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Gunason

 

Robert W. Gunason, born 26 November 1919 in Chicago, 111., enlisted in the Naval Reserve as an apprentice seaman 24 August 1940 at Los Angeles. Following service in Wichita he was appointed Midshipman and sent to active duty training at the Midshipmen's School, Prairie State, N.Y. Promoted to Ensign 6 June 1941 and to Lieutenant (j.g.) 15 June 1942, Lt. Gunason was killed in action 9 August 1942 while serving in Astoria, during the Battle of Savo Island.

 

(DE-795: dp. 1,400; l. 306'; b. 37'; dr. 13'6"; s. 23.6 k.; cpl. 213; a. 3 3", 41.1", 8 20mm., 3 21" tt, 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.), 2 dct.; cl. Buckley.)

 

Gunason (DE-795) was launched 16 October 1943 by the Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; sponsored by Mrs. Mabel Meneley, the namesake's mother; and commissioned 1 February 1944, Comdr. H. G. White, USNR, commanding.

 

After shakedown Gunason sailed from Boston 6 April 1944 for the Caribbean, reaching Trinidad 4 days later, and began inter-island escort duties. Until June she made frequent escort voyages between Trinidad and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, delivering her convoys safely. Departing Trinidad 2 June she rendezvoused at Barbados with a merchantman carrying one of the first loads of Barbadians to the United States to relieve the wartime farm labor shortage, and escorted the ship safely to Miami.

 

Subsequently, following repairs at Boston, Gunason reached Casco Bay, Maine, 25 June and joined sister destroyer escorts bound for Hampton Roads, where all arrived 2 July to form Task Force 61. Gunason served with this task force until early 1945, making three transatlantic escort voyages out of Hampton Roads to Bizerte, Plymouth, and Oran respectively from 4 July 1944-8 January 1945. Highlights of this exacting duty included shepherding a stricken slow tow convoy which had been attacked by U-boats. Gunason spent Christmas and New Year's standing by this convoy as it steamed into winter seas at 4 knots.

 

Gunason was soon to change her theater of operations. She sailed from Boston 27 January 1945 via the Panama Canal for the South Pacific, arriving Manus 4 March. A round trip escort voyage thence to Leyte in March set the pattern she was to follow for the next 3 months—escorting convoys entering and departing Philippine waters— supporting America's last giant thrusts in the Pacific. In June Gunason escorted troopships from Hollandia to Manila and after touching Ulithi put in at Manila again early in July.

 

The ship departed Subic Bay 26 July in company with, three destroyer escorts and a flotilla of landing craft bound for Okinawa, arriving 9 days later. A pre-dawni air attack 5 August sent all ships off Hagushi Beach toi General Quarters, but Gunagon and her charges escaped damage. She returned to Leyte 8 August and following an escort voyage thence to Ulithi and return, got underway 30 August with one of the first Leyte-Tokyo convoys, a flotilla of LCI's that entered Tokyo Bay 7 September. Gunason sailed the next day for Manila, arriving 17 September, and remained in the Philippines until November. Duties included a trip to Batan Island with a War Crimes Investigating Detail in which facts, later brought forth in the Yamashita War Crimes Trial, were gleaned. A search mission for a downed plane and a training exercise with submarines in Subic Bay occupied Gunason until 26 November when she stood out of Subic Bay for the United States, arriving San Diego, Calif., 17 December 1945. She operated out of there until 10 February 1947 when she sailed for the Far East via Pearl Harbor and Guam. Gunason arrived Sasebo, Japan 10 March. She sailed 3 days later for patrol off the eastern coast of Korea. Gunason remained in this service, with calls at Tsingtao and Yokosuka, until 10 September 1947, when she departed for California.

 

Arriving San Diego 19 September, Gunason conducted coastal operations until 12 December 1947, when she entered Long Beach for inactivation. Gunason decommissioned 13 March 1948 and was placed in reserve at Mare Island. At present she is berthed at Stockton, Calif.