Louis Carlton Higginbotham was born June 4, 1923 and lived in Holly Pond. Higginbotham registered for the World War II draft on June 30, 1942 and served in the Navy Reserve. Before departing for the war, he would marry Ruth Azalie Gatham Higginbotham on February 27, 1943.
Higginbotham, a Seaman, First Class, served on USS KIDD–a Fletcher class destroyer. According to usskidd.com, “February of 1945, KIDD and her sister ships joined Task Force 58, then forming for raids against the Japanese home islands and the invasion of Okinawa.”
The crew of the USS KIDD (DD-661) is said to have helped rescue down pilots, fought off suicide attacks, destroyed floating mines and provided early warning to the fleet.
On April 11, 90 miles east of Okinawa, the KIDD would suffer her worst attack of the war. Usskidd.com explained, “The raids that developed that day weren’t out of the ordinary, in spite of the fact that three approaching formations of enemy aircraft were reported. The first two raids were driven off by the combat air patrol, in tandem with KIDD and her division mates: BLACK (DD-666), BULLARD (DD-660) and CHAUNCEY (DD-667). At 14:09, KIDD’s crew observed a dogfight between Japanese aircraft and the fighters of the combat air patrol. One of the enemy planes descended to near water level, levelled out and commenced a run on BLACK which was 1,500 yards off KIDD’s starboard beam. But, instead of ramming into BLACK, the pilot pulled up and passed directly over her. KIDD’s 20mm and 40mm gunners took the plane under fire, scoring several kits, to no avail. Left full rudder was applied; the ship had just barely begun to turn. The lone suicide bomber crashed into the forward boiler room killing everyone inside. The bomb carried by the kamikaze was catapulted through the ship and out the other side where it detonated just seconds later.”
Thirty-eight men were killed in the attack, including Higginbotham. He was declared missing after the attack and presumed dead the following day. His remains were never recovered. He received the Purple Heart.
Louis Carlton Higginbotham is memorialized at the Courts of the Missing Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii. He is also honored at Cullman’s Veterans Memorial Park.
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