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The Destroyer U.S.S. Flusser DD368: Her Life of Service
by E. Byron Dennis
Privately published, 1989, 86 pages

The destroyer U.S.S. Flusser (DD-368) successfully fought against several attacking kamikaze aircraft in the Philippines during November and December 1944, but the ship luckily escaped any serious damage. Former officers and crewmen contributed to this privately published soft cover history of Flusser, which served as a US Navy ship for ten years from her commissioning in 1936 to her decommissioning in 1946.

Author E. Byron Dennis, who served aboard Flusser from January 1942 to April 1945, assembled and published this ship history based on his contacts at annual reunions of the U.S.S. Flusser (DD-368) Association, which was formed in 1983. Although the author states that he wrote the book based on contributions from Flusser veterans, the text has relatively few personal incidents and almost no names to identify sources of the few stories. The book also has no bibliography or summary of sources used. In some places the history starts to become a dry recitation of facts due to the lack of personal stories. The last part of the book devotes over 20 pages to US ships lost in WWII, which has little direct relationship to Flusser's history.

The book includes a couple of interesting newspaper articles about the ship, whose nickname was Frustrate due to lack of battle action through the middle of 1944. Flusser was based in Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, but the destroyer missed the attack since on that date she was screening the carrier Lexington (CV-2) away from base. The February 1943 Herald Tribune article entitled "U.S.S. Frustrate: Fighting Ship Vainly Seeking Action in the Pacific" describes the class of ship to which Flusser (actual name not in article) belonged up to that time (p. 17):

There is a third class of ships in the Pacific Fleet, and they are entitled to both admiration and sympathy. They are the frustrated ones. They neither sink nor are they sunk. They venture forth to battle and the enemy flees. Or they smash into a nest of torpedoes and dive-bombers and escaped4 unscathed. These frustrated ships consider they are unlucky. The enemy comes and the enemy goes, but nothing ever happens to them.

A 19-year-old Flusser crewman, quoted in a June 1944 San Francisco News article entitled "U.S.S. Frustrate Still Looking For Crack at Jap of Her Own," did not seem to mind his ship's nickname (p. 22):

This ship is really charmed. We have been through a great deal of action but never have been scratched. We have been all through the South Pacific. We have lobbed many a shell ashore at Jap batteries, hidden in the jungle, but we have never seen a Jap warship under way. All that we have seen had been hit already by other members of our fleet.

The charmed destroyer found plenty of action soon after publication of this June 1944 newspaper article.

Flusser had her first close call on September 7, 1944, when shore batteries on Wotje Island in the Marshall Islands opened fire on the destroyer. Several projectiles exploded near the ship wounding eight men with shrapnel and causing some minor damage. The destroyer arrived off Tacloban on Leyte Island on October 29, 1944, and the ship served in the Philippines for most of the rest of the Pacific War. Flusser, as flagship of Destroyer Squadron Five, soon saw action on November 1, 1944, as multiple kamikaze aircraft attacked the American fleet off Leyte. Although the book provides few details regarding Flusser's actions on that date, it does mention that the ship's sonar heard the breaking up of the destroyer Abner Read (DD-526) as she sank after being hit by a kamikaze.

The second close call came when a kamikaze Zero fighter nearly hit Flusser as described below (pp.30-1):

On 18 November 1944 the Flusser, with various other men-of-war and supply ships, was anchored off the beach at Leyte when a flight of Kamikazes was observed approaching the anchorage. Some hits were made on anchored supply ships when one of three Zero fighters circling the ships made a pass directly across the Flusser's bow at a 45 degree elevation. He suddenly made a sharp turn to the right and started diving directly at the bridge of the ship. Lieut. Cmdr. Vogeley, the Commanding Officer, was standing on the port wing of the bridge observing the plane with binoculars when the pilot was hit by the forward 20 millimeters and knocked to the other side of the cockpit, apparently pulling the stick with him. With no more than a few feet to spare, the wing of the airplane passed over the C.O.'s head and crashed close aboard the port side, so close in fact that his parachute fell on the bow and various other parts rained down all over the ship. The curiosity was, why the parachute? Obviously he had no need of it.

Flusser also participated in the fiercely fought Battle of Ormoc Bay on December 7, 1944, in order to land Allied troops at Ormoc with the objective of severing Japanese defenses on Leyte Island. The destroyer expended all of her ammunition that day as she came under almost constant air attacks for ten hours. A suicide plane crashed into the destroyer Lamson (DD-367), killing 21 and wounding 50. Flusser picked up survivors and escorted the severely damaged ship back into Leyte Gulf as she came under heavy air attack. That day kamikaze aircraft also hit and sunk the high speed transport Ward (APD-16) and the destroyer Mahan (DD-364).

This history's lack of personal stories and few details concerning Flusser's role in key battles in which she participated make this book of limited appeal to readers not directly associated with Flusser.

Flusser Memorial Plaque at
National Museum of the Pacific War
(Fredericksburg, Texas)