Willford M. Hyman

The USS Hyman (DD-732), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, is the only ship in the United States Navy to be named for a Lieutenant Commander.  Lieutenant Commander Willford Milton Hyman

Lieutenant Commander Willford M. Hyman

      Willford Milton Hyman was born in Pueblo, Colo., 16 August 1901, and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1924. He first served in battleship New Mexico, and in the years before World War II, was assigned to many ships and a variety of shore stations, including the Office of Naval Operations.

      He assumed command of destroyer Sims 6 October 1941. After convoy escort duty in the Atlantic, Sims moved to the Pacific in early 1942. In May, as the Japanese threatened to extend their conquest to Port Moresby, the ship was operating with oiler Neosho in a fueling group for Admiral Fletcher’s vital carriers. While the carrier fleets maneuvered for position, Japanese planes found Neosho and Sims in the Coral Sea; and, thinking they were carrier and escort, attacked in strength.

         After LCDR. Hyman fought his ship through 2 air raids with great skill, 36 Japanese planes attacked the 2 ships. Sims took three 500-lb. bomb hits in this third attack. Realizing that the destroyer was damaged beyond repair, Hyman ordered “abandon ship” but remained on the bridge, calmly directing the evacuation until going down with his ship. The sacrifice of his ship and Neosho had much to do with saving the Navy’s carriers in the widely separated engagements known as the Battle of the Coral Sea. Lieutenant Commander Hyman received the Navy Cross for his heroic service.

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