- Fazio, Lieut. V. RANEM
- Ship histories and stories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 2010 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
In April 1945 she was assigned to support the invasion of Okinawa. By this time, the greeting ‘Don’t shoot, we’re Republicans’ was commonplace and the crew of Willie D had become used to the ribbing. But the crew of her sister ship USS Luce was not so polite with her salutations after Willie D accidentally riddled her side and superstructure with gunfire.
On 10 June 1945, Willie D’s luck finally ran out. She was sunk by a plane which had (unintentionally) attacked underwater. A Japanese bomber made almost entirely of wood and canvas slipped through the Navy’s defence. Having little in the way of metal surfaces, the plane didn’t register on radar. A fully loaded kamikaze, it was headed for a ship near Willie D, but at the last minute, veered away and crashed alongside the unlucky destroyer. There was a sigh of relief as the plane sank out of sight, but then it blew up underneath Willie D, opening her hull in the worst possible location.
Three hours later, after the last man was off the ship, the Captain jumped to the safety of a rescue vessel and the ship that almost changed world history slipped into 2,400 feet of water. Not a single soul was lost in the sinking. After everything else that had happened, it was almost as though the ship decided to let her crew off at the end.