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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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James E. Kyes

 

James Ellsworth Kyes, born in Everett, Wash., 16 April 1906, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1930. As commanding officer of Leary (DD-158), Comdr. Kyes was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for "extraordinary heroism" during action against enemy submarines in the North Atlantic 23 December 1943. After his ship had received three torpedo hits and was sinking, he gave the order to abandon ship. As he prepared to leave Leary, he checked to see that none of his men remained on board and spied one whose life jacket was torn and useless. Comdr. Kyes removed his own and handed it to the sailor. He then calmly climbed over the side and was swallowed up by the waters of the cold Atlantic, gallantly sacrificing his own life to protect a member of his crew.

 

(DD-787: dp. 2,425; l. 390'6"; b. 40'11"; dr. 18'6"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 336; a. 6 5", 12 40mm., 8 20mm., 5 21" tt, 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Gearing)

 

James E. Kyes (DD-787) was laid down 27 December 1945 by Todd Pacific Shipyards, Inc., Seattle, Wash.; launched 4 August 1945; sponsored by Mrs. James E. Kyes; and commissioned 8 February 1946, Comdr. K. E. Shook in command.

 

After shakedown along the West Coast, James E. Kyes steamed from Seattle 12 June for Pearl Harbor to embark troops for transportation to the United States. Arriving San Diego 12 July, she operated along the California coast until departing 9 November for the western Pacific. Joining the 7th Fleet at Shanghai 30 November, she operated along the Chinese Coast supporting Chiang Kaishek's struggle with the Chinese Communists for control of the mainland.

 

Departing Tsingtao, China, 28 January 1947, she steamed to Japan for 4 months of operations off southeastern Japan, in the Tsushima Strait, and along the Korean coast. She cleared Yokosuka 8 June for home and arrived San Diego 22 June.

 

Following operations out of San Diego and San Francisco, Calif., and Bremerton, Wash., she departed San Pedro, Calif., 2 September 1948 for duty in the Far East. Arriving Yokosuka, Japan, 30 September, she conducted surveillance patrols in the East China Sea and the Tsushima Strait. She steamed to Inchon, Korea, 20 January 1949 as tensions mounted on that peninsula. Returning to Japan 28 January, she resumed sea patrols until departing Yokosuka 3 April for San Diego.

 

After arrival 24 April, James E. Kyes operated out of San Diego until sailing for the western Pacific 23 June 1950, 2 days before Communist North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel to sweep down through South Korea. Ordered by President Truman to give South Korean troops "cover and support," the Navy placed the 7th Fleet on alert from Formosa to Japan. Standing off Pohang-dong, Korea, 18 July, James E. Kyes provided valuable fire support during landing operations which reinforced U.N. positions at the southern end of the peninsula. She joined Doyle (DMS-34) on 2 August escorting Sicily (CVE-118) while that carrier's planes struck enemy troop and supply concentrations along Korea's southern and western coasts. Sailing into the Sea of Japan 11 August, she screened Badoeng Strait (CVE-116), Valley Forge (CV-45), and Philippine Sea (CV-47); and then steamed to Sasebo 27 August to prepare for Operation "Chromite."

 

As a flanking counterstroke to halt the North Korean advance, General MacArthur ordered an amphibious assault against Inchon, the "strategic solar plexus of Korea," to be carried out 15 September. James E. Kyes arrived off Inchon the 15th to guard Boxer (CV-21) as her planes conducted preinvasion strikes. Remaining off Inchon to 3 October, the versatile destroyer sailed via Sasebo to Korea's east coast for patrol duty.

 

Late in November she sailed for the United States; but, ordered to reverse course on the 29th, she steamed back to the fight. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese Communist troops had crossed the Yalu River into North Korea to attack advancing U.N. forces. Hordes of Chinese cut off and surrounded the 5th and 7th Marine Regiments with a human wall at Chosin Reservoir 27 November. The breaching of this wall and releasing of our troops depended upon air cover and fire power from planes of carriers stationed off the eastern coast. James E. Kyes joined the task force 1 December and provided ASW support while planes made hundreds of sorties supporting the embattled marines. Under a protective canopy of naval air cover, the leathernecks broke through 10 December at Chinhung-ni and moved to Hungnam for evacuation. James E. Kyes remained on guard as the Navy completed the Hungnam withdrawal of 24 December after embarking 105,000 troops, 91,000 refugees and vast quantities of military cargo. She remained along the eastern coast, supporting the southward movement of American forces. Sailing for home 19 January 1951, she arrived San Diego 8 February.

 

James E. Kyes departed San Diego 27 August and joined Boxer (CV-21) and Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) on 20 September in patrolling the Sea of Japan. Sailing to Formosa 17 December, she joined the Formosa Strait surveillance patrols before resuming carrier guard duty off Korea 22 January 1952. James E. Kyes joined the U.N. Blockading and Escort Force 19 February and sailed to the Wonsan area to conduct "harassing and interdiction fl.-e at predesignated targets and targets of opportunity." Designed to prevent or hinder enemy troop and supply movements, her patrol concentrated on enemy shore batteries, coastal roads, and railroad installations before sailing for home 25 March.

 

Departing San Francisco 12 November, James E. Kyes resumed Korean blockade and bombardment duty 5 December and joined the Formosa Patrol during February 1953. She returned to Korea 14 March to engage the enemy at every opportunity. Blockade and bombardment patrols were often unspectacular, but therein lay the effectiveness of the naval blockade. As Rear Admiral Sir W. G. Andrewes, RN, observed, "The absence of the spectacular is a measure of the complete success achieved." Patrolling Korea's eastern coast for almost 3 months, James E. Kyes engaged enemy batteries, covered amphibious landings, and supported carrier air strikes. Ordered home 9 June via Yokosuka and Midway, she arrived Long Beach 29 June.

 

From 9 February 1954 to 12 March 1962, James E. Kyes deployed to the Far East on seven occasions. While operating with the mighty 7th Fleet, the sea sentinel of peace-through-strength in the Pacific, she ranged the Orient from Japan and Korea to Southeast Asia and Australia and engaged in a variety of activities.

 

She patrolled the coasts of Korea, where an uneasy truce had brought an end to hostilities in July 1953. On several occasions she joined the Formosa Patrol to insure freedom and protect the Chinese Nationalists from Communist invasions. In 1955 she sailed to Southeast Asia while the Navy carried thousands of refugees from North to South Vietnam during Operation "Passage to Freedom." Cruising the Indochinese coast from Vietnam to Thailand, she served as a symbol of America's determination to safeguard Southeast Asia from the spread of communism.

 

While serving in the Pacific, James E. Kyes conducted several air-sea rescue missions. During the Marshall Islands' nuclear tests of 1956, she acted as a life guard ship; and, in May 1959, she steamed from duty in the Formosa Strait to assist and guard SS President Hayes, grounded in the Paracel Islands off Vienam. She also served as plane guard during carrier flight operations, and on four occasions during 1960 and 1961 she effected or assisted in successful rescues of downed pilots and flight crews.

 

The ability of the 7th Fleet to serve as an instrument of peace and to maintain a constant vigil depends in large part upon repeated training and continued readiness. While deployed with the Fleet, James E. Kyes engaged in numerous operations designed to test and improve her performance as a fighting ship. In December 1961, during her longest deployment to the Far East, she participated in a combined ASW readiness exercise with units of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, which "greatly advanced the mutual understanding between the two forces."

 

After returning to the West Coast 12 March 1962, James E. Kyes assumed an "in-commission-in-reserve" status 16 April and underwent FRAM I conversion at Bremerton, Wash., to prepare for her role in the new Navy. Returning to full commission 18 December, she participated in fleet exercises held off the California coast 27 to 28 May 1963 in honor of President Kennedy.

 

James E. Kyes deployed to the Far East 10 October. Following readiness evaluation exercises off the Hawaiian Islands, she arrived Yokosuka Japan 22 November and commenced Fleet operations that continued to the end of the year. In the spring of 1964 she participated in Operation "Back Packs," a combined Chinese Nationalist and U.S. amphibious exercise on Taiwan. She was in the hunter-killer group which provided ASW protection for the operation. During the deployment, she supplied water to Hong Kong helping to relieve suffering caused by a severe drought which afflicted the city.

 

The destroyer returned to Long Beach 2 April 1964 and operated out of homeport for the rest of the year. She celebrated Columbus Day by saving a wayward DASH helicopter from hitting Eversole (DD-789). She sailed for the Far East 24 March 1965 and reached Yokosuka 30 April. In May she participated in SEATO Exercise "Seahorse" with ships of Thailand, the United Kingdom, and Australia. At the end of this exercise in the South China sea, she visited Bangkok, Thailand. After upkeep in Subic Bay and a run to Hong Kong, James E. Kyes got underway for Exercise "Cross Tee II" in the Sea of Japan with ships of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.

 

Following a visit to Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan, and ASW exercises with nuclear-powered submarine Snook (SSN-592), James E. Kyes departed Yokosuka 20 July, crossed the South China Sea to the coast of South Vietnam for surveillance duty. She screened Bennington (CVS-20) took ASW and surface surveillance picket station at the southern end of the Gulf of Tonkin; and assisted a South Vietnamese construction battalion stranded on Drummond Island in the Paracel Group. From 30 August to 5 September she bombarded targets ashore in the Quang Ngai area. She departed the war zone 10 September; arrived in Long Beach 7 October; and entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard 10 December for overhaul to return her to top fighting trim for future operation in behalf of peace and freedom. Completing overhaul and postórepair shakedown in 1966, James E. Kyes returned to the Far East. There her gunfire again pounded the Viet Cong, and her dedicated men safeguard the peace and freedom of the world and the future of the American way of life.

 

James E. Kyes received six battle stars for Korean service.