Elie A. F. La Vallette was one of the first rear admirals appointed when President Lincoln created this rank in July 1862. Born in Alexandria, Va., 3 May 1790, at age 10 he accompanied his father, a chaplain, on a cruise in Philadelphia, commanded by Stephen Decatur. After merchant marine service, be entered the Navy during the War of 1812. As acting lieutenant in Saratoga during the Battle of Lake Champlain, 11 September 1814, he distinguished himself, winning promotion and a medal. He commanded Congress during the Mexican War, directing operations against Guaymas and Urias 19 to 20 November 1847. In the 1850’s he commanded the African, and then the Mediterranean, Squadron. Four months after his appointment as rear admiral, he died 18 November 1862 in Philadelphia.
(DD-315: dp. 1.190; l. 314'5”; b. 31'8"; dr. 9'3"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 95; a. 4 4", 12 21" tt.; cl. Clemson)
The first La Vallette (DD-315) was laid down 14 April 1919 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., San Francisco, Calif.; launched 15 July 1919; sponsored by Miss Nancy Lane, daughter of the Secretary of the Interior; and commissioned 24 December 1920, Lt. Comdr. A. D. Denny in command.
Homeported at San Diego throughout her service La Vallette participated in the intensive training schedule through which the peacetime Navy maintained its readiness. West coast operations were highlighted by annual Pacific Fleet battle practice in Hawaiian or Panamanian waters. In 1924 and 1927, La Vallette transited the Panama Canal for Caribbean maneuvers, participating in a presidential review by Calvin Coolidge 4 June 1927.
As early as 1922 La Vallette participated in antiaircraft training, and witnessed the growing importance of naval aviation while serving as plane guard for Lexington (CV-2) during her final months of service. She decommissioned at San Diego 19 April 1930, and on 10 June 1931 was scrapped in accordance with the London Treaty.