Jesse Rutherford, Jr., was born 12 January 1922 in Salmon, Idaho, and enlisted in the Marine Corps 14 July 1941. After undergoing basic training at San Diego, he reported to carrier Lexington 8 November 1941. Private Rutherford was on board during the pivotal Battle of the Coral Sea, in which the Navy turned back the Japanese thrust toward Port Moresby and Australia. In this first great carrier action, during which neither force cited the other, American planes sank one Japanese carrier and damaged another; but, near the end of the battle, 8 May, Lexington was hit by two bombs and two torpedoes. Rutherford, a fuse setter in a gun mount, was seriously injured in the attack; but he remained at his post. In the language of his citation, "although mortally wounded by the fragments of a bursting bomb, he displayed outstanding courage and a loyal determination to keep his gun in action despite his injured condition, and valiantly remained at his station setting fuses until he collapsed on the deck." The stricken "Lady Lex" was finally sunk by friendly ships, and Private Rutherford was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism.
(DE-347: dp. 1,350; l. 306'; b. 36'8"; dr. 9'5"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 2 5", 4 40mm., 10 20mm., 32 11" tt, 2 dct, 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.), 3 21" tt.; cl. John C. Butler)
Jesse Rutherford (DE-347) was laid down by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex., 22 November 1943; launched 29 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Mary Rutherford, mother of Private Rutherford; and commissioned 31 May 1944, Lt. Comdr. B. M. Henry in command.
Jesse Rutherford, departed Galveston 7 July for shakedown training in waters off Bermuda, after which she arrived Boston 13 August to prepare for arduous Atlantic convoy duty. She engaged in more underway training off the East Coast, however, before sailing from Norfolk 20 September with her first convoy. The transports arrived Naples 4 October, and Jesse Rutherford returned to New York 24 October.
At New York the destroyer escort received the newest in equipment and armament in preparation for the Pacific war, then about to enter its final stages. She sailed 10 November with Escort Division 76, bound for the Panama Canal, the Galapagos Islands, and eventually the Society Islands. Jesse Rutherford arrived Bora Bora 5 December and departed the next day for the great American staging base on Manus Island. From there the ship was assigned to escort convoys from Hollandia to Leyte Gulf in support of the Allied campaign to recapture the Philippines. In the months that followed Jesse Rutherford made nine voyages to Leyte, and in March 1945 she steamed to Lingayen Gulf as well. Arriving Biak after another escort voyage 30 May, she formed a group of LST's into a convoy and departed for Manila. Off Mindoro, however, the destroyer escort encountered a merchantman in distress and drifting onto the beach. Displaying skillful seamanship, Jesse Rutherford took the freighter in tow and held her off the beach until a tug could relieve her next day. She arrived Subic Bay 8 June.
Additional convoy duty in the Philippines occupied Jesse Rutherford until July. She departed Morotai 12 July with amphibious craft to reinforce the allied landing at Balikpapan, Borneo, remaining there until 22 July. The ship then sailed back to Leyte in convoy, and patrolled San Bernadino Strait until war's end. Jesse Rutherford escorted a group of LCT's to Okinawa, arriving 15 September, after which she returned to the Philippines for patrol duty.
The veteran destroyer escort embarked returning veterans at Samar 28 November and sailed that afternoon for San Diego, where she decommissioned 21 June 1946. Jesse Rutherford was placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Bremerton, Washington, where she remains.
Jesse Rutherford received one battle star for World War II service.