USS Grayson, Gleaves-class DD 435, was laid down 17 July 1939 at Charleston Navy Yard, South Carolina, launched 7 August 1940; sponsored by Mrs. Alice Gertrude Gordon Grayson Harrison (Mrs. George Leslie Harrison), widow of Rear Admiral Grayson; and commissioned 14 February 1941, LCdr. Thomas M. Stokes in command.

After shakedown along the New England coast and in Chesapeake Bay, Grayson joined Destroyer Division 22 of the Atlantic Fleet. On 28 August the new destroyer became flagship of DesRon 11 operating in the Caribbean out of Guantánamo Bay. She reported for neutrality patrol in the North Atlantic waters between Newfoundland and Iceland 26 October.

After 10 months patrolling and protecting convoys in the icy North Atlantic Grayson was ordered to the Pacific to join an American fleet battered but resolutely carrying the war to the enemy. She sailed from San Diego 2 April 1942 as part of Hornet’s escort and rendezvoused at sea 13 April with Enterprise under Admiral William Halsey. From this fast carrier force, steaming less than 800 miles from the Japanese home islands, General “Jimmy” Doolittle launched his famed B-25 raid on Tokyo 18 April, bringing war to the enemy’s own land.

The task group sailed into Pearl Harbor 25 April. Grayson departed almost immediately for repairs in California, but soon returned to the Pacific war.

Grayson again found herself with a fast carrier force as she sailed from Pearl Harbor 15 July to escort Enterprise and Hornet. Reaching Guadalcanal via Tonga Tabu 7 August 1942, the carriers launched their planes to cover Marine landings there, America’s first major blow of the war on the road to Japan; and then operated in the area to block Japanese reinforcements. As they maneuvered off Guadalcanal, Enterprise was hit by Japanese bombs 24 August in an action-filled half hour, during which the Grayson shot down two planes and damaged a third. The task group dispersed—Enterprise returning to Pearl Harbor for repairs and Grayson joining TF 11, built around Saratoga under Admiral Fletcher. Action soon followed. Sighting a Japanese submarine on the surface the next day, 25 August, Grayson closed for the kill. After expending 46 depth charges, her entire supply, in a series of five attacks, the destroyer finally had the satisfaction of seeing a huge air bubble and oil slick rise to the surface indicating the death of another Imperial submarine.

The battle-proven ship and crew remained in the bitterly contested waters around Guadalcanal for nearly eight months in a variety of duties. The versatile Grayson convoyed troop transports loaded with reinforcements from Nouméa and other staging areas to Guadalcanal, patrolled in the “Slot,” served as a radar picket ship, and performed valuable rescue work. On 18 October, she picked up 75 survivors from Meredith, DD 434, which had been sunk by an aerial torpedo 16 October while escorting minesweeper Vireo, AM 52, which was towing a barge loaded with desperately-needed fuel and ammunition to Guadalcanal.

Returning to Pearl Harbor 15 April 1943 for overhaul, Grayson continued on to the States for further repairs and finally sailed to New Caledonia, arriving 24 September. She accounted for at least four and possible two more Japanese barges loaded with evacuees from Kolombangara during three nights of action, 30 September–3 October, with DesRon 21 under Commander A. D. Chandler. On 16 December, after three more months of patrol duty, Grayson sailed for Puget Sound Navy Yard for overhaul.

Grayson soon returned to the Pacific, putting in at Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, 10 February 1944. Patrol duty in the Solomons, Carolines, and Marshalls occupied her the following six months. On 30 March, Grayson supported initial assault landings on Pityilu, Admiralty Islands. From 22–24 April, she was fighter-director ship for the landings at Tanahmerah Bay, Dutch New Guinea. She bombarded Biak Island 27 May and Noemfoor Island 2 July prior to invasion landings.

On 1 September 1944, Grayson joined TG 38 for carrier strikes against the Palau Islands, scene of the next major invasion. She returned to Seeadler Harbor in the Admiralties on 31 September, then sailed again 2 October for a major strike against Okinawa and the Philippines. Japanese planes harassed the withdrawal and on 15 October, Grayson rescued 194 men from the torpedoed light cruiser Houston, which was towed safely to Ulithi.

From Ulithi, Grayson sailed to Saipan, where on 3 November she took up radar picket and lifeguard duty. Finally Grayson was ordered home, reaching Seattle 9 June 1945 for her first real rest since the war began.

Grayson returned to Pearl Harbor 1 September 1945 but, after brief training, sailed for the East Coast. Transiting the Panama Canal 8 October, she put in at Charleston, South Carolina, 16 October. Eleven days later the battle-scarred “tin can” hosted over 5,000 visitors as a grateful and jubilant public paid tribute on Navy Day. Grayson remained at Charleston until decommissioned 4 February 1947, and was placed in reserve at Orange, Texas, until she was stricken 1 June 1971.

Grayson earned 13 battle stars. She was also named in wording for a Navy Unit Commendation for Task Force 38.

Source: Naval Historical Center Photographic Section and DANFS.