Book Review: The USS Ward: An Operational History of the Ship That Fired the First American Shot of World War II


by Richard P. Klobuchar

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. Pp. xii, 268. Illus., maps, plans, appends., notes, biblio, index. $25.00 paper. ISBN: 0786464291

The proverbial “first shot” of the Pacific War was fired early on the morning of December 7, 1941 off the entrance to Pearl Harbor, when the old “four stack” destroyer Ward (DD-139) sank a Japanese mini-submarine, an incident ignored by higher ups at the time and not credited by many for decades, until the sunk wreck was found.  Despite this historic connection, this book, by historian and engineer Klobuchar, is the first biography  of this heroic ship.

Klobuchar covers the life of the ship from her origins and service in World War I through her many years in “moth balls” to her return to service for World War II, manned partially by Naval Militiamen from Minnesota.  After her exploits at Pearl Harbor, the Ward supported operations across the Pacific until, serving as a high speed transport (APD-16), she was sunk by a kamikaze in the Philippines three years to the day after Pearl Harbor.  In the process of telling this story, with the help of the surviving members of Ward’s crew, Klobuchar manages to give the reader a look the life of a wartime destroyerman of the period, afloat and ashore. There is also a good account of the long delayed, but ultimately successful search for the sunken enemy mini-sub, a project in which the Ward’s veterans played a part. 

An interesting read for any student of naval operations.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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