american

Military Monday: USS Harmon DE-678 1943

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USS Harmon DE-678 Image One
Destroyer Escort USS Harmon
Circa August 1943
Image was censored and retouched.
Radar antennas removed.
Pennant added in its place.
Released for publication March 1944
Photo Credit: Naval History & Heritage Command
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

The USS Harmon was a U.S. Navy Buckley class destroyer escort named after Leonard Roy Harmon, a Mess Attendant (Messman) First Class that served aboard the USS San Francisco. It was the first U.S. warship to be named after a Black American. It was launched July 25, 1943, by Bethlehem Steel Company in Quincy, MA, sponsored by Harmon’s mother and, seventy-seven years ago, today, it was commissioned. She spent nearly a year serving as an escort ship near New Caledonia. After a short period at Pearl Harbor, she joined the Luzon Reinforcement Group. By March 1945, she was an escort and an anti-submarine screen off Iwo Jima. She returned to Pearl Harbor for training, then to Mare Island for a weapons upgrade and, when the war was over, she conducted training operations with submarines.

Leonard Roy Harmon Image Two
Commemoration Poster
Source: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
Photo Credit: Wikipedia & Wikimedia

Decommissioned March 25, 1947, she joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was stricken August 1, 1965 and sold for scrap January 30, 1967. She received three battle stars for her World War II service.

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Leonard Roy Harmon, born in Cuero, Texas, on January 21, 1917, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on June 10, 1939, as a Mess Attendant Third Class. He trained at the Naval Training Station, Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia and reported to [the] San Francisco (CA-38) on October 28, 1939. On November 12, 1942, [the] San Francisco was covering a force of transports disembarking reinforcements off Guadalcanal when Japanese land attack planes, carrying torpedoes, attacked. [The] enemy aircraft crashed into the ship causing “considerable damage and intense fires” that put the after anti-aircraft director and radar out of commission. One officer and 15 men were either killed outright or died of their injuries. Harmon rushed in to evacuate the wounded. He was then assigned to assist Pharmacist’s Mate Lynford Bondsteel in evacuating and caring for the wounded. While the ship was being raked by enemy gunfire, Harmon deliberately shielded Bondsteel in order to protect his wounded shipmate. Although Bondsteel managed to get his courageous shipmate below, Harmon died of his wounds soon afterward.

Democracy In Action Poster Image Three
Artist: Charles Henry Alston
Collection: National Archives at College Park
Office of War Information poster from 1943
Photo Credit: Wikipedia & Wikimedia

Harmon was awarded a Purple Heart and, in March 1943, the Navy Cross.

Citation Excerpt:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Mess Attendant First Class Leonard Roy Harmon (NSN: 3600418), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty in action against the enemy while serving on board the Heavy Cruiser U.S.S. San Francisco (CA-38) […]. With persistent disregard of his own personal safety, […] Harmon rendered invaluable assistance in caring for the wounded and assisting them to a dressing station. In addition to displaying unusual loyalty [on] behalf of the injured Executive Officer, he deliberately exposed himself to hostile gunfire in order to protect a shipmate and, as a result of this courageous deed, was killed in action. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Addition Reading & Sources:
First US Ship Named For An African-American (History & Headlines August 31, 2016)
USN Ships: USS Harmon (DE-678) (Ibiblio Database)
Citation: Leonard Roy Harmon (Military Times)
Modern Ships: USS Harmon DE-678 (Naval History & Heritage Command)
Ship Histories: Harmon (DE-678) (Naval History & Heritage Command)
USS Harmon (DE-678) (Naval Warfare Blogspot)
World War Two: Told In A Museum (New Caledonia Site)
Leonard Harmon (Smithsonian)
Leonard Harmon, USN (USS San Francisco Site)
Leonard Roy Harmon (Wikipedia)
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (Wikipedia)
USS San Francisco (Wikipedia)

Music Monday: Bob Dylan 1989

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Bob Dylan Image One
Photo Credit: alldylan.com

Now that I have access to some old Billboard magazines, thirty years ago, today, Everything Is Broken, by American singer/songwriter, author and visual artist Bob Dylan, debuted on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart (called Album Rock Tracks back in 1989), entering at #23. Released from the album Oh Mercy, his 26th studio album, the song is a reflection of Dylan’s detachment from his world. It peaked at number eight after eight weeks on the chart.

From Wikipedia:

The track found on Oh Mercy is an April 1989 re-working of a take recorded the previous month. Originally recorded as “Broken Days” in March 1989, Dylan had re-written the song entirely by April, giving it its current name.

In an interview with Nigel Williamson (the author of The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan) and Oh Mercy’s producer, Daniel Lanois, he described how Dylan would rework his songs over and over again:

“I sat next to him for two months while he wrote [Oh Mercy] and it was extraordinary. Bob overwrites. He keeps chipping away at his verses. He has a place for all his favorite couplets and those couplets can be interchangeable. I’ve seen the same lyrics show up in two or three different songs as he cuts and pastes them around, so, it’s not quite as sacred ground as you might think.”

Bob Dylan Image Two
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org

From All Dylan:

“Most of them [the songs on “Oh Mercy”] are stream-of-consciousness songs, the kind that come to you in the middle of the night, when you just want to go back to bed. The harder you try to do something, the more it evades you. These weren’t like that.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen, September 21, 1989)

“While it would be unfair to compare ‘Oh Mercy’ to Dylan’s Sixties recordings, it sits well alongside his impressive body of work.”
~Clinton Heylin (Behind The Shades)

[While] promoting The Traveling Wilburys in the fall of 1988, George Harrison discussed some of Dylan’s upcoming work. Harrison [was] enthused about Dylan’s new songs…informing a skeptical world that the experience of recording the Wilburys had given him the urge to write again.

[Bono], lead singer of U2, paid Dylan a visit at his home. When he asked Dylan if he had written any new songs, Dylan showed him the ones stored in his drawer. Bono urged him to record the songs but, Dylan was reluctant.

Notable Cover Versions:
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Sheryl Crow


 
Lyrics [via LyricFind]
Broken lines, broken strings
Broken threads, broken springs
Broken idols, broken heads
People sleeping in broken beds
Ain’t no use jiving
Ain’t no use joking
Everything is broken

Broken bottles, broken plates
Broken switches, broken gates
Broken dishes, broken parts
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken

Bridge: Seem like every time you stop and turn around
Something else just hit the ground

Broken cutters, broken saws
Broken buckles, broken laws
Broken bodies, broken bones
Broken voices on broken phones
Take a deep breath, feel like you’re chokin’
Everything is broken

Every time you leave and go off someplace
Things fall to pieces in my face

Broken hands on broken ploughs
Broken treaties, broken vows
Broken pipes, broken tools
People bending broken rules
Hound dog howling, bull frog croaking
Everything is broken