Silas Duncan born in Rockaway, N.J., in 1788, was appointed midshipman 15 November 1809. While third lieutenant of Saratoga during the Battle of Lake Champlain, 11 September 1814, he was sent in a gig to order the gunboats to retire. He succeeded in delivering the orders despite concentrated enemy fire which severely wounded him and caused the loss of his right arm. For his gallant conduct he was thanked by Congress. From 1818 to 1824 Commander Duncan saw active service on board Independence, Hornet, Guerriere, Cyane, and Ferret. He died 14 September 1834 at White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
(DD-485: dp. 1,620; l. 348'4"; b. 36'1"; dr. 11'10"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 208; a. 4 5", 5 21" tt.; cl. Benson)
The second Duncan (DD-485) was launched 20 February 1942 by Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. D. C. Thayer; and commissioned 16 April 1942, Lieutenant Commander E. B. Taylor in command.
Duncan sailed from New York on 20 June 1942 for the South Pacific, arrived at Espiritu Santo 14 September to join TFs 17 and 18 and with them departed the same day to cover transports carrying the 7th Marine Regiment to reinforce Guadalcanal. Duncan was in the screen of Wasp (CV-7) next day when the task force was attacked by two Japanese submarines. Wasp was torpedoed, and so severely damaged that she had to be sunk by United States ships. Duncan picked up survivors from the carrier, transferring 701 officers and men to other ships, and 18 wounded and 2 bodies to the base hospital at Espiritu Santo upon her arrival 16 September.
Duncan continued to operate from Espiritu Santo to the Solomons, screening transports and ship of the covering forces. On 11 October 1942 she was in the screen of TF 64 which was assigned to protect a vital transport convoy carrying reinforcements to Guadalcanal. Contact was made with a large enemy surface force just as the American ships were executing a course change as part of their battle plan. Duncan having a clear radar contact and seeing her flagship apparently steady upon a course which would close the target, believed the destroyers were closing to attack, and found herself charging alone toward the enemy force. In the resulting battle off Cape Esperance, she pumped several salvos into a cruiser, then shifted fire to a destroyer, at the same time maneuvering radically to avoid enemy fire and that from her own forces who were now joining in the attack. She got off two torpedoes toward her first target, the cruiser Furutaka, and kept firing until hits she had received put her out of action. The commanding officer ordered the bridge, isolated by fire, abandoned by the only route possible, over the side, and the wounded were lowered into life rafts. The men on board attempted to beach the ship on Savo Island, but then, believing she might yet be saved made a gallant fight to halt the raging fires until power failed, forcing the ship's abandonment. McCalla (DD-488) rescued 195 men from the shark-infested waters and made an attempt to salvage Duncan but she sank on 12 October 1942, about 6 miles north of Savo Island.
Duncan received one battle star for World War II service.