Neldon Theo French, born 25 July 1918 in Benton County, Tenn., enlisted in the Marine Corps 9 September 1940, and was killed in action 9 October 1942 on Guadalcanal. Corporal French was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism in fighting to his death in a defensive post on the Matanikau River, and shared in the Presidential Unit Citation awarded his division for its superlative performance in the initial landings on Guadalcanal.
(DE-367: dp. 1,350; l. 306'; b. 36'8"; dr. 9'5"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 2 5", 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.), 2 dct.; cl John C. Butler)
French (DE-367) was launched 17 June 1944 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; sponsored by Mrs. Alma M. French, mother of Corporal French; and commissioned 9 October 1944, Lieutenant Commander T. K. Dunstan, USNR, in command.
French arrived at San Diego 2 January 1945 for escort duty in the Pacific, ranging primarily between Ulithi and Eniwetok through April. Other ports of call during this period were Pearl Harbor, Kossol Roads, Saipan, and Iwo Jima. Arriving in Kossol Roads 6 May, French was assigned to patrol and air-sea rescue duty, as well as local screening. On 5 June she bombarded enemy-held Malakal and Arakabesan Islands, then left Peleliu to return to escort duty out of Ulithi. She called at Okinawa on this assignment on 8 and 9 July.
From 24 to 27 July 1945, French was in charge of rescue operations on a grounded Army freighter at Helen Reef off the Palaus. She lightened the grounded ship by removing some of her cargo so that ATA-176 could get her off. Escorting the tug and her tow, French returned to Hollandia 31 July, then sailed back to Peleliu. Between 4 and 7 August she took part in the search for survivors of Indianapolis (CA-35), returning to Peleliu.
On 26 August 1945, French arrived at Okinawa, from which she sailed 9 September to cover landings in Japan. After voyaging to Guam to bring occupation troops to Japan, she screened carriers flying patrols over Japan until 2 January 1946 when she sailed for the west coast. French was decommissioned and placed in reserve at San Diego 29 May 1946.