After transporting marines during the night of September 4-5, 1942, USS Gregory (APD-3) and a companion APD were returning to their anchorage at Tulagi after transferring a Marine Raider Battalion to Savo Island. The night was inky-black with a low haze obscuring all landmarks and the ships decided to remain on patrol rather than risk threading their way through the dangerous channel. As they steamed between Guadalcanal and Savo Island at ten knots, three Japanese destroyers entered the Slot to bombard American shore positions. At 0056 the two American ships saw flashes of gunfire which they assumed came from a Japanese submarine until radar showed four targets, as apparently a cruiser had joined the three DD's. While the two outgunned but gallant ships were debating whether to close for action or depart quietly and undetected, the decision was taken out of their hands.
A US Navy pilot had also seen the gunfire and assuming it came from a Japanese submarine, dropped a string of five flares almost on top of the two APD's. Unfortunately they were silhouetted against the blackness, were spotted immediately by the Japanese, who opened fire at 0100. Gregory brought all her guns to bear but was desperately overmatched and less than 3 minutes after the fatal flares had been dropped, she was dead in the water and beginning to sink. Two boilers had burst and her decks were a mass of flames. Lieutenant Commander Bauer, himself seriously wounded, gave the word to abandon ship, and Gregory's crew reluctantly took to the water. As the crew began going overboard and Bauer was being assisted by two crewmen, he made the ultimate sacrifice as he ordered his two companions to aid another crewman yelling for help. Bauer was never seen again. For his gallant conduct, he posthumously promoted to Commander.
The destroyer USS Harry F. Bauer (DM-26) was named for him.
Service number: 061133
Executive Officer - USS Tracy (DD-214/DM-19) - 1937 through 10/1938
Commanding Officer - USS Gregory (DD-82/APD-3) - 12/1941 until his death on 9/6/1942
Awarded for action during World War II
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Division: U.S.S. Gregory (APD-3)
General Orders: Commander South Pacific Force and Area: Serial 0509 (March 26, 1943)
Citation: The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Commander Harry Frederick Bauer (NSN: 061133), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. GREGORY (APD-3) during action against enemy Japanese forces off Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 4 September 1942. When hostile vessels moved in under the misty haze of night and bombarded our shore positions, Lieutenant Commander Bauer, although seriously handicapped by limitation of fire power and reduction of armament, unhesitatingly steamed forward to challenge the attacking foe. Suddenly spotlighted under a flood of illumination from two forces of Japanese destroyers, he fought his ship with courageous determination and grim defiance, well aware that she was unequipped to engage an outnumbering force in battle. Scoring several hits on the enemy while attempting to withdraw before a vigorous curtain of fire, he kept his guns blazing away until the GREGORY was eventually struck and set aflame. His brilliant leadership and relentless fighting spirit, maintained with utter disregard of personal safety, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
The information contained in this profile was compiled from various internet sources.