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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Hugh Purvis

 

Hugh Purvis was 'born in Philadelphia in 1843 and enlisted in the Marine Corps 27 October 1869. He reported immediately to the marine detachment on board Alaska soon departing for the Far East. During the punitive expedition to Korea in 1871, he took part in the assault on an enemy fort on the Han River. In desperate hand-to-hand fighting, the sailors and marines stormed the walls of the citadel. Private Purvis ran immediately to the flagstaff which 'bore the enemy's colors and loosed the halyards. He was joined by Cpl. Charles Brown, and the two tore down the flag. For his inspiring and heroic act Private Purvis was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was discharged in 1873 and served two later tours with the Marine Corps, 1874 to 1879 and 1879 to 1884, rising to Corporal.

 

(DD-709: dp. 2,200; l. 376'6" ; b. 40'; dr. 15'8" ; s. 34 k.; cpL 336; a. 6 5", 12 40mm., 11 20mm., 6 dcp., 10 21" tit.; cl. Allen M. Summer)

 

Hugh Purvis (DD-709) was launched by Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J., 17 December 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Mary Alice Purvis, widow of Corporal Purvis; and commissioned 1 March 1945, Comdr. B. L. Gurnette in command.

 

Following shakedown training in the Caribbean, Hugh Purvis transited the Panama Canal to take part in training exercises in Hawaiian waters after the close of World War II, returning to Casco Bay, Maine, 16 April 1946. After a long overhaul at New York she trained in the Caribbean and arrived her new homeport, Newport, 14 December 1946. Hugh Purvis sailed for her first European cruise 2 February 1947 and after exercises with allied ships in the north Atlantic, formed a part of America's official party at the burial of King Christian of Denmark in April. The ship returned to Newport 14 August and took part in antisubmarine exercises off the New England coast the balance of the year.

 

Hugh Purvis departed Newport for her first cruise with the 6th Fleet 13 September 1948. For the next 5 months she took part in the fleet's vital work of peace-keeping. Returning to Newport 10 February 1949, she operated from that port until sailing 27 June for New Orleans. Hugh Purvis made reserve training cruises out of the gulf port until returning to Newport and regular fleet duties 10 December 1950.

 

As the demands on the Navy increased during the Korean conflict, Hugh Purvis continued intensive readiness training. She made another Mediterranean cruise March to October 1951, and took part in another giant NATO cruise in August 1952. Another 6th Fleet cruise was completed in July 1953 after which the veteran ship embarked midshipmen for a Caribbean training cruise. She participated in Operation Springboard in the Caribbean before returning to Newport 23 November 1953.

 

Hugh Purvis spent 1954 on training operations on this side of the Atlantic, but sailed 5 January 1955 for another important deployment with the 6th Fleet. She returned 26 May to join a hunter-killer group in antisubmarine exercises until July 1956. On 2 July she sailed again for duty in the troubled Mediterranean, joining other 6th Fleet units in that ancient center of civilization. During this period, American power afloat did much to dampen the Suez crises and to discourage foreign interference in this vital area. While in the Persian Gulf in October 1956, Hugh Purvis acted as an escort vessel during evacuation of refugees from Haifa, Israel, and the removal of United Nations Truce Team officials from Gaza, Egypt.

 

During the summer of 1957, the destroyer took part in another midshipman training cruise to Chile and the Canal Zone, and operated with NATO units in the north Atlantic. In early 1958 she trained in the Caribbean, sailing 12 June for visits to NATO countries in northern Europe. It was during this crucial period that the 6th Fleet was proving its peace-keeping power in the Lebanon crisis, and was successful in preventing a leftist revolt.

 

After her return from Europe in August 1958 she began 16 months of training and experimental work with the Destroyer Development Group designed to increase her fighting capacity for the modern Navy. In March 1960 she entered Boston Naval Shipyard to begin a FRAM (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization) overhaul, which included extensive refitting and the installation of a helicopter landing deck and hangar aft. Emerging with a greatly increased life span, the ship took part in antisubmarine exercises in January 1961, including the use of the new DASH antisubmarine drone helicopter. Hugh Purvis then sailed 8 March for her sixth deployment to the Mediterranean. During this cruise the fleet stood by for any eventuality during a deepening of the Berlin crisis, materially strengthening America's hand in this confrontation of power. The ship returned to Newport 4 October 1961.

 

In January 1962, as the dawning space age increased America's need for control of the sea, Hugh Purvis operated in the Atlantic recovery area, aiding in the historic recovery of Col. John Glenn's Mercury space capsule. Sonar exercises occupied her until late October, when the introduction of offensive missiles into Cuba precipitated another cold war crisis. Hugh Purvis joined the quarantine line off Cuba, helping to force the withdrawal of the missiles—another dramatic example of the power of the fleet when firmly used in checking communism and keeping the peace. She returned to Newport 20 December 1962 and throughout the next year took part in antisubmarine exercises with ASW carriers and helicopters in the Atlantic.

 

The year 1964 found her preparing for her annual operational readiness inspection and in February of that year she entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for a regular overhaul. After overhaul and a new radar radome mounted on a 30-foot mast she began evaluation of a new ASW sensor. On 18 January 1965 she sailed from Newport to become an important part of Operation "Springboard". At the completion of competitive year 1965, Hugh Purvis was awarded two Cruiser Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, departmental excellence awards in operations and weaponry. During the latter part of 1965 Hugh Purvis was adapted for a new conformed planar array sonar at the Boston Naval Shipyard. This new equipment will increase the "vision" of the Fleet thereby providing a better tool to safeguard the peace and freedom of the world and the future of the American way of life.

 

Ready for action 21 January 1966 Hugh Purvis operated along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean through most of the year. On 6 March she rescued fishing boat Good Will II and her crew of five. The destroyer sailed for the Mediterranean 29 November, and transited the Straits of Gibraltar 7 December to join the 6th Fleet. She operated in the eastern Mediterranean into 1967, protecting the peace and security of the free world.