VOLCKERT P. DOUW, CDR, USN
Volckert Douw '30
Date of birth: March 4, 1907
Date of death: April 29, 1945
From the 1930 Lucky Bag:
Pete was lost when USS Hazelwood (DD 531) was struck by a kamikaze on April 29, 1945 while operating off the coast of Okinawa.
He was the ship's commanding officer. Nine other officers and 67 men were also killed in the attack.
From "Aircraft Carrier" by J. Bryan, III:
April 28th . At sea
As we stood away, one of the Hazelwood's officers took me up to the bridge and introduced me to their skipper, Comdr. Volckert P. Douw, a crisp, smart-looking man, with the warmest smile I've ever seen. We chatted a few minutes, then he said, "I bet you don't know who you're talking to. No? I'll tell you: you're talking to the happiest guy in the whole goddamn Navy! See that man standing there?"—he pointed to the other wing of the bridge—"That's my relief. He's going to take over in a couple of days, and I'll go home and see my wife and kids for the first time in God knows when."
We were coming alongside another CVE, the Attu, which was giving me a lift to Guam, so I told the skipper goodbye and wished him well. He had no messages for me to send his wife; he thought he'd get home before I would.
April 30th . At sea
… This morning [my friend] Hays took me up to the bridge and gave me the long glass and pointed to a destroyer on our starboard beam. "Look at that mess," he said.
Her bridge was smashed flat. Her foremast was hanging over the side. The starboard 40mm mount was lying on the deck.
Hays said, "A kamikaze hit her Saturday afternoon, just after you came aboard. I saw the dispatch, but I've forgotten the exact number of casualties. I know she's requesting a new skipper."
I put the glass on her bow. Her number stood out clearly: "531"—the Hazelwood.
The happiest guy in the whole goddamn Navy
A million laughs, chum—a million of 'em!
Legion of Merit
From Hall of Valor:
SYNOPSIS: Commander Volckert Petrus Douw (NSN: 0-63230), United States Navy, was awarded the Legion of Merit (Posthumously) for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. HAZELWOOD during the Battle for Leyte Gulf, 18 to 29 October 1944.
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 345 (December 1945)