By Michael Fellows Lieutenant Commander John Benjamin Fellows, the skipper of the American Gleaves-class destroyer USS Gwin (DD-433), stood on the bridge trying to see into the predawn blackness. Forward of the bow, all he could see were the phosphorescent wakes of the convoy in front of his ship. It was shortly after midnight on July 13, 1943, and despite the cover of night, it was still hot in the central Solomon Islands, some 650 miles south of the equator. The humidity was cloying; only the ship’s movement through the night air brought any sort of cooling relief to the crew on deck. The crewmen below, especially those in the “black gang” who were tending to the engines where the temperatures soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, glistened with sweat. No one realized that for many of them and for their ship, it would be their last day on earth. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Gwin was named for Lt. Cmdr. William Gwin, a Civil War naval officer, and it was the third ship to carry that name. She had been built at the Charlestown Navy Yard at Boston and was commissioned in January 1941. And she was well-armed. Gwin had five Mark 12 5-inch dual-purpose guns, five 40mm twin antiaircraft guns, and 10 21-inch torpedo tubes. She had a range of 6,500 nautical miles and a top speed of over 37 knots. Like all members of the Gleaves class, Gwin was 348 feet long, 36 feet at the beam, and displaced 1,630 tons standard. She had already served for 15 months on sea duty


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