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Fletcher Type Destroyer
377' x 39' x 13"
5" x 5" gun
10 x 40mm AA
7 x 20mm cannon
10 x 21" torpedo tubes
6 x depth charge projectors
2 x depth charge tracks
USN June 11, 1944
Built Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in San Francisco, California. Laid down February 12, 1942. Launched October 27, 1942. Commissioned May 10, 1943 as USS Bush (DD-529). Named in honor of U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) Lieutenant William Sharp Bush while serving aboard the USS Constitution was killed on August 19, 1812 attempted to board the frigate Guerriere. This destroyer was painted in measure 32, design 1d scheme with dazzle camouflage.
After her shakedown cruises steamed to Alaska and conducted patrols and escort duty in the Aleutians Islands operating off Adak between July 29, 1943 until November 1, 1943 then proceeded to the Central Pacific and patrolling off the Ellice Islands (Tuvalu) then to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). On December 26, 1943 supported the landing at Cape Gloucester then during January 1944 the landing at Saidor and during February-March 1944 supported the landings in the Admiralty Islands.
On May 30, 1944 assigned to Commander Rollin Everton Westholm. On June 11, 1944 at Mare Island then returned to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). On September 15, 1944 supported the landing at Morotai. Between October 20-24, 1944 operated in Leyte Gulf supporting the landings on eastern Leyte.
On November 1, 1944 while operating in Leyte Gulf was conducting an anti-submarine patrols in the Surigao Strait in the morning and survived attacks by G4M Betty bombers and maneuvered around several aerial torpedoes aimed at the destroyer and strafing runs. The attacks began at 9:40am a Betty approached from the starboard beam, released a torpedo and was hit by 40mm anti-aircraft fire. At 9:44am another Betty attacked and was shot down. Afterwards, attacked by four other Bettys and managed to evade them with one strafing the destroyer. During these attacks, the deck was showered by shrapnel and two crew were wounded in action including executive officer Lt. P. A. "Tony" Lilly.
During December 12-18, 1944 supported the landings at San Jose on Mindoro. Between January 4-18, 1945 supported the landings at Lingayen Gulf off Luzon. During February 19, 1945 until March 9, 1945 supported the landings at Iwo Jima.
On March 9, 1945 at 11:00am arrived Tanapag Harbor off Saipan and was resupplied with food, stores and ammunition. On March 10, 1945 at 8:00am refueled by tanker and at 5:15pm departed as part of a screen for TransRon11 bound for Guam. On March 11, 1945 at 9:00am arrived Apra Harbor and anchored at berth 10 alongside USS Ellet (DD-398) and was resupplied with more ammunition and departed at 5:30pm escorting U.S.E.D. Dan C. Kingman and during the voyage conducted drills before arriving at Leyte Gulf on March 16, 1945 at at 4:00pm entered San Pedro Bay and was ordered to participate in training exercises for upcoming operations.
On March 17, 1945 conducted shore bombardment and landing rehearsals in the Dulag-Tarraguna on Leyte area and afterwards returned to San Pedro Bay and anchored alongside destroyer tender USS Markab (AD-21). On March 21, 1945 participated in anti-aircraft gunnery exercises in the area with USS Anthony (DD-515) and USS Ammen (DD-527) then returned to anchor alongside the same destroyer tender.
On March 26, 1945 after experiencing gyro problems departed San Pedro Bay and was ready for duty and proceeded to Tarraguna to serve as a destroyer screen for Transport Group Easy. On March 27, 1945 departed Lingayen Gulf and conducted anti-aircraft training while escorting the group northwards despite two days of bad weather on the voyage northward.
On April 1, 1945 released from escort duty as the force approached Okinawa and began patrolling as part of the screening force for transports with enemy aircraft in the area. At 10:00am when assigned to radar picket station no. 1 (51 miles north of Point Zampa Misaki on Okinawa) and tracked many enemy aircraft in the afternoon and overnight but none were within gunfire range and some radar contacts proved to be false positives.
On April 2, 1945 relieved by USS Prichett (DD-561) and departed the area passing a sea mine west-northwest of Ie Shima that was exploded by 40mm gunfire then arrived at Kerama Islands at 1:30pm but was unable to refuel and served in the screen against enemy aircraft attacking ships in the area until released from duty.
On April 3, 1945 in the morning returned to Kerama Anchorage and refueled by USS Brazos (AO-4) at 9:30am then returned to the transport area off Okinawa and relieved USS Prichett (DD-561) that had been damaged overnight by a bomb and arrived on station by 1:30pm with LCS 62 and LCS 64 and began tracking many enemy aircraft including four D4Y Judys that were fired on with one claimed as shot down with the other three destroyed by Combat Air Patrol (CAP) aircraft overhead. At 8:00pm fired on another plane without results and later that night enemy aircraft dropped window and completely blocked the destroyer's radar screens and some enemy planes closed to gunfire range.
On April 4, 1945 at 4:00am fired at an enemy plane that turned away and at 10:00am LCS 62 departed with material recovered from downed aircraft while Bush continued to track enemy planes all day. On April 5, 1945 continued to serve as a radar picket and track planes but none closed to gunfire range.
On April 6, 1945 remained on radar picket duty off Okinawa overnight between 2:45am to 3:45am fired on four enemy aircraft and claimed one shot down.
At 3:15pm, the first kamikaze plane hit USS Bush at the deck level on the starboard side between the no. 1 and no. 2 exhaust stacks and the aircraft's ordnance exploded in the forward engine room. The damage was stabilized by damage control parties and the assistance of tugs was requested and USS Colhoun (DD-801) approached to render aid and was also hit by two kamikaze planes and sustained serious damage and was later scuttled.
At 5:25pm a second kamikaze plane hit USS Bush at at the deck level on the starboard side causing a large fire and nearly severing the ship into two pieces.
At 5:45pm a third kamikaze plane hit USS Bush on the port side above the main deck causing some ammunition to catch fire and explode. A large swell hit the damaged destroyer causing the amidships to begin caving in and the impacts of other swells fouled her. The surviving crew were able to abandoned ship with Captain Westholm supervising the evacuation and was the last off. For his actions, he later earned the Navy Cross. Moments later, the damaged destroyer folded into two halves and sank with 87 crew. For her Wold War II service, USS Bush DD-529 earned seven battle stars.
NARA "Action Report - Okinawa Operation, 15 March to 6 April 1945" pages 1-28
USS Bush - DD529 official website
NavSource - USS Bush (DD-529)
FindAGrave - Capt Rollin Everton Westholm (photo, grave photo, Navy Cross citation)
Navy Cross Citation - Captain Rollin Everton Westholm
"The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander Rollin Everton Westholm (NSN: 0-73482), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the Destroyer U.S.S. BUSH (DD-529), in action against the enemy during the assault on Okinawa on 6 April 1945. After the ship was attacked by numerous enemy suicide planes, Commander Westholm, with outstanding leadership and skill, and by excellent anti-aircraft fire destroyed four of the hostile aircraft. Despite this outstanding action, three of the enemy planed crashed into his ship and left her in a sinking condition. After giving the order to abandon ship, he supervised the evacuation of the crew and was the last man to leave the stricken vessel. Through his profound devotion to duty, he proved to be an inspiration to all. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States."
Navy History and Heritage Command "Battle Experience Radar Pickets and Methods of Combating Suicide Attacks Off Okinawa" March-May 1945
Navy History and Heritage Command "Destroyer Report Gunfire, Bomb and Kamikaze Damage Including Losses in Action 17 October, 1941 to 15 August, 1945" page 8
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