Harry F. Bauer sailed on 28 November 1944 via the Panama Canal, arriving at San Diego on 12 December. After additional training both there and at Pearl Harbor, she departed Hawaii on 27 January 1945 as a unit of Transport Group Baker for the invasion of Iwo Jima, the next stop in the island campaign toward Japan. As Vice Admiral Turner’s invasion troops stormed ashore on 19 February, Harry F. Bauer acted as a picket vessel and carried out antisubmarine patrol to protect the transports. As the campaign developed, the ship also conducted shore bombardments, destroying several gun emplacements, tanks and supply dumps. She proceeded to Ulithi 8 March to prepare for the last and largest of the Pacific Island operations, Okinawa.
Harry F. Bauer arrived at Kerama Retto 25 March and helped screen minecraft during preliminary sweeps of the invasion area. Under intensive air attack during this period, she shot down several Japanese planes, three on the night of 28–29 March alone. On the day of the assault, 1 April 1945, she joined the picket ships offshore, and for over two months of antisubmarine and anti-aircraft duty was under almost continuous attack. A torpedo crashed through her ballast tank on 6 April, but failed to explode, and she again shot down three aircraft on the night of 29 April 1945. While in company with J. William Ditter on 6 June, she was attacked by eight enemy aircraft. Each ship accounted for three; one crashed close aboard Harry F. Bauer, flooding two compartments. Although damaged herself, the ship escorted the crippled J. William Ditter to Kerama Retto. Survey of her damage during repairs revealed an unexploded bomb in one of her flooded compartments.
After retiring to Leyte for repairs, Harry F. Bauer arrived back at Okinawa on 15 August, the day of the Japanese surrender. With the prospect of massive minesweeping in Japanese waters incident to the occupation, she sailed on 20 August for the East China Sea, where she engaged in minesweeping operations until arriving Sasebo 28 October. Sailing for the United States on 1 December, she arrived at San Diego on 22 December.
Harry F. Bauer began operations with the Atlantic Fleet. These consisted of antisubmarine cruises in the Atlantic and Caribbean, tactical training and fleet maneuvers. During October–November 1948, she took part in Second Fleet exercises in the Atlantic, and in June–July 1949 participated in a Naval Academy training cruise with giant battleship Missouri.
Harry F. Bauer made her first cruise to the troubled Mediterranean, departing on 9 September and returning to Charleston on 1 February 1951. During the years that followed, she continued with tactical operations that took her to the Caribbean and Northern Europe. She ended active steaming in September 1955 and decommissioned 12 March 1956 at Charleston before entering the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia. Deemed surplus to the needs of the Navy, she was stricken from the Navy list on 15 August 1971. Her hulk was sold for scrap to Northern Metal Co. of Philadelphia on 12 June 1974.
Harry F. Bauer received the Presidential Unit Citation for the series of courageous actions off Okinawa during that bitter campaign, where “the fleet had come to stay,” and four battle stars for World War II service.