HISTORY OF THE USS LAWS
Most of the bolder, larger words were taken from the USS Laws First Reunion Book
The small typeface represents the complete, unchanged words of Bob Kuhnz, Rdm. 2/c (Radar Operator in C.I.C.[combat information center ,aboard the Laws]) as written in his daily diary from November 8, 1943 to June 20, 1945. Italicized words are explainations/descriptions added later.
The USS Laws, DD 558 was named after a hero of the Tripolian War of 1804 Alexander Laws, who was commissioned a Midshipman August 25, 1802. He volunteered and took part in a bold expedition under Lt. Stephen Decatur, Commander of the USS Ketch Intrepid. Living up o her name, Intrepid entered Tripoli’s harbor February 16, 1804, to capture and burn the former US frigate Philadelphia which had been captured by Tripolian pirates. This feat, according to Lord Nelson, was “the most daring act of the age.” Laws was assigned to duty with Lt. Lawrence, Midshipman MacDonough and ten men to take the berth deck and forwarding storeroom. After this exploit, November 9, 804, Midshipman Laws was transferred from the frigate Constitution to the frigate Congress where he performed the duty of Master Mate. He returned to the United States on December 5, 1805, and performed little active duty after that. He resigned from the Navy in April, 1807.
DD-558: db. 2050 (weight in tons); length: 376’6”; width 39’8”; dr. 13’; top speed of 35 knots; cpl 273; a. 5-5” guns; 10-40mm guns, 7-20mm guns, 6 depth charges, 2 det.; 10-21” diameter torpedo tubes; Fletcher Class.
Laws” was laid down (keel was first laid) May 19, 1942 by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp., Seattle, Washington; launched April 22, 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Mary A. Farwell; and commissioned November 18, 1943, Cmdr. Lester O. Wood in command.
Nov. 18, 1943 USS Laws was commissioned. Sailed in Puget Sound on trial runs.
Dec. 9 Left Seattle for San Diego
Dec. 14 Arrived in San Diego and ready for shake-down cruise (Didn’t get very sick!).
Dec. 25 Had my Christmas dinner in Los Angeles – went to a radio program at CBS starring Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Judy Garland, Fibber McGee and Molly, Carnamaranda (sic), Robert Young, Casa Daley in Hollywood. Heck of it is, Lyle was there, too, but I didn’t see him. Bill came to Los Angeles later in day. Didn’t see either of them, but it was a swell Christmas. (The ship was back in San Diego.)
Jan. 1, 1944 Went on liberty in San Diego and brought in the new year by seeing a show.
Jan. 9 Shake-down cruise completed and headed for Bremerton to complete final repairs on the ship. Bad weather on the way.
Jan. 12 Arrived at Bremerton Navy Yard.
Jan. 13 Went into dry-dock at Bremerton.
Feb. 2 Left Bremerton for San Francisco
Feb. 6 Arrived at ‘Frisco.
Feb. 10 Called home. Mom answered.
After shakedown, “Laws” departed San Francisco February 11, 1944
Feb, 11, 1844 Left the States headed for Pearl Harbor with a few other “cans” (cans = destroyers).
Feb. 15 Arrived at Pearl Harbor.
Feb. 27 Left Pearl Harbor for Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Group.
Joining the advance forces at Kwajalein March 9. Following two weeks of ASW operations, the destroyer sailed on the 20th to screen (screen = front-line protection) a refueling group supporting the raids on Palau, Yap and Ulithi. “Laws” continued ASW screening for the next month, accompanying tankers as they replenished units during the Hollandia operation.
Mar 9, 1944 Arrived at Kwajalein (2 weeks after its occupation).
Mar 16 Left Kwajalein for Majuro.
Mar 17 Arrived at Majuro.
Mar 18 Left Majuro with fleet – we are assigned to a tanker group.
Mar 25 Crossed Equator (Ugh!).
Mar 26 Cruised with tankers off Rabaul – fleet raided Rabaul.
Mar. 30 I am now 19 (oh boy!).
Apr 1 Headed for Majuro.
Apr 3 Dropped depth charges on sub contact.
Apr 4 Another sub contact – more depth charges.
Apr 5 Arrived at Majuro
Apr 12 Left for Manus escorting tankers (as usual).
Apr 19 Arrived at Manus.
Apr 23 Escorted tankers nearer to Hollandia, New Guinea (where they are striking). Fueled the fleet (TF 58).
Apr 26 Returned to Manus (Ahhhh!).
Apr 28 Left for Pearl Harbor (AHHHHH!).
May 2 Dropped depth charges on sub contact – probably sank it – but who knows?!!
May 9 Arrived at Pearl – 22 new men came aboard.
May 10-30 Exercises and repairs.
After a brief respite at Pearl Harbor, the destroyer arrived at Roi Island June 8, 1944, to join the carrier group en route to Saipan.
June 1, 1944 Left Pearl for Roi Island (Kwajalein Atoll).
June 10 Left for Saipan (in preparation for its invasion).
Reaching her destination on the 15th, “Laws” screened the carriers as hey unleashed heavy air attacks on the islands. Two days later, enemy planes made a vain attempt to penetrate the screen d find the carriers. “Laws” 5-inch guns threw up a deadly barrage of anti-aircraft fire, plashing two enemy planes and assisting in the downing of another. The destroyer remained in the Saipan area on patrol and screening duty until mid-August.
June 16, 1944 Invasion of Saipan.
June 17 Had my first air attack – we were given official credit for one plane and helped knock down another. About 40 Jap planes attack.
June 18 Another air raid over our group – made up of 2 CVE’s (2 light carriers) and 3 cans (one more plane t our credit. Picked up a Jap pilot).
June 19 Had another of those “routine” GQ’s (general quarters) – didn’t get to fire.
June 22 In the evening we had three torpedoes pass through the formation – all missed. Benham got a sub.
June 28 Another torpedo passed through the formation – missed again. GQ middle of the night – fired a few rounds – no results. Bogies are hard t shoot down at night.
July 3 Headed for Eniwetok after giving support to the invasion of Saipan.
July 5 Arrived at Eniwetok.
July 9 US forces complete occupation of Saipan – we’re still in Eniwetok.
July 11 Headed for Saipan again – 3 cans, 2 CVE’s (still the same CVE’s – the “Kitkun Bay” and “Gambier Bay” plus the same cans – Laws, Longshaw, Morrison).
July 16 Afternoon – went into Garapan Harbor, Saipan, to fuel – saw sunken ships and three dead Japs in the water (assigned to TF58).
July 26 Fueled at Garagapan Harbor again.
July 27 Transferred ammunition to cruiser “Cleveland” at Garapan.
Aug 3 Headed for Eniwetok again.
Aug 5 Fueled from battleship Iowa.
Aug 7 Arrived at Eniwetok.
Aug 12 Picked up fighter pilot who had bailed out. This makes our 3rd pick-up (2 Americans and one Nip).
Aug 19 Pulled up to tender “Markab”.
Aug 25 Went into floating dry-dock (scraped bottom!).
Aug 27 Left dry-dock.
Additional bases were needed as staging areas for ships and aircraft during the planned Leyte invasion; and the Paiau Island group was selected. Sailing with the carrier group August 29, “Laws” stood by as the mighty force softened up the beaches for the upcoming assault.
Sep 1, 1944 Crossed the Equator going South (35 “pollywogs” aboard). (Pollywogs= those who had not yet crossed the Equator.)
Sep 6 Planes from our task group hit Palau. Picked up 3-man crew of TBF who made an emergency landing in the sea.
On september9 the force turned its attention to the Philippines, launching air strikes against Mindanao. While en route to their target, friendly planes reported a Japanese force of 40 small craft off Sanco Point, and “Laws”, with other destroyers and cruisers, were sent to intercept the group. The carrier aircraft had already started to attack when the cruiser-destroyer force arrived on the scene. The enemy was no match for the Americans, as “Laws” and her sister ships launched a coordinated attack, wiping out the convoy.
Sep 9, 1944 Our first strike on Mindanao (Philippines). Destroyer Division 110 (Laws, Longshaw, Morrison and Pritchett) and two cruisers (Birmingham and Santa Fe) were sent to Sanco Point (east coast of Mindanao) to destroy as many as possible of a 40-ship (they were “sampans”) convoy reported by our planes. They were like “Sitting ducks” all of them were either sunk or left burning. We picked up two survivors and were officially credited for sinking 3 craft. (Note: came to within 1200 yards of Mindanao).
“Laws” continued screening carriers until arriving at Ulithi October 1.
Sep 12, 1944 Moved up and hit Central Philippines. Picked up squadron leader of Lex. who suffered minor burns. (Lex = carrier Lexington.)
Sep 14 Picked up a dead Jap who shot himself before he was captured (Oh, was he a sight!).
Sep 21 Planes struck at shipping in Manila Harbor (also air field there).
At sea again October 6, she joined the carriers as they struck at Formosa and Okinawa before arriving of Leyte two weeks later. “Laws” remained off shore giving support to the October 20 invasion. Since American occupation of the Philippines would cut squarely across the enemy’s supply lines from the East Indies to the home islands, the Japanese could be expected to strike back with their entire fleet.
Oct 10, 1944 Hit Okinawa Shima (TF38, yet).
Oct 12 Hit Formosa. About 1930 (7:30 p.m.) GQ sounded and we had a heck of an agervating (sic) GQ with a lot of bogies and rough water. Japs dropped flares over the formation (our ships made smoke.) The Pritchett was hit by 40 mm fire from our own ships (17 casualties).
Oct 13 Still around Formosa – TF 38 attacked again. Canberra hit by torpedo.
Oct 14 Another evening attack. Did some firing – got nothing. Jap plane crashed on fantail of Reno (DD). Houston (cruiser) was torpedoed.
Oct 15 Looking for Jap fleet around Formosa. Houston got her second torpedo.
Oct 17 Invasion of Philippines. Jap fleet disappears.
Planes from TF38, to which “Laws” was attached, contacted the Japanese center force October 24 as the enemy steamed toward San Bernardino Strait. The Imperial Navy was no match for the powerful fleet, losing its giant battleship “Musashi” in the ensuing engagement, the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea.
As American bombers and torpedo planes punished other ships of the center force, Admiral Halsey’s search planes scoured the seas in search of Japan’s carriers. When they spotted Admiral Ozawa’s force toward mid-afternoon, “Laws” raced north with the carriers to intercept. They reached striking range during the early hours the next morning and shortly after dawn launched planes to begin a day-long pounding which sank four carriers and a destroyer.
Meanwhile, the Japanese suffered other crippling defeats at Surigao Strait and off Samar. When the last smoke of these momentous engagements, collectively known as the Battle of Leyte Gulf, had vanished, Japan had lost its Imperial Navy, the Philippines, and all hope of winning the War. As the Japanese Navy Minister, Admiral Yonia, reflected after the war, “defeat at Leyte was tantamount to the loss of the Philippines. When you took the Philippines, that was the end of our resources.”
Oct 24, 1944 Bad day for TG 38.3. Princeton sunk after big plane attack this morning. AA fire brought some down – most of them through interceptions. Morrison (ship in our division) had its mast broken off while receiving survivors from the Princeton. GQ all day. Our planes contacted 13 DD, 8 CA, 4 BB between Mindoro and Tobias (busy day tomorrow). (AA= anti-aircraft, DD=destroyers, CA=cruisers, BB=battleships.)
Oct 25-27 Second Battle of the Philippines – count of ships sunk not yet complete. Besides the Princeton, we lost 2 CVE’s (Kitkun & Gambier Bay), 3 DD’s, 1 DE and some PT boats in the Central Philippines. One-third of the Jap fleet sunk or damaged. (Goody!) (DE=destroyer escort)
Oct 28 Sunk a mine.
Oct 29 Back in Ulithi – headed back Nov 1st.
Nov 5 Lex “crash-dived” by one Jap suicide plane. Didn’t damage her flight deck, so she’ still going strong.
Nov 5-6 Hit Luzon again.
Nov 7 “Frankie” President for fourth term!
Nov 14 Picked up fighter pilot.
Nov 18 1st anniversary of “Laws”.
Nov 20 Last night enemy subs (2 man subs) managed to get through sub nets here in Ulithi Harbor succeeded in torpedoing one of our tankers which burned all day. DE’s and patrol craft have definitely sunk two of the subs and are still looking for more. We searched, too, and screened the carriers.
Nov 25 3rd Fleet hit in and around Manila Bay area. Jap planes came out to greet us. Fighters got most of them but a couple got through and attempted crash-diving on the “Essex” – one hit her – one missed. It still able to operate OK.
Dec 14 Picked up fighter pilot.
Dec 14 & 15 Strikes on Luzon.
Dec 17 & 18 Biggest and roughest storm we ever hope to encounter – probably 100 knot gale (reminded me of a snow storm in Fondy!). Something has gone wrong with our pot shaft – have been running on one engine for the last day or so, and have been ordered to Ulithi for repairs.
Dec 18 On our way back to Ulithi, escorting fleet tankers, one of our CVE’s (the Cape Esperance) caught fire. Storm proved too much for the “Hull” – she went down. She was in our screen of 3 cans – and incidentally, had our mail.
Dec 19 Fueled the fleet again with the tankers. Picked up 2 fellows who fell overboard off the Preston.
Dec 25 Spent Christmas in Ulithi – had a “buffet supper” in CIC – sure was fun. Repairs made on port engine attempted – can’t find anything wrong, tho. (Oh, well, fun while it lasted). Yesterday the fleet was coming into Ulithi doing firing exercises at the same time – they accidentally fired in this direction and placed a shell about 50 ft. from us – anchored! (CIC = combat information center aboard ship.)
“Laws” continued to screen he carriers’ air attacks on Leyte and Luzon for the rest of the year. Sailing with carriers late in December, she supported the amphibious assault on Luzon January 6, 1945. Bringing destruction closer to Tokyo, her task group concentrated raids on the China coast and Formosa before replenishing at Ulithi.
Jan 1, 1945 New Year’s Day (well, what’s the diff?) a sea.
Jan 2 & 3 Strikes on Formosa.
Jan 6 Stormy weather again. Picked up fighter pilot (was lifted right on deck by a nice, big swell – wasn’t that swell?)
Jan 7 Strikes on Luzon.
Jan 9 Strikes on Formosa – invasion of Luzon begins.
Jan 10 Our task force went through Luzon Straights. Now we’re prowling around the South China Sea (gonna see what we can find).
Jan 12 We are now lying off the coast of French Indo-China and we are striking quite a few convoys (off Saigon and Camaran (sic) Bay). Came within 21 miles of the coast – I could see it. Saw a surface craft – turned out to be a friendly submarine.
Jan 15 & 16 Struck at Hong Kong, Amoy and Swapow (on the China Coast). Also on the east coast of Formosa. 2 GQ’s on the 16th but our fighters downed the bogies before they reached the screen. Picked up a crew of 3 from downed TBF (carrier fighter).
Jan 18 Stormy weather again – couldn’t transfer the pilots to their parent carrier (made a 52 degree roll).
Jan 19 Fine day – fueled – got ice cream aboard (half fell in the drink) from the Langely for the pilots. Planes sighted a convoy to the east of us about 40 miles – there are 60-70 of them. (We are about 200 miles west of Lengayen Gulf – fueling).
Jan 20 This evening we had GQ while we went back through Luzon Straits – we had some bogies but all we got to fire at was one of those fighters – Oh, well, he shouldn’t have come over us anyhow! Had a group of patrolling DD’s in front of our force. Water is calm again.
Jan 21 Hit Formosa. Had GQ from noon til 7:30 p.m. Ticonderoga hit by Jap suicide planes (2 of them – we think we shot down a third that was about to do the same thing). The carrier burned for about 2 hours. Many killed and wounded. Had 8 degree list, but she can still make 25 knots. Captain and Executive Officer wounded seriously – gunnery officer missing. DD Brush also hit by suicide plane. She was a picket (didn’t get damaged so bad). The CVE Langley got a bomb on the flight deck (made an 8x12 ft. hole – she is still operative). Water is very calm and sun is shining bright.
Jan 22 Last night the Ticonderoga left the formation. This morning we are hitting Okinawa Shima (about 500 miles from Jap mainland). No bogies – so far today. The water is amazingly calm – the sky is clear (fueled from North Carolina). (Oops – we did have bogies today. BQ for about an hour this noon). (Bogie = unidentified aircraft)
Jan 23 Fueled. Got 3 bags of U.S. Mail aboard!! And we are going to head back to Ulithi. I feel good. (A big of a cold, tho) Water just a bit rougher. Cap. Says we got that plane yesterday – for sure!
Jan 24 On our way to Ulithi. Practiced surface engagement maneuvers with TF 34 – which is probably only a temporary assignment.
Jan 26 Entered Ulithi.
Departing February 10, “Laws” joined a destroyer radar picket unit set up to give the carrier forces early warning of enemy attacks. On the 1th the destroyer screened the “flattops” as they struck Iwo Jima, a volcanic island fortress needed for the B-29 airstrip.
Feb 10, 1945 Left Ulithi. Tokyo bound! With TG 58.5 (night carrier group), we hear we are going to be in scouting and radar picket line for the approach. Oh, Lawdy!
Feb 12 Practiced our scouting and radar picket duties, (passed about 70 miles east of the Marianas today – going north, of course). We also lean we can tell in our letters all our experiences up to one month ago without mentioning other ships!
Feb 15 Refueled from Alaska – temperature is 48 degrees above.
Feb 16 Today we struck Tokyo. GQ 0600-2000. We were with 7 other cans on the scouting line for the Fifth Fleet. Intercepted about 10 Jap planes with our combat air patrol. Saw a guy in the water with his head cut off. Temperature 40 degrees above. Snowed a small amount – but it was snow.
Feb 17 Struck at Tokyo again. Last nite we (8 scouting ships) stayed within 50 miles of Tokyo while the rest of the Fifth Fleet retired. We retired from Tokyo area about 1500. Not as many bogies as yesterday.
Feb 18 Last nite pickets at the front of the force sunk a Jap convoy while retiring toward Iwo Jima to supply air support (for its invasion Feb. 19th).
Feb 19 Marines invaded Iwo Jima. We fueled and are ready to give air support for the invasion.
Feb 20 Went to GQ in the nite. Jap planes dropped window near the force we are in 58.5.
Feb 21 We learn we will remain in the “Iwo area” with task force 58.5. (Includes the carrier Enterprise). It will probably be better. The rest of 58 will strike Tokyo again. (Window=false radar image- usually created by using foil)
Feb 22 Something went wrong with Saratoga last nite – it will return to Pearl.
Feb 24 Sank a mine. We are still with this nite fighter group around Iwo Jima. Supplying air support. Weather is still fine.
Feb 26 Refueled from Baltimore.
Feb 27 Same ol’ stuff. But it’s a good deal!!! Sunk another mine while fueling.
Feb 29 Same ol’ stuff (weather’s fine). Got mail yesterday!!!
Mar 4 Fueled from Alaska – the new Battleship/cruiser with us.
Mar 10 Left Iwo Jima for Ulithi. Ah!
Mar 12 Arrived Ulithi.
After supporting the campaign until success was assured, “Laws” retired to Ulithi March 12, 1945.
Mar 14, 1945 Captain receives medal for outstanding services.
Mar 17 Tied up to the “destroyer tender” Yosemite.
Mar 18 Saw carriers and other warships of the British Fleet.
Preparations for the invasion of Okinawa, the last remaining barrier on the road to Japan, were now complete. “Laws” departed Ulithi March 21 to take up a patrol station in advance of the planned invasion o April 1.
Mar 20, 1945 Left Ulithi with task force 54 (now out of 58) bound for Okinawa Jima as fire support to the invasion which is to begin April 1.
Mar 21 Stormy weather Task force is made up of about 55 ships.
Mar 23 Refueled from the Battleship Maryland.
Mar 24 Getting cold.
Mar 25 At 6 a.m. we went to GQ. We were screening the Maryland, Texas, and Tuscolusa as we approached Okinawa. Those ships opened fire on the southern beachhead at 2 p.m. We are going to bombard while on picket station tonight – alone. We had no return fire from the beaches as yet (came within 8000 yds of the beach).
Mar 26 Plane attack us as we were about to make our last run on the beach. Plane came within about 500 ft. off our fantail – sure thought it was a “Banzi”. We started fires on the beach (fired a lot of star shells – kept the Nips awake). This morning at 5:30 we had an air raid – one destroyer (Kimberly) was hit hard by a “Banzi”. We splashed another “Banzi” near by (6-1/2 miles away!!!). We were screening the landing operations on Kerrama Retto. Later we screened the Texas, Maryland and Tuscaloosa for bombardment of south end of Okinawa.
Mar 27 We have taken Kerrama Retto – little resistance and fine harbor for the landing support. Minesweeper was hit by suicide plane (“Banzi”). Also the can O’Brien.
Mar 28 TF 58 is on the other side of Okinawa (west side) and are giving great air support for our bombardment. (We have had no return fire so far!!). Still screening the same ships for bombardment.
Mar 29 We witnessed part of the great sight – supporting underwater demolition teams for preparation of landings. Our area is just a fake. They are really going to invade the west central. Laws, Longshaw and Morrison were the destroyer support for our area – lasted about 2 hours. (No return fire!! Whew!)
Mar 30 My birthday – 20 years old! Well, I spent hat supporting another underwater demolition demonstration. So far in this operation everyone is pretty damned tired – so am I!! Morrison was sent about 40 miles to the southeast this evening to sink a sub.
Mar 31 Went to Kerrama Retto Harbor to fuel and take on ammo. The harbor is sure being used by the invasion force!
Providing support for mine sweeping operations and underwater demolition teams, the veteran destroyer provided (sic) her value. The Allies, sweeping down on the enemy like a giant typhoon, planted a garrison in Japan’s backyard, as “Laws” stood by on patrol and shore bombardment.
Apr 1, 1945 L-Day (Landing Day). Bombard on southern beaches – landings are made by Army and Marines on the west coast.
Apr 2 More bombarding – this morning a Jap plane came within 40 mm range – we fired but didn’t get him – too dark and too far away.
Apr 3 Bombarded all nite. 2 AVP’s and the DD, “Tingey” were hit by “suicide planes”. We were bombarding southwestern corner of Okinawa. In the afternoon we went to the vicinity of the invasion to get TBS crystals. Sure were a lot of transport and “what-not” anchored there. (The weather is sure fine!) (TBS=transmission between ships)
Apr 4 More bombarding. This time we had a spotting plane. The plane reported we knocked out 6 large trucks and 3 landing craft (understand 6-inch shore batteries opened up on the “Nevada”. I guess it knocked out one of her main batteries – Oh, me!)
Apr 5 Screened the communications ship “Estes”, the Arkansas and the Wichita last night – more screening and bombarding during the day.
On April 6 she “splashed” a “Zeke” as it made its way to the fleet.
Apr 6, 1945 Screened those same ships last nite – just screened during day – a UDT operation was scheduled but an enemy attack was reported forming so it was delayed – bogies all afternoon – all over – Bettys, Vals, Zekes, etc. We are operating to the southeast of Okinawa and most of the activity was to the north – so we got out of that very nicely. A Jap plane came into the formation about 6:45 p.m. We got that – it dropped about 100 yards off our fantail – guys said it was headed for the Wichita – the Wichita fired, too. Later in the evening we were sent to help aid the DD, “Morris” as she was hit about 10 miles south by a “Banzi”. The air attack quieted down by nightfall. We screen again at night. (Didn’t see much of the Morris. Too dark. But hard it was hit across the starboard bow.) (Betty=Jap twin engine bomber, Vals and Zekes= Jap fighter ad torpedo planes)
Apr 7 Today the captain said we were in a 180 plane (enemy) air raid yesterday – 55 (about) shot down by CAP (Combat Air Patrol) and about 35 by the ships – not bad. From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30p.m. we supported another UDT operation on a small island on the eastern coast of Okinawa. (Sure fired a lot of shells on that dinky island!!) The weather is dismal. Task Force 58 to the NE of Okinawa was darn busy last night, too – also today – with both bogies and surface craft. (Reports came in this morning that they sent a 380-plane attack on a formation of about 1 BB, 1 CA and 13 DD’s just a little to the southwest of Kuyshu. We kind of expect a little trouble from something like that tomorrow morning. So far tonite we are only to screen the Estes and Wichita to the southeast of Okinawa (pretty good deal!). And, oh, yes, we heard 2 cans were sunk yesterday – the Bush and Calhoun (sp?) – and 5 or so damaged (a mine sweeper was sunk, too). These “Banzi’s” are sure after the cans! They want to do what we did with their navy – knock out the screening vessels and the big ships can’t go anywhere (Oh, well!). TF 58 sank (an enemy) task force of: 1 BB, 1 CL, 1 large DD or CL and three DD’s (Left 2 DD’s burning and staffed). 7 planes lost. It is understood that this task force was a suicide task force and intended to do the best it could (it did!). (CL=large cruiser)
The destroyer remained off Okinawa until the island was secured.
Apr 8, 1945 Not as much happened as we’ve expected – screened around the bay to the southeast of Okinawa – expect to fuel and take on ammo this afternoon at Kerrama Retto (and maybe MAIL!!!)
Apr 9 We took on ammo and fuel yesterday but we still didn’t get mail. They tell us it is sent to Okinawa (now I wonder when we’ll get it – they sure wouldn’t let us stop in at Okinawa to pick up our mail!). Last nite we cruised around NW of Okinawa and TF 54.2, which includes all of the old battle wagons and cruisers around here (like the Texas, New Mexico, West Virginia, New York and the Idaho). Today we fueled (while moving) off the west coast of Okinawa, and this afternoon we entered Nakagusuk Wan Bay and bombarded a Jap suicide boat pen and gun positions on the southeastern corner. (This morning a DD was hit with a suicide motor torpedo boat.)
Description of Okinawa Shima: A pretty island – not very wooded, and in many places, terraced. Along the beaches are cliffs – in some places there are sandy beaches, tho. The hills kind of remind me of the “Ledge” around Fondy. Otherwise places like that aren’t too similar to home. Kerrama Retto is very high and the vegetation (sic) on it are just trees or bushes with reddish leaves giving a vivid impression of an autumn hillside back home. There are very few buildings on those elands (and not too many on Okinawa that were visible to me, but I understand most of them are inland – where they belong!).
Remark for the day: “Wonder if we will head back to the States after this operation – if so, when will this operation be over? And are they going to send us back to another base for supplies, etc., half way through this operation! If so, where will they send us, when and for how long? The island is officially scheduled to be secured about 120 days after L-Day – or after April 1!!! (That’s how we stand, kid!!)
(Gee, I sure write a lot in here!) (Wonder if I’ll ever get it off the ship to take home!!)
Apr 10 Last nite we screened heavy support ships again. This morning we supported the invasion of Tsugen Shima – a small island on the eastern edge of Nakagusuk Wan Bay. I saw the ducks making the landing – sure was a sight. All the rest of the day we hung around waiting for the shore “Charlie-oboes” to give us targets to shoot at. (We thought we had a Jap on one of the radio circuits in CIC. Impersonating a “charlie-oboe” – but he turned out to be OK – just a good German accent I guess!) The island was officially secured about 1840 this evening. Just before that, while we were on our station west of the island, we received mortar fire, believed to be our fellows making their final “stab.” (And these were “rickashayed” hots.) (None hit us.) (Charlie-oboe=spotter)
Apr 11 Last night we remained inside the bay, east of Tsugen about 1500 yds. and stood by to fire star shells in case. There were still pockets of resistance and in the morning we were to aid in knocking out some of these positions but doing this we found our shots fell to the other side of the island, thus endangering other ships. We quit. We stood by, tho – the only warship – in fact, through that entire support assignment except the landing. They had quite a bit of trouble with a light house which we, or no one, was to fire at. Heck of it was, snipers were inside so they had to do a bit of damage to it. Later this afternoon we screened – bogies came in from the north (after rainy weather yesterday). One was splashed about 30 miles to the NW and another crashed into the bridge of a “can” in TF 58 (to the north of Okinawa). Several others were splashed by TF 58 by AA and CAP.
Apr 12 Last night our ship (alone) screened the Wichita. Had bogies all night – dropped window and just heckles. One came within 5000 yds of the ship – couldn’t fire ‘cause we weren’t sure if it was friendly. During the day we bombarded southwestern Okinawa again – from Nakagusuk Wan Bay. We had a “Charlie-oboe” and a spotting plane – knocked out 3 trucks and a possible observation post. Bogies came in during the afternoon. We had to get out of the bay for that and screen the “heavies.” During the air raid the “Cassin Young” (DD) was hit by a suicide plane. The “Abele” (DD) was sunk (by a possible buzz bomb – cut her right in two) and I guess more damage was done of which I know little about. (Cruiser Wichita)
Apr 13 (Friday the 13th!!) Only a few bogies last night but we stood Condition “2 ready” (8 on and 4 off!) all night for harassing bombardment – in Nakagusuk Wan Bay. (You know, star shells and all!). This sure is a nice bay for a future base. Well, this morning while we were patrolling in Nakagusuk Wan Bay, our communications officer poked his nose in and said, “President Roosevelt died.” Wow! That sure was surprising – hemorrhage, I guess – boy, it’s going to lower everyone’s morale a bit, but I sure hope we will still win this war as expeditiously as before and come to the Peace Conference to be held in ‘Frisco on April 25, 1945. (Note: U.S. 9th Army is only 30 miles from Berlin! Russians are the same distance to the east of that German capital!!) (Note, also: We control about half of Okinawa at present but the southern portion is holding strong). A part of the Jap fleet is reported heading this way. We have TF 58 to the north of the island – that sure helps!
Apr 14 Harassing fire support missions last night – in Nakagusuk Wan Bay (with 2 other cans). During day we patrolled – same place.
Apr 15 Last nite – more harassing fire – patrolled in same place during the day.
Apr 16 Harassing fire support missions from south of island – in the morning, got logistics from Kerrama Retto. No mail yet. This morning TF 58 downed about 35 Nip planes – not many showed in this area – one DD hit 3 times in row.) In evening had sub contact; dropped depth charges – no luck!
Apr 17 Last nite we patrolled with other cans and a few cruisers to the northwest of Okinawa. During the day stood to support invasion of Iye Shima (located to the northwest of Okinawa). They didn’t use our support, tho. AH1 MAIL!!! THIS AFTERNOON!!! Gee, that LST is supposed to make daily runs – ammmmm! (Note: A piece of the Jap Fleet was reported sighted somewhere to the north of here. Believe we are to form a battle line tonight. Oh, me! (LST=landing craft)
Apr 18 Nothing happened last nite. We just cruised around like the night before. During the day we patrolled and stood by to bombard the northern most point of Okinawa; it was a pretty job.
Apr 19 Last night patrolled same as last nite. During the day we bombarded “Naha”, the largest city in Okinawa. Sure was an interesting place to look at through the glasses! Wow! What a wreck!!
Apr 20 Last nite we did some harassing fire around the Naha area and today the same thing. They expect another air attack today; nothing so far!!
Apr 21 Harassing fire again last nite and in the same areas – they’re making a few gains – not much, tho. We gave the news highlights to some of the beach parties on our shore fire control frequency in CIC. They sure appreciated it. During one firing assignment this morning we did pretty good with the smoke shells. Killed a lot of Jap so the shore party told us. (Still no bad air raid – last night, however, the Japs dropped a few bombs on our air field. Also some supplies for those Japs still holding out.
Apr 22 More bombardment in the Naha area last night. This morning we went to Kerama Retto for ammo and quite a few supplies.
Apr 23 Fired at a couple Bettys last night during a raid where another can was sunk and about 4 others damaged. The can capsized. We were screening the transport area. Today we went back to Kerama Retto for ammo; nothing for us in the line of AAC so we went to the Okinawa transport area. Here we got mail and the rest of the ammo.
Apr 24 Harassing bombardment last nite. We anchored in Nakagasuku Wan (Bay). It was pretty lousy weather last night and part of today – rainy – the fellows on the beach were catching heck, too, from Jap artillery. We had to do quite a bit of counter-battery firing (also a lot of star shells). Today – stood of from the bombardment group all day – easy Ah! Did nothing!
Apr 26 Last night anchored in the transport area to stand by in case they have sortie in an attack by the Nips. This morning we took on ammo again at Kerama Retto – also nice fresh frozen foods. I was on the working party of about 10 – easy job!
Apr 27 Anchored in the transport area again last night. Ah. That’s gooooood! This morning we learn a can was hit by a suicide boat in Nakagasuku Wan (Bay)!!! (This morning I put up two more hash marks. The score is now: 3 sampans, 2 twin engines, 3 single engines.) We stayed in anchorage for the rest of the day.
Apr 28 Anchored last night – during day we bombarded in the Naha area – knocked out a lot of gun placements, buildings and personnel.
Apr 29 Lot of bogies last nite. Last evening we intercepted many coming down from the north (Tokyo) – 70 were shot down – just about all of that raid, but during the nite many hecklers roamed around. We were directed to anchor with the transports again under cover of smoke. Lucky break again. At one time the fellows saw the silhouette of a Nip plane against the moon (which was just visible through the smoke. Ships not in the smoke were permitted to fire – not us. (We were in smoke!) Sure a heck of a feeling!! A can, a DE and the “comforter” (An evacuation ship) were hit – a couple more, too, I guess, but that is all according to our info.
Apr 29 Bombarded Naha area and southern tip of Okinawa – also hit suicide boats along the SW coast – some were about 4’ by 20’!!
Apr 30 Bombarded Naha area last night. Today, went to Kerama Retto for ammo and fuel. Lot of bogies tonight but no damage done.
May 1 Anchored in transport area last night; only two bogies! Came in pretty close, tho! Did a pretty job in our bombardment today – even got a “well done” from the captain this evening – to the combat and gun crews! Knocked out guns, closed caves and killed personnel (with air bursts) will fire more tonight. (There is a strong rumor that Germany has surrendered!)
May 2-3 Bombarded day and night – hardly any bogies. Afternoon of 3rd we went to Kerama for fuel and ammo. (Mussolini killed!)
May 4 Anchored in transport area last night – many bogies – on dropped a stick of8 bombs about 300 yds. off our starboard beam – whew!! Today – this morning rather – ha a raid of about 70 planes – 54 were destroyed either shot down or they “banz-eyed”. 2 cans sunk – one was in our division (of four) – the Morrison (DD) – she received 3 hits by bonsai’s otherwise the afternoon we went back to “Retto” for the rest of our ammo. While we were there (during the morning) we saw the Ward (DMS) after she was hit by 2 banzi’s. (What a mess!!) Tonight, I guess, we will anchor in the transport area again. (Hitler believed dead!!) My GQ station is changed to air plotter.
May 5 Bombarded all day. Will tonight.
May 6 Last nite more bogies. We didn’t’ fire at any. More bombarding today. Line are beginning to move. Ah! Also Europe is looking very good. Northern part has surrendered unconditionally. Won’t be long now! This morning the fellows found a Marine floating in the water. (What a sight! And Stink? Wow! I didn’t see it, tho. Good!) They tied 5 5” projectiles to him so he would sink.
May 7 More bombardment last nite and today.
May 8 Last nite at 11:30 p.m. we got the news that GERMANY HAD SURRENDERED to the Western Allies and Russia – this means the European War is at an END!!! WOOPEE!!! We are working with a shoe fire control party last night at the time o the occasion so I relayed the message to him. He was very happy and asked for a repeat so he could copy it down for the boys. I even cut in on one of the Colorado’s salvos!!
Today we anchored in the transport area. It was rainy weather last night and it is again today so no bogies!!
May 9 Still anchored in transport area last nite and today we took ammo aboard, etc.
May 10 Last nite did some harassing fire; more bogies during day. We reported to the bombardment group in Nakagasuku Wan (Bay) – pretty nice place.
May 11 Didn’t bombard or harass last nite. There were plenty of bogies all nite, tho (ships were assigned individual “smokers” – all reet!!! Today we did a lot of firing – over 500 rds – and more to go (it’s only 4:00 in the afternoon!!) Fired at the “boot” down on the corner of the island. Caves, trench works and gun emplacements. We had an air raid this morning, too – 50 or more bogies shot down. The Hadley (DD) got about 23 all by herself!! She was on radar picket.
May 12 Bombarded last nite and today.
May13 Harassed last nite and in the morning we escorted the New York out of Nakagasuku Wan to other side. No bombardment for us today – we went to Ie Shima for replenishment from two damaged “cans” – Evans and the Hadley – who really hot down only 19 planes!! (not 23!!) Saw a Jap civilian concentration camp on the island thru glasses!
May 14 Bombarded last nite – went to Kerama Retto for further replenishments.
May 15 Anchored in transport area – AH! – No bogies!! Due to the adverse weather conditions! Today we continued to have bad weather; however, later in the afternoon we got out spotting plane and went to work! Boom! Boom!
May 16 Illuminated last night – bogies again. One came over head – some could see it in the search lights. Bombarded today with plane spotter.
May 17 Illumination & bogies last night. Bombarding today with spotter.
May 18 Moe bogies and illumination last nite – this morning another can in our division of four was “demolished”. It went up on a reef near Naha Airfield. Japs opened fire on it and blew up its forward magazine. We conducted counter-battery for Longshaw. And so in the afternoon it had to be completely destroyed. It was the Longshaw (DD 559). We were about 8 miles from it when it happened – it was a misty & foggy morning. Rest of the day we bombarded with a spotter.
May 19 More bombardment today (and last night).
May 20 Same as yesterday. Bogies (as usual) last nite. More bogies last night. (Thatcher hit by suicide plane.) Other than that more illumination & call fire & harassing missions last night. Today more spot bombarding.
May 21-22 Bombarded as usual. Bad weather – few bogies.
May 23 Kerama Retto again – rain.
May 24 Anchored. Last night bogies came in visual contact with us!!
May 25 Air raid this morning. Didn’t fire – lot of bogies intercepted and shot down. Bad weather.
May 26 Bombarded – hardly any bogies – none last nite.
May 27 Bombarded – had GQ this morning on a few bogies.
May 28 Anchored in transport area last nite- Kerama Retto today.
May 29 Anchored again last night. Went to Nakagasuku Wan (Bay). For FS duties – we got a job of screening transports in the bay! (FS=fire support)
May 30-31 FS in Nakagasuku Wan (Bay) – sometimes in the south of Okinawa.
June 1 Operated south of Okinawa – had an explosion 400 yds off our port quarter – don’t know if it was a magnetic mine, torpedo or what. Front lines are pushing up fast. They now have all of Naha.
June 2-10 Same schedule; still a few bogies now and then. Lately we’ve been getting within 40mm and 20mm range to knock out the remaining Japs in southern tip of island (June 9 – got my army shoes (more comfortable).
June 11-16 Same schedule. Few bogies yet. On the nite of the 16thTwiggs (DD) exploded. We helped rescue survivors. Picked up 7 ourselves. Don’t know why it blew; but she sure blew up! I helped Doc as much s I could in the wardroom where he took care of the survivors. Boy, what a mess! The can sank.
June 16-20 Hung around south tip of island while it was secured.
June 20, 1945 In Kerama Retto for general repairs and tender availability – also beer parties on Zamami Island. Saw women (Jap) and caves, etc.
And continued operations in its vicinity for the rest of the war.
June 22, 1945 Word arrives that the Okinawa is finally ours. Work must be completed on making Okinawa a base for further operations; mainly attacks on the Japanese mainland.
July 28 Orders come to relieve the Callaghan (DD) on the picket line. 30 minutes from the Callaghan Jap planes are detected on the radar. Within minutes word came that the Callaghan had been hit by a suicide plane, and then we heard that it was sinking. The Laws, risking a similar fate, picked up 107 of her men.
Aug 6 News reaches the Laws of the dropping of the 1st atomic bomb, lifting morale.
Aug 10 News of Russia declaring war on Japan was also well received.
Aug 11 News received that Japan had officially agreed to surrender terms offered by the “Big Three” at Potsdam. This news, reaching us at about 2:00 a.m., set off a gigantic celebration on Okinawa as gun crews (without orders) began firing all sorts of flares and tracer bullets. This spontaneous eruption of emotion could only be stopped by a call to general quarters. Six deaths (and many wounded) were attributed to this outburst.
Aug 12-13 Although the news reports were optimistic, air attacks in Nakagasuku Wan (Bay) continued.
Aug 26 Message received that the Laws would be detached for return to the U.S., when the Neilds (DD) reports to the Fifth Fleet.
Sep 2 Japanese sign the peace treaty in Tokyo Bay. VJ DAY!! WORLD WAR ii IS OVER!! Orders are received the same day or the Laws to proceed home - the only ship still remaining that started the Okinawa campaign.
Sep 3 This day was spent preparing for the trip home, including finishing a 300 foot homeward bound pennant.
Sep 4 Laws leaves Okinawa for home; sailing first for Eniwetok.
With the war over, “Laws” departed Ulithi September 7.
Sep 6 An emergency appendectomy on board changed their destination to Ulithi.
Sep 7 Arrived at Ulithi. The ailing crewman was transferred. Laws refueled and departed for Eniwetok the same day.
Sep 8 Orders were received that lights could be shown at night while steaming. A movie was shown on the fantail that evening, although most men didn’t trust the Japanese enough to be totally t ease. (It wasn’t until we passed Pearl that the crew relaxed.)
Sep 10 Arrived Eniwetok. Refueled and departed for Pearl Harbor.
Sep 15 Arrived in Pearl Harbor. Ice cream sundaes were the favorites.
Sep 17, 1945 Departed Pearl Harbor for Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, U.S.A.
And arrived in Bremerton, Washington on September 24, 1945.
Sep 24, 1945 Arrived at Bremerton, Lt. Cmdr. Robert E. Sinnott, USN, relieved Cmdr. Wood.
Oct 10, 1945 Reported to Bremerton Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet, for inactivation.
Later that year she steamed to San Diego, where she remained until decommissioning December 10, 1946.