Aquilla James Dyess, born 11 January 1909 in Augusta, Ga., served in the Army, then he was appointed first lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve 4 November 1936. He was assigned to active duty at Norfolk 8 November 1940. He was killed in action at Namur Island, Marshall Islands, 2 February 1944. Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his daring and forceful leadership in the face of fierce opposition on the day of his death.
(DD-880: dp. 2,425; l. 390'6'"; b. 41'1"; dr. 18'6"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 367; a. 6 5", 5 21" tt, 6 dcp., 2 dct; cl. Gearing)
Dyess (DD-880) was launched 26 January 1945 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; sponsored by Mrs. A. J. Dyess, widow of Lieutenant Colonel Dyess; and commissioned 21 May 1945, Commander R. L. Fulton in command. She was reclassified DDR-880 18 March 1949.
After her shakedown cruise and conversion to a radar picket destroyer, Dyess sailed from Norfolk 7 November 1945 to join the 5th Fleet at Tokyo Bay 19 December for occupation duty in the Far East. She returned to San Diego 16 December 1946, and on 6 January 1947, got underway for the east coast, arriving at Norfolk 23 January. She served in local training cruises until August of that year when she sailed to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, to escort President H. S. Truman embarked in Missouri (BB-63) as far as Norfolk when he transferred to the Presidential yacht Williamsburg (AGC-369) which Dyess escorted to Washington, D.C.
Dyess arrived at Newport, R.I., 27 September 1947 for local training operations. After a tour of duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean from 29 October to 14 February 1948, she returned to her home port of Norfolk. Until the end of 1958 Dyess made nine tours of duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, patrolling to preserve peace and engaging in exercises with NATO forces. She also sailed on two midshipman cruises, one to southern Europe in the summer of 1948 and one to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the summer of 1951. The remainder of her service has been as varied as her capabilities. She has acted as plane guard during the qualifying of pilots in carrier operations and has joined in hunter-killer exercises, amphibious training, and large-scale fleet exercises. She assisted in the evacuation of American nationals from Suez during the tense situation which developed during her 1956 Mediterranean cruise. In the summer of 1958 she joined in strengthening the free world's defenses with NATO operations in northern Europe.
Dyess operated along the east coast and off Cuba in 1959, and on 25 July arrived at Charleston, S.C., her new home port. On 29 January 1960 she sailed on her tenth deployment to the Mediterranean.
Dyess returned to Charleston, S.C. in August, and in October entered Charleston Naval Ship Yard, where she remained until the end of 1960.