U. S. S. Gunason
The Prospective Commanding Officer
Officers and Crew
U.S.S. GUNASON (DE 795)
Cordially invite you to attend the commissioning
Ceremonies to be held at the City Docks
31 January, 1944
Lieutenant M. B. Stone, Jr. Executive Officer
LT. V. H. Moses LT. (jg) L. N. Tarrant, Jr.
LT. (jg) R. E. Jackson ENS. J. J. Gertz, Jr.
LT. (jg) E. C. Rea, Jr. ENS. D. M. Pearce
|ABAD, FRANCIS L.||DOMBROSKI, R.A.||JEFFRIES, A. E.||MIGLIORINO, F. A.||SHEEHY, J . M.|
ADAMS, R. H.
|DORMAN, L. P.||JENNINGS, T. P.||MILLER, R. W.||SHIELDS, B. L.|
|ADDIS, J. T.||DZIUBEK, J. P.||JOHANNING, E. M.||MITRANI, J. W.||SHOOLIS, T. J.|
|AICKEN, F. H.||JUEDES, C. A.||MOEN, C. W.||SIEGEL, H.|
|AMIDON, R. H.||EHRMAN, H. E.||MONEYMAKER, J. C.||SIMONS, R. W. Jr.|
|ANDERSON, J. G||ENGLE, P. I.||KEEN, H. V., Jr.||MOORE, C. M.||SLATER, W. F.|
|ARNOLD, J. R.||EVERSOLE, C.||KELLY, M. E., Jr.||MOROSS, W. C.||SMITH, W. L.|
|ATTISANO, L. L.||KELSAY, A. O.||MOSBACH, E. J.||SMITH,J. E.|
|FATTON, H., Jr.||KIECKHAFER, D. E.||SNYDER, R. E.|
|BAILEY, G. O.||FITZGERALD, J. J.||KINSELLA, J. F.||NARDY, A. D.||SOKOLSKY, P.|
|BARNETT, B. H.||FOXWORTHY, D. E.||KIRBY, R. K. Sr.||NOSE, J. K. Jr.||SRAMER, J. P.|
|BENSON, F. P.||FRANKLIN, D. L.||KIRK, A. R.||STANIO, F.|
|BERGERSON, A. L.||FREEMAN, J. C.||KISSLING, W. R.||PAAR, C. N.||STEVENS, A. R.|
|BODENHEIMER, L. E.||FUGATE, K. S.||KLEIN, H. L. Jr.||PATTERSON, J. F. Jr.||STOLL, H. W.|
|BOGGS, R. W.||KOLODZIEJ, L. J.||PETRALIA, S. A.||STRANE, W. A.,Jr.|
|BONTREGER, G. D.||GAWENDA, A. S.||KONIECKI, J.||PHILLIPS, H. J.||SWANK, L. T.|
|BORTZ, E. N.||GETZ, R. H.||KRAMER, J.||PONGRAT, G. A.|
|BUNCH, S. D.||GRAY, C. R.||POPIELARCZYK, E. F.||TARBET, J. P.|
|BURNS, G. V.||GREENBAUM, A.||LANTAIGNE, R. A.||PRIJATEL, J. J.||TEDORA, F. M.|
|GREGOIRE, L.||LANGER, W. S.||PRUITT, R. J.||TEPPER, J.|
|CALL, W. E.||GRIFFITH, P. D. Jr.||LARKIN, W. R.||PURYEAR, C. W.||THOMAS, J. V.|
|CANTRELL, G.||GUERTLER, R. E.||LeBLANC, E. F.||PYLAND, S. S.||THRASHER, W. L.|
|CARLSON, R.||LEWANDOSKI, E.||TONEY, P. E.|
|CELLA, G. A. Jr.||HARTZELL, H||LEWIS, B. L.||RAHBERG, F. J.||TURNER, W. H.|
|CHANDLER, S. H.||HARRIS, R. H.||LOWERY, J. J.||RAUCH, R. R.|
|CHECHITELLI, J. D.||HARDEN, R. D.||REED, E. R.||VANDERBOSCH, H.|
|CHRISTIANSEN, F. A.||HASTINGS, M. S.||MALCER, F.||REYNOLDS, D. H.|
|CIVIELLO, E. J.||HAYNES, J. E.||MALLIN, A.||RICHARD, J. H.||WARNEMENT, F.|
|COOK, E. A.||HEADINGS, R. L.||MANGINELL, J. R.||RIGBY, T. E.||WASELESKI, R.|
|COOK, R. G., Jr.||HEBNER, M. E.||MAPES, R. L. JR.||RILEY, E.||WEBER, L. P.|
|COOK, V. L.||HILL, J. R.||MARSCHLOWITZ, W. H.||ROUSH, J. R.||WEIDEMANN, C.H.|
|COOPER, R. E.||HILLFERDING, V.||MARTIN, W. R.||WHITEHURST, C.H.|
|COSINS, W. J.||HIRST, F. R.||MARTUZZO, L. J||SALTALAMACCHIA, J||WINZ, S. R..|
|CROY, T. H.||HOCK, J. H.||McCUNE, G., Jr.||SAMPLE, R. F.||WITSBERGER, BH|
|CROZIER, R. L., Jr.||HUDSON, L. L.||McCLINTIC, G. C.||SCHULTZ, P. A.||WOOD, H. M.|
|HUDSON, M. E.||McELFRESH, W||SCHWARTZ, J.||WOODALL, M. A.|
|DeBISSCHOP. J.||HUFFMAN, R. E.||McQUADE, J. P.||SCUITO, F. M.||WRIGHT, J. W.|
|DEBOIS, J.F. Jr.||HURST, W. C.||MELANSON, F. J.||SHAMBLE, J. A.|
|DEICHERT, D. K.||MICHEL, A. W., Jr.||SHANNON, F. A.||YATES, S. P.|
|DIEDRICH, J. E.||JACKSON, R. W.||MICHOLS, A. R.||SHARP, E. R.||ZAK, M. J.|
REUNION PICTURE 2008
L to R Seated: Bill
Shields; Aubrey Biggs; Dick Huffman; Bill Spooner; Bob Harris; Walter Hall
L to R Standing: Bob Getz; Earl Cooke; Dev Clark; Charles Williamson; Jesse McDonough; Ken Riddle
REUNION PICTURE 2008
to R Seated: Marge Clark; Ruth Cook; Rhada Currin; Dorothy Riddle; Mary Spooner;
L to R Standing: Beverly Biggs; Betty Williamson; Dot Harris; Elizabeth Anderson
THE WAR TALE OF THE U.S.S. GUNASON (DE-795)
Amid war subdued ceremonies on the afternoon of February 1, 1944, at the City Docks of Orange, Texas, the USS GUNASON (DE-795) was commissioned into the fleet. She was named in honor of Lieutenant (jg) Robert W. Gunason of Chicago, Illinois, who was killed by enemy action aboard the USS ASTORIA on August 8, 1942. Taking command at this time was Commander (now Captain) H. G. White, USNR, of Milton, Massachusetts.
The GUNASON first got underway on February 6, 1944, for a test run. Supervisors from the various industries that contributed to her building, including the builder, the Consolidated Steel Corporation, Ltd., rode the GUNASON that day. Following this, the ship moved to Galveston, Texas, where it remained 16 days for final fitting out and conclusive tests.
On February 23 the GUNASON set sail for Bermuda, British West Indies, Destroyer shakedown area for the Atlantic Fleet. After 22 days of steady inspection, exercises and drills, the GUNASON was assigned post-shakedown availability at the Navy Yard Boston, Mass., whence she departed March 23rd. During the yard workover, orders arrived giving the ship her first war assignment. She was ordered to report to the Commander Caribbean Sea Frontier as relief for the USS BRISTER (DE-327). She executed her orders on April 6th.
The GUNASON arrived at her destination on April 10. A week later she was out at sea escorting her initial convoy in the capacity of Escort Commander, enroute to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. During the rest of April and all of May the GUNASON escorted convoys back and forth between Trinadad and Guantanamo with short stays in both ports in between times. The presence of enemy submarines in this area was graphically made known on the morning of May 3rd when the high frequency directional radio discerned a U-boat weather transmission in the vicinity. The steady escort work was interrupted on May 15 when the GUNASON had to proceed full speed to Wilhelmstad, Curacao, to transfer a patient to the hospital.
A break came on May 20th when the GUNASON churned to Santiago, Cuba, for liberty and recreation. The port proved ideal for this pursuit. After the resumption of convoying, the interception of enemy sub transmissions grew frequent. The ship’s reports to Washington were being acknowledged as sure things.
The second of June saw the GUNASON underway for Bridgetown, Barbados, British West Indies, to rendezvous with the SS GEORGE WASHINGTON to provide escort to Miami, Florida. The GEORGE WASHINGTON was hauling the first load of Barbadians to the United States to relieve the farm-labor shortage. The voyage included fueling at San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ships arriving Miami June 9th. The next day the GUNASON departed for Boston in accordance with new orders from the Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet. She had a new assignment.
At the conclusion of 10 days availability, the GUNASON sailed for Casco Bay, Maine to join Escort Division 56 and report to Commander Destroyers, Atlantic Fleet for training. At the end of June 1944, the GUNASON in company with Escort Division 56, consisting of the USS GILLETTE (DE-681), flagship USS UNDERHILL (DE-682), USS KENYON (DE-683), USS MAJOR (DE-796) and USS WEEDEN (DE-797), departed for Hampton Roads, Virginia, there to form with Escort Division 5, U.S.C.G.C. Campbell, 12 Patrol Craft, and 2 tankers into Task Force 61.
On Independence Day, 1944, Task Force 61 got underway for Bizerta, Tunisia, with a huge convoy of merchant ships numbering about 90. Three days later utility ship GUNASON left the screen and went alongside the tanker ESCALANTE and transferred via ship’s boat an acute appendicitis patient. The GUNASON sped him to Bermuda for transfer to the hospital. She rejoined the convoy that night.
Upon entry into the Mediterranean, the Force commenced extensive anti-aircraft protective measures, including dawn and dusk GQ’s and heavy smoke screens. The entire group arrived at Bizerta July 23rd without interference. Leaving there on the July 30, Task Force 61, less the 12 patrol craft and one tanker, started home with an empty convoy designated GUS 47. Two days out the aggregation ran into a Red Alert. Battle conditions were set and smoke was laid forthwith. The enemy air attack, however, ignored GUS 47 and laid itself to an East-bound convoy passing within 15 miles. Though it was midnight, flashes of the duel were visible. Gunfire flashes, bursting AA shells, flares and battle chatter on the tactical radio evoked the action picture.
At the end of this trip, the GUNASON repaired independently to the Navy Yard, Boston for availability. This was on August 17. On August 30, Lieutenant M. B. Stone, Jr. USNR, Executive Officer, relieved Commander H. G. White, USNR, as Commanding Officer. Lieutenant V. H. Moses, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, became Executive Officer. The next day the GUNASON departed to Casco Bay, Maine
A little over a week later the GUNASON was back on the job again with Task Force 61 departing from Lynnhaven Roads, Virginia, to the Mediterranean with another outsize convoy. En route, September 25, Escort Division 56 was plucked out of Task Force 61 and sent as Task Group 61.9, GILLETTE the flagship, to Plymouth, England. After a short stay in the British Isles, TG 61.9 took up with an LST-LCI convoy bound for the U.S. Departure date October 6. On the course past Biscay Bay heading to the southern convoy lanes, the screen and convoy prepared itself to unleash split-second countermeasures against a highly possible submarine attack, the Bay being a Nazi U-boat haven. The group made the passage unmolested. A fuel stop by the escorts was made at Horta, Azores Islands, a neutral port, several days later. Near the end of the trip the GUNASON and the GILLETTE (who had transferred the flag to the KENYON) departed the convoy with 20 LCI’s for Charleston, S.C. Port was made October 24th. The next day the Gunason in company with the GILLETTE steamed for Boston.
From there, after an overhaul which included dry-docking, the ship was assigned as screen for the battleship ARKANSAS, newly regunned after the Normandy invasion. With the Destroyer ENDICOTT, also in the screen, the GUNASON sailed for Casco Bay on November 7th. There several days were consumed assisting the ARKANSAS To test-fire her new armament.
Returning to Lynnhaven Roads, Virginia, on November 20, the GUNASON once again allied with Task Force 61, making preparations for another crossing. The division had been split up by this time and only the second section of 56 sailed with the rest of Task Force 61 for Gibraltar with another convoy. This trip was marked by turbulent seas. Subsequent to the entry into the Mediterranean, now thoroughly an “allied lake”, the convoy was dispersed and Task Force 61 proceeded to Oran, Algeria; arriving December 8. Steaming out of Oran, five days later, the GUNASON, still with Task Force 61, picked up a U.S. bound convoy and commenced escorting.
The expected quick trip home was interrupted close to midnignt on the 16th [December 1944]. The GUNASON was detached to assist in the search of a downed Flying Fortress somewhere off the Straits of Gibraltar. She rendezvoused with the USS BOOTH (DE-170) and worked three days on the hunt. About the second day, one of the assisting rescue planes fell and burdened the search. Low on fuel at the end of the third day, the GUNASON was ordered to secure the search and depart for Ponta Delgada, San Miguel, Azores Islands, to fuel and then rejoin its own convoy. A British ship took over as relief. On the way there the morning watch intercepted a voice radio message on the tactical circuit reporting the attack by several enemy submarines on a slow tow convoy located off the southern tip of Spain. One escort was sunk.
Ponta Delgada, a neutral port, rarely beheld any allied ships and the visit was diverting. The GUNASON raced from the Azores to join its convoy with the pleasant thought of New Year’s in the States. On the morning of the 23rd, the GUNASON was dispatched to rendezvous with the crippled convoy mentioned above, to fill in for the damaged escort. Once joined the GUNASON commenced removing survivors of the torpedoing from an overloaded LCI. Through Christmas and New Year’s the GUNASON stayed with this battered outfit, its speed of advance cut to almost four knots by winter seas and balky tows. Ice-crusted and worn following almost a month of steady steaming, the GUNASON moored at the Boston Navy Yard on January 8, 1945.
In the yard she was worked over extensively and dry-docked again. By January 27, 1945 she was ready for a new job and, as it was soon discovered, for a new climate. [While dry-docked in Boston, the GUNASON was painted with her Pacific color.] Underway from Boston to Norfolk, Virginia, then Norfolk to the Canal Zone in a rapid succession of three days. The GUNASON with two APD’s escorted the Com-munication ship Taney to Cristobal, Canal Zone, and after an overnight at Cristobal passed through the Panama Canal. She was in transit the night of February 4 and the morning of February 5 and underway for her Pacific destination immediately after leaving the last lock. Sailing by Borabora, Society Islands, the GUNASON paused briefly at Seymour Island in the Galapagos Group, South America, to fuel. The equator was crossed on February 8th at 0800 in the morning, and all Pollywogs aboard bowed to the few Shellbacks who administered the hoary rites. The next day the rays of the hot sun were reflected from innumerable bare skulls causing the Captain to put hats on all.
On February 17, the GUNASON arrived at Borabora and moored amid South Sea Island splendor to fuel. The next day she sped on for Manus Island, Admiralty Group. The GUNASON plunged across the International Date Line on February 24th and thus removed herself further from the States even by time. March 4th she was at Manus and reported to Commander Service Force Seventeenth Fleet ready for duty. Her voyage, Borabora to Manus, brought the GUNASON through the early battle areas of the Pacific war. The high spot: the passage along memorable Guadalcanal.
Voyage repairs were effected at Manus in three days time, and then on the 8th she sailed with a small convoy to Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands. On the 13th she anchored in Leyte Gulf off Tolosa and reported to Commander Philippine Sea Frontier. The GUNASON remained under operational control of Com Phil Sea Fron for the balance of her Pacific tour of duty. The GUNASON assumed her first Pacific assignment on March 18 when she was ordered to Guiguan, Samar, to unload mail for delivery to Mindora, Manila, and Subic Bay. The voyage involved passage through inter-Philippine waterways close to enemy-held parts of the Philippines. The assignment was executed neatly at high speed in four days. The mail hungry units eradicating Japs in this area were mollified. The GUNASON returned to Leyte. There followed a return trip to Manus with a convoy, and from this time on trips came apace. Through the rest of March, April, May and June the GUNASON escorted convoys into and out of the Philippines regularly. On April 20th, she performed as escort for the veteran Pacific warrior, the cruiser BOISE, to Subic Bay. Next steamed independently to Kossol Roads, Palau Islands, still held by the Japs. There on April 29th she picked up the escort carrier ALTAMAHA and screened her to Leyte. When the war terminated in Europe, the GUNASON was at Hollandia, New Guinea, waiting to escort troops to Manila being sent up to the Battle of Luzon. Brief rest came May 23rd when the GUNASON went alongside the Destroyer Tender WHITNEY for four days availability. After this, she took to the antisubmarine patrol lanes and spent four days with a group of destroyer escorts scouting for a detected Jap sub. The four-day search was fruitless. Again returned to Hollandia, June 11, and drove to Manila with more troop ships including the USS PRESIDENT HAYES. Made Manila June 21. From there she steamed to Ulithi. Proceeded from Ulithi on Independence Day, 1945, back to Manila with several transports including the USS PRESIDENT JACKSON. About this time the GUNASON’s sounddome began leaking heavily and arrangements were made to repair the gear. As a result of this a lengthy stay was obtained in Manila. Thereafter the GUNASON was ordered to Subic Bay to have the repairs completed.
Disconcerting news was received on board the GUNASON July 24. The USS UNDERHILL (DE-682), a member of her Division, was split by torpedoes fired by Jap undersea craft and eventually sunk by our forces after the removal of survivors. The loss of life aboard was heavy. Two days later the GUNASON in company with the USS RUDDEROW (DE-224), USS TRAW (DE-350) and USS BARNES (DE-353), escorting a flotilla of LST’s, LSM’s and several LCI’s, departed Subic for Okinawa following practically the same route the UNDERHILL was on with another convoy when she was torpedoed. The outfit was later joined by the USS WEEDEN (DE-797). The convoy was slowed on her trip by rampant seas. Nine days later the convoy arrived unscathed and anchored off Haguishi Beach, Okinawa Shi, Nansei Shoto. At 0200 the following morning Jap aircraft raided the Island. A smoke screen quickly engulfed the bay where the GUNASON was anchored and General Quarters were sounded. All ships were enjoined to hold their fire until low flying planes were encountered. The beach batteries fastened on the bandits with searchlights and AA fire. The raid lasted two hours. Immediately after the Japs left the vicinity, shore-based fighters rose and pursued the attackers. Three were splashed.
The next day the GUNASON fueled at Bucker Bay and departed for Leyte with the USS TRAW. Leyte was made August 8th. On August 10 the GUNASON moved to San Pedro Bay off Samar Island and entered the floating drydock ARD 19 for fuller repairs to her sound gear and to paint her bottom. That night Japan sued for peace. The GUNASON left the drydock after three days and then anchored in the vicinity of the tender WHITNEY. A leak in one of her turbines had developed. By August 23rd the GUNASON was ready to go back to sea. She did, a quick trip was made to Ulithi with a single Merchant ship. Coming back, August 29, the GUNASON obtained what looked like a good sound contact. This was after mid-night. Several runs were made and charges dropped without any favorable results. The GUNASON then left to resume screening for the convoy she was taking back to the Philippines.
On August 30th the GUNASON, alone, led the first Leyte-Tokyo convoy consisting of a flotilla of LCT’s to its destination.
At 1052 Philippine time, Sunday September 2nd, the GUNASON in Latitude 37-25 north, Longitude 131-15 east, heard the war with the Japanese government proclaimed at an end.
The convoy arrived Tokyo Bay, Honshu Island, Japan, Friday, September 7, anchoring off Yokosuka ship yards, site of the first American landing in Japan. The GUNASON got underway the next day just as troops arrived aboard many transports prepared to land that morning for the formal occupation of Tokyo. With the OZARK (LSV 2) hauling repatriates, the GUNASON headed for Guam. Arriving there 12 September and then laying over one night, the GUNASON departed for Ulithi for eventual routing to Manila. A fierce storm impeded the trip to Ulithi and the GUNASON took refuge to the south of Ulithi.
After the GUNASON returned to Manila on September 17th, convoy assignments ceased abruptly. However, during her stay in Manila, several interesting assignments came her way. Included was a trip to Batan Island with a War Crimes Investigation Detail where facts, later brought forth in the Yamashita War Crimes trial (held in Manila), were gleaned. This occurred between October 10th and 14th.
Lieutenant Raymond Friedlander, USNR, of Tyler, Texas relieved Lieutenant Commander V. H. Moses as Executive Officer on October 16th.
The GUNASON drew another task on October 22 when she assisted two other DE’s in the search of a downed plane off Cape Bojeador, Northern Luzon. A three day scout produced negative results. The GUNASON moved to Subic Bay to await orders for the states. In the meantime the GUNASON was assigned to submarines in training there. Two weeks devoted to exercising with these submarines, climaxed by a tactical exercise which sent the GUNASON and four other DE’s and two divisions of submarines to Tizard Bank for war game practice.
Orders for the return to the States arrived on November 24th and the GUNASON in company with Escort Division 56 sailed the 26th from Subic Bay via Manila for the West Coast.
In the 22 months since commissioning, the GUNASON aggregated almost 114,500 miles of travel in three war theatres, namely the American, European-African, and Asiatic-Pacific. All vessels she ever escorted arrived at their destinations safely. THE END
The War Tale was written in 1945 aboard the U.S.S. Gunason by CQM William Druary
Epilogue: The U.S.S. GUNASON, with Escort Division 56, arrived San Diego, California on December 17th and immediately began transferring her crew to other stations for discharge.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
USS Gunason (DE-795)
Robert W. Gunason, born 26 November 1919 in Chicago, Ill., enlisted in the Naval Reserve as an apprentice seaman 24 August 1940 at Los Angeles. Following service in Wichita he was appointed Midshipman and sent to active duty training at the Midshipmen's School, Prairie State, N.Y. Promoted to Ensign 6 June 1941 and to Lieutenant (j.g.) 15 June 1942, Lt. Gunason was killed in action 9 August 1942 while serving in Astoria, during the Battle of Savo Island.
(DE-795: dp. 1,400; l. 306'; b. 37'; dr. 13'6"; s. 23.6 k.; cpl. 213; a. 3 3", 4 1.1", 8 20mm., 3 21" tt., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.), 2 dct.; cl. Buckley)
Gunason (DE-795) was launched 16 October 1943 by the Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; sponsored by Mrs. Mabel Meneley, the namesake's mother; and commissioned 1 February 1944, Comdr. H. G White, USNR, commanding.
After shakedown, Gunason sailed from Boston 6 April 1944 for the Caribbean, reaching Trinidad 4 days later, and began inter-island escort duties. Until June she made frequent escort voyages between Trinidad and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, delivering her convoys safely. Departing Trinidad 2 June, she rendezvoused at Barbados with a merchantman carrying one of the first loads of Barbadians to the United States to relieve the wartime farm labor shortage, and escorted the ship safely to Miami.
Subsequently, following repairs at Boston, Gunason reached Casco Bay, Maine, 25 June and joined sister destroyer escorts bound for Hampton Roads, where all arrived 2 July to form Task Force 61. Gunason served with this task force until early 1945, making three transatlantic escort voyages out of Hampton Roads to Bizerte, Plymouth, and Oran respectively from 4 July 1944 to 8 January 1945. Highlights of this exacting duty included she herding a stricken slow tow convoy which had been attacked by U boats. Gunason spent Christmas and New Year's standing by this convoy as it steamed into winter seas at 4 knots.
Gunason was soon to change her theater of operations. She sailed from Boston 27 January 1945 via the Panama Canal for the South Pacific, arriving Manus 4 March. A round trip escort voyage thence to Leyte in March set the pattern she was to follow for the next 3 months--escorting convoys entering and departing Philippine waters--supporting America's last giant thrusts in the Pacific. In June, Gunason escorted troopships from Hollandia to Manila and after touching Ulithi put in at Manila again early in July.
The ship departed Subic Bay 26 July in company with three destroyer escorts and a flotilla of landing craft bound for Okinawa, arriving 9 days later. A pre-dawn air attack 5 August sent all ships off Hagushi Beach to General Quarters, but Gunason and her charges escaped damage. She returned to Leyte 8 August and, following an escort voyage thence to Ulithi and return, got underway 30 August with one of the first Leyte-Tokyo convoys, a flotilla of LCI's that entered Tokyo Bay 7 September. Gunason sailed the next day for Manila, arriving 17 September, and remained in the Philippines until November. Duties included a trip to Batan Island with a War Crimes Investigating Detail in which facts, later brought forth in the Yamashita War Crimes Trial, were gleaned. A search mission for a downed plane and a training exercise with submarines in Subic Bay occupied Gunason until 26 November when she stood out of Subic Bay for the United States, arriving San Diego, Calif., 17 December 1945. She operated out of there until 10 February 1947 when she sailed for the Far East via Pearl Harbor and Guam. Gunason arrived Sasebo, Japan, 10 March. She sailed 3 days later for patrol off the eastern coast of Korea. Gunason remained in this service, with calls at Tsingtao and Yokosuka, until 10 September 1947, when she departed for California.
Arriving San Diego 19 September, Gunason conducted coastal operations until 12 December 1947, when she entered Long Beach for inactivation. Gunason decommissioned 13 March 1948 and was placed in reserve at Mare Island. At present she is berthed at Stockton, Calif.
[Stricken from the Navy Register on 1 September 1973, Gunason was sunk as a target on 28 July 1974.]
Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey
USS Gunason (DE-795)
It was November 1974. As I looked at the numbers on the bow of a destroyer-escort in Port Hueneme, California, it registered with me -- They were 7-9-5. The Gunason! It was a thrill to see her; then I realized that she was to be used as a target for the Navy.
Port Hueneme is the only deepwater port between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Navy has used Port Hueneme since WW II. The Navy Air Weapons Test Center at Point Mugu and the US Navy Missile Engineering Station on the CB Base (in Port Hueneme) both use the port for preparing targets for at-sea missile testing.
Since her decommissioning on 13 March 1948, the Gunason had been in the reserve fleet at Suisun Bay opposite Benecia, California, just around the bend from Mare Island Naval Shipyard.
Towed by tug to Port Hueneme, the Gunason’s fuel tanks were cleaned and anything that could float was removed in preparation. (Nothing of the target can be left to float onto the beaches of California.)
Special instruments and cameras were installed aboard the Gunason to collect data on the firing to prepare the ship for her last operation.
While the Gunason was being prepared, I would go aboard her for the memories. Looking at her, I’d think back to January 1944 when I first boarded her in Orange, Texas, as part of the pre-commissioning crew.
Aboard her, I’d remember: Here was where my bunk had been. Here were the sick bay, the laundry, and the head with the water troughs. No card game in the clipping room in back of Mount 32. All quiet on the mess deck. No good odors from the galley. It was like being aboard a ghost ship.
Then one day she was not at the pier. The Gunason had been put to sea for her last operation.
I was told by staff at Point Mugu that the USS Gunason (DE-795) was the target for the first Harpoon missile air-launched from a Navy P-3 Orion Patrol Aircraft. The Harpoon is an aircraft- or ship-launched missile used against surface targets. Twelve feet, six inches long, its weight is 1168 pounds. The Harpoon’s warhead is 570 pounds of high explosives.
On December 15, 1974, the Gunason was put on station close to San Nicolas Island in the Pacific Missile Range, where the Navy controls and monitors firing exercises.
The firing exercise began. The P-3 made its run as if it had located a target while on patrol. It launched the bird. The missile guidance system locked on the target and then flew down to a low level and homed in. Hitting the Gunason on her starboard side aft at about the location of Mount 33, the missile blew away the superstructure. The stern was just hanging there; the ship was taking on water.
Point Mugu Target Department personnel declared her a hazard to navigation. Personnel were placed aboard by helicopter to remove instruments and cameras. Sea valves were opened to let her sink.
The USS Gunason (DE-795) now rests on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, but she is not forgotten.
Thanks to CPO Richard (aka “Dick” and “Guns”) Huffman, USN, Retired, for this story.
and/or family and friends of U.S.S. GUNASON shipmates, please
contact Walter Hall