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Morrison (DD-560)


John Gordon Morrison -- born in Ireland on 13 July 1838 -- immigrated to the United States on 13 October 1855. Settling in Lansingburgh (present-day Troy), New York, he found work as a brush maker before enlisting in the U.S. Navy on 14 July 1857. Assigned to the screw frigate Wabash, Morrison participated in the capture of William Walker, the infamous freebooter, after Wabash steamed to Panama. After returning to N.Y., the frigate’s crew was discharged. Morrison quickly reenlisted, reporting to the supply ship Relief. Shortly after arriving on board, Relief returned to Aspinwall (Colón), Panama. After her return to N.Y., Morrison received his discharge on 29 January 1859.

Returning to Lansingburgh, Morrison married Margaret McCabe on 3 July 1859. They enjoyed two years together before the outbreak of the American Civil War on 12 April 1861. Morrison enlisted for two years in the 30th New York Infantry, U.S. Army, at Lansingburgh, on 24 April. Mustered in as a private with Company A, 30th N.Y., on 1 June 1861, he spent the next several months marching south into Virginia with General Irvin McDowell’s I Corps, Army of the Potomac.

With snow falling heavily on 15 February 1862, the 30th N.Y., received an order from general-in-chief of the Union Army, George B. McClellan, asking volunteers “to man the gun boats on western waters.” Morrison and “about thirty more” men stepped forward, with only Morrison and seven others from three different regiments chosen for the duty. After bidding his friends farewell, the young Irishman stood at attention before his commanding officer, Colonel Edward Frisby (later killed at the Second Battle of Manassas), telling Morrison he “hoped that I would do nothing to disgrace my regiment.”

Leaving with the other volunteers, the men made their way to Washington D.C., before riding a train to Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and down to Cairo, Ill. After arriving on board receiving ship Maria Denning on 21 February 1862, Morrison arrived three days later to the badly damaged ironclad gunboat Carondelet, a Western gunboat and part of the Mississippi squadron under Admiral Andrew Hull Foote. Carondelet “suffered severely” in the battle at Fort Donelson in the Cumberland River, receiving some 70 artillery hits to her superstructure, killing four men and wounding another 30. Repairs were made over the next few weeks, and she returned to service.

During an engagement on 15 July 1862, with Confederate ram Arkansas in the Yazoo River, Morrison inspired Carondelet’s crew during an unsuccessful attempt to halt the Confederate ironclad’s progress through the Union blockade to the Mississippi River. After losing four killed, 16 wounded and 12 missing in the deadly engagement (many of these jumped overboard during the close-in battle, but soon returned to the ironclad), Morrison’s “presence of mind in time of battle…is reported as always conspicuous and encouraging.” Appointed coxswain after the engagement in recognition of his bravery, Morrison found the honor wholly “sufficient,” as he “was not fighting for an office.”

On 8 May 1862, Cmdr. Henry A. Walke, commanding officer of Carondelet, informed Morrison he “made another application…through the Navy Department for the congressional medal for me. As I had refused an appointment, I told him that I would be very glad to receive it.” The citation to Morrison’s Medal of Honor reads: “When the Carondelet was badly cut up, several of her crew killed…Morrison was the leader when boarders were called on deck, and the first to return to the guns and give the ram a broadside as she passed.”

In the early morning hours of 18 January 1863, an aide to Cmdr. Walke awoke Morrison from sleep, informing him Walke wanted to see him. The captain was to take command of the new gunboat Lafayette, and asked Morrison if he would come serve on board with him, an offer the young hero accepted. Lafayette, part of Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter’s Mississippi Squadron, joined the battle at Vicksburg from April–July 1863.

Discharged during the Vicksburg campaign on 31 May 1863, Morrison returned home to Lansingburgh on 1 July. Enlisting in Company C, 21st New York Cavalry in September 1864, he served with that unit until the end of the war on 9 April 1865, and the discharge of Union troops in May. On 22 June, General Order No. 59 officially provided the citation of Morrison’s Medal of Honor.

Morrison died in New York City on 9 June 1897, and lies buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn.

(DD‑560: displacement 2,050; length 376'6"; beam 39'8"; draft 17'9"; speed 35 knots; complement 273; armament 5 5-inch, 10 40-millimeter, 7 20-millimeter, 3 21-inch torpedo tubes, 6 depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge tracks; class Fletcher)

Morrison (DD‑560) was laid down on 30 June 1942 at Seattle, Wash., by the Seattle‑Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp.; and was launched on 4 July 1943; sponsored by Miss Margaret M. Morrison, daughter of Coxswain Morrison.

Coxswain Morrison’s daughter christens the destroyer named for her father on Independence Day 1944. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-77842, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Coxswain Morrison’s daughter christens the destroyer named for her father on Independence Day 1944. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-77842, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Commissioned on 18 December 1943, Cmdr. Walter H. Price in command, Morrison lay moored at Plant “B,” Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp., and fit out there (18–27 December). She got underway at 0900 three days after Christmas at the end of her fitting out period, proceeding to Three Tree Point, where her Mk. IV radar was calibrated. At 1215 on 28 December, Morrison steamed to Sinclair Inlet, anchoring at 1415 before conducting an ammunition on load.

At 1449 on 30 December 1943, she got underway for Illahee, Wash., arriving there at 1532 for deperming. At 0800 on 31 December, Morrison got underway for Keyport, Wash., and loaded torpedoes. She fired one test slug from each torpedo mount. At 1240, she steamed for Point Jefferson, arriving at 1435 to degauss before proceeding to Pier 41, Seattle.

Morrison conducted further fitting trials during the first week of January 1944, operating out of Seattle. On 2 January, she steamed for Elliot Bay for magnetic compass calibration. At 1115, she set course for Indian Island, and began loading depth charges upon arrival at 1341. Morrison steamed for anchorage off Port Townsend, Wash., upon securing from drills at 1700. Three days later, on 5 January, Morrison reported for shakedown duty.

Assigned to Task Unit (TU) 14.5.7, she got underway on 6 January 1944 for San Diego, Calif., for shakedown training. Arriving on 10 January, she joined at 0820 with coastal yacht Sea Scout (PYc-43) and S-34 (SS-139), forming Group II of a sound school group. At 0825, she commenced making simulated submarine attacks with K-6 as the target. Completing the exercise at 1545, she next operated with Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 106, to commence rehearsal runs of Night Battle Practice with Elliot (DD-146) as target, securing from the exercise at 2330.

Steaming in company with small seaplane tender Chincoteague (AVP-24), and frigates Glendale (PF-36), and Long Beach (PF-34) on 12 January 1944, the group remained in an assigned night area until Morrison proceeded for further drills with sound school ships. Commencing anti-submarine warfare training runs with S-23 (SS-128), and submarine chaser SC-632, she secured at 1541 and proceeded independently to San Diego, mooring alongside O’Bannon (DD-450). Morrison conducted various exercises, including anti-aircraft gunnery, speed, and anti-submarine drills off San Diego throughout the month of January and into the first week of February.

On 7 February 1944, at 1425, Morrison,” got underway for Seattle. She arrived at 1413 on 10 February at Pier 6, Puget Sound, for post-shakedown availability. From 10–23 February, Morrison underwent a post-shakedown overhaul at Puget Sound Navy Yard. Her badly ruptured sound drome, whether struck with an object or the concussion caused from structural test firing of depth charges, needed replacing. Regardless of the cause, Morrison received a new sound dome and a ready for sea date of 25 February.

Underway for Pearl Harbor at 0800 on 25 February 1944, Morrison maintained a speed of 20 knots, arriving at Kuahua Island Wharf, Oahu, on 1 March. Reporting for duty to Commander, Destroyer Pacific (ComDesPac), Morrison got underway from Pearl Harbor to conduct anti-aircraft and torpedo rehearsal runs, completing the drills at 1245 on 2 March. At 2012, she made contact with a plane towing target sleeves and commenced firing at 2035, expending 123 rounds of 5-inch projectiles, 2,802 rounds of 40-millimeter, and 3,252 rounds of 20-millimeter ammunition.

After a few more days of gunnery exercises, Morrison got underway from 6–9 March 1944, to conduct exercises with aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-12) as part of her destroyer screen. Alongside Taylor (DD-468) and Marshall (DD-676), the destroyers acted mainly as an anti-submarine screen, commencing several drills while Hornet conducted flight operations.

On 15 March 1944, Morrison got underway at 0720 with TG 58.2 from Pearl Harbor to Majuro, Marshall Islands. Forming a screen for carrier Bunker Hill (CV-17), accompanying ships included carrier Hancock (CV-19), and destroyers Hickox (DD-673), and Marshall. Morrison also acted as a screen for small aircraft carrier Cabot (CVL-28) when that ship conducted flight operations. Arriving at Majuro on 21 March, Morrison moored in Berth C-13 to receive routine upkeep. Detached from TG 58.2, she received a new assignment to TG 50.15. The task group got underway on 26 March, forming up into three fueling groups (TG 50.15.1, 50.15.2, and 50.15.3) for refueling off Majuro Atoll. At 0940 on 30 March, fueling completed, Morrison resumed acting as screen for the task group operation.

After further screening duties, Morrison got underway from Majuro on 18 April 1944, joining TF 58 for fueling operations. The fast carrier task force was involved in operations leading to the invasion of Hollandia, New Guinea, on 22 April. At 1530, Morrison proceeded to her assigned picket station at a distance of 16,000 yards from the fast carrier task force. Arriving at the picket station by 1645, she maintained her position for the remainder of the night. Two days later, on 20 April, TG 50.17 steamed to Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, anchoring at 1459. On 21 April, Morrison acted as a screen for fuel ships in the Admiralty Islands, during the raids on Truk, Satawan, and Ponape. She returned to Manus when the operations were complete.

Steaming to Pearl Harbor from Seeadler Harbor, Morrison returned to Hawaii to begin training for the invasion of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, before steaming to the Marshall Islands, arriving at Kwajalein on 9 June 1944. Getting underway from Roi, Marshall Islands, with TG 52.17 for Saipan on 12 June, Morrison prepared to get into her first action. Assigned to Task Unit 52.14.3, Morrison sailed alongside carrier escorts Kitkun Bay (CVE-71), Gambier Bay (CVE-73), Laws (DD-558), and Benham (DD-796), before becoming detached from TG 52.17 and redesignated TU 52.11.1. On 14 June, at 0825, Morrison left formation to rescue a man overboard from Coral Sea (CVE-57). She recovered an uninjured ACM Joseph S. O’Grady at 0843, and transferred him back to Coral Sea at 1220.

Steaming in company with TG 52.11 to the east of Saipan, Morrison operated in support of the landings and occupation of the island on 16 June 1944. At 1355, she made a sound contact at a distance of only 800 yards and made an “urgent attack” by dropping an eight depth charge pattern. Although no results were observed, Morrison continued the search to regain contact, which proved unsuccessful. The next day, lookouts on the destroyer observed eight to 12 enemy Val dive bombers diving on nearby carriers. Morrison commenced firing at the Japanese planes on 1851 with her 5-inch battery. Although two enemy planes crashed near the carriers Gambier Bay and Kitkun Bay, Morrison did not receive credit for them. Some 18 to 20 Japanese planes attacked during the course of the day, with five to seven splashed by the task group.

Directly involved in efforts at the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19 June 1944, Morrison helped repulse an enemy air raid again targeting Gambier Bay. At 1758, she commenced firing her 20-millimeter and 40-millimeter batteries at planes screaming in between the ships of the task group. The escort carriers CAP patrols swooped in to break up the enemy attack. “The results were gratifying,” notes the war diary. “No damage to any vessel of this formation.” Effective gunfire from Morrison assisted in destroying seven out of seven Mitsubishi G4M Navy Type 1 (Betty) land-based bombers, five from ships’ gunfire and two by fighter planes. The task group destroyed some 40 Japanese planes in the two-day battle, better known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot. During the next few hours, Morrison helped in efforts to recover pilots and air crew forced to ditch at sea in the darkness. After securing from this mission, Morrison resumed her duties in the area to the east of Saipan until 2 August.

After the U.S. captured Saipan, Morrison received assignment to TF 58 for the invasion of Guam. Navy dive-bombers of the task force struck Guam with more than 300 tons of bombs a day. On 13 August, the destroyer steamed back to Eniwetok, where she remained until getting underway with TG 38.3 for another series of raids. Involved in operations for the invasion of Palau, Morrison then supported attacks on the Philippines and Formosa.

Arriving at Eniwetok at 1720 on 5 July 1944, Morrison took on stores and carried out routine duties on 6 July. She got underway on 11 June to screen Kitkun Bay and Gambier Bay at 0540 en route to Saipan. On 18 July at 1321, while in the Saipan operating area, Morrison rescued Lt. Robert C. White, a fighter pilot flying a Grumman FM-2 Wildcat (BuNo 55281) with VC-5 off Kitkun Bay. Morrison went alongside Kitkun Bay to transfer Lt. White at 1345, before resuming screening duties. Operating with TU 52.14.1 for the rest of the month, Morrison performed anti-submarine patrol duties to the east of Saipan.

Ordered to proceed with TG 58.4 for the Marianas Islands on 1 August 1944, Morrison served as a screen for carriers Belleau Wood (CVL-24) and Essex (CV-9) conducting flight operations off Guam and Tinian until 11 August. On 12 August, the destroyer got underway to Eniwetok, arriving at 0910. She remained anchored in Eniwetok Lagoon until 19 August, when she got underway alongside destroyer tender Markab (AR-23) at 0750, engaging in “logistics and upkeep.” After arriving back in Eniwetok Lagoon on 26 August, Morrison spent the remainder of August anchored in Berth 570.

Getting underway en route for raids against Palau Island with TG 38.3 on 1 September 1944, Morrison provided screening duties for carriers Essex and Lexington. Beginning on 3 September, TF 38 launched air strikes against Palau. Morrison also provided anti-submarine duties for the task force carriers while in recovery operations of all aircraft.

On the morning of 9 September 1944, while engaged in air attacks on Mindanao, U.S. pilots sighted a convoy of 50 Japanese sampans and freighters headed north. Four destroyers and two cruisers were sent to intercept and destroy the enemy ships. Morrison led the attack force, but by the time they reached the convoy the American planes had strafed and bombed it so completely that the remaining pickings were extremely small. Not more than 15 sampans remained, and of these, several were burning or beginning to sink. All but one or two of the sampans were destroyed. During the action, known as the Battle of Sanco Point, Morrison became the first U.S. surface warship to enter a Philippine harbor since the Japanese occupation over two years prior.

Two days later, TF 38 steamed for the Central Philippine area to conduct air strikes in the area until 16 September 1944. On 17 September, the task force shifted focus to supporting the landings on Peleliu. After providing screening duties for the carriers involved, Morrison shifted course for Luzon on 20 September. After serving on night picket station, she remained at general quarters throughout 21 September while the carriers launched strikes against Manila. At 0530 the next morning, radar picked up an unidentified Japanese plane.. At 0621, Morrison commenced firing her 5-inch batteries at the aircraft until receiving a report that night fighters reportedly shot the enemy down.

After flight operations ceased at 1925 on 25 September 1944, Morrison arrived with the task group for fueling operations at 1200 the next day. Morrison took her turn at refueling at 1244 and by 1353 resumed her station in the screen. She entered Kossol Passage in the Palau Islands on 27 September for minor upkeep.

On 2 October 1944, Morrison sailed with TG 38.3 for picket duty off Ulithi. She anchored at 1604 in Mugai Channel. The next day, at 0225, all ships in the task group prepared to sortie at daylight. By 0800, “cyclonic disturbances” caused storm conditions and “very heavy seas.” After changing course to a retirement area to the north, Morrison and the other ships of the group waited for the strong seas to subside. After arriving back at Ulithi for provisioning, refueling and upkeep, “Mighty Moe” got underway again on 7 October for Okinawa. Carrier air strikes against Okinawa began on 10 October, continuing into the next two days. Morrison next began screen and plane guard operations off Formosa and northern Luzon during a five-day attack beginning on 12 October. Four days later, on 16 October, the damaged cruisers Houston (CL‑81) and Canberra (CA‑70), both torpedoed off Okinawa, returned to Manus for repairs. Morrison assisted in escorting the vessels out of the combat zone.

Morrison accepted picket station duties ahead of the task groups steaming to Formosa. At 1010, she went to general quarters after radar picked up an unidentified Japanese plane, but an attack never materialized. Later in the evening, Morrison again went to general quarters after expecting an enemy attack. Continuing to search for the Japanese surface forces proved fruitless, as they had already retired to Formosa and Southwest Islands.

Japanese air attacks on TG 38.3 began in earnest throughout the day of 13 October 1944. Morrison opened fire at 0015 on an unidentified enemy plane streaking in from the west. Once in range, the destroyer fired, but did not hit the plane. An expected torpedo strike around this time also failed to materialize, but Morrison laid down a smoke screen at 0159 as a precaution. At 0600, the carriers from TF 38 commenced air strikes against Formosa lasting throughout the day.

At 1705, Morrison went to general quarters to repel an enemy torpedo attack. Firing on three attacking Nakajima B6N Tenzan (Jill) torpedo bombers soaring in from the east at 1810, the crew watched as a U.S. fighter shot down one of the Japanese bombers. However, the surviving two enemy Jill torpedo bombers survived the barrage thrown up by the destroyer screen, and one barreled in only 2,000 yards astern of Morrison. This plane dropped a torpedo at Essex, just barely missing the huge carrier. The enemy dive-bomber managed to pull up out of the dive, until promptly downed by another U.S. plane. While fighting off the furious air attack, Morrison managed to rescue S1c Harold G. Olsen at 1800, after he accidentally fell overboard from battleship Alabama (BB-60). By 1835, Morrison resumed her normal screening station.

While the task group conducted a search for Japanese surface units, the enemy force retired to Formosa and the Southwest Islands by the evening of 17 October. Underway as a screening unit of TG 38.3 in company with TG 38.2 from 20-22 October 1944, Morrison operated as the screening force for the American carriers conducting air strikes in support of amphibious landings at Leyte, Philippines.

During the Battle of Leyte Gulf (23–26 October 1944), Morrison continued steaming as part of the destroyer screen for the group’s carriers, and in the early morning hours of 24 October, she evaded some 40 enemy planes slipping past the combat air patrol (CAP) to attack the task group. She aided carrier Princeton (CVL‑23), badly damaged by a Japanese bomb at 0938. In the space of less than two hours, Morrison rescued four hundred survivors. At 1245, she came alongside the burning carrier to assist in firefighting efforts. Heavy smoke reduced visibility to 30 feet as the smaller destroyer maneuvered alongside. She had just reached her position when Princeton, drifting and rolling, wedged the destroyer’s mast and forward stack between her uptakes.

The two tangled ships continued to bash against one another in the heavy seas. Assessing the situation, Cmdr. Daniel B. Miller, Irwin (DD‑794)’s commanding officer, ordered his ship to come alongside Morrison twice in an attempt to breast her fellow destroyer out using mooring lines, but the lines parted both times. Both Princeton and Morrison, still entangled, caused damage to one another. Princeton’s stacks, searchlight platform, main battery director, and port side of the bridge were all smashed up. Her mast at bridge level broke completely off. The damage to Morrison was largely superficial.

Morrison finally managed to break free, but at 1525, Princeton’s aft section exploded, blowing off her fantail. Light cruiser Birmingham (CL-62), having just taken the destroyer’s position alongside Princeton, suffered heavy casualties from a shower of shrapnel, killing 300 while wounding another 400. The same explosion may very well have sunk the smaller and much lighter Morrison, had she remained on station. The damage to Princeton was so extensive, it became necessary to sink her. Destroyer Irwin (DD-794) ineffectively fired five torpedoes at her before cruiser Reno (CL-96) sent two torpedoes into Princeton’s main magazine, triggering a huge explosion and sending her to the bottom in only 45 seconds.

Irwin (L), and Morrison (R) (the latter sans mast), 25 October 1944, as seen from escort carrier Sargent Bay (CVE-83), 25 October 1944. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-263829, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, Coll...
Caption: Irwin (L), and Morrison (R) (the latter sans mast), 25 October 1944, as seen from escort carrier Sargent Bay (CVE-83), 25 October 1944. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-263829, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Bkr2c Stanley F. Sedicavage, a survivor from Princeton, rescued the previous day by Morrison, succumbed to severe shrapnel wounds on the morning of 26 October 1944. He received a burial at sea with full honors from Morrison’s crew at 1001. With Princeton survivors on board, Morrison steamed from the operating area off the Philippines en route to Ulithi, in company with Irwin and Birmingham, all suffering damage from Princeton rescue efforts. Four days after the horrific event, on 28 October 1944, Cmdr. James R. Hansen reported on board as prospective commanding officer. TF 38.1 stood into anchorage at Ulithi on the same day.

Morrison suffered enough damage during the attempted rescue of Princeton to send her Stateside for repairs. Over the next several days, while anchored in Ulithi Lagoon, Morrison received minor repairs. She finally made way for Pearl Harbor on 31 October 1944, arriving there on 7 November. Steaming from Oahu three days later, she arrived on 17 November, mooring at Hunters Point Naval Dry Docks, just outside San Francisco. Morrison’s enlisted men were given 25 days leave, while her officers enjoyed 16. She spent the remainder of the year through February 1945 in dry dock at Hunters Point.

Morrison, Hunters Point, 1 February 1945, the circles on the photograph correspond to alterations carried out during the recent overhaul. Her camouflage pattern has been changed to a two-toned scheme, with the line of demarcation following the ho...
Caption: Morrison, Hunters Point, 1 February 1945, the circles on the photograph correspond to alterations carried out during the recent overhaul. Her camouflage pattern has been changed to a two-toned scheme, with the line of demarcation following the horizon instead of the sheer of the decks. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Port broadside view of Morrison, 5 February 1945. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS 80527, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Port broadside view of Morrison, 5 February 1945. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS 80527, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Morrison cast off on 10 February 1945, steaming for Pearl Harbor and arriving at Oahu on 15 February. Missing the Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February–26 March), she joined TF 54 underway out of Ulithi for Okinawa on 21 March. After a period of shore bombardment exercises, she steamed to the southern shores of Okinawa on 25 March, D-minus 7, and commenced bombardment of the island in preparation for the 1 April landings.

On 31 March 1945, fellow destroyer Stockton (DD-646) made a positive sound contact and expended her remaining depth charges in an anti-submarine attack. Morrison, sent to assist, also obtained a sound contact. Lookouts saw the sub on the surface quickly dive, and “Mighty Moe” dropped a pattern of eleven depth charges, forcing the enemy submarine back to the surface seconds later. In a half-hour gunfight, the submarine fired her deck guns while Morrison opened up with 40-millimeter and 5-inch gunfire, eventually destroying and sinking the enemy submarine.

Morrison cruised the area throughout the night, discovering a large oil slick and debris early the next morning. She also discovered a lone survivor clinging to a small spar in the middle of the flotsam. Rescued by the destroyer’s small boat, the enemy sailor, PO2c Mukuai Takamasa, proved in excellent condition, but unwilling to give any information. Turned over to an intelligence officer at Kerama Retto, the prisoner identified his submarine as I-8 (Lt. Cmdr. Shinohara Shigeo, commanding), one of the largest in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Operating off Okinawa, Lt. Cmdr. Shinohara hoped to strike supporting American vessels. Despite recently undergoing an overhaul to carry four smaller kaiten suicide submarines, I-8 received none for her final mission to Okinawa.

Morrison resumed shore bombardment, night and harassing fire duties off Oshima Beach to support ground forces on Okinawa. Attacked by suicide boats on the night of 11 April 1945, Morrison assisted Anthony (DD‑515) in illuminating and sinking the suiciders, as well as enemy landing craft heading north along the beach. Three days later, on 14 April, Morrison drew radar picket duty, also known as the “graveyard shift.” Crews gave such duty this nickname because the ships were far forward of most other U.S. naval vessels, keeping everyone on edge for hours and days at a time until relieved.

As Morrison began her duties on station, kamikaze attacks continued in earnest, damaging or sinking over a destroyer a day off Okinawa. The majority of these attacks were against radar picket ships. Obtaining the extra radio equipment necessary, plus a fighter-director team, Morrison’s first stations, numbers ten and seven, to the southwest of the island, were uneventful. Nothing of note happened during the day, and at night, an occasional air raid developed, but no attacks materialized. Meanwhile, kamikazes were knocking out other radar picket stations, especially those to the north of Okinawa.

Sent to radar picket station number two on 28 April 1945, Morrison replaced Daly (DD‑519) after a kamikaze struck the latter. Morrison remained at general quarters for hours as enemy planes buzzed around her all night long. None of the suicide planes attempted to strike her, and fortunately, the next three days were cloudy, grounding the kamikazes.

Ordered north of Okinawa to take up station number one on 30 April 1945, Morrison arrived at the hottest spot on the radar picket line and scene of the most kamikaze strikes. Expecting a heavy attack of suiciders on the first clear day, Morrison again remained at general quarters over the next few days.

On 4 May 1945, the weather dawned “bright, clear and ominous.” The expected attack, in the form of around 25 kamikazes, finally arrived at 0715. The CAP rose to meet them, shooting most of the enemy planes down, although a few managed to sneak through. The first attack on Morrison, a main target as a fighter-director ship, was a strafing run by a Mitsubishi A6M Zero (Zeke). The kamikaze streaked through heavy flak, dropping a bomb that missed just off her starboard beam, doing no damage. About 0825, another enemy plane, possibly a Zeke or Aichi D3A Type 99 carrier bomber (Val), crashed into Morrison’s number one stack and the bridge, causing heavy casualties.

The damage was severe, knocking out Morrison’s radar, radios, and main battery. As damage control teams began fighting fires and helping the wounded, a third plane smashed into gun number three only a few minutes later, while the fourth kamikaze screamed in, crashing into gun number 5. Morrison, struck by four planes in less than five minutes, listed badly to starboard and burned furiously. There are conflicting reports regarding the type of Japanese planes striking Morrison. The first to hit was apparently a Zero, or Zeke, while the other kamikazes were two Val’s and another Zeke. Despite this, Japanese records claim the last three planes to slam into Morrison were floatplanes.

Verbal instructions to abandon ship passed amongst the crew after Cmdr. Hansen’s order via the 1MC did not circulate, due to communication circuits damaged by the kamikazes. Shortly after the order made its way around the destroyer, two large explosions occurred simultaneously, causing Morrison’s stern to sink beneath the water as she rapidly rolled onto her starboard side. With her bow lifted high into the air, Morrison sank at 0840, just ten minutes after the kamikaze attacks. Due to the swiftness of her sinking, most of the crew working below decks were lost; consequently, she took 152 sailors to the bottom.

Japanese planes strafed some of the survivors in the water, and several were rescued, many by large support landing craft LCS(L)-21. The wounded were transferred to hospital ship Mercy (AH-8) and travelled on to Guam before being sent home as the war ended in August 1945.

Commander Hansen received the Navy Cross for his actions during the battle off Okinawa. Fighting off 40 enemy planes, he “carried out radical defensive maneuvers and directed his gun batteries in maintaining a tremendous volume of antiaircraft fire.” Cmdr. Hansen continued to rally his men, even after four kamikazes crashed Morrison, fighting until the very end.

Morrison received the Navy Unit Commendation award twice. The first award due to her actions on 24 October 1944, while saving survivors from Princeton, and the second award for her valiant fight against kamikazes on 4 May 1945. She was stricken from the Navy Register on 22 June 1945.

In July 1957, the U.S. Navy donated Morrison’s hull, along with those of some 26 other ships sunk in the Ryukyus area to the government of the Ryukyu Islands for salvage.

Morrison received eight battle stars for World War II service.

Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Cmdr. Walter H. Price 18 December 1943
Cmdr. James R. Hansen 28 October 1944

Guy J Nasuti

12 August 2019

Published: Tue Aug 13 07:29:25 EDT 2019