FROM: Commander Destroyer Squadron FIFTY-SIX.
TO : The Secretary of the Navy.
VIA: Official Channels.
SUBJECT: Recommendation for Award of Navy Unit Commendation to U.S.S. Heywood L. Edwards (DD663) and U.S.S. Richard P. Leary (DD664).

     1. In accordance with Current Directives it is recommended that the Navy Unit Commendation be awarded to the U. S. S. Heywood L. Edwards (DD663) and the U. S. S. Richard P. Leary (DD664) for outstanding performance in combat against enemy Japanese forces ashore, afloat and in the air in the Pacific War Area from 29 May 1944 to 28 July 1945 for the H. L. Edwards and from 9 July 1944 to 28 July 1945 for the R. P. Leary.

     2. During these periods the subject ships participated in the six major amphibious assaults and landings in the Marianas, at Palau, Leyte Gulf, Lingayen Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In each of these difficult engagements the two ships were the first to arrive in the area and in almost every instance among the last to leave. During this period the H. L. Edwards fired a total of rounds equivalent to four times the normal life of the guns. Both ships have been repeatedly commended for their accurate and devastating fire; and have accounted for the timely demise of many Japanese. During these operations both ships have been under fire from shore batteries and under repeated and heavy air attack. Both ships have made attacks on submarines, and both have claimed probable sinkings of one submarine each, though official assessments have not been received. The H. L. Edwards on 24 September 1944 destroyed a large group of small enemy surface craft, attempting to reinforce the garrison of an enemy held island in the Palaus with the loss of a large number of enemy troops.

     3. Both ships participated in the Battle of Surigao Straits and were with this squadron when it delivered a coordinated torpedo attack on a Jap battleship which no doubt contributed to its loss. Both ships were under heavy enemy fire but escaped without injury.

     4. During the Okinawa campaign both ships were among the mainstays of the fire support group. When the originator requested Commander, Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet to give these two particular ships a breather, he was told, "Those will be the last ships to be relieved, because they are so good that we cannot spare them. We can always rely on the Edwards and the Leary to produce in the tight places."

     5. The remarkable thing about these two ships, and the thing which the originator wishes to emphasize, is that in spite of these long and arduous duties, neither ship has been hit by the enemy, either from ashore, surface or the air. In view of the fact that six of the other ships of the squadron, participating in the same actions, have been hit and damaged, this record cannot he passed off as mere luck. Rather, it is the writer's opinion that this fine record is due to outstanding performance of duty by all officers and men of both ships, and is one of the principal bases for this recommendation. Many of the officers and men have been decorated for their individual acts, but it is the earnest desire of the squadron commander to see every man receive recognition for the outstanding performance mentioned herein.

     6. While neither ship has participated in any action of the spectacular nature which draws the attention of the press and radio to it individually, it is desired to point out that to the writer's knowledge no other destroyers in the Navy, except the other ships in this squadron have participated in all six of the above named major operations as a part of the bombardment and fire support group. This record the writer believes to he of such an outstanding nature as to warrant the award of the Navy Unit Commendation.

H.F. Stout

Source: USS Heywood L. Edwards World War II cruise book.