By Eric Niderost At exactly three o’clock in the afternoon on February 25, 1944, a crowd gathered at the Boston Navy Yard for the commissioning ceremony of the USS O’Brien (DD725), a destroyer of the Sumner class. Built by Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine, and named after Captain Jeremiah O’Brien, a U.S. naval officer of Revolutionary War fame, the destroyer had been launched on July 12, 1943, and, after the usual fitting out, a skeleton crew sailed her down to Boston. The ceremony was impressive, with military protocol and tradition strictly observed. Commander P.F. Heerbrandt, the designated skipper of the new ship, was handed its new ensign, which was hoisted after the usual preliminaries. As the flag unfurled in the chilly winter breeze, the officers turned and smartly saluted. The crew was lined up on the dock, ready to come aboard, when the signal was given to man the ship. The group of civilians stood just above on a high platform, bundled up against the New England chill. They were mainly wives and other relatives of the ship’s crew, there to witness the historic moment. World War II was raging in both Europe and the Pacific, and commissioning ceremonies were commonplace in a time of global conflict. But the O’Brien, fresh from the builder’s yard, was to earn a particularly distinguished record in the months to come. The destroyer served in so many theaters and so many climes that some of the record seems to have been obscured by time or forgotten altoge


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