|Name:||Hugh W. Hadley|
|Namesake:||Hugh William Hadley|
|Builder:||Bethlehem Steel, San Pedro|
|Laid down:||6 February 1944|
|Launched:||16 July 1944|
|Commissioned:||25 November 1944|
|Decommissioned:||15 December 1945|
|Struck:||8 January 1946|
|Fate:||sold 2 September 1947 scrapped|
|Class and type:||Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer|
|Length:||376 ft 6 in (114.76 m)|
|Beam:||40 ft (12 m)|
|Draft:||15 ft 8 in (4.78 m)|
|Speed:||34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)|
|Range:||6,500 nmi (12,000 km; 7,500 mi) at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
USS Hugh W. Hadley (DD-774) was an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer which served in the United States Navy during World War II. It is the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Hugh William Hadley, who lost his life during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Hugh W. Hadley (DD-774) was launched by Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding Co., San Pedro, California, 16 July 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Hadley, widow of the namesake; and commissioned on 25 November 1944, with Commander L. C. Chamberlin in command.
After shakedown training off the coast of California, Hugh W. Hadley sailed 21 February 1945 in company with HMS Ranee for Pearl Harbor. The ships arrived 27 February, but Hugh W. Hadley was soon underway again, sailing eight days later for Ulithi and the great Okinawa invasion. The ship departed in company with a large group of LST's and their escorts on 25 March bound for the Japanese island stronghold, and arrived off the Okinawa group on 31 March. As the night approach was made, Hugh W. Hadley led a group of LST's toward the beach, shooting down an attacking Japanese plane en route. The destroyer escorted her charges safely to the beach, watched them unload their troops and equipment the morning of 1 April, and then took up antisubmarine patrol station outside the transport area. As the bitter fighting ashore continued, Hugh W. Hadley helped protect against submarines and aircraft as the Japanese made a final effort to stop the invasion. The ship remained on patrol until 4 April, when she sailed with a group of transports to Saipan, arriving on 14 April.
Hugh W. Hadley was soon on her way back to Okinawa, however, and arrived from Saipan on 27 April to resume her outer patrol. For the next few days the destroyer fought off numerous air raids, picked up a downed fighter pilot, and carried out antisubmarine patrol. She went alongside the destroyer Brown on 1 May for transfer of communication equipment, and then took up additional duties as a fighter direction ship for the Combat Air Patrols, so vital to the invasion's air cover.
As radar picket ships were scarce, Hugh W. Hadley was assigned this duty on the afternoon of 10 May. Joining destroyer Evans and four smaller craft, she took station 15 west of Okinawa and early the next morning began vectoring aircraft to meet the oncoming Japanese. For nearly two hours the morning of 11 May, Hugh W. Hadley and Evans came under severe attack, as the Japanese mounted their sixth attack against American forces at Okinawa. Both ships maneuvered at high speed, downing many kamikazes and directing air attacks on formations of Japanese. The attackers numbered some 150 planes. After Evans took several serious hits and went dead in the water about 0900, Hugh W. Hadley fought on alone. At 0920, she was attacked by 10 planes simultaneously, from both ahead and astern. The ship destroyed all 10, but not without damage to herself. One bomb hit aft, a Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka hit, and two kamikaze crashes were inflicted on the ship as her gunners ran low on ammunition. Finally, as the attack ended, all but 50 of the crew were ordered over the side in life rafts, the remaining men fighting fires and working to control the damage. Though her engineering spaces were flooded and she was badly holed, Hugh W. Hadley was kept afloat by her damage control parties and eventually arrived at Ie Shima. The attack took the lives of 30 crew members.
During this battle. Hugh W. Hadley had succeeded in downing some 23 enemy aircraft and aided in destroying several others. After temporary repairs, the ship was taken to Kerama Retto on 14 May, where men from repair ship Zaniah worked on her battered hull. Hugh W. Hadley subsequently was taken to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, in a floating drydock towed by Avoyel on 15 July 1945, and after 20 days there began the long voyage under tow of the US Navy tug ATA 199 to the United States. After encountering heavy weather during the passage the ship arrived at Hunter's Point, California, via Pearl Harbor, 26 September 1945. She was deemed as being too damaged to be repaired and was decommissioned on 15 December 1945. She was sold 2 September 1947 to Walter W. Johnson Co., San Francisco, and scrapped.
In addition to one battle star for her World War II Service, Hugh W. Hadley received the Presidential Unit Citation for her performance in the action off Okinawa 11 May 1945. Also, several of her crew were decorated for their actions during the war.
Presidential Unit Citation
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to the UNITED STATES SHIP USS HUGH W. HADLEY (DD-774) for service as set forth in the following CITATION: For extraordinary heroism in action as Fighter Direction Ship on Radar Picket Station Number 15 during an attack by approximately 100 enemy Japanese planes, forty miles northwest of the Okinawa Transport Area, May 11, 1945. Fighting valiantly against waves of hostile suicide and dive-bombing planes plunging toward her from all directions, the U.S.S. HUGH HADLEY sent up relentless barrages of antiaircraft fire during one of the most furious air-sea battles of the war. Repeatedly finding her targets, she destroyed twenty enemy planes, skillfully directed her Combat Air Patrol in shooting down at least forty others and, by her vigilance and superb battle readiness, avoided damage to herself until subjected to a coordinated attack by ten Japanese planes. Assisting in the destruction of all ten of these, she was crashed by one bomb and three suicide planes with devastating effect. With all engineering spaces flooded and with a fire raging amidships, the gallant officers and men of the HUGH W. HADLEY fought desperately against almost insurmountable odds and, by their indomitable determination, fortitude and skill, brought the damage under control, enabling their ship to be towed to port and saved. Her brilliant performance in this action reflects the highest credit upon the HUGH W. HADLEY and the United States Naval Service.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- USS Hugh W. Hadley Memorial website
- USS Hugh W. Hadley at Destroyer History Foundation
- navsource.org: USS Hugh W. Hadley
- hazegray.org: USS Hugh W. Hadley