The USS Charles J. Badger, a Fletcher-class destroyer, was built by Bethlehem Steel Co., Staten Island, New York, with a launch date of April 3, 1943. It was commissioned July 23, 1943, Commander W. G. Cooper, its commanding officer.
Action in World War II
Following shakedown, the Badger sailed for San Francisco, arriving November 30, 1943, assigned to duty in the Pacific. Reporting to Adak, Alaska December 17, it began its patrol and escort duties off the Aleutian Islands until August 1944. Part of its duty was to distract the Japanese, keeping attention away from strategic U.S. actions in the western Aleutians. It joined attacks on the Kuriles during February and June 1944.
Reassigned, the Badger headed south on August 8 for its new posting, Manus Island. On October 14, it was under way as part of an assault convoy en route to Philippine waters.
Arriving on October 20, 1944, it protected transports during assault landings at Dulag, Leyte. During the epic Battle for Leyte Gulf, it acted as convoy for reinforcements. Arriving on January 8 at Lingayen Gulf, Japanese kamikazes attacked its force, one of them crashing the escort carrier, the Kitkun Bay. During unloading the next day, the Badger helped protect the troops from enemy fire. It then escorted the Kitkun Bay to San Pedro, assuming patrol duties there.
On March 26, 1945, the Badger was dispatched to guard landings on Kerama Retto, taking the Japanese by surprise. They recovered quickly, mounting kamikaze attacks. After landings on Okinawa began, the Badger guarded the southern flank.
It joined a northbound force on April 7 to confront the Japanese battleship, the Yamato, a cruiser, and eight destroyers. Attacks from an American carrier aircraft sank Yamato, its cruiser and 4 of its destroyers. Early on April 9, a Japanese kamikaze boat dropped a depth charge next to the Badger, and then sped away. The ensuing explosion shut down its engines, the damage causing extensive flooding. The crew worked quickly, controlling the flooding and the Badger was towed to Kerama Retto for temporary repairs, then it sailed to Bremerton, Washington, arriving on August 1. In May, 1946, it was decommissioned and placed in reserve at Long Beach, California.
After the War
Re-commissioned on September 10, 1951 and assigned to Newport Rhode Island, the Badger took on training duties starting in February 1952 along the east coast and Caribbean. Completing two tours of duty with the 6th fleet from 1956-1957, it was decommissioned and placed in reserve at Boston, December 20, 1957.
For service in World War II, the Charles J. Badger was awarded five 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.