USS Meredith (DD-434), a Gleaves-class destroyer, was built by Boston Naval Shipyard, launched on April 24, 1940. Commissioned on March 1, 1941, its commander was Lt. Comdr. William F. Mendenhall, Jr.
Action in World War II
The Meredith completed shakedown off Cuba, returning to Boston June 8, 1941. It was deployed to southern coastal waters, attached to Destroyer Division 22. It was assigned to patrol duties and flight and operational training exercises, returning to port September 20. Assigned to Hvalfjorour, Iceland on September 28, it patrolled waters between the Denmark Straits and Iceland. Encountering British ship Empire Wave, which had been torpedoed, it rescued the surviving crew.
The Meredith was assigned to the Denmark Straits after the Pearl Harbor attacks for escort duty, also performing antisubmarine patrols. In late January, it was assigned to escort a convoy to Boston. On February 18, 1942 it departed for Norfolk, assigned to screen for Washington (BB-56) and attached to Task Force 18 and the carrier the Hornet (CV-8).
Task Force 18 was deployed on March 4 for San Diego, arriving on March 21 on a highly classified mission. On April 2, Task Force 18 joined Task Force 16, departing on April 13 for Japan. On April 18, they launched the infamous Shangri-La raid at Tokyo, the first carrier-launched assault on Japan which took place on the Hornet with a squadron of U.S. Army bombers. Following the assault, the Meredith departed for Hawaii.
The Meredith was then assigned escort duty to fleet oilers en route to New Caledonia from May 13 to June 21, followed by patrol duty of Bulari Passage, escorting the Tangier (AV-8), then back to Pearl Harbor. It then participated in operational exercises until departure to Samoa on August 15, reaching Pago Pago on August 30. Reassigned to the Solomons, it provided an escort to Transport Force 2 and the reinforcements they carried for the landing on Guadalcanal September 20. Again reassigned, it sailed for the New Hebrides for patrol duties.
Its next assignment saw it escorting a freighter convoy to Guadalcanal departing Espiritu Santo on October 12. On the morning of October 15, the Meredith encountered enemy aircraft. Again in the early afternoon, it encountered a squad of 35 Japanese bombers launched off the Japanese carrier Zuikaku. Enemy forces overwhelmed the Meredith, though it took out three Japanese bombers before going down. Seven officers and 56 crewmen were rescued by the Grayson (DD-435) and tug Seminole (AT-65) after three days on the open sea.
For its service in World War II, Meredith was awarded one battle star.
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.