Figure 2: USS Harmon (DE-678) at Langamak Harbor, New Guinea, 31 March 1944. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Harmon (DE-678) alongside USS Dixie (AD-14) at Hawthorne Sound, New Georgia, in May 1944. Another destroyer escort is inboard of Harmon. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Harmon (DE-678) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 13 November 1945, after she was refitted with 5-inch guns. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Harmon (DE-678) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, following overhaul and refitting with 5-inch guns, 13 November 1945. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Harmon (DE-678) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 13 November 1945. This stern view shows her hull number and name painted in white on her transom. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: A poster featuring Mess Attendant First Class Leonard Roy Harmon, USN, and USS Harmon (DE-678), which was named in his honor. Leonard Harmon was born at Cuero, Texas, on 21 January 1917. He enlisted in the Navy in June 1939 and was assigned to USS San Francisco (CA-38) following training. During the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November 1942, while serving on board that ship, Mess Attendant Harmon assisted in evacuating and caring for the wounded. He deliberately exposed himself to enemy gunfire while attempting to protect a shipmate and was killed in action. For his heroism in that action, Mess Attendant Harmon was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. The poster also features the text of his award citation and a representation of the Navy Cross medal. USS Harmon was the first US Navy ship to be named for an African-American naval hero. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: Ship's Sponsor, Mrs. Naunita Harmon Carroll, and her party at the Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts, during launching ceremonies for USS Harmon (DE-678) on 25 July 1943. Those present include (from left to right): Miss Harmon, sister of Mess Attendant First Class Leonard Roy Harmon, for whom the ship was named; Mr. W.D. Carroll, the Sponsor's husband; Mrs. Naunita Harmon Carroll, Mess Attendant Harmon's mother; and Mrs. Paul Edwards, sister of the Sponsor. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after Mess Attendant First Class Leonard Roy Harmon (1917-1942), USN, who was killed while heroically trying to save lives on board his ship USS San Francisco (CA-38) during the 13 November 1942 Naval Battle for Guadalcanal, the 1,400-ton USS Harmon was a Buckley class destroyer escort that was built by the Bethlehem Steel Company at Quincy, Massachusetts, and was commissioned on 31 August 1943. Harmon was the first US Navy ship to be named for an African-American naval hero. The ship was approximately 306 feet long and 37 feet wide, had a top speed of 24 knots, and had a crew of 186 officers and men. Harmon’s original armament consisted of three 3-inch guns, two 40-mm guns, eight 20-mm guns, three 21-inch torpedo tubes, and depth charges, but some of these guns were replaced later on in the war.
After completing a shakedown cruise off Bermuda, Harmon underwent post-shakedown repairs and alterations at Boston, Massachusetts, before steaming south to Norfolk, Virginia. On 7 November 1943, the ship left Norfolk and headed further south to the Panama Canal. After transiting the canal on 13 November, Harmon went to San Francisco, California. The ship continued on to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and then arrived at Samoa on 25 December. For the next eight and a half months, Harmon was assigned to escort duty throughout the South Pacific with the Third and Seventh Fleets. On 18 September 1944, the destroyer escort returned to Pearl Harbor.
Harmon completed naval exercises off the coast of Hawaii before steaming to Manus in the Admiralty Islands on 24 November 1944. After arriving at Manus, Harmon joined a unit of the Seventh Fleet that was assigned to the invasion of the Philippines. Harmon escorted a massive convoy to the Philippines and participated in the January 1945 landings at Luzon.
On 5 March 1945, Harmon arrived off the coast of Iwo Jima and was assigned to escort and antisubmarine duties. She remained there until 27 March and then returned to Pearl Harbor to participate in additional training exercises. The ship stayed at Pearl Harbor until August, when Harmon was ordered to steam to the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, to have her 3-inch guns replaced with two 5-inch mounts. But while this work was being done, World War II ended. Upon completion of this overhaul, the ship was assigned to training duties.
Harmon left San Diego, California, on 7 January 1946 and headed for the Panama Canal, where she conducted training exercises with submarines. The ship left Panama on 28 March and arrived at New London, Connecticut, on 3 April. Once there, the destroyer escort was again used in training exercises with submarines. In December 1946, the ship left New London and sailed to Green Cove Springs, Florida, where she was decommissioned on 25 March 1947 and was placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. USS Harmon was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 August 1965 and sold for scrapping on 30 January 1967. The first US Navy ship to be named for an African-American naval hero received three battle stars for her service during World War II.