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DD-586 Newcomb

Newcomb (DD-586) was laid down 19 March 1943 by Boston Navy Yard; launched 4 July 1943; sponsored by Mrs. C.C. Baughman; and commissioned 10 November 1943, Comdr. L.B. Cook in command.

Newcomb shook down in the West Indies for a month, then made passage to the Marshall Islands, arriving 4 April 1944 for two months duty on antisubmarine patrol off the Japanese held Mille, Wotje, and Jaluit atolls. She next joined the assault on Saipan as flagship for the screen from 29 May until 5 August, serving as fire support and patrol ship at both Saipan and Tinian. On 22 June, while guarding transports, she and Chandler (DMS-9) sank Japanese submarine I-185, and on 4 July her well-directed fire broke up a Japanese banzai attack north of Garapan on Spain.

Operating in the Fire Support and Bombardment Group for the assault on the Palaus 6 September to 1 October, Newcomb fired 23 separate shore bombardments and also covered underwater demolition teams providing bombardment control spotting. As flagship of Destroyer Squadron 56, Newcomb joined in the Leyte landings 12 October to 4 December, covering underwater demolition teams and firing preinvasion-bombardment, call-fire, night-harrassing and illumination missions.

Her squadron made a daring night torpedo attack in the Surigao Strait phase of the Battle for Leyte Gulf 25 October. At least one of her 5 torpedoes struck battleship Yamashiro, sunk in this action. Closely straddled but not damaged, Newcomb went to the aid of stricken Albert W. Grant (DD-649), providing medical aid and a tow out of the battle area. In this classic sea battle, Newcomb and her sisters played a key role in the great American victory which insured the success of MacArthur's return to the Philippines, and effectively ended major Japanese naval threats for the remainder of the war.

Often under fire from Japanese aircraft, several of which she destroyed, Newcomb continued important service in the Philippines, engaging Japanese shore batteries at Ormoc 9 December while screening landing craft, fighting a convoy through heavy enemy air attack to Mindoro 19 through 24 December, and driving off 2 would-be kamikazes during the Lingayen landing 6 January 1945. She covered operations in Lingayen Gulf through 24 January, then prepared for duty as fire support ship at Iwo Jima from 10 February, where she covered minesweeping for three days prior to the landing. During the invasion the destroyer engaged shore batteries and fired pinpoint accurate bombardments of inestimable assistance to troops ashore. She again engaged a Japanese submarine 25 February, with unknown results.

Departing Iwo Jima 10 March, Newcomb joined the Okinawa assault force 11 days later, and again covered underwater demolition and minesweeping operations as well as antiaircraft and shore bombardment until 6 April, when she was screening minesweepers off Ie Shima. At least 40 enemy aircraft were observed in the area during the day, and at 1600 suicide attacks began. Though handicapped by a low ceiling, her gunners were able to drive off or shoot down several attackers, but over a period of an hour and a half, she was struck five times With a skill and fighting spirit which won them a Navy Unit Commendation, her crew worked furiously to repair engine damage and extinguish fires, while continuing to fight their ship and maneuver to avoid further crashes. Aid was rendered by Leutze (DD-481), herself struck by the fifth kamikaze skipping across from Newcomb, and Beale (DD-471). Indomitably afloat, fires and power out, with 18 killed, 25 missing, and 64 wounded, Newcomb was towed to Kerama Retto by Tekesta (ATF-93).

Repairs to her hull were made by Vestal (AR-4) under frequent enemy air attack, and 14 June she left under tow for Saipan, Pearl Harbor, and San Francisco, arriving 8 August. The end of the war ended further repairs, and Newcomb decommissioned 20 November 1945. Stricken from the Navy List 28 March 1946, she was scrapped at Mare Island Navy Yard in October 1947.

Newcomb received 8 battle stars for World War II service.

April 6 1945, From the Log Of The USS Newcomb DD-586

1600:The Kamikaze attacks have begun in earnest. Howorth (DD-592) and several mine sweepers have been hit by suicide attackers. The Kamikaze planes are well coordinated and are being directed against single ships in isolated stations. At least forty (40) planes are in the immediate vicinity of the Newcomb.

1624: Newcomb gun crews assist in shooting down one Japanese dive bomber. The "Val" crashed close aboard the Newcomb's Starboard Bow.

1625: Visibility is good now ... ceiling is about 6000 under broken clouds... A "Val" has detached itself from it's formation and is starting a dive toward the Newcomb. The gunners are training their guns on him. A terrific barrage has gone out to meet the diving plane it seems that he must fall beneath that sheet of nickel plated slugs.

1625.5: A proud cheer goes up from the crew as the anti-aircraft batteries score a direct hit and the plane crashes nearby... Enemy planes are attacking other ships in the force but are falling into the sea with a regularity indicating good shooting and possibly inexperienced Jap pilots.

1630: Newcomb has received orders to rendezvous with the Night Retirement Group at 1710.. Visibility is not decreasing and the ceiling has lowered to about 2000 feet... increasing cloud coverage.

1740: Newcomb is now making 25 knots heading south into the transport area. Mine sweeps are falling behind on her starboard quarter... ceiling is now about 1000 feet.

1755: Fire control reports a twin-engined enemy plane at about 7 miles range... Newcomb is changing course to north with port battery bearing on the enemy plane

1759: Another enemy plane spotted by radar. It can now be seen visually coming in fast on the port beam... very low. Gun crews opened up.

1800: Although damaged the plane has succeeded crashing into the ship, hitting the after stack... no one can tell just yet the extent of damage done by the crash... Newcomb has slowed her speed because of lost steam from fireroom. A fire has broken out in the upper handling room of the five inch gun mount.

1802: The skipper, Commander Ira E. McMillian, USN, is standing close to his helmsman and watching as the second plane peels off and comes in. At the last moment he gave the order for a hard turn. The combination of accurate and distracting gunfire and maneuvering have been successful and the plane has crashed into Newcomb's wake.

1804: After the first two "Divine Wind" divers crash ineffectively the pilot of the third aircraft evidently has decided on a low level attack. Just atop the waves, he has pointed his nose at Newcomb and is coming in hard and fast... Five inch, 40mm and 20mm cannons are putting a heavy... Curtain of steel in his path. Geysers of water are spraying the plane hiding him from view. For a second, it appears that he has crashed into the waves but then he reappears and is still coming straight on his course. The Helmsman is looking askance of the skipper now, but the plane is zig-zagging in such a way to be impossible to out-guess. The Newcomb is losing steam fast and the boilers are about to wheeze their last.

1807: The third plane has caromed off a gun mount and into the after stack. Still shuddering from the awful impact, the Newcomb has rolled heavily to one side. Smoke and flames are enveloping the stricken area. The firefighting units are valiantly trying to quench the flames which are rapidly a head-way on them.

1816: Plane number 4 has peeled off and is coming in looking for an easy kill after seeing number 3 score a hit... The batteries have trained on him... They have hit him! One shell tore off a wing and he smacked into blue water about 6000 yards from the Newcomb.

1819: Two other planes have now began a simultaneous attack on the port quarter and bow... the skipper is making every effort to effect an emergency turn, but the sluggish engines will not respond effectively because of continuing loss of power in the boilers. Both planes are now under fire. Her firefighting gear rigged and the hoses already pumping water across the flaming Newcomb, the destroyer Leutze is coming along side. Her doctors and medical corpsmen all are standing ready to come aboard to aide in caring for the wounded. Many of Newcombs crew are lying on the deck now, with clothes blown off and some with their hair ablaze, greeting the Leutze with cheers and waving their arms...

1839: The fifth and sixth planes have crashed into the Newcomb... one has skidded into the after fireroom and exploded, causing loss of all electric and steam power. The other has disintegrated the forward stack... Newcomb is now ablaze from the forward stack to the fantail... The tophamper and machinery spaces have been blown into a tangled mass of rubble and smoke and flames are leaping 1000 feet above the stricken ship. About 100 men have been forced to jump into the water at the stern to escape the searing heat, many of them with their clothing ablaze and badly burned... The bridge is now the only structure intact above the water line... Steel is flowing like water and the galley is a mess of molten pots and kettles.

1840: The Leutze has now come alongside and made secure... the doctor and corpsmen are administering to the wounded... Many are dead.

1857: The forward five - inch gun of the Newcomb is continuing to fire at a seventh plane screaming toward the two ships which now present a new and more vulnerable target... the Newcomb is dead in the water and the Leutze will not be able to withdraw in time to avoid the planes attack... the Leutze's guns are silent because of the Newcomb's superstructure which blocks her view of the oncoming plane... a shot from Newcomb's guns hits plane number seven and deflects his downward onslaught so that he merely skids across the deck of Newcomb but smacks into the side of the Leutze, tearing a great hole in the plating aft just above the water line. The Leutze is in command of young (Believed to be the youngest skipper of a destroyer in the War) Lieutenant Garbowosky, a 41 graduate of the academy, is doing an admirable and brilliant job... Although the Leutze has absorbed the worst damage from the seventh plane crash, she has continued to assist in fighting Newcomb's fires as well as her own.

1900: Leutze's fantail is now two feet under water at her bow and two destroyers are rushing to her aide... The Newcomb is now gutted and the fires are still raging in some parts of the ship despite the efforts of her crew to quell them... The holes in the Leutze have been repaired temporarily by repair parties under the direction of her executive officer Lieutenant (junior grade) John B. Grellis, USNR... He amy well deserve the credit for the saving of his ship..

1920: The fires have been brought under control now by the super-human efforts of this gallant crew "who will not say Die".

1930: Newcomb is now lying dead in the water. She is a fire blackened hull a far cry from the beautiful ship which plied the waters only a few hours ago. Survivors are being picked up by several destroyers... they have kept afloat by 5-inch powder cans and life rafts which were thrown overboard at the beginning of the battle.

2015: The men who are left - there are 18 enlisted men dead - are preparing the Newcomb for towing to an anchorage for repairs.

2030: The USS Newcomb is now being towed to Kerama Retto at about three (3) knots by the fleet tug Tekesta (ATF-93).

For her actions April 6 1945, Newcomb was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.

In awarding the Navy Unit Commendation to the Newcomb, Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal said,"...Superbly handled by valiant officers and men, the Newcomb has added new luster to the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:51:40 ZULU