Coronado’s “Avenue Of The Heroes” honors Lt. Commander Louis Marcel LeHardy - Linda Sweet's Father

Lieutenant Commander Louis Marcel LeHardy was killed in action on board USS San Francisco (CA 38) at 0200 on Nov. 13, 1942, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. At the time he was serving as the flag secretary and operations officer for the 15-ship task force commanded by Admiral Dan Callaghan. The intense 40-minute battle pitted Japanese battleships against US heavy cruisers in a close-quarters engagement, which turned the Japanese force back, preventing reinforcement of the Japanese land forces, and was considered the turning point of World War II in the South Pacific. LeHardy was promoted posthumously to the rank of Commander.
LeHardy was born in Savannah, Georgia on Feb. 18, 1905. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy on June 3, 1926, where he was a varsity letterman in swimming and acquired the nickname “Diz,” which followed him throughout his career. On June 4, 1926, he married the love of his life, Sara Morehouse, also from Savannah, and together they headed off to Panama on the transport USS Chaumont (AP 5) with 84 other ensign classmates and seven brides. His first assignment was USS Rochester (CA 2), which was sent to join in the Nicaraguan War six days after Diz joined the ship.
His subsequent assignments included duty on the destroyer USS Converse (DD 291), initially based out of Philadelphia, with summers spent in Newport, Rhode Island. When the Converse was decommissioned in 1929, Diz spent six months assigned to the USS Manley (DD 74) until he was ordered to the Asiatic Station. He and Sara and their new-born son, Louis Marcel LeHardy III, sailed to the Far East (China) on board the Chaumont. Diz was assigned to USS Tracey (DD 214) and later to USS Smith Thompson (DD 212), patrolling the waters off China and the rivers of China. Sara, with their young son in tow, would follow where she could during those two and a half years.
Their second child, Linda LeHardy, was born in Manila on Dec. 31, 1932, and in February 1933 they all departed on the Dollar Line “President Harrison” for a 60-day passage back to the U.S.A., where Diz attended the Post Graduate School in Annapolis. Sadly, their son, Marcy, who at age 3 ½ had been around the world by ship, was killed when their automobile was struck by a drunk driver near Bay Ridge, Maryland.
Their second son, Ward Morehouse LeHardy, was born a year later in Annapolis, and then Diz was ordered to the West Coast to serve on board USS Maryland (BB 46) and later USS Trenton (CL 11). The family settled in Coronado and lived there from 1935-1938. Diz was ordered to the Navy Department in Washington, DC in 1938 and began one of the highlights of his career when he was chosen to be President Roosevelt’s Naval Communications Officer. As such he would accompany FDR whenever he went to sea with the Navy, which was frequent. It was there that Diz and Dan Callaghan, who was the naval aide to the President, met and became good friends.
In July, 1940 LeHardy took command of USS Zane (DD 337) at Pearl Harbor. He was on board on Dec. 7, 1941, and quickly got the Zane underway to lead other ships in that division of destroyers out of the harbor to search for enemy vessels...none were found. Sara and the children had left Honolulu on board the SS Lurline on Dec. 5 ... intending to meet up with him when he took the Zane to Mare Island, near San Francisco for overhaul. The Zane had planned to depart Hawaii on Dec. 9 ... the family’s reunion was delayed by 3 months.
LeHardy brought the Zane to Mare Island in April 1942 and departed the ship after two years in command. In May 1942 he became the communications officer under Vice Admiral Ghormley for the newly formed South Pacific Area and South Pacific Forces Command. His family settled in Coronado when he and the staff moved to the South Pacific area. His roommate during the early phases of that command in the Southwest Pacific region was a congressman and Reserve Navy lieutenant from Texas named Lyndon B. Johnson.
In late October 1942 as the Japanese Navy was expanding its reach in the Southwest Pacific, Vice Admiral Halsey replaced Vice Admiral Ghormley and promptly assigned Rear Admiral Dan Callaghan to command a task force of 15 ships positioned at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides islands. Diz was chosen to go as the task force operations officer and flag secretary. Within days the word came from Australian coast watchers of a heavy Japanese force heading down the “slot” aiming for Guadalcanal with troop transports and battleships.
Halsey directed Callaghan to move his task force north to intercept the Japanese forces. The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal ensued over several days with the culminating engagement occurring at 0200 on Nov. 13, 1942, claiming the lives of 196 men on the San Francisco including Admiral Callaghan; Lieutenant Commander LeHardy; the ship’s skipper, Captain Cassin Young, who previously had won the Medal of Honor; and many of the men who were serving on the command bridge at the time. Commander LeHardy was awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery in that battle, as well as the Purple Heart.

USS LeHardy (DE 20) was named for Commander LeHardy in January 1943 and was commissioned on May 15, 1943. After the war, the bridge from the USS San Francisco was mounted at Pt. Lobos (Land’s End) just to the south of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, facing on a Great Circle route back towards Guadalcanal. The names of those gallant men who gave their lives on board that ship are inscribed on that monument. The shell hole from the Japanese round that killed Callaghan and LeHardy and many from the staff is in prominent view.

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