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DE-694/APD-79

 
Photo credit: David L. Hibbs


Information below edited by Benjamin D. Hyde, former Captain, and David L. Hibbs, BM 2/c, of the USS Bunch.

    She was named for Kenneth Cecil Bunch born in Norman County, MN, 21 January 1919. He enlisted in the Navy in 1937 and served with Scouting Squadrons 42 and 8. He was killed in action 6 June 42 during the Battle of Midway.

    The Bunch, a long-hulled, turbo-electric Destroyer Escort, was launched 29 May 43 by the Defoe Shipbuilding Company, Bay City, MI, and sponsored by Mrs. Kenneth C. Bunch, widow of Aviation Radioman Bunch. (For a very good account of how the DEs made it to the sea, down the Mississippi from Bay City, see the article by Rev. Gene Glasser.)

    The Bunch was commissioned at New Orleans, LA., as DE 694 on 21 August 43. Lt. Comdr. A. A. Campbell, USNR, took command.

    The Bunch was assigned to Escort Division 19 and served with her sister ships - the Amesbury, the Bates, the Blessman, the Bull, and the Rich - to escort convoys across the North Atlantic. She was waiting in Londonderry, Northern Ireland when the call came for ComCortDiv 19 to join the invasion fleet at Plymouth. Like on the other ships, her crew were given quick, extra instructions in first aid, fire and rescue, man overboard, general repairs. All hands were told to rest up and be in tip top shape because they were not going to a picnic. It would be the first combat the young crew of the Bunch had seen.

    In July, 1944, the Bunch was re-classified APD 79 and converted to a high speed transport at Staten Island, New York, with Lieutenant Commander Benjamin D. Hyde in command.

    After conversion she transited the Panama Canal 26 Dec. 1944 and arrived at Pearl Harbor 15 Jan, 1945. She proceeded across the Pacific, via Eniwetok, Ulithi and Leyte to Okinawa where she acted as parent ship for Underwater Demolition Team No. 21 and participated in beach clearing, fire-support and screening activities. The Bunch carried the division flag, Commodore Roy D. Williams, USN in command. On April 4, 1945, the Bunch was credited with rescuing 66 men from the Dickerson (APD-21) which was sunk by a Kamikaze. She was also credited with shooting down four enemy planes and the sinking of one suicide boat.

    During May, the Bunch escorted a convoy to Ulithi and Guam and then returned to Okinawa. She remained in that area until 1 July 1945 when she departed for the west coast, arriving on the 24th. She underwent overhaul in CA until 6 Sept and then returned to Okinawa via Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok.

    Between 1 Oct 1945 and 21 Feb 1946, she operated off Okinawa, China and Formosa in support of the occupation. She participated in minesweeping operations during November and December. Upon her return to the US in March, 1946, she was assigned to the 19th Fleet to await deactivation. She was placed out of commission to reserve 31 May 1946 at San Diego. She received 2 battle stars for her World War II service.

             

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