- USS William C. Cole (DE-641)
"William C. Cole" was laid down on
5 September 1943at San Francisco, California, by the Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 29 December 1943; sponsored by Mrs. William C. Cole, the widow of Adm. Cole; and commissioned on 12 May 1944, Lieutenant Clay Harrold in command.
World War II
shakedownin the San Diego area, "William C. Cole" underwent post-shakedown availability at her builder's yard before departing the west coast on 19 July, bound for the Hawaiian Islands. After reaching Oahu, the new destroyer escort trained out of Pearl Harborfor the remainder of the month.
August 1944 – March 1945
"William C. Cole" departed Oahu on
1 Augustin company with USS|Snyder|DE-745, as part of the screen for the oilers USS|Neches|AO-47 and USS|Atascosa|AO-66; the seaplane tenderUSS|Kenneth Whiting|AV-14; the escort carriers USS|Bougainville|CVE-100 and USS|Admiralty Islands|CVE-99; the refrigeration shipUSS|Aldebaran|AF-10; and the merchant freighterSS "Cape Pillar". After delivering that convoysafety to Majuroin the Marshalls, "Cole" escorted "Admiralty Islands" and "Bougainville" back to Pearl Harbor.
After a five-day availability, "William C. Cole" departed Pearl Harbor with the destroyer escorts USS|Melvin R. Nawman|DE-416 and USS|Samuel B. Roberts|DE-413 in the screen for a Marshalls-bound merchant convoy. "William C. Cole" was detached on
28 Augustand escorted the freighter SS "Cape Page" to Kwajaleinbefore she headed for Hawaii on 1 September. Upon her arrival at Pearl Harbor, the destroyer escort commenced a week's availability.
"William C. Cole" departed the Hawaiian Islands on
15 Septemberand subsequently convoyed the escort carrier USS|Copahee|CVE-12 to Manus Island, in the Admiralty Islands. On 25 September, "Cole" reported to Commander, South Pacific Forces, for duty.
Seeadler Harbor, Manus, on 1 October, "William C. Cole" and sister shipUSS|Gendreau|DE-639 sailed for the Solomon Islands. From 4 to 11 October, "Cole" trained out of Purvis Baywith the other ships of Escort Division 73 (CortDiv 73). One week later, on 18 October, the destroyer escort escorted SS "Cape Johnson" from Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, to Cape Torokina, Bougainville, before returning to Purvis Bay for upkeep and gunnery training that lasted for the remainder of October.
"William C. Cole" operated out of Purvis Bay into February 1945, performing local escort missions between Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and
New Caledonia; ships escorted included SS "Sea Cat", SS "Sea Snipe", USS|General O. H. Ernst|AP-133, USS|Wharton|AP-7, USS|West Virginia|BB-48, USS|General M. M. Patrick|AP-150, USS|Windsor|APA-55, USS|Ormsby|APA-49, and USS|Crescent City|APA-21.
After gunnery exercises from 3 to 23 February, "William C. Cole" reported by dispatch on the 23d to Commander, 5th Fleet. From
24 Februarythrough the first week in March, she performed screening duties off the transport staging area, Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, protecting the transports of Amphibious Squadron 4 (PhibRon 4) during landing exercises in the vicinity. While the transports of PhibRon 4 loaded at Lunga Point, "Cole" screened them from 10 to 13 March. On the latter day, she received onward routing and proceeded for the Russell Islands.
On the 15th, the destroyer escort headed for
Ulithi, in the Western Carolines, in company with USS|Lang|DD-399, USS|Stack|DD-406, and USS|Paul G. Baker|DE-642, escorting various units of PhibRon 4. Detached on the 21st, "William C. Cole" joined "Paul G. Baker" to escort for the attack cargo ships, USS|Theenim|AKA-63 and USS|Lacerta|AKA-29, to the Marianas. After delivering their charges safely to Saipan, the two destroyer escorts proceeded immediately to Ulithi where they were replenished before sortieing with Carrier Division 22 (CarDiv 22) — less USS|Sangamon|CVE-26 and USS|Santee|CVE-29 — as part of the escort that included the destroyers USS|Massey|DD-778, USS|Drexler|DD-741, and USS|Metcalf|DD-595. Relieved of escort and screening duties for the carriers on 31 March, "William C. Cole" subsequently joined other ships of CortDiv 73 escorting Transport Squadron 18 (TransRon 18) on its way to Okinawa.
Battle of Okinawa
The ships made their final approaches through the western islands off Okinawa and arrived off the beachhead by midday. Light enemy aircraft activity greeted the initial forces — activity that would, in time, become heavy and nearly ceaseless. Between 1 and 4 April, the ship went to
general quartersnumerous times during the many air raid alerts caused by enemy planes in the vicinity. "William C. Cole" downed one plane and assisted in downing two others.
Retiring from Okinawa on
5 Aprilas an escort for Transport Division 42 (TransDiv 42), "William C. Cole" headed for Saipan. Upon arrival, the ship received routing to Ulithi where she took on stores. Underway again on 13 April, "Cole" sailed for Okinawa once more, this time in the screen for ships of TransDiv 56.
Detached from escort duties upon her arrival off the western invasion beaches on
17 April, "William C. Cole" soon commenced her activities as a vessel in the screen. She remained on screening stations in the vicinity of transport anchorages until retiring on the 26th in company with USS|Bunch|APD-79, USS|Mullany|DD-528, USS|Charles Lawrence|APD-37, and USS|Richard W. Suesens|DE-342, as escort for TransDiv 104. After reaching Ulithi on the 30th, "Cole" underwent four days of availability.
Returning to active duty upon completion of repairs, the destroyer escort steamed on a picket station off the island of
Yapbefore returning to the Western Carolines on 13 May. The following day, in company with USS|Chase|APD-54 and as escort for the battleship"West Virginia" and the heavy cruiserUSS|Tuscaloosa|CA-37, "William C. Cole" got underway to return to Okinawa. Arriving there on the 17th, she reported for screening duties.
While on station, "William C. Cole" observed moderate enemy air action from 19 to 23 May; but, on the 24th, she came under attack herself. Between 18:30 on the 24th and 06:00 on the 25th, the ship destroyed two enemy aircraft. First, a
Nakajima Ki-43"Oscar" attempted a suicide run while "Cole" was northeast of Ie Shimaand crashed within a few feet of the destroyer escort's starboard beam. The plane passed so close to the ship that one of its wingtips bent a "spoon" of a tube of a torpedo mount which had been trained to starboard. The second plane, a Kawasaki Ki-61"Tony", came in from the ship's starboard side and was taken under a heavy fire from the ship's 20-millimeter and 40-millimeter guns. This attacker overshot the ship and crashed some thousand yards beyond its target.
June – August 1945
30 May, "William C. Cole" loaded ammunition at Kerama Rettoto replenish her depleted magazines before weighing anchor on the next day to sail to Saipan with a convoy of merchantmen. On 2 June, USS|Ringness|APD-100 and "William C. Cole" rendezvoused at sea with a Ulithi-bound convoy, and they arrived at their destination on the 6th having safely delivered their charges. Upon fueling, "Cole" sailed for the Philippines, in company with the destroyer USS|Shields|DD-596 and the destroyer escort USS|George E. Davis|DE-357, as escorts for a merchant, Leyte-bound convoy.
The convoy reached San Pedro Bay on
10 June, and "William C. Cole" received repairs to the damage she had suffered during the kamikazeattack off Okinawa on 24 May. Subsequently sailing for Luzonin company with USS|Vammen|DE-644, "Cole" fueled upon arrival at Lingayenand soon thereafter headed for Okinawa convoying LST group 104. Arriving there on the 24th, the destroyer escort shifted to Kerama Retto the following day where she rendezvoused with USS|Curtiss|AV-4, two ATA's (124 and 125), and "LCI-993" to join USS|Witter|DE-636 and USS|Forrest|DMS-24 in escorting those ships to Saipan, where they arrived on 30 June.
Assigned to a patrol area east of Saipan on
2 July, "William C. Cole" operated on that station until relieved on the 11th by USS|Fieberling|DE-640. The destroyer escort remained at Saipan until 22 July, when she shifted to Guam. Once there, she performed patrol work out of Apra Harborfor a week before she returned to Saipan in company with USS|Austin|DE-15. "Cole" ended July escorting the attack transportUSS|Logan|APA-196 to the Marshalls.
After shepherding the attack transport safely to
Eniwetok, "William C. Cole" proceeded independently to Saipan, arriving on 8 August. Following training exercises with submarines, antiaircraft firing practices, and a six-day availability, the destroyer escort patrolled off Tinianuntil relieved on 17 August, two days after Japan capitulated, bringing the long Pacific Warto a close.
For "William C. Cole", however, the end of the war did not mean the end to her activities. She escorted "PC-1587" to
Iwo Jimaand later operated off that island on air-sea rescue assignments for the remainder of August. "Cole" then operated out of Iwo Jima on air-sea rescue assignments for the entire month of September and into October 1945 before she returned to Saipan, her base for similar operations until she departed the western Pacific, bound for the west coast of the United States.
After a yard availability at the
Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, "William C. Cole" returned — via Pearl Harbor and Guam — to the Far East in the spring of 1946 and operated out of Shanghai, Okinawa, and Tsingtao into the summer. She then returned — via Guam, Kwajalein, and Pearl Harbor — to San Diego on 28 July. Following still another tour of duty in the Far East under the aegis of Commander, Naval Forces, Far East from 10 Marchto 31 August 1947— at Sasebo, Pusan, Yokosuka, Wakayama, and Kagoshima — "Cole" operated locally out of San Diego until she was decommissioned and placed in reserve on 13 March 1948. She was later inactivated on 28 Aprilof that year.
"William C. Cole" remained in reserve until struck from the
Naval Vessel Registeron 1 March 1972. She was then sold to Zidell Explorations, Inc., of Portland, Oregon, on 20 November 1972and subsequently scrapped.
"William C. Cole" (DE-641) received one
battle starfor her participation in the capture and occupation of Okinawa.
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/w8/william_c_cole.htm history.navy.mil: USS "William C. Cole"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/06/641.htm navsource.org: USS "William C. Cole"]
* [http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/escorts/de641.htm hazegray.org: USS "William C. Cole"]
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