Bennett under fire in the Shortland Islands, May 1944.
USS Bennett, DD 473, a 2,100-ton Fletcher-class destroyer, was launched 16 April 1942 at Boston Navy Yard and commissioned 9 February 1943 at Charlestown, Massachusetts by Mrs. Floyd Bennett, wife of pilot Floyd Bennett, who flew Adm. Byrd to the North Pole.

Bennett’s first commanding officer was Cdr. Edmund B. Taylor, USN, former commanding officer of Duncan, which had been sunk in the Battle of Cape Esperance at Guadalcanal, October 1942. The Bennett crew was composed of members of the Duncan and O'Brien crews and a contingent of boots from Newport Naval Training Station. Bennett had shakedown cruise to Casco Bay, Maine and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where she rescued survivors of a sunken merchant ship.

Bennett became member of Destroyer Squadron 45, Destroyer Division 89. In all operations Bennett operated with other members of DesRon 45, Capt. Ralph Earle, USN, commanding.

After shakedown, Bennett and Anthony escorted Essex, CV 9, from Norfolk to Pearl Harbor. At Pearl Harbor we operated with Washington, BB 56, practicing with the new 5-inch/38 VT fuse. In July ’43, Comdr. Taylor was relieved by LCdr. Philip F. Hauck, our exec. Lieut. R.R. Carter replaced Hauck as our exec.

Solomon theater

We left Pearl Harbor and crossed the equator on 10 August 1943. Most of us became new shellbacks. We stopped in American Samoa, escorted convoy from there to just west of Nouméa, New Caledonia, where the Australian Navy took over. From there to Havannah Harbor, Éfaté, Espiritu Santo and Purvis Bay, Florida Island, across from Guadalcanal. This was to become our operating base and anchorage.

Liberty consisted of two beers, swinging on vines, swimming and a walk in the jungle. Some previous DD residents had built a bamboo hut, "Club Des Slot.” We did a lot of patrolling, and as most DDs did, performed many tasks including hauling 6-inch ammo for cruisers. We also were allowed a short visit to the beach on Guadalcanal. On 1 November 1943, we escorted Marines to the invasion of Bougainville, at Empress Augusta Bay. We fired many shore bombardments, had many air raids, and were alongside the transport Fuller when she took a bomb in her after hatch, and were credited with shooting down two Japanese planes.

DesRon 45 became known as "Earle's Cans” after our CO Capt. Ralph Earle. Bennett made many trips up and down the “Slot,” bringing supplies to Bougainville. In January and February of ’44, we raided Green Island and Emirau. Guest and Hudson sank a Japanese submarine; Bennett was strafed by Japanese plane—no casualties. We rescued a downed P-38 pilot.

Bennett then proceeded to Rabaul and Kavieng, where we conducted shore bombardments and wrecked the "Kavieng Yacht Club." From there, we went on a shipping sweep toward Truk Island—nothing to report.

On Easter Sunday, April ’44, we arrived in Sydney, Australia, for seven days.

On returning to Solomon Islands in May, Bennett and Halford were searching for Japanese submarines in the Shortland Islands. On Poporang Island, an unknown crew member observed what looked like a bamboo watch tower which some one was climbing. We fired the 5-inch ready gun to knock down the tower; three Japanese guns replied. They had us straddled and we were doing some excellent maneuvering. Halford opened fire and they shifted fire to Halford. We commenced to make a smoke screen and retired in good order. A photo taken by Halford showing Bennett under fire was published in the book "Destroyer Operations in WW II" published by US Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD.

In June of ’44, Bennett escorted Marines from Solomon Island bases to Saipan and the Marianas campaign. We did some shore bombardment and then went down to Guam to prepare the beach for the invasion. Fired support for UD [underwater demolition] teams.

DesRon 45 was directed to leave Guam to screen ten battleships and cruisers of Task Force 58 in the First Battle of the Philippine Sea (Marianas Turkey Shoot), June 19–21. Bennett assisted in shooting down the plane that hit South Dakota with a bomb—the only ship in fleet that was hit.

Bennett then returned to Guam for the invasion—worked with USS Pennsylvania suppressing fire from Orote Peninsula. Returned to Tinian Island for more shore bombardment and radar picket duty. During the Marianas campaign, Bennett was at sea for close to 90 days.

We left the Marianas for the Solomon Islands and escorted Marines from there to the Caroline Islands for the invasion of Peleliu Island in the Palau Islands. Our first assignment was assisting minesweepers in sweeping Kossol Passage—they cut them and we blew them up.

On September 15, Wadleigh relieved us and shortly thereafter she fouled a mine on her starboard side. The blast shattered her forward engine room. Her rudder was damaged; all power was lost. Three men were killed and fifteen injured. We went alongside and assisted with our pumps and a tow. We continued to assist minesweepers in the Straits of Babelthaup.

We left the Palaus and proceeded to Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands and on my 19th birthday left to return to the states through Pearl Harbor and to San Francisco, Hunters Point for overhaul and 21-day leave. Captain Hauck was replaced as CO, by Cdr. J.N. McDonald.

We left San Francisco for return to Pacific in December 1944 and spent New Years Eve in Pearl Harbor, where some phantom blew the steam whistle at midnight and all hands were required to report topside.

From the Hawaiian Islands we escorted Marines to the invasion of Iwo Jima. We did night illumination and call fire—broke up one banzai charge for the Marines—silenced a shore battery that was firing on a transport that had steamed to the wrong side of the Island. Went north to HaHa Jima and ChiChi Jima as radar picket. Upon our return to Iwo we were on call fire at night and were surprised by a Jap Plane making a low run on us—he flew over the forecastle and our #3 40mm shot him down going away.

The following morning water was discovered in some forward lockers; further inspection disclosed a hole in our port side The Japanese plane had dropped a dud bomb or torpedo that had not armed and failed to explode. Temporary repairs were made and we continued on call fire.

We left Iwo to Tacloban on Samar Island in the Philippine Islands and were repaired in a floating drydock. When repaired we did submarine patrol until it was time to invade Okinawa.

While escorting convoy to Okinawa shot down one attacking Japanese plane. On 1 April 1945 the invasion began. Bennett was assigned Radar Picket Station #4, East China Sea where we, as a fighter director ship, had control of the CAP [combat air patrol]. Bennett had numerous bogie contacts and over the next couple of days expended much ammunition. We proceeded to Keramo Retto for ammunition.

On 6 April were proceeding back to a new station when, for the next 36 hours, we came under continuous attack by kamikaze planes. One flew over the ship missed and dropped a 500-lb. bomb off the port quarter. Another came at us in a steep dive from starboard, missed us and crashed in the water 40 yards off the port side. We shot down a few and the CAP a lot.

Bennett was directed to relieve Colhoun on Picket Station #2 so she could go to the assistance of Bush, which had been hit by several kamikazes and was in danger of sinking. Colhoun was tied up to Bush and she was hit. We were ordered to report to Picket Station #1 to assist Bush and Colhoun as per Cassin Young, which was removing crew from Colhoun. When Bush sank, we proceeded to area to search for survivors. Cassin Young had removed crew from Bush and Colhoun and sunk the Colhoun with gunfire. She proceeded to Okinawa with the survivors. We continued to search and spotted a man in the water with our search light and called an LCI (pall bearer) to rescue him. We kept searching with our light and turned it off when bogies were picked by radar. We were assisted by Sterett until she had to leave to assist in the sinking of Emmons and help Rodman.

We continued to be attacked for the rest of the night and at 0800 we were attacked by six bogies. CAP shot down all but one, which he chased out of the clouds. The Jap’s left wing was on fire and we told the plane to pull off so we could open fire. We got off 45 rounds and he was then under range. He circled the stern of the ship and our 20mm and 40mm were taking pieces out of him, but he managed to hit us on the starboard side at the water line. A 500-lb. bomb he was carrying penetrated the hull and hit the steam drum in the forward fire room and blew the bulkhead in the forward engine room. Seven men were killed and fourteen wounded including the engineering officer. Sterett screened Bennett while repairs were made and we proceeded to Keramo Retto. Temporary repairs were made to our hull and we left Keramo escorting LSTs full of wounded to Saipan. And then to Bremerton, Washington, Navy Yard for repairs, where 30-day leaves were given to all.

After our repairs were done, we were going out to the Pacific again when the war ended. We met a high speed transport, USS Coral, in San Diego and escorted her through the Aleutian Islands to Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia to establish a weather station. Bennett stayed 5–7 days and then left to return to the US.

We encountered a Pacific storm that kept us out of Kodak, Alaska for three days. Seas were heavy and we were picking up a lot of ice. When we entered Kodiak we had damage to the whale boat and the forward superstructure and were covered with ice. To our great surprise. the other four ships of DesDiv 89 were there.

We were the first warship to enter Sitka, Alaska, and represented the US Navy on Oct 27, ’45 Navy Day.

We were directed to report to the 19th Fleet Reserve, San Diego for decommissioning. On April 18 we were officially decommissioned. There were 32 plankowners still on the ship. We were two days short of being four years in commission.

In 1958, Guest and Bennett were sold to Brazil.

DesRon 45 ships earned three Navy Unit Commendations—Bennett, Hudson and Anthony—and one Presidential Unit Citation—Wadsworth. Bennett’s citation was for our service at Okinawa—between us and the CAP, we destroyed seventeen planes.