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Remembering World War II
Donald George Davidson
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Name: Donald George Davidson Rank: Coxswain Service Number: 6421323 Service: USS Halligan (DD-584), United States Navy Reserve Awards: Purple Heart Date of Birth: March 17, 1919 Place of Birth: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Date of Enlistment: February 16, 1942 Place of Enlistment: New Haven, Connecticut Address at Enlistment: Massachusetts Age at Enlistment: 22 Height: 5 feet, 10 ½ inches Complexion: Dark Hair Color: Black Eye Color: Brown Date of Death: March 26, 1945 Age: 26 Cemetery: Honolulu Memorial, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Hawaii Grave: Court 5, Courts of the Missing Donald George Davidson was the son of George Bell Davidson (1882-1978) and Margaret Mary (MacFarlane) Davidson (1883-1919). His mother was born in Inverness County, Nova Scotia and his father was born in Gardner Creek, Saint John County, New Brunswick. Donald had a brother James A Davidson, and two half siblings from his father’s second marriage to Bertha J Cameron (1893-1951) after the death of Donald’s mother in 1919. His half-siblings were Margaret Mary Davidson and Kenneth J Davidson. Donald’s father immigrated to the United States when he was four, and later in life, worked as a Chauffeur and Navy Yard Ship-fitter in Boston. Donald registered for the US Draft October 16, 1940, in Bourne, Massachusetts. He was working at the Walsh Construction Company and living in Brighton, Middlesex Co., Mass. Donald served on the USS Halligan (DD-584), a Fletcher-class destroyer, appearing on the ship muster rolls Sept. 30, 1943, and serving aboard until his death in March of 1945. After shakedown off Bermuda, in mid-November of 1943, the Halligan joined Iowa carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his party en route to the historic Teheran Conference. She served as part of the escort screen to Casablanca, then for the next few weeks conducted anti-submarine operations off North Africa. She rejoined Iowa Dec. 11th, and steamed to the United States, arriving Charleston, South Carolina, Dec. 17, 1943. Assigned to duty in the Pacific, Halligan departed Charleston December 21st, reached San Diego, California, Jan. 4th, 1944, and arrived Pearl Harbor Jan. 11th. As part of Task Force 52, she sailed Jan. 22nd for the invasion of the Marshall Islands. Between January 31st and Feb. 25th, she operated as a screen and patrol ship during the Kwajalein operations, and she screened and patrolled in the forward area until returning to Pearl Harbor May 22nd. Arriving at Leyte Gulf Jan. 22, 1945, she sailed for Ulithi the next day and arrived Jan. 25th to prepare for the invasion of Iwo Jima. Assigned duty as fire support and shore bombardment ship, Halligan departed Ulithi Feb. 10th; and, after conducting simulated shore bombardment at Tinian, Marianas, she departed Saipan Feb. 12th for Iwo Jima. On Feb. 17th she served as lifeguard ship north of Iwo Jima during pre-invasion air strikes. At dawn she sighted and took under fire a Japanese twin-engine bomber, which attacked the ship from the port bow. Hit repeatedly by accurate gunfire, the attacker dropped a large bomb which landed about 100 yards (91 m) off the port bow and failed to explode. Burning as it passed over the ship, the enemy plane crashed more than a mile away. Halligan closed to within 2,700 yards of the shore of Iwo Jima Feb. 19th; and, as the first wave of Marines headed for the beach, she joined other ships in providing a heavy support barrage. Her guns destroyed a Japanese shore battery, and she spent much of D-Day pounding assigned target areas in support of the main landings. Later that day she joined other destroyers screening for escort carriers, and during the remainder of her duty off Iwo Jima she served as a screen and plane guard ship for offshore carrier operations. One of the last destroyers to return from the Iwo Jima operation, Halligan arrived Ulithi in mid-March. She was soon under way again, this time as part of Task Force 54, steaming for the invasion of Okinawa—gateway to the heart of the Japanese Empire. Assigned to a fire support unit, she arrived off the south-western part of Okinawa March 25th and began patrolling between Okinawa and Kerama Retto. In addition, she covered minesweepers during sweep operations through waters which had been heavily mined with irregular patterns. Halligan continued her offshore patrols on March 26th. At about 18:35 a tremendous explosion rocked the ship, sending smoke and debris 200 feet (61 m) in the air. The destroyer had hit a moored mine head on, exploding the forward magazines and blowing off the forward section of the ship including the bridge, back to the forward stack. PC-1128 and USS LSM(R)-194 arrived soon after the explosion to aid survivors. Ensign Richard L. Gardner, the senior surviving officer who was uninjured, organized rescue parties and directed the evacuation of the living to waiting rescue vessels. Finally, he gave the order to abandon ship as the smoking hulk drifted helplessly. USS PC-584 was one of the rescue vessels, saving approximately 80 men from the stricken destroyer. Halligan lost half of her crew of 300 in the disaster, and only 2 of her 21 officers survived. The abandoned destroyer drifted aground on Tokashiki, a small island west of Okinawa, the following day. There the hulk was further battered by pounding surf and enemy shore batteries. Her name was struck from the Navy List April 28, 1945. Donald has no known grave and is remembered in the Courts of the Missing (Court 5) of the Honolulu Memorial, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. He is also remembered on a family marker at the New Calvary Cemetery in Mattapan, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and his name is inscribed on the Peace Park Memorial in Okinawa.