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U.S. Navy Photograph

USS RAYMOND (DE 341)

LCDR Aaron F. Beyer, Jr., USNR, Commanding Officer


Never having been trained in torpedo-attack tactics, this small destroyer escort was ordered to do so to buy time for the fleeing escort carriers of Taffy 3. Lieutenant Commander Beyer, RAYMOND's commanding officer, turned RAYMOND toward the advancing Japanese fleet without hesitation on two separate occasions. The heavy cruiser HIJMS HAGURO was chosen as the target for her three torpedoes on her first run against the enemy; subsequently, all three missed. RAYMOND spent the remainder of the surface action engaged in gunfire duels against the IJN heavy cruiser column and laying protective smoke in defense of the escort carriers.

Crew List
Action Report
Call-sign FIGLEAF
Class JOHN C. BUTLER
Also known as a WGT (Westinghouse Geared Turbine) Class DE 
Displacement 1,350 tons
Length 306 feet
Beam 36 feet 8 inches
Draft 9 feet 5 inches
Speed 24 knots
Complement 186
Armament 2 5-inch GP guns
4 40mm AA guns
10 20mm AA guns
3 21" torpedo tubes
Hedgehog ahead throwing weapon
8 depth charge throwers
2 depth charge racks
Laid Down 3 November 1943
Launched 8 January 1944
Commissioned 15 April 1944


Namesake Information

The first RAYMOND was built during 1893 by the yard of Michael McDonald as a wooden barge for commercial service. She was purchased for the Navy service from E. S. Belden & Sons of New London, Connecticut and delivered on 21 December 1917 to the Commandant, 2nd Naval District, for duty as a yard craft. RAYMOND was sold on 15 August 1919 to Fred Starr of New York.  

Career

USS RAYMOND (DE 341) was laid down by Consolidated Steel Corporation, Orange, Texas on November 3, 1943. She was launched on January 8, 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Helen Raymond and commissioned on April 15, 1944 with LCDR A. F. Beyer, Jr. in command.

Campaigns

Morotai - September 1944

Following shakedown off Bermuda, RAYMOND served as a training ship for the Norfolk Training Station, then steamed on July 1 for the Panama Canal. She arrived at Pearl Harbor Naval Station on July 23 and got underway on August 12 for Guadalcanal and Manus in the southwest Pacific. She arrived at the latter on August 28 and joined the escort carrier group staging area for the Morotai assault.

On September 15 RAYMOND screened the escort carriers attacking Morotai in the Netherlands East Indies. After returning to Manus, she supported the air operations on October 16 against the Philippine island of Leyte.  

Leyte Gulf/Samar - 17 to 25 October 1944

RAYMOND sortied from Manus with Rear Admiral C.A.F. "Ziggy" Sprague's Carrier Division 25 which consisted of four escort carriers - FANSHAW BAY (flagship), SAINT LO, WHITE PLAINS, and KALININ BAY. This large group was screened by DESPAC '44 veteran FLETCHER Class destroyers HOEL, HEERMANN, and JOHNSTON and destroyer escort SAMUEL B. ROBERTS.  They later joined Rear Admiral Ralph A. Ofstie's Carrier Division 26, consisting of CASABLANCA Class escort carriers KITKUN BAY (flagship) and GAMBIER BAY, screened by DE DENNIS and JOHN C. BUTLER.  Rear Admiral Sprague became the overall commander of the six CVE's, three DD's, and four DE's and the unit was designated as Task Unit 77.4.3, radio call sign "Taffy 3".

RAYMOND's duties with Taffy 3 were to be just like any other she had performed in the past . . . . rear-echelon, escort duty, away from any major fleet action. Her relatively small, 306-foot hull and 1350 ton displacement made her suitable for light anti-aircraft work and anti-submarine assignments.

On the morning of October 25, Taffy 3 ran afoul of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's Imperial Japanese Navy Centre Force. Consisting of four battleships (including the largest in the world, YAMATO), six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and two squadrons of destroyers, Taffy 3 was immediately placed in the position of running for its life.

RAYMOND and the other destroyer escorts were immediately ordered to lay protective smoke between the fleeing escort carriers and the advancing Japanese warships. This tactic initially saved all ships of the task unit for a short while, until the range closed between the two forces. The COMCARDIV 25 Action Report stated, "At 0706, the enemy was closing with disconcerting rapidity, and volume and accuracy of fire was increasing. At this point, it did not appear that any of our ships could survive anther five minutes of the heavy calibre fire being received, and some counteraction was urgently and immediately required. The Task Unit was surrounded by the ultimate of desperate circumstances. All escorts were ordered to attack the enemy with torpedoes. At this time, direct view of the enemy was obscured by smoke and results of our escorts attack could not be ascertained, but it is believed that, regardless of hits, they succeeded in turning the battleships away at least momentarily, and created a diversion of immense value."   At about 0743, reacting to Rear Admiral Sprague's order for the DE's to attack, Lieutenant Commander Beyer left the port side of the escort carrier formation and turned RAYMOND northward to engage the Japanese warships with a torpedo attack. By 0756 she was about 6,000 yards (3 miles) from the heavy cruiser HIJMS HAGURO, which was selected as the target for her three torpedoes....in she went at full speed.... HAGURO spotted RAYMOND on her approach and placed about fifteen 8-inch salvoes about 200 yards astern of the DE. RAYMOND then emptied her torpedo tubes, reversed course, and retired toward the escort carriers.

Upon reaching the port side of the escort carrier formation, RAYMOND engaged the heavy cruisers HIJMS CHIKUMA and TONE with 5-inch gunfire at 0814. During the course of the surface action, RAYMOND's two 5-inch guns expended 414 rounds of ammunition.

By about 0841, Taffy 3 fleet destroyer HOEL was in flames and sinking. Destroyer JOHNSTON, heavily damaged, was out of torpedoes and unable to surpass seventeen knots....only the fleet destroyer HEERMANN was still in fighting trim, although soon to be down by the bow from 8-inch gunfire hits. Unable to rely upon his destroyers for further attacks, Rear Admiral Sprague ordered the destroyer escorts to engage the enemy cruiser line, which were now threatening the CVE's. Destroyer escorts ROBERTS and RAYMOND on the port side of the escort carriers immediately engaged the cruiser line. RAYMOND was able to press her attack to within 5,900 yards of the cruisers, both 5-inch guns firing.

About thirty minutes later, Centre Force broke off the surface action to regroup to the north. RAYMOND concluded her action off Samar undamaged . . . . the only other warship of Taffy 3 able to claim the same was her division mate JOHN C. BUTLER. The price paid by Taffy 3 was heavy. The GAMBIER BAY had been sunk, along with destroyers HOEL and JOHNSTON and DE SAMUEL B. ROBERTS.

About 90 minutes after the surface action had concluded, the remaining escort carriers were attacked by kamikaze aircraft. The SAINT LO was hard hit and sunk at 1125. RAYMOND was utilized to pick up survivors.  

Late 1944 until War's End

Returning to Manus and Pearl Harbor, she left the latter port on December 29 and arrived at Eniwetok on January 7, 1945. She then performed escort duty to Saipan and Tinian and on February 9 was underway with Task Unit 58.8.24 to refuel Task Force 58 prior to the Iwo Jima campaign, arriving off Guam en route to Ulithi on March 3.

On March 12, RAYMOND sortied with Task Unit 50.18.34 bound for Kerama Retto, Okinawa. During operation "Iceberg," RAYMOND performed escort and screening duties and for the remainder of the war steamed between the Western Carolines and the Ryukyus. By August 15 she had shot down five enemy planes. She served in occupied Japanese waters from 2-6 September, then returned to the United States and in November entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet.  

Post War Service

Decommissioned on January 24, 1947, RAYMOND was berthed at San Diego until recommissioned on April 27, 1951. She transited the Panama Canal and arrived at Newport, Rhode Island on August 11, 1951. Local operations along the New England coast, exercises in the Caribbean and duty with the Fleet Sonar School at Key West, Florida kept her in the western Atlantic until the summer of 1953, when she conducted a midshipman training cruise to Scandinavia.  

Final Service

Returning to Newport for local operations on September 1, she resumed her previous schedule and interrupting them only for a second midshipman cruise in the summer of 1954, continued operations off the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean until September 22, 1958 when she was decommissioned and placed in service. She continued her operations off the east coast during 1959. Placed out of service, in reserve, on May 31, 1960, she was berthed at Philadelphia Navy Yard and was struck from the Navy list on July 1, 1972.

USS RAYMOND (DE 341) received the Presidential Unit Citation for the heroism of her crew in the Battle Off Samar and five Battle Stars for her service in World War II.  

Source: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, Vol. III, 1968, Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, Washington, D.C. and The Battle Off Samar - The Tragedy of Taffy III, by Robert Jon Cox, 1996