WALTER A. HERING, LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Walter Hering '38

Date of birth: July 18, 1917

Date of death: April 29, 1945

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1938 Lucky Bag:

Loss

Walter 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 in the process of taking command of the ship at the time.

Nine other officers and 67 crew were lost in the attack.

Walter's wife was listed as next of kin.

Wartime Service

He earlier had command of USS Patterson (DD 392) from Aug 22 1944 - Mar 17 1945.

From Wikipedia's history of the ship during that time:

Patterson then called briefly at Apra Harbor, Guam, en route to Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshalls. There, she joined the screen of fast carriers that struck hard at enemy bases on Iwo Jima and in the Western Caroline Islands. She participated in the bombardment of Yap Island 8 September. From there she proceeded to the Palau Islands to guard fast carriers giving direct support to the landing troops there until 9 October.

After replenishment at Manus, Admiralty Islands, Patterson made a high-speed run with attack carriers to blast enemy defenses on Okinawa and the entire Kerama Retto chain. From there the fast carrier task forces approached the Philippines to rain destruction on enemy air installations in Northern Luzon, thence proceeded to the coast of Formosa for air strikes launched 12 October. That evening and through the following day, Patterson helped fight off and destroy enemy aerial raiders that approached her carrier task group.

From Formosa, the carriers sped back to Luzon where Patterson helped drive off attacking enemy dive bombers that made a near miss on carrier Franklin. On 20 October her carrier task group gave direct air support to troops landing at Leyte to begin the liberation of the Philippine Islands. As the Japanese Fleet approached the Philippines in a three-pronged attack, 24–25 October, her carrier task force hit hard at the Japanese Southern Force of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, struck at the even more powerful Japanese Central Force aiming at the Central Philippines, then raced north to destroy the Japanese decoy carrier task force in the Battle off Cape Enganno, 25 October. She joined in the pursuit of enemy fleet units fleeing the Battle for Leyte Gulf, then helped fight off the suicide attacks of Japanese kamikaze aircraft 30 October. She rescued men blown into the water from the damaged carriers Franklin and Belleau Wood, escorting the damaged carriers safely to Ulithi in the Caroline Islands, arriving 3 November.

Patterson helped protect attack carriers providing air cover to convoys approaching the Philippines until 9 December. She then proceeded independently to Kossol Roads, Palau Islands. There, she joined the screen of an escort carrier-bombardment task group that sailed 10 December to provide heavy gunfire support and air cover for the initial landings on Mindoro Island. For seven days the destroyer remained in the Sulu Sea, fighting off frequent suicide attacks of enemy aerial raiders that closed her carrier task group formation. There was a brief replenishment at Palau before Patterson again sailed with escort aircraft carriers, this time to support the invasion landings at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippines.

She rescued survivors of the kamikaze-damaged escort carrier Ommaney Bay 4 January 1945, and survivors of destroyer Stafford and escort carrier Manila Bay the following day. She shot down a suicide plane diving on carrier Salamaua 13 January, remaining on guard for carriers in support of the Lingayen Gulf invasion landings until the 17th. She then proceeded to Ulithi in the Carolines to prepare for the impending invasion of Iwo Jima.

Patterson departed Ulithi 10 February for final battle rehearsals and staging in the Marianas, thence in the screen of escort carriers covering the amphibious expeditionary troops for the landings on Iwo Jima, 19 February. She rescued 106 survivors of the escort carrier Bismarck Sea, sunk by enemy torpedo plane attacks off Iwo Jima 21 February. The fighting destroyer remained off Iwo Jima with escort carriers until 10 March, then set course for Ulithi to prepare for the capture and occupation of Okinawa, the “last stepping stone” to Japan.


Class of 1938

Walter is one of 69 members of the Class of 1938 in Memorial Hall.