Frederick Becton graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Class of 1931. He retired as a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy.
US NAVY WORLD WAR II
Captain: LtCdr. Frederick J. Becton SS
Hometown: Des Arc, Arkansas
Ship: USS Aaron Ward (DD 483)
Awards: Silver Star with 3 Oak Leaf Cluster, Navy Cross
Mission: LCT Escort
Mission Date: 7-Apr-43
Location: Tinete Point, Florida Island.
Cause: Japanese dive bombers
Crew: 7MIA/KIA 20KIA
USS Aaron Ward DD-483 had only been in commission for one year, one month and three days when on April 7, 1943 she became the target of a Japanese air attack. The ship was escorting several LCTs which were en route from Russel Island to Tulagi, she went ahead to provide anti-aircraft cover when she was ordered to detach and provide escort to USS LST-449 which was off Togoma Point, Guadalcanal.
At 1505 (ship time) the two vessels joined up and were zig-zagging with Aaron Ward ahead of the LST. Some Japanese aircraft were involved in a dogfight near Savo Island, others were looking for targets and at 1512 three of them began an attack against Aaron Ward.
Under fire from the destroyer the Japanese did not waver in their attack. Bombs began to fall around the ship, some close by and some direct hits, the bombs that fell close did as much damage as the direct hits. After the attack the damage assessment was as follows. Both firerooms flooded to within 6" of main deck level, after engine room flooded from a direct hit, forward engine room taking on water. Living quarters aft of after engine room flooded and contaminated with oil, 40mm magazine flooded by fire suppression system along with other damage.
At 1530 USS Ortolan AM-45 came alongside and took Aaron Ward in tow, the ship was settling fast, now only 6" of freeboard remained amidships and 12" at the stern. At 1630 water started coming in to the forward mess, at first a bucket brigade kept it down, but 20 minutes later USS Vireo AM-52 came alongside and passed over a suction line and began pumping the room down.
Hours went by and the damage control teams (and everyone else) did all they could to keep the ship afloat, but at 2135 the list became too great and the ship went down by the stern just off Tinete Point, Florida Island. Twenty men were killed, seven missing and the year old ship was at the bottom of Iron Bottom Sound.
Adm. F. Julian Becton, who was at the center of a dramatic two hours of naval history when his destroyer survived a swarm of Japanese kamikaze planes off Okinawa in 1945, died on Monday at his home in Wynnewood, Pa. He was 87.
The 2,200-ton U.S.S. Laffey, guns blazing, battled an onslaught by 22 suicide planes, 6 of which struck the ship. Two bombs also hit the ship; one jammed the rudder of the Laffey, whose deck was a mass of flame.
The Laffey's crew shot down eight or nine of the planes, but it paid a high price: 31 crewmen were killed or unaccounted for, and 60 were wounded.
Admiral Becton, then a commander, escaped injury. His deft maneuvering and the skill of his engineers were credited with bringing the Laffey, riddled like a sieve above the waterline, back to Seattle for repairs. He received the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism.
It was not his first close call. He was in command of the destroyer Aaron Ward when she was part of an Allied convoy that was attacked off Guadalcanal in April 1943. The Aaron Ward and two other vessels were sunk, but the enemy lost 39 planes
Visit the virtual cemetery of USS Aaron Ward Crew
Elizabeth Hilary Reuss Becton
1920–2001 (m. 1949)
John B. Becton
Gravesite Details NA United States Navy
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