In Quincy, Massachusetts; sponsored by Mrs. Nau-nita Harmon Carroll, mother of Mess Attendant Harmon; and commissioned August 31,1943, Lt. Comdr. Kendall E. Read in command.
The USS Harmon (DE-678) was a Buckley-class destroyer escort of the United States Navy. USS Harmon was named after Mess Attendant Leonard Roy Harmon, who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on the USS San Francisco during the battle of Guadalcanal. USS Harmon was the 1st warship to be named after an African-American.
Leonard Roy Harmon was a African-American sailor who died in action during World War II.
Harmon was awarded the Navy Cross. Two ships were named in his honor. The HMS Aylmer had been provisionally named USS Harmon (DE-72) but was transferred to the Royal Navy prior to completion. The USS Harmon (DE-678) served from 1943 to 1947 and remained in the Reserve Fleet until 1967.
NAVY CROSS CITATION:
“The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Mess Attendant First Class Leonard Roy Harmon, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty in action against the enemy while serving on board the Heavy Cruiser U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38), during action against enemy Japanese naval forces near Savo Island in the Solomon Islands on the night of on November 12-13, 1942. With persistent disregard of his own personal safety, Mess Attendant First Class Harmon rendered invaluable assistance in caring for the wounded and assisting them to a dressing station. In addition to displaying unusual loyalty in behalf of the injured Executive Officer, he deliberately exposed himself to hostile gunfire in order to protect a shipmate and, as a result of this courageous deed, was killed in action. His heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, maintained above and beyond the call of duty, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”