Harry F. Bauer

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Harry Frederick Bauer (July 17, 1904 – September 5, 1942) was an naval officer in the United States Navy.

Born at Camp Thomas in Lytle, Georgia, Bauer, the son of a U. S. Army first sergeant, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1927. During his career he served at shore stations, including a tour as instructor at the US Naval Academy, and an ensign assigned to duty aboard the USS Arkansas (BB-33). By 1931 Harry had been promoted to lieutenant junior grade and continued his service on the Arkansas. During his service on the Arkansas, he was awarded a Letter of Commendation by the Secretary of the Navy.

He subsequently served on the USS Babbitt (DD-128) and on the USS Elliott. In June 1934 he was reassigned to the Naval Academy for postgraduate work and as an instructor. On 1 January 1935, Jackie and Harry’s only child, Emilie, was born. In 1936 he was assigned as aide and flag lieutenant to the Commander Cruisers, Scouting Force, and from there he went to the USS Tracy (DD-214) as executive officer. [Note: In 1927, the United States Naval Academy did not award academic degrees to their graduates. Instead, they were commissioned in the armed forces as officers. This was changed by an Act of Congress approved on 8 July 1937 and supplemented by the Navy with Bureau of Navigation Bulletin Number 251, 28 August 1937. Officers who were graduates of the Naval Academy were allowed to apply for the award of a Bachelor of Science degree. In 1937 while assigned to the Tracy, Harry applied for his degree and it was granted. In February 1939 he was assigned to the Office of the Detail Officer at the Bureau of Navigation, Department of the Navy, Washington D.C. On 1 July 1941 he was promoted to lieutenant commander. He remained in Washington until he assumed command of the USS Gregory (DD-82) on 1 January 1942.

Bauer was commissioned lieutenant commander July 1, 1941 and took command of fast transport USS Gregory (APD-3)[1] January 1, 1942. While acting as combat transports for Marines off Guadalcanal during the night of 4–5 September 1942. On 4 September, Gregory and USS Little (DD-79) were returning to their anchorage at Tulagi after transferring a Marine Raider battalion to Savo Island. The night was inky-black with a low haze obscuring all landmarks, and the ships decided to remain on patrol rather than risk threading their way through the dangerous channel. As they steamed between Guadalcanal and Savo Island at ten knots, three Japanese destroyers (Yudachi, Hatsuyuki, and Murakumo – entered the Slot undetected to bombard American shore positions. At 0056 on the morning of 5 September, Gregory and Little saw flashes of gunfire which they assumed came from a Japanese submarine until radar showed four targets – apparently a cruiser had joined the three DD's. While the two outgunned but gallant ships were debating whether to close for action or depart quietly and undetected, the decision was taken out of their hands.

A navy pilot had also seen the gunfire and, assuming it came from a Japanese submarine, dropped a string of five flares almost on top of the two APD's. Gregory and Little, silhouetted against the blackness, were spotted immediately by the Japanese destroyers, who opened fire at 0100. Gregory brought all her guns to bear but was desperately overmatched and less than 3 minutes after the fatal flares had been dropped was dead in the water and beginning to sink. Two boilers had burst and her decks were a mass of flames. Harry Bauer, himself seriously wounded, gave the word to abandon ship, and Gregory's crew reluctantly took to the water. Harry, making the ultimate sacrifice, ordered two companions to aid another crewman yelling for help and was never seen again; for his brave and gallant conduct he posthumously received the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, and promotion to Commander (Page 71). His memorial marker is in Arlington National Cemetery. The destroyer USS Harry F. Bauer (DM-26), which earned a Presidential Unit Citation in 1945[2] for action in the Okinawa Campaign was named for him.[3]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.