway with TG 96.7, en route to Yokosuka, Japan, arriving at that destination on 3 March.
Moored in Yokosuka for nearly a week, Heermann stood out of the area on 15 March 1954, acting as a screen for Tarawa (CVA-40), while the carrier conducted flight operations en route to Iwo Jima. Along with other units of DesDiv 341, Heermann steamed with Tarawa to the Tsushima Straits (29 March) and the Sea of Japan (30 March) before returning to Sasebo Harbor on the morning of the 31st. At midnight, the following day, Heermann departed Sasebo with Stockham (DD-683) and steamed to Pusan Harbor, South Korea, dropping her anchor there at about 0611, on 1 April. On the 2nd, operating as part of TU 95.2.2, the destroyer steamed independently in “patrol area 2,” approximately eight miles off the East Coast of South Korea. She continued patrolling from Pohang Hang, South Korea, to Sokoho-ri, until 14 April, when she quit the area for Shimonoseki, Japan. Heermann anchored at her destination on the 15th, and then, the following evening, steamed to Yokosuka Harbor where she remained moored for the next five days.
Underway on 20 April 1954, Heermann steamed to Sagami Wan, Japan, anchoring there on the 21st. She then returned to Yokosuka on the 23rd and moored for the night in a nest of four destroyers. “Steaming with DesDiv 341,” Heermann departed Yokosuka early on 24 April, and arrived at Nagasaki, Japan later that same day; mooring starboard side to Dejima Wharf. Following a brief respite at that port, Heermann steamed to Yokosuka with Charles J. Badger on 2 May, and after arriving late in the day, began a maintenance period that lasted for the next several weeks.
With Heermann’s duties in the East China Sea coming to a close the destroyer prepared to continue on her “world cruise.” Still accompanied by Charles J. Badger, Heermann stood out of Yokosuka for a final time on 22 May 1954, and made her way to British Hong Kong. Having arrived in Hong Kong on the 27th, Heermann received a large supply of fresh foods including “apples, lemons, bananas, bell peppers, corn and oranges,” before getting back underway again the following morning with DesDiv 341. Joining company with the Saipan (CVL-48) at sea, Heermann then became part of TU 36.3.7, and continued on course towards Singapore, Malaya. She arrived with her cohorts at the Man-of-War Anchorage in Singapore on 1 June.
On 3 June 1954, Heermann’s crew “lit a fire under boiler number 2,” and the destroyer continued on her voyage with TU 36.3.7. Heermann steamed from Singapore to Colombo, Ceylon (3–9 June), Colombo to Aden, Arabia (9–15 June); Aden to Port Said, Egypt, via the Suez Canal (15–18 June), Port Said to Naples, Italy (19–22 June), Naples to Villefranche-sur-Mer, France (25–26 June), Villefranche-sur-Mer to Muelle de Poniente, Barcelona, Spain (30 June–2 July), Muelle De Poniente to Lisbon, Portugal (5–7 July) and Lisbon to Newport, R.I. (9–18 July). Largely inactive in the weeks following her return Heermann entered the auxiliary floating dry dock ARD-16 at Melville, R.I., on 24 August and remained there until returning to her regular moorings at buoy M-19 in Narraganset Bay on the 28th.
“Steaming in an operating area off Newport,” Heermann sortied out into local waters with several other units of DesDiv 341, for a planned exercise on 31 August 1954, however, after “encountering winds of hurricane force and mountainous seas,” she returned to port. Favorable weather returned on 7 September, and Heermann stood out of Newport to conduct an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercise with the “submarine refitting and training Group,” located at New London, Conn. The exercise lasted through the 9th, and Heermann returned to Newport on the 10th. Remaining idle at Narraganset Bay until the end of the month, the destroyer got underway at 0802 on 30 September, for Pensacola, Fla.
Heermann’s voyage to the Gulf of Mexico concluded on 4 October 1954, when the destroyer moored port side to the Allegheny Slip at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fl. Following a brief port visit, Heermann stood out of Pensacola Bay on 13 October, and assumed a plane guard station in support of flight operations being conducted by aircraft on board Monterey (CVL-26). The destroyer returned to Pensacola on the 14th, and then sortied with Monterey again on the 26th, and the 28th. Standing out of Pensacola on the 29th, Heermann steamed to the U.S. Naval Base at Key West, Fl. On 30 October, Heermann weighed anchor and shaped a course of Newport, arriving at the South Dock in Melville on 2 November.
Idle at Newport until the end of November 1954, Heermann stood out of Narraganset Bay on the 22nd and steamed to the anchorage at Nantasket Roads, Boston, Mass., to offload her ammunition. The following morning the destroyer moored starboard side to pier 9 at the Boston Naval Shipyard. The warship remained anchored in Boston for the next several months, her deck log’s customary New Year’s poem reading “Still in Boston… Needless to say we’ve been moored all day.” Heermann finally stirred from Boston Harbor on 1 March 1955, getting underway from the North Jetty and steaming directly for Newport, where she arrived that same day, and moored to buoy M-11 in Narragansett Bay.
In mid-March 1955, Heermann got underway for another cruise to the Caribbean. Steaming with Charles J. Badger, Heermann voyaged from Newport to Guantánamo between 14 and 19 March. Once in Cuban waters she spent the next few weeks conducting exercises, these consisted of a bombardment exercise on the 22nd and an ASW exercise on the 23rd. Returning to pier Able at Guantánamo, Heermann spent the first several weeks of April at anchor. Towards the end of the month on 25 April, the destroyer steamed to Culebra and arrived the following day. On 29 April, Heermann stood out of the Caribbean port and returned to Newport, arriving in Narraganset Bay on 1 May.
While Heermann remained largely at anchor in Newport for the next several months, she nonetheless, participated in a few brief exercises in New England waters. She sortied out on 16 May 1955, and then on 18 May, she participated in exercise “Z-44-U,” with Charles J. Badger and Stockham. The destroyer steamed to New York, N.Y., on 20 May, mooring port side to pier 26 on the North River, New York. On 24 May, Heermann steamed to Point Judith Neck, R.I., and dropped her anchor there for the night. Underway the following morning, the warship promptly returned to her moorings at Narraganset Bay.
On 1 June 1955, Heermann sortied out from Narraganset Bay with Charles J. Badger and Stockham to conduct “exercise S-2-T,” and then the following day returned to Newport. The destroyer stood out from Newport again, on 6 June, and steamed to an assigned operating area off New London. Upon her arrival in the area, later that same day, Heermann conducted exercise S-3-T with Stockham, Charles J. Badger, Hazelwood and Nautilus (SSN-571). Operations with the submarine concluded on 10 June, and Heermann steamed to Falls River, Mass. Her port call in the area kept her moored at the State Pier in Falls River through the 25th, at which time the destroyer shifted back over to Narragansett Bay.
Following a few quiet weeks at Newport, Heermann stood out of the area on 12 July 1955, and headed for Norfolk, for a convoy mission. Arriving at NOB Norfolk the following morning, the destroyer proceeded to moor in berth 223. After waiting for several says, Heermann put to sea on 19 July, with TG 40.3, and assumed a screening station off Ticonderoga (CVA-14). In the coming months, Heermann steamed with TG 40.3, to numerous Caribbean ports. The destroyer first arrived at U.S. Naval Station Coco Solo, on 25 July, after which she voyaged from Coco Solo to Havana, Cuba (29 July–5 August), Havana to Guantánamo, conducting a local patrol en route (9–19 August), Guantánamo to Norfolk (23–26 August), and finally Norfolk to Falls River, Mass., on 27 August.
Heermann shifted over to Newport on 9 September 1955, and then remained moored nearly until the end of the month. On the 26th, she stood out of Newport in company with Charles J. Badger and proceeded to Norfolk, where she arrived late that night. At 0800, on 29 September, Heermann’s crew “made all preparations for getting underway,” and shortly thereafter cast off from pier 22 at Norfolk and headed to an assigned exercise area off Bloodsworth Island in Chesapeake Bay. Upon her arrival in the area of Bloodsworth Island on the 29th, Heermann began participation in a full month of exercises that took place along the Eastern Seaboard. She steamed from the Chesapeake Bay to the vicinity of Newport (1 October), from Newport to the Virginia capes, and then with TG 80.1.2, as a screen for Leyte (CVS-32), on 18 October. She finally steamed from Norfolk back to Newport between 3 and 5 November.
In need of upkeep, Heermann went to Boston on 15 December 1955, and moored at pier 4, Boston Naval Shipyard. Moored “as still as a rock,” according to the prose of her crew’s customary New Year’s deck log poem, Heermann remained in Boston through 3 January 1956. On the 4th, she stood out of Boston Harbor and by the late evening that same day, tied up to the South Dock at Melville. The destroyer’s commander and crew spent the remainder of the month preparing for an upcoming cruise to the Mediterranean to operate with the Sixth Fleet.
“Steaming with TU 83.5.6,” on 1 February 1956, Heermann began her journey across the Atlantic, bound initially for Londonderry, Northern Ireland. While still at sea on 12 February, the destroyer shifted course and rendezvoused with TG 64.4, en route to Beirut, Lebanon, where, mounting political tensions with Egypt had resulted in a push to increase the U.S. military presence in the area. The destroyer arrived with her task group at Digue Abri Pier, Beirut, on 19 February. In the coming months, Heermann accompanied ships of the U.S. Sixth Fleet to numerous ports around the Mediterranean.
The destroyer steamed from Beirut to Haifa Harbor, Haifa, Palestine (21–26 February), Haifa to the British Admiralty Ground at Port Said, Egypt (1–6 March), and Port Said to Central Quay, Alexandria, Egypt (10–15 March), a port call which ended with a noted effort to “round up AWOL seamen.” From Alexandria she voyaged back to Beirut (18 March–4 April), then steamed from Beirut to Cannes, Frances (10–14 April), before arriving at the Port of Monaco, Principality of Monaco on 17 April.
During Heermann’s port call at Monaco, the principality’s reigning monarch, Prince Ranier III, invited the destroyer’s crew to attend his wedding to U.S. film actress, Miss Grace Kelly, which took place on 18 April 1956. The American sailors provided a 40-man honor guard for the occasion. Steaming as part of TF 60, led by Ticonderoga (CVA-14), Heermann quit Monaco on 20 April and shaped a course for Rhodes, Greece. The destroyer arrived at Rhodes on 2 May, but after only a short visit at port, got underway again for a week of exercises, which consisted primarily of screening Ticonderoga, as the carrier conducted flight operations over Greek waters.
Re-assigned to TG 64.1, on 15 May 1956, Heermann shaped a course for Newport and thus, started her voyage home. Following several weeks of ceaseless steaming the destroyer arrived at her homeport on 28 May. Idle in her moorings all of June, Heermann got underway on 2 July, only briefly, for a three-day exercise near Portland, after which, she returned to Newport. Near the end of the month, on 23 July, the destroyer got underway for another exercise as a part of TU 81.1.2, but remained in local waters. On the 18th, Heermann entered the floating dry dock ARD-16 at Davisville, R.I., and then returned to sea on the 20th. As of the 22nd, she began participating in an exercise with TG 81.1, supporting Arcadia (AD-23). While steaming with TG 81.1, Heermann steamed south to Bermuda, on 25 August, and then eventually returned to Newport on the 31st.
Heermann participated in another brief three-day exercise with DesDiv 341, on 4 September 1956, and afterwards moored at Newport where she remained through the 23rd. On 24 September, the warship steamed to the vicinity of Block Island and participated in a weeklong ASW exercise. She moored safely in a destroyer nest at Narraganset Bay on 30 September, and remained idle there all of October 1956.
The destroyer broke off her month-long period of inactivity on 6 November 1956, getting underway with TG 60.2, for a voyage to the Mediterranean. Heermann arrived just off Corfu, Greece, on 22 November; and in the months following her arrival, the destroyer not only visited numerous Mediterranean ports, but also participated in several important carrier support and ASW exercises.
Heermann steamed with TG 60.2, from Corfu Rhodes to Mar Piccolo, Taranto, Italy, from 25 to 26 November 1956. Once at Taranto, on both 28 and 30 November, Heermann sortied out of port to conduct joint naval exercises with the Italian Navy in nearby waters. Underway on 1 December, the destroyer departed Taranto and steamed to an “operational area northwest of Crete” where she supported Coral Sea (CVA-43) flight operations through the 10th.
On 11 December 1956, Heermann moored in a nest of destroyers in Salamis Bay, Paleros, Greece. Remaining at port for the better part of a week, Heermann’s crew received an invitation from Prince Rainer III to return to Monaco and shortly thereafter, on the 18th, the destroyer got underway for that destination, accompanied by Hazelwood, Stockham, Charles J. Badger and Cassin Young. Heermann arrived at Monaco on 21 December, and at 1605 that same day, the “Minister of State of Monaco came aboard for an official call.” After spending a week at Monaco, Heermann “rang in the new year,” by continuing on her Mediterranean cruise, steaming from Monaco to an exercise area of the Sixth Fleet (2–6 January 1957), the operating area to Livorno, Italy (13 January), Livorno to an operating area north of Corsica (15 January), Corisca operating area to Livorno (17 January), Livorno to Pollença Bay, Majorca Island, Spain (22–26 January), Pollença Bay to Barcelona, Spain (28–31 January) and finally Barcelona to Newport (9–20 February).
Idle for well over a month, Heermann steamed out of Newport on 25 March 1957, to conduct an anti-submarine exercise with Angler (SSK-240), in the vicinity of Block Island. With the exercise concluded on the 29th, Heermann got underway for New York, and later that day moored portside to Pier J, New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, N.Y. The destroyer returned to Newport on 2 April, and remained anchored there for the next two months, getting underway only occasionally for day exercises in local waters.
Early, on Monday 1 July 1957, Heermann stood out of Newport and began steaming for a designated rendezvous point with anti-submarine warfare support carrier Valley Forge (CVS-45). Voyaging as part of TG 83.2, Heermann journeyed between the Virginia capes and New York conducting exercises at sea. The destroyer briefly stopped over at the New York Naval Shipyard with Valley Forge on 6 July, and then returned to open waters on the 9th. Concluding operations with the carrier a few days later, Heermann anchored back at Newport on 13 July.
With her homeport shifting to Boston, Heermann got underway from Newport for a final time on 30 July 1957. After offloading her ammunition, the destroyer continued on to Boston, arriving at the Naval Shipyard there on the 31st, and mooring at Pier 4. Assigned to the Boston Group of the U.S. Atlantic Reserve Fleet, Heermann remained moored until 12 November, when she entered the dry dock at Boston’s South Annex. On the 29th, the destroyer “Moored starboard side in a permanent berth to the West Jetty, South Annex Boston Naval Shipyard,” where she remained until 20 December, at which time she was placed out of commission in reserve.
On 10 August 1961, Heermann was loaned to the government of Argentina under the terms of the Military Assistance Program. She served with the Argentine Navy until 1979, steaming under the name Brown (D.20).
Heermann was stricken from the [U.S.] Naval Vessel Register on 1 September 1975.
Brown was decommissioned in 1979 and scrapped four years later.
In addition to the Presidential Unit Citation, Heermann received nine battle stars for her service in WWII.
||Date Assumed Command
|Cmdr. Dwight M. Agnew
||6 Jul 1943
|Cmdr. Amos T. Hathaway
||1 May 1944
|Lt. Cmdr. William K. Yarnall
||19 August 1945
|Lt. John L. McGehee, Jr.
||8 May 1946
||12 June 1946–11 September 1951
|Cmdr. Edward C. Spencer
||12 September 1951
|Cmdr. George W. French
||1 Oct 1953
|Cmdr. Melvin E. Meahl
||28 Nov 1955
|Cmdr. George M. Schwartze
||23 May 1957
Jeremiah D. Foster
30 September 2019