William R. Hoel, born 7 March 1825 in Ohio, was a Mississippi River steamboat pilot who entered the Navy 19 October 1861. On 6 February 1862, while serving as the First Master of Cincinnati, Hoel was wounded during the Battle of Fort Henry. Less than 2 months later, on 4 April he volunteered to pilot gunboat Carondelet in her famous run past the Rebel batteries at Island Number 10 to reach Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army at New Madrid. The gunboat's valiant dash through a hailstorm of Confederate fire enabled Union forces to cross the river and to take this key island with quantities of cannon, equipment and stores. It thus opened the Mississippi for operations by Union gunboats bringing the Federal Armies in a long stride to within sight of Memphis. Hoel's courageous and skillful service on this occasion •won the praise of Flag-Officer Andrew H. Foote, the thanks of the Navy from Secretary Gideon Welles, and promotion to the rank of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant effective 29 April 1862.
On 10 May 1862 Hoel assumed command of Cincinnati when serious wounds incapacited her Captain, Comr mander Eoger N. Stembel. The new commander of the Western Flotilla, Captain Charles H. Davis, took this opportunity to express his admiration of Hoel. "I can not praise more than they deserve his high valor and ability. He sets the highest example to those below him, and if it were possible to give him a permanent position worthy of his merits, the Navy would be the gainer . . ."
On 29 October, Hoel then took command of Pittsburg on which he served with distinction in the campaign to take Vicksburg. One of Lieutenant Hoel's exploits during this campaign is of special interest since it foreshadowed the heroism of the World War II destroyer which bore his name, USS Hoel (DD-533). On 29 April 1863, as Acting Rear Admiral Porter's flotilla was bombarding the Confederate Batteries at Grand Gulf, his flagship, USS Ben-ton, became unmanageable and was caught under heavy fire in a position where she could neither steer nor reply to the enemy guns. On seeing Porter's predicament, Hoel slipped the Pittsburg in between Benton and the flaming Rebel batteries to protect her by taking the flre himself. In the next 10 minutes his heroism cost the Pittsburg 6 men killed and 8 wounded, but the sacrifice allowed Ben-ton to extricate herself from the deadly trap. The bombardment was so successful that the next day General Grant safely moved his troops across the Mississippi to begin the operations which at long last isolated and captured Vicksburg.
Hoel was promoted to Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Commander on 10 November 1864. Detached from Pitts-burg, he then took command of Vindicator 1 March 1865 on which he served until 7 July 1865. He was honorably discharged on 30 December 1865.
(DDG-13: dp. 4,500 (f.) ; l. 437'; b. 47'; dr. 22'; s. over 30 k.; cpl. 334; a. "Tartar" guided missiles, "Asroc", 25"; cl. Charles F. Adams)
The second Hoel (DDG-13) was launched 4 August 1960 by Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, Mich.; sponsored by Mrs. Harry H. Long, granddaughter of the namesake; commissioned 16 June 1962, Commander Allen W. Slifer, USN, in command.
After fitting out at Boston, Hoel got underway for her first homeport, San Diego, putting in at Norfolk; May-port and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Guantanamo Bay; Cartagena, Colombia; Canal Zone; and Acapuloo, Mexico, during the voyage. During the passage from Cartagena to the Canal Zone she came upon sailing yacht Stardrift becalmed and adrift enroute to Sidney, Australia, from London. Hoel towed the 36-foot craft 100 miles to safety in Panama.
Hoel arrived San Diego 11 September 1962 and spent the ensuing months completing the various inspections, tests, and trials by the Board of Inspection and Survey. When successful firing of ASROC and TARTAR missiles completed her qualification and acceptance trials, Hoel joined the ready 1st Fleet.
After a 3-week cruise to Esquimau, Canada, Hoel spent April and May of 1963 in Pearl Harbor conducting specialexercises. She then returned to waters off San Diego to participate in the Presidential Demonstration held for President Kennedy.
The months of July, August, and part of September were spent at Long Beach Naval Shipyard for the post-shakedown availability assigned each new ship approximately 1 year after commissioning. At this time improved fire-control radars were installed and tested by successful missile firings. Hoel departed Long Beach 17 October 1963 for duty in the Western Pacific to serve as the flagship of Commander Destroyer Division 12.
In ensuing years she alternated deployments in the Far East with operations off the West Coast. Her 1966 deployment to the Western Pacific began when she departed San Diego 28 July. On September she was on search and rescue patrol off Da Nang, Vietnam. On 8 December the guided missile destroyer became naval gunfire support ship in the Corps I area. She fired 2,100 rounds destroying at least 20 enemy structures and 2 trench networks; damaging 61 buildings, 3 bunkers, 8 trench networks, and 5 roads; and killing 24 Viet Cong while wounding 7. Hoel retired to Hong Kong 21 December but headed for Yankee Station the day after Christmas to screen Coral Sea (CVA-43). On this patrol she helped to rescue a pilot after his A.-A Sky Hawk had crashed.
Hoel returned to San Diego 3 February 1967 and operated on the West Coast through mid-year preparing for future action.