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The KIDD Connection

By Cmdr. Matt Noland
Executive Officer

This month, viewers everywhere will have the opportunity to see the latest Hollywood treatment of America’s Greatest Generation: Greyhound. Tom Hanks plays a U.S. Navy destroyer’s commanding officer charged with protecting a convoy of Allied ships from a wolfpack of German U-boats as they transit the Atlantic Ocean.

Kidd (DD 661) underway off Roi Island, Kwajalein, enroute to the Saipan invasion, June 12, 1944. Anchored in left background is Tennessee (BB-43), with a destroyer alongside and an escort carrier beyond. Photographed from New Mexico (BB-40). National Archives photograph, 80-G-253680.

During the Battle of the Atlantic, between 1939 and 1945, 3,500 Allied merchant ships and 175 Allied warships were sunk, and 72,200 Allied naval and merchant seamen were killed. The Germans lost 783 U-boats and approximately 30,000 sailors.

As executive officer deployed on patrol onboard a modern destroyer, the gravity of what they faced is not lost on me or our crew. Especially today, as our nation finds itself in the Great Power competition with nations including China and Russia – each with its own capable undersea force.
I personally have another tie to this movie. In researching and shooting the movie, Hanks and his team frequented the WWII Fletcher-class USS KIDD (DD 661), which serves as the main attraction of the USS KIDD Veterans Museum in Louisiana. Growing up in Baton Rouge, I, too, visited the museum ship. 
As a Boy Scout, I spent a night aboard the World War II-era USS KIDD. I can assure you life aboard today’s USS KIDD is considerably more hospitable then it was on the WWII namesake.
The original USS KIDD (DD 661) was commissioned April 23, 1943, and named for Rear Adm. Isaac C. Kidd, killed in action aboard USS Arizona (BB 39) during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Kidd was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack.

Photographed on the deck of his ship, circa 1939. Capt. Kidd has inscribed the original print: ‘To my able gunnery officer and friend Commander Abercrombie. Sincerely, Isaac Campbell Kidd.’ Lt. Cmdr. Laurence A. Abercrombie was assigned to Arizona during the latter part of Kidd’s tour as the ship’s commanding officer. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

USS KIDD earned 12 battle stars during her career: Eight for service in World War II and four for service in Korea.

Japanese kamikaze plane about to crash into the ship, off Okinawa, April 11, 1945. The plane hit KIDD’s side, killing 38 of the crew. Photographed from the KIDD. Note escorting destroyer in the background. Courtesy Lewis B. Jenkins, Jr., Beltsville, Maryland, 1972.

I’m humbled to serve on today’s namesake. Our USS KIDD (DDG 100) was commissioned June 9, 2007, in Galveston, Texas, and is currently conducting counter-drug operations in U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

PACIFIC OCEAN (June 30, 2020) Crewmembers of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) deploy a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to assist a distressed vessel, June 30, 2020. Kidd is deployed to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean Sea and eastern Pacific Ocean. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy/Released)

The parallels between the old and new ship are important to me. Now aboard USS KIDD (DDG 100), underway on deployment, you can bet the crew and I will watch the new movie Greyhound. In today’s Navy, we build and train combat-ready ships and battle-minded crews, and I’m personally inspired by the legacy of American heroism at sea in World War II. Plus, it’s always exciting to see a film about the surface Navy.

Serving as executive officer of the USS KIDD is a special assignment to me. There are fewer than 300 ships in the Navy, and for me to be placed on the USS KIDD seems like a dream.

While growing up in Baton Rouge, I visited the USS KIDD Veterans Museum in the downtown area often and even got to know the museum’s original director, Maury Drummond, quite well. I spent lots of time talking to him about ship models he had built, and if you spend any time at the museum, you will notice a lot of beautiful model warships on display. Some of the most exquisite ones were built by Mr. Drummond himself. It definitely sparked my fascination with ships and with the Navy.

When I joined the US Navy in 2002, I had no idea that it would become a way of life for me, that I would be selected for command of a warship, or get a chance to serve on USS KIDD. Not many of us are afforded the honor of command at sea, and that is very exciting to me. I started seriously considering a naval career back in high school, so it’s been a lifelong aspiration, and it’s coming true for me. It’s incredible.

With service in the Navy, there’s never a guarantee of a Hollywood ending. There’s challenge. There’s reward and satisfaction. And there are lifelong relationships and experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

I truly hope watching Greyhound is the closest our crew and I get taking on another blue-water navy at war. But I have every confidence that if called, we’d fight with tenacity, determination and lethality. Like our ships’ namesake, and those on the original KIDD crew, we live the core values of honor, courage and commitment.

You might say this is art, imitating life, imitating art.  And KIDD and remains the picture of readiness.

200428-N-SB299-1397 SAN DIEGO (April 28, 2020) The guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) arrives in San Diego April 28 as part of the Navy’s aggressive response to the COVID-19 outbreak on board the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex Millar/ Released)

Noland, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, graduated from Louisiana State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Master’s in Strategy from the U.S. Naval War College. He is an Anti-Submarine and Anti-Surface Warfare Tactics Instructor.

Note: USS KIDD (DDG 100) departed San Diego June 10, continuing its scheduled deployment, conducting enhanced counternarcotics operations in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. Last week her crew assisted a fishing vessel in distress, where USS KIDD took the vessel under tow for about 200 nautical miles until additional assistance from the ship’s parent company was able to support. U.S. Navy