A Letter from Tom Bogard
Tom Bogard, a 469 survivor wrote a letter to then historian, Ken Stilson. He included a history of the 469 along with his first hand account. This is a transcript of that letter. A PDF of his original letter is available at the end.
March 12, 1993
Dear Shipmate, Ken Stilson
I just received a letter from Dan Wisner, and he asked me to send you some history of the USS DeHaven DD-469. Commissioned 9/21//42, sunk by "VAL" dive bombers at Guadalcanal 2/1/43. The 1st of the famous Fletcher class to go down. 133 day in commission.
Enclosed please find the official shipís history. There is a better version out-US Navy During WWII by Smith. It gives an eyewitness from the USS Nicholas, and is pretty well told the story.
The only thing not in either history is there was a dispute between the bridge (Captain) and the Gunnery Officer as to the ID of the aircraft. Friend or foe?
I was a 17 year-old Seaman 2nd Class and a 5-inch gun trainer. We could see the aircraft in the gun scopes and we tracked them till they started making runs. We, the pointer and myself, all the time were telling the gun captain they were Japs! The lead plane rolled over and I saw the bomb separate from the plane. I told the gun captain to stand by for a bomb. The bomb hit the bridge. We (the gun crew) then started firing in self-defense. My gun #5 on the fantail fired four rounds. They were the new experimental AA shell with a variable timed fuse. There VALS were downed. As near as I recall, we are the only 5-inch to fire. Two other bombs hit forward, one between the stacks, the other on 5-inch #1 gun. It also got the forward 5-inch magazine.
When I climbed out of gun 5, there wasnít much left forward of the after stack. She sank very rapidly. The rest is history.
I went on and became an Air Crewman. I flew in TBMís (torpedo bombers) as a gunner. Did OK. I enlisted in July 1942 and retired Sept 1963. Made Chief in 1957. Hope Iíve helped you guys a little bit. I donít think Iíll make the reunion this year Iím supposed to meet a shipmate from the 469 at Baker, OR. I did make the one last year and four other old shipmates also were there. We had a nice get together. Thanks for including us with the 727 Reunion.
In another statement, Tom wrote:
We arrived at New Caladonia in early November if I remember right. Then, after about a day, we escorted some supply ships to Guadalcanal. We then joined up with four other Fletcher cans. The Fletcher, Radford, Nicholas and O'Bannon. We terrorized the Japs by day and night shelling, sinking bunches of their food stuffs, etc.. On 1 Feb. 1943, we were attacked by a flight of VAL Dive bombers. We had them on radar at 25,000 yards but by the time the bridge finally believed the gun crews, that the planes were indeed Japs, 9 VALS broke off and the lead one put a 500 pound bomb on the bridge. Then we started firing which was too late. Another bomb hit on the bow. No. 1 and 2 5-inch magazines exploded. The other bomb hit between the two stacks. Most of the ship forward of the aft stack was gone. Had we been given permission to fire at 9,000 or 10,000 yards we, more than likely would have held them off. I was in a 5-inch trainer and we fired three round of VTF anti-aircraft shells. Three planes splashed. No credit to anyone. She went down quickly and approximately 170 dead and 40 injured and about 70-75 in pretty good shape.
When taken ashore at Guadalcanal, we were handed a carbine and 200 rounds and sent to the beach to repel a landing by the Japanese Imperial Navy. The other four cans kept them out, thank God, as I was very tired. We were then sent to Wellington, New Zealand and the back to good ol' Uncle Sugar!