Harding II

(DD-625 : dp. 1,630; l. 348'4"; b. 36'1"; dr. 17'5"; s. 37 k.; cpl. 276; a. 4 5", 10 21" tt.; cl. Gleaves)

The second Harding (DD-625) was launched 28 June 1942 by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp., Seattle; sponsored by Mrs. Sherwood A. Taffinder; and commissioned 25 May 1943, Lt. Comdr. G. G. Palmer in command.

After shakedown out of San Diego Harding sailed 1 July for Norfolk, via the Panama Canal. Arriving Hampton Roads 19 July, she trained in Chesapeake Bay and oft the East Coast. She Joined a convoy at Norfolk 16 August 1943 and for the next 8 months was assigned antisubmarine patrol for merchant convoys in the Atlantic During this period of guarding the sea Harding made three round trips to Casablanca.

After escorting battleship Texas on training exercises Harding sailed 18 April with a convoy for Europe, and began her first great combat operation - the Normandy Invasion. She spent the month of May training with other ships between Plymouth and Clyde. Then, early on the 6th of June 1944, Harding joined other naval units in the historic assault. Harding was assigned fire support station, and delivered close gunfire support to the troops ashore for the first hours of the landing. Her accurate gunfire destroyed pill boxes and machine gun emplacements, blasting a way for the troops. Harding also sent a boat ashore at Point Du Hoe to take supplies to the intrepid rangers and bring out prisoners and wounded. She continued operations in the assault area until 16 July protecting against air attack and assisting several transports in distress.

Shifting her operations to the Mediterranean, Harding sailed 1 August for Oran, Algeria, and from there proceeded to the southern France assault area, as a screening ship. She sailed almost immediately to Corsica, later returning to take up patrol station outside the assault area in southern France. On the night of 17 August she detected a downed German plane, and after recovering bodies, proceeded to investigate an unidentified contact. As Harding's signalman sought to illuminate the stranger, a burst of machine gun fire extinguished the light and revealed the presence of four enemy E-boats.

In company with three other destroyers, Harding began a running, twisting battle with the four boats, illuminated by starshell fire, and despite their superior maneuverability all four were sunk; three by Harding's accurate batteries. She brought survivors ashore and resumed her patrol until 24 August.

Harding Joined a convoy of LCI's en route to Oran Algeria, 24 August, returned to spend another week in southern France until 6 September, and sailed for New York 25 September 1944. Arriving New York 3 October she proceeded to Boston for conversion to a destroyer minesweeper; Harding was reclassified DMS-28, 15 November 1944. Emerging 1 December for her trials Harding underwent training until 30 December and sailed for the Pacific.. She arrived San Diego via the Canal Zone 15 January 1945, and continued her training in minesweeping techniques.

Sailing 10 February via Pearl Harbor, Harding arrived Ulithi 9 March to prepare for the invasion of Okinawa, the last and largest of the giant Pacific amphibious assaults. She departed for Okinawa 19 March and began her minesweeping operations in the surrounding areas 24 March. During the initial landings 1 April 1945 Harding served as an outer screening ship, and continued this dangerous duty during the savage air attacks which followed. After a near miss by a horizontal bomber during the first heavy raids of 6 April, Harding was assigned to provide fire support to forces ashore the night of 8 April. She returned to screening duties next day and 16 April was attacked with other ships by four suicide planes. One was driven off, another shot down, but a third steered directly for Harding's bridge. As gunfire ripped into her, the aircraft splashed close aboard to starboard, tearing a huge gash in Harding's side from keel to main deck when her bomb exploded.

The stricken ship backed toward Kerama Retto, counting 14 men killed, 8 missing, and 9 wounded. She repaired paired at Okinawa, and arrived Pearl Harbor 22 August via Saipan.

From Hawaii Harding transited the Panama Canal via San Diego and arrived Norfolk 17 September. She decommissioned 2 November 1945 and was sold for scrap 16 April 1947 to Luia Brothers Co., Inc., of Philadelphia.

Harding received three battle stars for World War II service.