Last Known Activity|
USS Kidd (DD-661)
Kidd sailed 19 February 1945, to join Task Force 58 (TF 58) for the invasion of Okinawa. Trained and battlewise, Kidd played a key role during the first days of the Okinawa campaign, screening battleships, bombarding key targets ashore, rescuing downed pilots, sinking floating mines, providing early warning of raids, guarding heavily damaged Franklin (CV-13), and shooting down kamikazes.
While on picket station 11 April 1945, Kidd and her division mates, USS Black, USS Bullard, and USS Chauncey, with the help of Combat Air Patrol, repelled three air raids. That afternoon a single enemy plane crashed into Kidd, killing 38 men and wounding 55. As the destroyer headed south to rejoin the task group, her effective fire drove off enemy planes trying to finish her.
CLIFFORD ELLSWORTH KEMMERER
Clifford Ellsworth Kemmerer was born on May 24, 1926, in his hometown of Lehighton, Pennsylvania, to William E. and Elsie (Goldberg) Kemmerer. He was one of five children. His brothers were David, Leroy, and William, Jr. His sister was Evelyn. David was only one week old when Clifford died. Evelyn would later marry Charles Diehl.
Clifford attended Lehighton High School through the 8th grade before leaving school and going to work for the L. V. Railroad Company. He was drafted into the Navy on September 04, 1944. He attended boot camp in Sampson, New York, and received additional training at the Philadelphia Naval Base. Kemmerer was then transferred to California where he reported aboard the USS KIDD (DD-661) on January 17, 1945. His last visit home occurred on December 03, 1944.
While serving aboard the KIDD, Clifford changed rates on April 01, 1945, from Fireman 2nd class to Fireman 1st class. When the kamikaze plane struck the KIDD off of Okinawa on April 11, 1945, Clifford was at his post in the forward fireroom where the plane hit. The bomb that the plane carried did not detonate inside of the ship but rather was catapulted through that space, holing the destroyer and exploding outside the port side hull. The crash, however, ruptured the Number One boiler, releasing steam that was 800° F in temperature and killing every man in the compartment. In just over one month, he would have celebrated his nineteenth birthday. Initially listed as Missing In Action, his body was later discovered in the fireroom's wreckage during recovery operations there. He was buried at sea along with his shipmates at 1100 on Sunday, April 15, 1945, at 10.0 N latitude, 139-50 E longitude as the KIDD was en route back to Ulithi Atoll from the front lines.
A memorial service was held for Clifford at his family's church, St. Paul's Lutheran Church, on June 03, 1945. In December of 1946, the family presented a plaque to the church's Reverend J. A. McConomy. The plaque was given to the Reverend by little William Kemmerer, Jr., so as to honor the sacrifice of his big brother Clifford.
Our thanks to Mr. William Kemmerer, Jr., who supplied much of the above information to our researcher, Richard E. Ammon, Jr.