Harvard Franklin Deen was born in Bassfield, Mississippi, on April 25, 1913, son of Mrs. Demmie Estelle Deen and the late Charles Christopher Deen. He attended High School in Seminary, Mississippi, and enlisted in the US Navy on April 17, 1932. He reenlisted in April 1936, and on March 15, 1944 was commissioned Ensign. Through subsequent advancement he attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander to date from December 1, 1954.
He began his naval service with Recruit Training at San Diego, California, after his enlistment at New Orleans in April 1932, and for four months thereafter served on board USS Saratoga (CV 3). In December 1933 he reported to the Submarine Training School at New London, Connecticut, and upon completion of the course was assigned to USS Mallard (ASR 4), a submarine salvage and rescue vessel. In April 1936, after his discharge and reenlistment, he reported to the Receiving Ship, Destroyer Base, San Diego, and was assigned to USS Tamaroa (AT 62), then at Mare Island, California. He served on board that ocean going tug until January 1938.
He next reported on board USS Barry (DD 248) in which he was serving when the United States entered World War II on December 8, 1941. He continued service in the Barry until February 1943, and for five months thereafter was assigned to the Naval Station, West Bank, Balboa, Canal Zone. In July 1943 he was transferred to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 18, and was serving with that squadron when commissioned nine months later. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V,” for “heroic service as Second Officer of PT-370 in operations against enemy Japanese shipping along the New Guinea, New Britain, and Admiralty Island Coasts from December 1943 to August 1944. The citation further states:
“Participating in thirty-nine combat patrols in which sixteen enemy barges were sunk and three Japanese taken captive, Lieutenant (jg) (then Ensign) Deen braved intense fire from hostile shore installations and opposing craft many times. On one occasion, despite fierce opposition from enemy guns, he succeeded in rescuing a boarding party whose lives were in imminent danger. By his steadfast courage and valiant devotion to duty throughout, he contributed to the success of our operations in this area and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
He had instruction at the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center, Newport, Rhode Island, from December 1944 until February 1945, and after two months’ duty as a Boat Captain in MTB Squadron 4, again served with MTB Squadron 18 from July until December 1945, as Commanding Officer, PT-103. For nine months he had duty with the Charleston Group of the SIXTEENTH Reserve Fleet, after which he served briefly (in September and October 1946), as Gunnery Officer of the USS Arcadia (AD 23).
From November 15, 1946 until May 10, 1947, he served as Navigator of USS Indian Island (AG 77), and for two years thereafter was Assistant First Lieutenant on board USS Shadwell (LSD 15), of Sub Group ONE, Texas Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. On May 14, 1949 he joined USS Opportune (ARS 41), as Executive Officer, and in August 1950 was detached to report a month later as Commanding Officer of USS Mahopac (ATA 196). He served in that command until March 6, 1952, and from March 31, that year, until December 31, 1953, he was attached to the Navy Hydrographic Branch Office, Savannah, Georgia.
On January 17, 1954 he reported to the US Navy Amphibious Training Unit, Little Creek, Norfolk, Virginia, and, after ten days’ training, assumed command USS Tallahatchie County (LST 1154).
In addition to the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V,” Lieutenant Commander Deen has the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal.