The Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Kearny, NJ launched the USS Bullard in February of 1943. This Fletcher-class destroyer was named for Read Admiral William H.G. Bullard. Mrs. H.G. Bullard, widow of Admiral Bullard, sponsored the ship and Commander G. R. Hartwig was on board during its commissioning on April 9, 1943.
Action in World War II
Bullard got her sea legs in a brief operation on the eastern seaboard and spent a short time in the Caribbean before steaming toward the Pacific in August of 1943. She began in Pearl Harbor and spent the remainder of the War in the Pacific. She was instrumental in fire support, radar pickets, plane guards and patrols. Her various battles included the Wake Island raid in October of 1943, the Rabaul strike in November and the invasion of Tarawa in November and December of the same year. She also aided with the occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls from January to March of 1944.
She then continued her service, assisting in the Admiralty Island landings in March and April and the Hollandia operation in April and May of 1944. She supported in the seizures of Saipan and Guam from June to August and the Okinawa campaign from March to May of 1945.
In April 1945, a Japanese kamikaze attempted to stop her. However, like several other attempts to sink her, the Bullard suffered only minor damage. Repairs were completed on the Bullard in Okinawa by May 31. She spent little time in recovery, as she headed to Leyte and remained until July 1, pulling out of the Leyte Gulf to participate in the 3rd Fleet raids against Japan in July and August.
After the war
After the War, the Bullard remained in the Far East area, helping with occupation duties. She left for San Pedro, CA and arrived in December 1945. She remained on the West Coast for most of 1946 before heading to San Diego for de-commissioning in December of 1946. She remained on the Naval Registry until December of 1972. In December of 1973, she was sold for scrap.
For her proud service in World War II, the Bullard was awarded nine battle stars.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.