Ralph Wille Janssen was born in Chicago Heights, 111., 28 January 1915, and enlisted in the Naval Reserve 12 October 1940. He was later appointed Midshipman, undergoing training on board Arkansas and at the Naval Reserve Midshipman's School 1940-^1. Upon commissioning, Janssen reported to destroyer Porter 2 August 1941, and served on her during the critical first months of the Pacific war. Promoted to Lieutenant (j.g.) 15 June 1942, he was killed 26 October 1942 when Porter was torpedoed by an enemy submarine during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.
(DE-396: dp. 1,200; l. 306'; b. 36'7"; dr. 8'7"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 3 21" tt, 2 40mm., 8 20mm., 2 dct, 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.); cl. Edsall)
Janssen (DE-396) was laid down by Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Tex., 4 August 1943; launched 10 October 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Alfred Janssen, stepmother of Lieutenant (j.g.) Janssen; and commissioned 18 December 1943, Lt. Comdr. H. E. Cross in command.
Janssen departed 11 January 1944 from Galveston to conduct shakedown training out of Bermuda. Upon completion she rendezvoused 27 February with escort carrier Bogue and her escorts to form a submarine hunter-killer group. In the months that followed, Janssen and her sister ships attacked numerous submarine contacts while cruising between the United States and the Azores; and, after a brief rest in North African ports, they returned to Norfolk 2 May.
Janssen and the Bogue group were soon underway again cruising the convoy routes of the North Atlantic. Hunter-killer groups such as this one became a prime weapon against the U-boat and contributed importantly to the important work of keeping the supply lines to Europe and the Mediterranean open. Janssen arrived New York 24 September 1944 for training exercises, and in December took part in an emergency patrol off the coast of Maine, where increased U-boat activity was anticipated.
Early 1945 found Janssen training antisubmarine teams in Casco Bay and the Bermuda area. She got underway on offensive operations once more 28 March and conducted 2 weeks of Atlantic barrier patrol. Joining the Bogue group again 16 April, the ship steamed into the North Atlantic for her last patrol. Several attacks were made on U-boats. Frederick C. Davis was torpedoed and sunk with great loss of life 24 April. Then upon making sonar contact, Janssen, aided by other escorts, closed in on the enemy firing over 40 depth charges, in three separate attacks. Finally, stricken V-5Jf6 came to the surface where she was destroyed.
The veteran destroyer escort arrived New York 11 May, after the war against Germany had officially ended. She sailed to Norfolk for the installation of additional aintiaircraft mounts in preparation for more action, this time against Japan. Janssen conducted training in the Caribbean in June, and arrived Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal and California 21 August. Too late to take active part in the war against Japan, the ship embarked 100 returning veterans at Pearl Harbor and brought them to San Pedro 9 September.
Janssen again transited the Panama Canal, arriving Charleston 25 September. Designated for deactivation, she departed 24 October for Green Cove Springs, Fla., where she decommissioned 12 April 1946. Janssen then joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet and, at present, is berthed at Philadelphia, Pa.
Janssen received one battle star for World War II service and shared in the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the various ships of the Bogue task groups for outstanding antisubmarine work in the Atlantic during 1943-44.