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Histories for USS Jeffers - DD 621

DD-621: displacement 1,630; length 348'4"; beam 36'1"; draft 17'5"; speed 35k; complement 270; armament 4 5";4 40mm; 5 20mm; 5 21" tt; 6 dcp; 2 dct; class Gleaves. USS JEFFERS (DD-621) was laid down by Federal shipbuilding & Drydock CO.,Kearny,N.J.,25 March 1942;launched 26 August 1942; sponsored by Mrs Lucie Jeffers Lyons great-granddaughter of Ordinance expert Commodore William N. Jeffers, who served during the Mexican and Civil Wars; and was commissioned 5 November 1942, Lt.Comdr. W.G.McGarry in command. After shakedown and training in Casco Bay,Maine JEFFERS operated briefly on the East Coast until departing Norfolk 18 February 1943 on her first transatlantic voyage escorting a convoy to Casablanca and returning 14 April. The ship patrolled off Argentia, Newfoundland, for a week before steaming to Norfolk to prepare for the coming invasion of Sicily. JEFFERS sailed from Norfolk 8 June with Task Force 65 and arrived Oran, Algeria, 22 June. While preparing for the giant assault she patrolled of other African ports shooting down a German bomber during 6 July Luftwaffe raid on Bizerte. During the attack,however,several small caliber shells exploded on the main deck damaging the ship and injuring the executive officer and several men. JEFFERS sailed 2 days later with Rear Admiral Hall's force for Gela; and, upon arrival 9 June she guarded the transports. Early next day the great assault began, with JEFFERS assigned the task of shooting out shore searchlights and providing fire support. As the landing proceeded with great success in the following days the ship fired support missions and served on antisubmarine patrol. Also at this time the "J" rescued the crew of an army transport that crash landed near the ship. She sailed to Bizerte 18 July, but was back at Palermo 31 July with cargo ships. Jeffers sailed to Oran the next day. While in Oran in early August,she tied up to another ship, which accidently got underway dragging the "J" with her. Both ships crashed head-on into a concrete wall, badly damaging the JEFFERS' bow. A week later, she was underway to New York for a new bow arriving 22 August. After repairs at New York, the destroyer was assigned convoy duty between East Coast ports,Ireland,Scotland and Gibraltar. As the Allies began the great buildup of men and material in Britain for the landings in northern France, JEFFERS made five voyages between 5 September 1943 and 22 April 1944. On her second convoy crossing to Scotland, 21 October the ship picked up survivors from the MURPHY DD-603, after the MURPHY had been cut in two by a tanker. She also took part in salvage operations which saved the stern of the stricken vessel. After training operations, JEFFERS sailed from New York 5 May 1944 for the United Kingdom, where she prepared for the invasion of Normandy in June. Serving as flagship of Destroyer Squadron 17, she departed Belfast 3 June for Utah Beach, where she patrolled and provided fire support as troops stormed ashore on D-Day. Under fire from coastal batteries, the "J" was hit by shell fragments from a near miss that injured four of her crew and punctured the hull and stacks. Undeterred, she was on hand on the morning of 9 June when the MEREDITH DD-726 struck a mine. She moved in to help fight the fires and rescue survivors. Salvage attempts could not save the MEREDITH, which sank a few days later. The veteran destroyer remained off the beach until 29 June, driving off several enemy planes and assisting damaged ships. For the next two weeks she convoyed transports from Belfast to Utah Beach as more troops and supplies were poured in to the beachhead, finally departing for the Mediterranean 16 July. Next on the Allied timetable for the defeat of Germany was another invasion of France, this one in the south. Assigned to screen escort carriers covering the operation, JEFFERS departed Malta 12 August to join her task group. Three days later, as the troops landed between Cannes and Toulon, the ship remained with supporting carriers, continuing to cruise off shore until 28 September. Her crew saw no sign of the enemy, but did rescue a downed U.S. Army fighter pilot. She then sailed for New York arriving 7 October to prepare for duty in the far Pacific. JEFFERS was converted to a destroyer-minesweeper at New York, and was reclassified DMS-27 on 15 November, She sailed 3 January 1945 for the Panama Canal and California, arriving San Diego for training 17 January. In February she moved on to Pearl Harbor and from there to the great advance base at Ulithi to prepare for the Okinawa invasion, last and largest amphibious operation of the war against Japan. As part of the preliminary minesweeping group, JEFFERS arrived Okinawa 24 March, 1 week before the landings, and began clearing mines and marking boat lanes. During the assault 1 April the ship moved to antisubmarine screening and air defense. During the great Japanese air attack of 6 April she downed a twin-engine bomber. 12 April The "J" and two small craft were patrolling seventy miles northeast of Okinawa. Suddenly at 1353, her radar reported enemy planes approaching the ship. At about fifteen miles, the group of planes divided,half heading north,half toward the ship. As planes came within range the main battery fired and the planes withdrew. In the mean time, the other group had circled to the west and one of them was on a direct course for the ship. "Diving, weaving, slipping and rolling," the plane kept on until the ship's guns brought it down so close that the exploding plane ricocheted into the ship's side. Two men went overboard, but were later picked up uninjured by one of the accompanying "small boys". A second plane followed the first,but was shot down by the main battery before it came within range of the smaller guns. At 1453, while the JEFFERS was on the way to aid the MANNERT T. ABELE DD-733, which had been hit by a kamikaze, a third attacker dove on the ship. The main battery opened up and the bomber banked sharply to the starboard, emitting a puff of smoke and an unidentifiable metal object, which turned out to be a deadly human-piloted Baka bomb. All guns opened fire and succeeded in splashing the bomb fifty yards from the ship. Even so the torpedo-like fuselage bounced across the fantail,landing harmlessly in the sea beyond. When the JEFFERS reached the ABELE's position,she found that the ship had sunk. The most she could do was rescue survivors, sixty-five of whom were wounded. The veteran ship steamed into Kerama Retto to repair battle damage later that afternoon, emerging 16 April to join a carrier group operating off Okinawa in support of ground forces. She then sailed to Guam 3 May for further repairs. Departing again 26 June, JEFFERS sailed via Saipan and Ulithi to Kerama Retto, and spent the next 6 weeks on minesweeping operations north of Okinawa. She was at anchor off Okinawa when the news of the Japanese acceptance of terms was received 15 August 1945. JEFFERS steamed into Tokyo Bay 29 August with occupation forces, and was present for the surrender ceremonies 2 September. She then joined a minesweeping group for vital sweeping operations around Japan including hazardous operations in Tsushima Strait. Operating out of Sasebo,she continued to sweep in the Yellow Sea during November, getting underway 5 December for the United States. JEFFERS arrived San Diego 23 December and steamed via the Panama Canal to Norflok, where she arrived 9 January 1946. The ship then began her peacetime duty, arriving Charleston 12 June. She remained ther the rest of 1946 except for a short training cruise to Casco Bay. 1947 was spent on maneuvers in the Caribbean during April and May, followed by exercises on the East Coast of the United States; and 1948 was spent entirely at various East Coast ports on training duty. After making a short cruise to the Caribbean in early 1949, JEFFERS sailed 6 September from Charleston for her first Mediterranean Cruise. This was the period of unrest in Greece and Israel, and the ship took part in maneuvers around Malta until October, as America showed her might in the cause of peace and stability. She returned to Charleston 13 October. The next year was spent at Charleston, except for a training cruise to Guantanamo Bay in March. She got underway again,however,9 January 1951 for another cruise to the troubled Mediterranean. She visited Oran,Palermo, Athens,and Naples during this deployment,again taking part in 6th Fleet's important peace-keeping operations. Arriving Charleston 17 May 1951, JEFFERS engaged in minesweeping and antisubmarine exercises until her next scheduled Mediterranean cruise 5 June 1952. She operated with the 6th Fleet carriers and destroyers until returning to her home port 13 October. JEFFERS spent the first half of 1953 in training off the Virginia Capes, departing Norfolk 16 September for operations with carrier BENNINGTON and units of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Mediterranean. She returned to Charleston 3 February 1954. Operations from New York to Key West and Havana occupied the veteran destroyer minesweeper until she was reclassified 15 January 1955 as DD-621, decommissioned at Charleston 23 May 1955 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia. The JEFFERS was struck from the navy's list on 1 July 1971 and was sold for scrapping 1 May 1973. USS JEFFERS received seven battle stars for World War II service. Thanks to uss-salem.org,nvr.navy.mil and The Tin Can Sailor newspaper for the historical resource information provided

Posted by Robert Mcfarland
Aug 05 2000 10:05:03:000PM

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