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NavSource Online: Mine Warfare Vessel Photo Archive

Aaron Ward (DM 34)

Call sign:
Nan - Tare - Sugar - Mike

Allen M. Sumner Class Destroyer/Robert H. Smith Light Minelayer:

  • The third Aaron Ward was laid down 12 December 1943 as DD-773 by the Bethlehem Steel Co., San Pedro, CA
  • Launched 5 May 1944
  • Reclassified as a Light Minelayer, DM-34, 19 July 1944
  • Commissioned USS Aaron Ward (DM-34), 28 October 1944
  • Decommissioned 28 September 1945
  • Struck from the Naval Register 11 October 1945
  • Sold for scrap in July 1946.


  • Displacement 2,380 t. (lt), 3,370 t. (fl)
  • Length 376' 6"
  • Beam 40' 10"
  • Draft 18' 10"
  • Speed 34 kts.
  • Complement 363
  • Armament: Three twin 5"/38 dual purpose gun mounts, six twin 40mm gun mounts, eleven 20mm guns, two .50 cal. machine guns, two depth charge tracks, and four depth charge projectors
  • Propulsion: Four Babcock and Wilcox boilers, two 60,000shp General Electric geared turbines, two shafts.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    RADM Aaron Ward
    Aaron Ward 83k

    Rear Admiral Aaron Ward, USN. Portrait photograph, in Special Full Dress uniform, taken circa 1910-1913.
    Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C.
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 98489

    Bill Gonyo
    USS Aaron Ward (DM 34)
    Aaron Ward 100k Hyperwar U.S. Navy in WW II
    Aaron Ward 88k
    Aaron Ward 130k
    Aaron Ward 341k Photographed on 17 November 1944. The ship is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 11a
    Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1975
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 83213
    Original photo: Robert Hurst
    Replacement photo: Darryl Baker
    Replacement photo added 28 September 2021
    Aaron Ward 127k List of officer on board 3 May 1945 Wolfgang Hechler
    Aaron Ward 131k Kerama Retto, 4 May 1945 showing kamikaze damage
    U.S. Navy photo
    USS LCS(L)3 1-130 Association
    Aaron Ward 174k Damage amidships received during Kamikaze attacks off Okinawa on 3 May 1945. View looks down and aft from Aaron Ward's foremast, with her greatly distorted forward smokestack in the lower center. Photographed while the ship was in the Kerama Retto on 5 May 1945. A mine is visible at left, on the ship's starboard mine rails
    National Archives photo 80-G-330107
    Naval Historical Center
    Aaron Ward 253k In the Kerama Retto anchorage, 5 May 1945, showing damage received when she was hit by several Japanese suicide planes off Okinawa on 3 May. Note three-bladed aircraft propeller lodged in her superstructure, just forward of the after 5"/38 twin gun mount
    Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN
    U.S. Navy photo NH 62571
    Aaron Ward 204k In the Kerama Retto anchorage, 5 May 1945, showing damage received when she was hit by several Kamikaze off Okinawa on 3 May
    Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN
    U.S. Navy photo NH 62572
    Aaron Ward 203k Bluff City Cemetery, 945 Bluff City Road, Elgin, Illinois 60120
    Aaron Ward's anchor on display in Elgin, Illinois, where it was installed as a memorial 6 September 1971 by the parents of S2/c Laverne Harry Schroeder, USNR, killed on her decks in the 3 May 1945 attack
    Tommy Trampp
    Aaron Ward 291k Dedication plaque

    Commanding Officers
    01CDR William Henry Sanders, Jr., USN - USNA Class of 1930
    Awarded the Navy Cross (1945), the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart - Retired as Rear Admiral
    28 October 1944 - 3 May 1945
    Courtesy of Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves


    The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to the


    for service as set forth in the following


    "For extraordinary heroism in action as a Picket Ship on Radar Picket Station during a coordinated attack by approximately twenty-five Japanese aircraft near Okinawa on May 3, 1945. Shooting down two Kamikazes which approached in determined suicide dives, the U.S.S. AARON WARD was struck by a bomb from a third suicide plane as she fought to destroy this attacker before it crashed into her superstructure and sprayed the entire area with flaming gasoline. Instantly flooded in her after engineroom and fireroom, she battled against flames and exploding ammunition on deck and, maneuvering in a tight circle because of damage to her steering gear, countered another coordinated suicide attack and destroyed three Kamikazes in rapid succession. Still smoking heavily and maneuvering radically, she lost all power when her forward fireroom flooded under a seventh suicide plane which dropped a bomb close aboard and dived in flames into the main deck. Unable to recover from this blow before an eighth bomber crashed into her superstructure bulkhead only a few seconds later, she attempted to shoot down a ninth Kamikaze diving toward her at high speed and, despite the destruction of nearly all her gun mounts aft when this plane struck her, took under fire the tenth bomb-laden plane, which penetrated the dense smoke to crash on board with a devastating explosion. With fires raging uncontrolled, ammunition exploding and all engine spaces except the forward engineroom flooded as she settled in the water and listed to port, she began a nightlong battle to remain afloat and, with the assistance of a towing vessel, finally reached port the following morning. By her superb fighting spirit and the courage and determination of her entire company, the AARON WARD upheld the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

    For the President,

    /s/ James Forrestal
    Secretary of the Navy

    View the Aaron Ward (DM-34)
    DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway website
    Back to the Main Photo Index Back to the Destroyer (DD) Photo Index Back to the Aaron Ward (DD-773) Page Back to the Mine Warfare Ship Photo Index Back to the Light Minelayer (DM) Photo Index

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