Alfred Wolf—born in Germany on 1 August 1923—enlisted in the Naval Reserve at New York on 7 January 1942 and went through boot camp at Newport, R.I., between 11 January and 11 February 1942. Following further instruction at the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Va., he entered the Armed Guard School at Little Creek, Va., on 23 March 1942.
After completing the intensive training given the men preparing for armed guard assignments at Little Creek, Wolf reported on board the "Liberty" ship, SS Samuel Chase, on 20 April 1942 and was serving in that ship when she sailed from Iceland for North Russia as part of the convoy designated PQ-17 on 27 June 1942. German planes attacked the convoy on 2 July and continued their raids over the next few days. The drawing-off of the convoy's initially heavy supporting force of warships aided the enemy, in that the merchantmen and what smaller escorts remained were ordered to scatter. This "over-estimate of the enemy's aggressive intentions,"—the reputed sortie of the German battleship Tirpitz—set the stage for disaster.
Samuel Chase managed to survive the ordeal of PQ-17. Six near-misses from enemy bombers on 10 July caused heavy damage, snapping all steam lines, cutting off all auxiliaries, and blowing the compass out of the binnacle. Her gunners fought their weapons efficiently and courageously in what naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison calls "the grimmest convoy' battle of the entire war." Samuel Chase, part of a pitiful remnant, survived.
Morison lauded the Navy armed guard crews of three particular ships: Washington, Daniel Morgan, and Samuel Chase. "Their clothing was inadequate and their ammunition insufficient," he wrote, "but their fighting spirit never failed." For his part in the gallant defense of Samuel Chase during her battle is PQ-17, Seaman 1st Class Wolf earned a letter of commendation which praised his meritorious conduct in action.
Detached from Samuel Chase on 24 October 1942, Wolf reported on board the Army transport Henry R. Mallory at New York on 12 November 1942. Five days later, the transport sailed for Reykjavik, Iceland, and she stopped at St. John's and Halifax, Nova Scotia, before she returned via Boston to New York. Henry R. Mallory then once more visited Reykjavik, sailing from New York on 24 January 1943 and was en route back to New York City in convoy SC-118 when she was torpedoed and sunk by U-402 on the morning of 7 February 1943. Seaman 1st Class Wolf was not numbered among the survivors.
The name Alfred Wolf was assigned to the John C. Butler-class destroyer escort, DE-544, on 26 October 1943. Her keel was laid at the Boston Navy Yard on 9 December 1943. However, due to changes in wartime shipping construction priorities, work was suspended on the ship on 10 June 1944 and cancelled altogether on 5 September 1944. Subsequently, the incomplete hulk was broken up on the building ways.