American Heroes - Preserving WWII History

The sound of shattering glass broke the stillness on April 16th, 1942 as Mrs. Floyd Bennett christened the USS Bennett.  This newly built United States Navy Destroyer designated DD-473 was named after her late husband Floyd Bennett who died while attempting to fly Admiral Richard E. Byrd to the North Pole in 1926.  The order for this destroyer was placed on June 28th, 1940 well before the Japanese pulled the United States into WWII with their attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941,   It had taken 17 months from the time  the war department had placed the order before her keel was laid, the keel laying taking place on December 10th, 1941 a mere 3 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  She very well may have been the first United States Warship whose keel was laid during a state of war for WWII.

Wartime duty began when she was fully commissioned on the 9th of February, 1943 under the command of E.B. Taylor.   Her crew had been selected and trained prior to her commissioning and was immediately put to work with sea trials and drill training.  Only two months were allocated for sea trials and training and she was soon sent in harms way.  Along with the USS Anthony she accompanied the Aircraft Carrier Essex, CV-9,  to Pearl Harbor arriving on May 31st, 1943.   June and July were spend patrolling in Hawaiian waters with brief shore leaves in Hawaii.  August found her escorting a convoy to Efate in the New Hebrides.  After safely delivering the convoy to Efate she was assigned plane guard duty and patrolled out of Efate during the months of August, September and October.  In November duty was shifted to the area of the Solomon Island where she continued her support role routine of patrolling and convoy escort.

During her time in the Pacific Theater the USS Bennett received 9 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation for valor.

1) The Treasury-Bougainville Operations
2) Northern Solomons
3) Bismark Archipelago Operations
4) Bismark Archipelago Operation
5) Invasion of the Marianas
6) Invasion of the Western Carlines
7) Iwo Jima
8) Saipan
9) Okinawa

During the battle for Okinawa she was assigned picket duty on a line between Okinawa and Japan.  While on station on this picket line she was hit by a Kamikaze on her starboard side resulting in the death of 7 seamen and the wounding of an additional 14 men.  After damage control stabilized the ship she steamed under her own power back to Puget Sound for repairs. After repairs were made she steamed back to the Pacific just as the war was ending.  One final voyage was made to Petropavlovsk, Siberia to establish a Navy Weather Station.  She then steamed home to United States and a well deserved rest.

The USS Bennett was transferred to the Brazilian Navy on the 15th of December, 1959.  Renamed the Paraiba,  she served faithfully until being scrapped in 1978

Ron Bushaw