Leonard Harmon, USN

The Cuero Record Newspaper 17-Nov-1943
Cuero, DeWitt County, Texas
VOL. 49.–NO. 274.

(Typed as printed)

Leonard Harmon, First Negro in United States So Honored
The spirit of Leonard Roy Harmon, Cuero Negro youth, who gallantly gave his
life aboard the battleship U.S.S. San Francisco, in an effort to save the
lives of two superior officer and a shipmate, is today riding the swells of
the broad Atlantic.
In the naming by the Navy Department of the U.S.S. Harmon in honor of the
late Cuero youth, Harmon was accorded a tribute never before paid a Negro
The escort ship, launched on Aug. 31st, 1943, at the Fore River Plant of the
Bethlehem Steel Co. in Quincy, Massachusetts, was rightfully christened by
Harmon’s mother Naunita Harmon Carroll, of Cuero.
Born and educated in Cuero, where he was active in sports at Daule High
School, Harmon was engaged in livestock production when he decided in 1939 to
enlist in the Navy. He volunteered his services at the San Antonio Recruiting
Station where he was rejected due to a minor hear ailment.
Harmon was not to be denied, however. He returned to Cuero and sought
medical treatment to remedy the ailment and on June 9th, 1939, reported once
more to the recruiting station and was accepted.
Following training at New Port News, VA., he was placed aboard the Cruiser
San Francisco as a mess attendant and was so serving during the battle with
the Japanese fleet in which he lost his life.
Harmon was cited for bravery and was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously on
March 4, 1943, by Honorable Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy, acting for
President Roosevelt.
Secretary Knox announced shortly thereafter that a destroyer escort will be
named the U.S.S. Harmon in memory of the youth, the U.S.S. Harmon being the
first United States warship named after a Negro seaman.
Following the launching at Quincy, Massachusetts, Captain L.L. Reed and his
one hundred and eighty-six officers and men took to the high seas to carry on
the cause in memory of the Cuero youth.
And so Leonard Roy Harmon has once more gone to sea in the being of a
sleek and elusive destroyer escort which is expected to claim its toll of
enemy shipping during the course of the great conflict raging on the seas