John Davis Long, born 27 October 1838 in Buckfield, Maine. graduated from Harvard in 1857, practiced law in Maine and Massachusetts, then served as Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, and Congressman from Massachusetts.
Appointed 34th Secretary of the Navy by President William McKinley 5 March 1897, Long served with vision and efficiency through the next 5 years, organizing the Navy for the challenges of the Spanish‑American War and the expansion that followed, and laying the groundwork for the growth of the "New American Navy" fostered by his former assistant, President Theodore Roosevelt. Long resigned 1 May 1902, returned to Massachusetts, and died at Hingham 28 August 1915.
Long (Destroyer No. 209) was laid down by William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co., Philadelphia, Pa., 23 September 1918; launched 26 April 1919; sponsored by Mrs. Arnold Knapp; and commissioned 20 October 1919, Comdr. A. B. Cook in command.
After shakedown along the Atlantic coast, Long sailed late in the year for the Mediterranean. Assigned to Destroyer Division 26, she cruised the Adriatic and Mediterranean and served as station ship before steaming to the Philippines early in 1921 for duty with Asiatic station. Based at Cavite, Luzon, she cruised the South China Sea until July 1922 when she was ordered to the United States. Long decommissioned at San Diego, Calif., 30 December 1922.
Long recommissioned at San Diego 29 March 1930, Lt. Comdr. William J. Butler in command. Operating out of San Diego during the next decade, Long cruised primarily in the Pacific off North and Central. America for division exercises and screen and plane guard duty. Between 1933 and 1935 she twice entered the rotating Reserve as part of Destroyer Squadron 20. During 1940 she was converted to destroyer minesweeper, and reclassified DMS‑12 on 19 November 1940.
Long operated along the west coast and in Hawaiian waters with Mine Squadron 2. On 5 December 1941 she departed Pearl Harbor in the screen for Indianapolis (CA‑35). Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 2 days later, she returned there 9 December and began antisubmarine patrols. She also escorted ships among the Hawaiian Islands and between March and June 1942, made escort runs to Midway, Palmyra, and Canton.
Long left Pearl Harbor 30 June for patrol and escort duty in Alaskan waters. After colliding with Monaghan (DD‑354) in heavy fog 27 July, she repaired at San Francisco, returning to Kodiak 27 September for screen and ASW patrols. During the long Arctic winter she patrolled the approaches to Adak and guarded convoys as American seapower sought to wrest control of enemyheld garrisons in the western Aleutians.
Long took part in the unopposed occupation of Amchitka 12 January 1913, and while patrolling along the Island, helped repel Japanese air attacks 31 January and 1 February. Thence, she joined Rear Admiral Rockwell's TF 51 on 3 May for the Invasion of Attu. Steaming through the heavy spring seas and blanketing fog of the Bering Sea, she closed Attu 11 May and. swept for mines prior to the successful landings later that day.
Long continued escort and patrol operations for the occupations of Attu and Kiska through the summer, returning to Pearl Harbor 16 September to escort merchantmen to San Francisco where she overhauled. After patrol in Hawaiian waters 15 November to 22 January 1944, Long joined in the westward drive that defeated the Japanese. She escorted reinforcements to Rol and Namur in the Marshalls 2 February, then joined TF 76 on 28 February in New Guinea waters. She served as escort mid swept mines in the conquest of the Admiralties early in March, then escorted convoys to and from Milne Bay, Guadalcanal, and Espiritu Santo from Cape Sudest.
On 18 April Long sailed for the invasion of the Hollandia area. She entered Humboldt Bay 22 April, made an exploratory sweep, then fired a close‑in preinvasion bombardment Long arrived at Guadalcanal early in May to prepare for the Marianas assault, for which she sailed 4 June. Arriving Saipan 13 June for preinvasion sweeps west of the island, Long served as radar picket and guard ship until 24 June, then after a voyage to the Marshalls, screened Pennsylvania (BB‑38) during preinvasion bombardment of Guam beginning 12 July. After antisubmarine and convoy escort duty, Long joined TG 32.5 at Guadalcanal 16 August.
Long sortied for the assault on the Palaus 6 September, cleared mines off Peleliu and Angaur, and in Kossol Passage from 12 to 16 September, then had escort and patrol duty between the Palaus and Admiralties until joining the 7th Fleet 4 October for the invasion of the Philippines.
Leaving Seeadler Harbor 10 October with Minesweeping Unit 1, Long entered Leyte Gulf the 17th. Spearheading the invasion, she cleared mines off Dinagat and Hibuson, and in the Dulag‑Tacloban approach channel. After sweeping Surigao Strait, she patrolled and served as smokescreen ship in Leyte Gulf until 23 October, when she Joined the transport screen and steamed in convoy for Manus, arriving 29 October.
After repairs and training at Manus, Long departed 23 December to sweep for the landings at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon. Her group was attacked 2 January 1945 in the Mindanao Sea in the first of the frequent and futile air raids with which the Japanese desperately tried to repel the invasion of Luzon. Despite these attacks, Long began sweeps in Lingayen Gulf 6 January, dodging and firing upon Japanese aircraft as she carried out her intricate and dangerous mission. Shortly after noon, beginning her second run, Long spotted two "Zekes" heading for her.
Long went to 25 knots and opened fire, but the suicide plane crashed her portside below the bridge about 1 foot above the waterline. With fires and explosions amidships, Long lost power and internal communications, and was unable to fight fires forward. Her commanding officer, Lt. Stanley Caplin, fearing an explosion in the forward magazine, gave permission for men trapped on the forecastle to leave the ship, but through misunderstanding, the crew aft abandoned ship. All were quickly rescued by Hovey (DMS‑11) standing by to aid the burning but still seaworthy ship.
Lieutenant Caplin prepared to lead a salvage party an board Long from tug Apache (ATF‑67), but continuing heavy air attacks prevented firefighting and salvage attempts. Later that afternoon a second plane attacked Long and exploded at the same spot, destroying the bridge and breaking the ship's back. Long capsized and sank the following morning. Tragically, several of her survivors rescued by Hovey perished when Hovey was torpedoed and sunk by enemy planes early the next morning.
Long received nine battle stars for World War II service.