Built by Bethlehem Steel Company in Staten Island, New York. Laid down February 15, 1942. This destroyer was was the first of the Fletcher class destroyers to be built with a "square-bridge" configuration, which allowed greater all-around visibility. Launched September 24, 1942. Commissioned on February 3, 1943, with Lieutenant Commander J. B. Maher in command. Named for Rear Admiral Willard H. Brownson. Sponsored by Mrs. Cleveland S. Baxter, granddaughter of Admiral Brownson. Brownson received one battle star for her World War II service.
From her commissioning until 11 June 1943, she operated along the northeastern seaboard of the United States and in the North Atlantic as a convoy escort and anti-submarine patrol ship. She made one voyage to North Africa May 12–31, 1943.
On June 18, 1943 transited the Panama Canal and arrived California on June 28 and operated briefly along the California coast before departing for Alaska during July. Upon arrival, she performed patrol and convoy escort duty until November 29, 1943. Afterwards, departed via Pearl Harbor to the Southwest Pacific.
On December 26, 1943 while screening the landings at Cape Gloucester, USS Brownson was hit by two bombs dropped by a D3A2 Val at approximately 2:42pm. The bombs struck to starboard of the centerline, near number two stack. A tremendous explosion followed and the entire structure above the main deck as well as the deck plating, was gone. The ship listed 10 to 15 degrees to starboard and settled rapidly amidships with the bow and stern canted upward.
The wounded were placed in rafts and at 14:50 the order to abandon ship was given. The amidships section was entirely underwater at that time. There was a single ripple like a depth charge explosion and the destroyer sank at 14:59. During the bombing and sinking, 108 crew members were killed.
Afterwards, the remainder of the crew were rescued by USS Daly DD-519 and USS Lamson DD-367.
In total, 108 crew members were killed in the bombing and sinking. All are listed as Missing In Action (MIA) and officially declared dead on December 27, 1944. All are listed on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
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January 10, 2018