USS LEFTWICH was the 22nd SPRUANCE - class destroyer and the second ship in that class decommissioned. Stricken from the Navy list on March 27, 1998, the LEFTWICH was then berthed at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility (NISMF), Pearl Harbor, HI, until she was sunk as a target on August 1, 2003, at 022° 48' 47.0" North, 160° 34' 00.0" West. The USS LEFTWICH was homeported in Pearl Harbor, HI., and was the first ship in the Navy named after Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel William G. Leftwich, Jr.
|General Characteristics:||Keel Laid: November 12, 1976|
|Launched: April 8, 1978|
|Commissioned: August 24, 1979|
|Decommissioned: March 27, 1998|
|Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, West Bank, Pascagoula, Miss.|
|Propulsion system: four General Electric LM 2500 gas turbine engines|
|Blades on each Propeller: five|
|Length: 564,3 feet (172 meters)|
|Beam: 55,1 feet (16.8 meters)|
|Draft: 28,9 feet (8.8 meters)|
|Displacement: approx. 9,200 tons full load|
|Speed: 30+ knots|
|Aircraft: two |
|Armament: two |
|Crew: approx. 340|
This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS LEFTWICH. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.
Accidents aboard USS LEFTWICH:
|November 29, 1982||40 miles east of Subic Bay, Philippines||USS THOMAS A. EDISON (SSBN 610) collides with USS LEFTWICH. The EDISON was at periscope depth preparing to surface; it damaged its sail and sail planes, but there was no flooding. Both ships remained operational after the accident.|
|1983||Pacific||In 1983, hull damage was repaired and the sonar dome rubber window was changed on the LEFTWICH. The damage was caused by heavy seas and the fact that the LEFTWICH was going too fast for the conditions.|
About the Ship's Name:
Lieutenant Colonel William G. Leftwich, Jr., was born on April 28, 1931 in Memphis, Tennessee, and graduated from Central High School in that city. He was commissioned a Marine Second Lieutenant on June 5, 1953 upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy. As brigade captain in his senior year at the Naval Academy, he was specially commended at graduation for exemplary officer-like qualities which contribute "to the development of naval spirit and loyalty within the Brigade."
Upon entering the Marine Corps, he completed the Basic School at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, VA, in January 1954, and later served as a rifle platoon commander with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, NC. During 1955-56, he served with the 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa. On his return to the United States, he was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, where he was promoted to Captain in July 1957. He then began a three-year assignment at the Naval Academy, serving as a company officer. An excellent athlete himself, he also voluntarily performed collateral duty as assistant varsity tennis coach and battalion football coach.
In 1960, he joined the 2nd Marine Division, serving as a company commander until 1962, when he was named aide-de-camp to the Commanding General. In June 1963, he was assigned as aide to the Commandant, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico. He was promoted to major in July 1964. He later completed a course of study in the Vietnamese Language prior to reporting for duty in Vietnam in January 1965 as Assistant Senior Advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Brigade.
Joining Task Force Alfa, he participated in 27 major operations against the Viet Cong in the central highlands of Vietnam, and spent more than 300 days in the field. He was wounded in the battle of Hoai An, March 9, 1965 and, besides the Purple Heart, was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism. According to his citation, he "...played a major part in all phases of the successful relief of the village of Hoai An, which was under heavy enemy attack by two Viet Cong Battalions... . By his own personal example... he led the attack... . Despite injuries by enemy machine-gun bullets in the back, cheek, and nose, he went to the aid of a mortally wounded comrade... and delayed his own evacuation until he could call for additional air strikes and brief the task force commander of the situation."
He returned to the United States in January 1966, served as an instructor at the Basic School, then completed the Command and Staff College in June 1967 and was named to the School's Honor List. Assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in November 1967 while serving as a systems analyst with the Manpower Management Information Branch, G-1 Division. He later became head of the Systems Analysis Section.
In 1968, Lt. Col. Leftwich was selected by the Under Secretary of the Navy to be his Special Assistant and Marine Corps Aide. He served in this capacity under the Honorable Charles F. Baird, and Mr. Baird's successor as Under Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable John W. Wamer.
In April 1970, he began his second tour of duty in Vietnam, serving initially as an infantry battalion commander with the 2nd Battalion, First Marines. On June 30, he assumed duty as Commanding Officer of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced).
On November 18, 1970, Lt. Col. Leftwich was killed in a helicopter crash during an emergency extraction of one of his reconnaissance teams. In accordance with his practice of accompanying every emergency extraction called for by his reconnaissance teams, he was serving as senior "extract officer" for such a mission on the day of his death. The team had incurred casualties and requested an emergency extraction from enemy-infested territory in an area beginning to be enveloped by dense fog. The team was extracted under Lt. Col. Leftwich's personal supervision, then, as the helicopter began its ascent, it crashed into a mountainside in enemy territory, killing all aboard.
A partial list of his medals and awards includes: The Navy Cross, the Silver Star (posthumous), the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and two gold stars, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with one gold star, the Purple Heart with two gold stars, and various personal awards from the Republic of Vietnam.
Lt. Col. Leftwich is survived by his wife, the former Jane Ferrer, and two sons, William G. III, and Scott F. He was also survived by his mother, Mrs. Mattie H. Leftwich of Memphis. His father was deceased.
The decommissioned LEFTWICH was sunk as a target on August 1, 2003, at 022° 48' 47.0" North, 160° 34' 00.0" West. The video below shows the sinking.
USS LEFTWICH Patch Gallery:
USS LEFTWICH Image Gallery:
The photo below is an official US Navy photo taken on June 4, 2000. It shows (from left to right) the INGERSOLL (DD 990), HARRY W. HILL (DD 986), LEFTWICH, and MERRILL (DD 976) laid up at the Pearl Harbor Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility. All four ships have since been sunk as targets off the north coast of Kauai, Hawaii.