Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Little II (DD-803)

(DD-803: dp. 2,050; l. 376'; b. 40'; dr. 14'; s. 35 k.; cpl. 329; a. 5 5", 10 40mm., 7 20 mm., 8 21" tt., 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Fletcher)

Born 10 April 1754 in Marshfield, Mass., George Little was appointed first lieutenant of the Massachusetts ship Protector in 1779, and was aboard in 1781 when she fought a running battle with the British ship Thames. In a later engagement he was captured, imprisoned, but later escaped. He was given command of Massachusetts ship Winthrop which captured two British privateers, armed brig Meriam, and a number of other vessels. Commissioned captain, USN, 4 March 1799, Little was given command of frigate Boston. He culminated a brilliant fighting career during the quasi-war with France by capturing Le Berceau and seven other ships. Little died at Weymouth, Mass., 22 July 1809.


The second Little (DD-803) was laid down by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co., Seattle, Wash., 13 September 1943; launched 22 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Russell F. O'Hara; and commissioned 19 August 1944, Comdr. Madison Hall, Jr., in command.

After training off the West Coast, Little departed Seattle 11 November 1944 to escort a convoy to Pearl Harbor. She arrived 23 November and participated in gunnery training and battle problems. On 22 January 1945 she got underway with a group of LSTs for Eniwetok and rehearsals for the invasion of Iwo Jima. Final preparations were made at Saipan, and 15 February Little sailed for the assault beaches.

Shore bombardment at Iwo began 19 February. Little furnished fire support for ground forces until the 24th when she left for Saipan. She returned 4 March for bombardment, screening, and radar picket duties, and was back at Saipan 14 March to prepare or the Okinawa invasion.

Little sailed for Okinawa 27 March assigned to the demonstration group charged with feigning landings opposite the actual assault beaches. After accomplishing this diversion 1 and 2 April, Little screened transports and and escorted LSTs to the beaches. On 19 April she was ordered to picket duty where she remained until 24 April unscathed despite relentless enemy suicide attacks.

On 3 May Little and Aaron Ward (DM-34) were again on picket duty. At 1813 18 to 24 aircraft attacked from under cloud cover. Aaron Ward took the first hit at 1841. An instant later Little was hit on the portside. Within 4 minutes three more enemy kamikazes had hit her, breaking her keel, demolishing the amidship section, and opening all three after machinery spaces. At 1955 Little broke up and went down.

Little received two battle stars for World War II service.

Published: Wed Jul 29 07:28:50 EDT 2015