Richard P. Leary, DD 664, was laid down at Boston Navy Yard on 4 July 1943 side-by-side with Heywood L. Edwards. The two ships were launched 6 October and the “Arpy” commissioned 23 February 1944, Boston’s last destroyer.

After shakedown off Bermuda, we joined the Pacific war in May 1944, commencing with an escort assignment between Eniwetok and Saipan in the Mariana Islands and anti-submarine patrols. Attached to Destroyer Squadron 56, our first action was shore bombardment on sector four, Tinian Island.

In the Palau Islands operation, 12–28 September, we participated in shore bombardment and the support of Marines and Underwater Demolition Teams at Peleliu and Anguar Islands. We were also assigned to a search and destroy task unit, searching back bays for Japanese ships. We also rescued a Navy fighter pilot who had ditched at sea.

Moving to the Philippines for the landings on Leyte Island, 18 October, Leary provided bombardment and fire support through 21 November. On 20 October, when Honolulu (CL 48) was struck by an aerial torpedo, we went alongside to provide damage control and medical assistance and took aboard 26 casualties.

For the impending Battle of Surigao Strait, 25 October, DesRon 56 was formed into three sections. When the Japanese Southern Force approached, torpedo section one—Newcomb, Leary and Albert W. Grant, in that order—proceeded down the middle of the strait to deliver a torpedo attack on the Japanese Southern Force.

We were set up to launch torpedoes to starboard. As we closed our target, however, it changed course from north to west. We changed course to southwest and quickly reset our torpedoes to launch to port.

Pressing our attack, we fired three torpedoes at 7200 yards and observed two precisely-timed heavy explosions, indicating hits on the Japanese flagship, battleship Yamashiro, which contributing to its sinking.

Meanwhile, we were in a direct line of fire between the Japanese and American battleships. During our torpedo run, the battlelines opened fire and their projectiles arched over us in both directions. They looked like red balls of fire and sounded like freight trains—it was an awsome sight.

Silhouetted by gun flashes from both battle lines, our section began to take heavy fire from both sides. Leary and Newcomb were narrowly missed but Grant was hit and severely damaged. Turning to the north, we also evaded four torpedoes—two on each side—which passed the ship on parallel courses. Many a man asked God to see us through that night.

After the heavy ships ceased fire, we and Newcomb returned to the Grant and assisted in damage control and anti-aircraft defense. At 1023, we tied up port side to the Grant. In addition to giving her assistance, we also transfered 135 rounds of 5-inch and 190 rounds of powder.

At 1400 we found ourselves under air attack. We cut loose from the Grant and eleven minutes later splashed a “Tojo.” Thereafter, ocean tug Chickasaw (ATF 83) took the Grant under tow and we escorted them to the southern transport area.

On 1 November, while attached with the squadron to Radm. G.L. Weyler’s Task Group 77.1, Seventh Fleet Covering Forces operating off Leyte Gulf, the “Arpy” was a target in the first coordinated suicide plane attack of the war. After Claxton was hit and nearly sunk that morning, DesDiv 48 flagship Abner Read screened her as she regained propulsion. Later in the day, when Read was hit and sunk—the first destroyer lost to this new Kamikaze tactic—we joined Claxton in rescue operations. When another plane (a “Val” dive-bomber) dove on us, we and Claxton shot it down—it crashed close aboard our starboard quarter. Later, we rescued 70 Read survivors including ComDesDiv 48 and the ship's CO and XO, four other officers and 63 enlisted men. We also engaged a submarine and numerous aircraft.

On 20 November 1944, while on radar picket duty in Surigao Strait, we received from PT 491 nine battle casualties from PT 495 for medical treatment. After being relieved on station, we delivered the PT casualties to hospital ship LST 1025.

On 1 January 1945, Leary departed Kossol Passage, Palau Islands, as a member of the Luzon Island invasion force. We proceeded to Leyte Gulf, through the Philippine Islands to the South.China Sea, then steamed north to Lingayen Gulf, where our primary role was shore bombardment. Soon, heavy suicide plant attacks began. On 6 January, during one such attack, we severely damaged an incoming “Irving” fighter, which managed to graze our forward 5-inch gun mounts before crashing—our only “damage” of the war. Later that day, we also shot down a “Jill.”

Amid continuing air attacks, we continued shore bombardment and call fire on Luzon until 18 January, shooting down another “Val.”

From 15 February–16 March 1945, with the squadron supporting the invasion of Iwo Jima, Leary again provided shore bombardment and call fire in support of the Marines. Air attacks were light. While on fire support station close in on Mount Suribachi, we observed the American flag being raised on top of the mountain. On 22 February, while on radar picket duty, we rescued seven Marines adrift in LVT 96 about 30 miles off the island.

From 25 March–28 May 1945, Leary moved to the invasion of Okinawa. On 6 April, when DesRon 2 flagship Morris was hit, we and converted destroyer escort Daniel T. Griffin (APD 38) assisted with firefighting and taking aboard wounded. That same day, Leary became Capt. Roland Smoot’s DesRon 56 flagship after Newcomb was severely damaged.

During the Okinawa operation, we engaged in shore bombardment and radar picket duty, and destroyed two suicide boats and numerous attacking aircraft. We also depth charged a submarine and rescued a Marine fighter pilot who had ditched at sea. This duty continued until 28 May when, having expended more than 22,000 5-inch rounds, we returned to Leyte Gulf where we were regunned by destroyer tender Sierra (AD 18).

After returning to Okinawa 1 July, Leary was soon reassigned to the Aleutian Islands, for which we departed 27 July. We dropped anchor at Adak on VJ Day, August 14, then proceeded to Attu.

In September, after the surrender, we steamed with an Occupation Task Force to Ominato Naval Base in northern Honshu. After continuing on to Tokyo Bay, we departed 30 September for San Diego via Guam and Pearl Harbor, arriving home 22 October.

The “Arpy” decommissioned 10 December 1946 and was transferred to the Pacific Reserve Fleet. On 10 March, 1959, again with Heywood L. Edwards, she was transferred to the Japanese Defense Force and renamed Yugure (“evening”, “dusk” or “autumn twilight”). She was returned to US custody 10 March 1974, stricken from Naval Vessel Register on 18 March, and sold to China Dismantled Vessel Trading Corp., Taipei, Taiwan 1 July 1976 for scrapping.

Richard P. Leary earned six engagement stars on her Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon and two on her Philippine Liberation Ribbon for action in World War II, and was recommended for a Navy Unit Commendation.

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Richard P. Leary was a stalwart of the bombardment and fire support destroyers, frequently congratulated for her gunnery and recommended for a Navy Unit Commendation by our combat commanders, ComDesRon 56 and ComDesPac.

Our captains received the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Stars and Legion of Merit. Liberty during our entire war patrol consisted of four hours ashore on some desolate island as time permitted between operations.

We, the crew of the Leary, know that any destroyer sailor worth his salt believes that his ship is the best in the fleet. The difference between him and us is he thinks so but we know so.