Grieshaber, George Pershing

George Pershing Grieshaber
Born: October 19, 1918
Hometown: Union, NJ
Class: 1943
Service: USNR
Position / Rank: Lieutenant (j.g.)
Date/Place of death: April 11, 1945 /90nm E. of Okinawa

Date / Place of burial April 12, 1945 /

Buried At Sea 23-25N, 131-58E

Name Engraved on Tablets of the Missing,

Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, HI
Age: 26

 

George P. Grieshaber was appointed as Cadet, Merchant Marine Reserve, on
November 22, 1941 upon completion of Basic School. According to Crew Lists on file
in New York, NY, he signed on aboard the SS Argentina as Engine Cadet between the
22nd and 24th of November, 1941. After the war began, the SS Argentina was taken
over by the Army as a troop transport. He signed off on or about June 20, 1942. Upon
reporting to the Academy to complete his training he was assigned to Section A204.
For his service aboard the SS Argentina Cadet-Midshipman George P. Grieshaber was
awarded the Atlantic War Zone Bar and Pacific War Zone Bar.

When he graduated from Kings Point George requested that he be commissioned into
the U.S. Naval Reserve. He was subsequently assigned to the pre-commissioning unit
for a new USS Fletcher (DD 445) Class Destroyer, USS Kidd (DD 661) then completing
construction at Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, Kearny, NJ. The USS Kidd,
named after Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, Sr., who was killed aboard his flagship, USS
Arizona (BB 39) on December 7, 1941, was commissioned on April 23, 1943. On its
way from its builder’s yard to New York Naval Shipyard for commissioning the ship’s
captain and new crew established a link to another “Kidd”, the pirate Captain Kidd, by
flying the “Jolly Roger”. The crew adopted the pirate captain as their mascot as they
began training for combat duty with the Pacific Fleet.

By August 1943 the USS Kidd was ready for combat and was assigned as one of the
escorting destroyers for the battleships USS Alabama (BB 60) and USS South Dakota
(BB 57) on their trip to Pearl Harbor to report for duty with the Pacific Fleet. It was
during the pre-combat exercises and training that the USS Kidd and its crew earned
their reputation as “pirates.” Whenever the Kidd and its crew rescued a pilot who crashed into the sea, the ship would not return the pilot until the pilot’s aircraft carrier paid a ransom in ice cream. To reduce the depredations on the fleet’s ice cream supply, an ice cream machine was installed aboard the USS Kidd, an engineering challenge that the ship’s Engineering Department, including Ensign Grieshaber, were apparently quite up to. However, recovering downed pilots was not all about ice cream. In October 1943 the
Kidd was attacked by eight Japanese dive bombers while rescuing the crew of a downed aircraft from the USS Essex (CV 9). Three enemy aircraft were shot down and others damaged while the Kidd rescued the aviators. The USS Kidd would be credited with
rescuing over thirty-five aviators.

After months of combat unrelieved by only a short repair period at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in August and September 1944, the USS Kidd arrived at Mare Island Naval Shipyard December 1944 for a major overhaul. By this time Ensign Grieshaber had become Lieutenant (junior grade) Grieshaber and was assigned as the ship’s Engineering Officer. He was also one of very few of the ship’s original officers remaining aboard.

The USS Kidd and its crew returned to combat in February 1945, escorting the aircraft
carrier strike group Task Force 58. On April 11, 1945 the Kidd was part of the escort
group for Task Group 58.3 composed of the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CV 6),
USS Essex (CV 9) and USS Bunker Hill (CV 17). At 0343 the USS Kidd and other
destroyers of Destroyer Division 96 (shipyard sister ships USS Bullard (DD 660), USS
Black (DD 666) and USS Chauncey (DD 667)) were assigned to radar picket duty 25
miles north of the task group. The ships reported on station and maneuvered to
conform to the movements of the rest of the task group until 1346 when the radar
pickets were attacked by Japanese suicide planes.

According to the USS Kidd’s Deck Log, the ship’s guns opened fire on the attacking aircraft at 1353. A few minutes later the Kidd accelerated to its full speed, 35 knots and began maneuvering radically to avoid the attacking aircraft. However, at 1409 ½
the Kidd’s luck ran out. A kamikaze aircraft flew over the USS Black, off the Kidd’s starboard side and attacked the Kidd skimming over the wave tops.
The Kidd’s 40 mm and 20 mm gunners were able to score several direct hits on the plane out of the more than 1,000 rounds each battery fired that day, but could not destroy it before it struck the Kidd at the waterline on the starboard side. The plane’s bomb passed through the Forward Fire Room and exploded in the water, damaging the hull while the impact of the aircraft heavily damaged the Forward Fire Room. At the time of the attack George P. Grieshaber, the ship’s Engineering Officer, was in the Forward Fire Room checking a leaky gauge. He was killed instantly along with all of the other crewmen in the space. In addition, the ship’s Commanding Officer, doctor and other officers and men were put out of action from multiple wounds.

At 1411 the Executive Officer, himself badly wounded, took command of the USS Kidd
which was on fire, and dead in the water with holes in its hull on both sides of the
Forward Fire Room. However, within minutes the Kidd’s Engineering Department with
its leader, Lt. Grieshaber dead, had the ship back up to 5 knots and reported it was
ready to make 25 knots. By 1427, a little more than fifteen minutes after being hit, fires
were out on the Kidd and it was ready to retire to the protection of Task Group 58.3
escorted by its sister ships. Two hours later, while maneuvering to receive a doctor
from the USS Hale (DD 642), the two ships were attacked by a Japanese plane that
dropped a bomb between the two ships before being driven off. That evening, the USS
Kidd, escorted by the USS McNair (DD 679) was ordered to sail to the fleet base at
Ulithi Atoll for repairs.

From 1030 to 1100 local time on April 12, 1945, the crew of the USS Kidd buried their dead
at sea, including Lt. (j.g.) George P. Grieshaber, USNR. The Commander, Destroyer
Division Ninety-Six said the following about the actions of the Kidd’s Engineering
Department in his After Action Report for April 11-15, 1945. “The quick recovery of the
ship from personnel and material damage of such magnitude is considered to be remarkable and conclusive proof of the high standard of training existing on the KIDD.”

As one of the ship’s original engineers, and its Engineering Officer, much of this credit
must lie with George P. Grieshaber. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

Following temporary repairs at Ulithi, the USS Kidd sailed to Mare Island Naval
Shipyard for permanent repairs. The USS Kidd was on its way back to combat when
hostilities ended. Decommissioned in 1946, the USS Kidd returned to active duty in
1951 for the Korean War and remained on duty until 1964. In 1975 the
decommissioned veteran was selected to be preserved as a memorial and museum in
Baton Rouge, LA where it has been returned to its World War II configuration. A proud
fixture of the ship’s Quarterdeck is the plaque cast by the crew of the Destroyer Tender
USS Hamul (AD 20) at Ulithi Atoll in 1945 to honor the dead of April 11, 1945.

George P. Grieshaber was the only child of George T. and Estelle P. Grieshaber. The
senior Grieshaber’s occupation is listed in the U.S. Census as draftsman and architect.
The family lived at 912 Chestnut Street, Union, NJ. A graduation note in Polaris reports
that Grieshaber attended Union Junior College and Mississippi State College before
enrolling at the Merchant Marine Academy. According to Polaris, George planned to
obtain a degree in mechanical engineering after the war. At the time of his death
George P. Grieshaber was married to Grace Adelaid Grieshaber, whose residence was
listed in the roster of the Kidd’s officers as 115-19 199th Street, St. Albans, Long Island,
NY. On a trip to Bermuda in 1946 her occupation is listed as receptionist, living at the
same address. No further information could be found about Mrs. Grieshaber.

Photo of USS Kidd (DD 661)

Photo of USS Kidd’s Mascot on Forward Smoke Stack

Photo of Aircraft that Hit USS Kidd seconds before impact (USS Black in background)

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