William Eaton, born 23 February 1764 in Woodstock, Conn., joined the Army at an early age and served until April 1783, when he was appointed U.S. Consul at Tunis. Because of his experience in the north African region, he was appointed Navy agent for the Barbary Regencies on 26 May 1804. Supported afloat by Isaac Hull, Captain of Argus, in an effective "combined operation," Eaton led the attack on Derne on 27 April 1805. The town's capture, and the threat of further advance on Tripoli, were strong influences toward peace, negotiated in June 1805 by Tobias Lear and Commodore John Rodgers with the Bashaw of Tripoli. General Eaton died in Brimfield, Mass., 1 June 1811.
(DD-510: dp. 2,050; l. 376'6"; b. 40'; dr. 17'9"; s. 36 k.; cpl. 273; a. 5 5", 10 21" tt, 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Fletcher)
Eaton (DD-510) was launched 20 September 1942 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine; sponsored by Mrs. Mary Eaton Phillips, great-great-granddaughter of General Eaton; and commissioned 4 December 1942, Lieutenant Commander E. L. Beck in command.
Eaton departed Casco Bay, Me., 6 February 1943 for duty in the Pacific. Arriving at Efate, New Hebrides, 7 March, she patrolled with Cruiser Division 12 between that port and the Solomons. She also escorted convoys from Espiritu Santo and Noumea to Guadalcanal. After 10 August, from a new base at Port Purvis, Florida Island, she supported landings at Rendova, Vella Lavella, and Baracoma. In September, she rejoined Cruiser Division 12 for sweeps against Japanese shipping in the "Slot," sinking many barges. On 1 October she got Japanese submarine I-20 in 07°40" S., 157°10" E., in the vicinity of Vella Lavella.
After a dash to Auckland, Eaton embarked Rear Admiral G. H. Fort and staff on 26 October and served as flagship for the landings on Treasury Island the following day. Prior to the landings at Empress Augusta Bay, she led fast minelayers Tracy (DM-19) and Pruitt (DM-22) through Bougainville Straits to seal off the eastern approach, on the night of 1-2 November.
She continued to patrol from Port Purvis to Bougainville. On 13 November she rushed to help screen the crippled Denver (CL-58), damaged in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay. Relieved by Dyson (DD-572) the following day, she continued to escort resupply convoys to Bougainville, Treasury, and Vella Lavella, as well as to bombard coast batteries and hunt Japanese ships. She took part in the landings on Green Island on 15 February 1944 and on Emirau Island on 20 March.
Eaton sailed 4 May 1944 for the Marshalls, arriving at Majuro the 7th. Between 29 May and 2 June, she joined Greiner (DE-37) and Sanders (DE-40) in reconnaissance and bombardment of Kusaie Island in the eastern Carolines. On 11 June, she left Kwajalein for the invasion of Saipan, which began 4 days later. Eaton provided fire support, including harassing and illumination fire, against Saipan and Tinian and captured three Japanese aviators from a raft. On 12 August she sailed from Saipan for overhaul at Mare Island.
Eaton joined the covering force for the Leyte operation at Leyte Gulf, 25 November 1944. She sank an enemy freighter on 1 December and bombarded Ormoc Bay as she headed to cover the Mindoro landings in December. Returning to Manus 2 days before Christmas, she was up in Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, on 9 January 1945 for screen and patrol duty. During the assault, the following night her crew destroyed an enemy suicide boat only 25 yards from the ship. The explosion killed 1 and wounded 14 of Eaton's men. She escorted transports in ballast from Lingayen to Leyte in January, bombarded Corregidor in February, and returned to Leyte Gulf, 1 March.
Through May she continued in the liberation of the Philippines, in the landings at Mangarin Bay, Mindoro; on Panay, and on Mindanao. Sailing from Subic Bay 7 June 1945, Eaton covered the landings at Brunei Bay, Borneo, on 10 June, supporting minesweeping operations, and providing fire support for the invading Australians and underwater demolition teams. Next came invaluable aid to the assault on the great oil entrepot of Balikpapan, 1 and 2 July. She returned to San Pedro Bay, 5 July, and her base for operations until the end of hostilities.
Eaton went north, 28 August 1945, to support minesweeping operations in the Yellow Sea off Jinsen (Inchon) in preparation for landings the following month. From 6 September to the end of October, she directed sweeping the Yangtze River approaches and acted as harbor entrance control vessel at Shanghai.
On 9 September, five Japanese vessels attempting to leave that port were intercepted and boarded by a party from Eaton; a prize crew remained on board Medium Landing Ship No. 5 for nearly a month. Joining the South China Force, Eaton was based at Hong Kong and visited ports on the 2,000-mile sweep of Chinese coast, all the way from Haiphong, Indo China, to Hulutao, Manchuria, until 29 December 1945.
She arrived at New York 8 February 1946 and the following month sailed to Charleston, S.C., where she was placed out of commission in reserve, 21 June 1946.
Reclassified DDE-510, 2 January 1951, Eaton was recommissioned 11 December 1951 and joined Escort Division 22 at Norfolk, 29 May 1952. She operated as far as the Caribbean and made two midshipman cruises in the summer of 1953: the first to England, France and Italy, the second to Halifax, Nova Scotia. She sailed 28 April 1954 for NATO exercises off Londonderry, followed by a good will tour of ports in Germany, Belgium, Denmark, England, and France before joining the 6th Fleet for exercises in the Mediterranean, including a mock "defense" of Turkey.
After rescuing four survivors from SS Mormackite on her return passage, Eaton arrived at Norfolk, 10 October. An African cruise between 18 March and 26 July 1957 took her by way of the Azores to Freetown, Simonstown, Mombasa, Aden, and Massawa. She operated through the blistering Red Sea between Aden and Massawa much of May, then on through Suez to Mediterranean ports and Norfolk. A visit to British waters in the fall of 1957 and two to Canada varied Eaton's Atlantic and Caribbean duty through 1960.
Eaton received 11 battle stars for World War II service.