Lt. (jg.) John T. Melvin, born 16 October 1887 at Selma, Ala., was appointed midshipman 6 July 1907 and commissioned ensign 7 July 1911. Resigning his commission 20 August 1915, he was appointed lieutenant (jg.), 9 February 1917, upon his joining the Naval Reserve. Attached to the patrol boat Alcedo, Lieutenant (jg.) Melvin lost his life 5 November 1917 when that vessel was sunk by a German submarine in the war zone. Alcedo was the first American war vessel to go down in World War I.
(DD‑680: dp. 2,050; l. 376'6"; b. 39'9"; dr. 17'9"; s. 37 k.; cpl. 319; a. 5 5", 10 40mm., 7 20mm., 10 21" tt., 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Pletcher)
The second Melvin (DD‑680) was laid down 6 July 1943 by Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J.; launched 17 October 1943; sponsored by Miss Gertrude C. Bailey, grandniece of Lt. (jg.) J. T. Melvin; and commissioned 24 November 1943, Comdr. Warner R. Edsall In command.
Following shakedown off Bermuda, Melvin sailed for the Pacific 1 February 1944. Arriving Pearl Harbor 4 March, she got underway for Majuro 5 days later and for the next month conducted antisubmarine patrols and participated in the blockade of enemy‑held atolls in the Marshalls, returning to Pearl Harbor 2 May. There she underwent intensive fire support training and 31 May departed with TG 52.17 for Saipan. Approaching that island on the night of 13 and 14 June, she sank an enemy submarine, RO‑36. A few hours later, while steaming off northern Saipan, she again engaged an enemy vessel, this time a merchantman, which burned brightly for a few hours before sinking. For the next 23 days she provided counter battery fire; conducted antisubmarine patrols, damaging an enemy submarine on the 17th; served as call fire ship for marines on the beach; escorted ships from Eniwetok; and participated in the bombardment of Tinian.
On 8 July Melvin sailed for Eniwetok, whence on the 18th she sailed in the screen of the transports carrying troops to Guam, off which she screened transports and oilers from 22 July to 7 August. After preparations at Guadalcanal, from 8 to 21 September she took part in the capture and occupation of the southern Palaus, then joined TG 33.19 for the unopposed occupation of Ulithi. After escorting LSTs to Hollandia, she arrived Manus to stage for the invasion of Leyte.
Now with TG 79.11, Melvin sailed 11 October toward the Philippines in the screen of the landing craft to be used in the assault on Dulag. Soon after midnight 20 December she entered Leyte Gulf and took up her assigned screening station between Dinagat and Hibuson Islands, carrying out similar screening patrols for the next 4 days. In the early hours of the 25th, she joined in DesRon 54’s torpedo attack which opened the Battle of Surigao Strait. Assigned with Remey (DD‑688) and McGowan (DD‑678) to the Eastern Attack Group, Melvin began launching torpedoes soon after 0300, scoring on Fuso, which exploded and sank at about 0338. Following their attack, the destroyers retired up the Dinagat coast to Hibuson from where they witnessed the deadly barrage from Admiral Oldendorf’s battleline.
Within 48 hours, Melvin was en route to Hollandia, and duty escorting resupply convoys to the Philippines into December, when she returned to the Solomons to rehearse for the assault on Luzon. She stood out of Purvis Bay, Florida Island, 25 December, escorting transports to Manus and then on to Lingayen Gulf. She arrived with her charges 11 January 1945, and provided illumination and fire support as well as screening services. Continuing to cover the landings until the 15th, she met Japanese suicide attackers, as swimmers, in boats, and in planes, with equal determination.
From Luzon, Melvin sailed south to Leyte, then to the Carolines and a new assignment, screening the fast carriers of TF 38/58. Steaming north with that force 10 February, Melvin guarded the flattops as their planes raided Honshu and then provided direct air cover for the Iwo Jima campaign. On the 21st, she aided damaged Saratoga (CV‑3) in her fight against fires and enemy planes, splashing three, and then escorted her to Eniwetok for repairs.
By mid‑March she had rejoined the fast carriers at Ulithi, sailing northwest with them on the 14th to prepare the way for the Okinawa campaign. For the next 61 days Melvin remained at sea, guarding the carriers, providing fire support for the troops embattled after 1 April, and patrolling on picket station. After a brief respite at Ulithi in mid‑May, she returned to the Ryukyus on the 24th for raids on enemy installations in those islands and on Kyushu. Mid‑June brought another brief respite from the war while the destroyer was docked in San Pedro Bay. She was underway again 1 July as the carriers steamed north for their last deployment against Japan. In the next month and a half, the force operated off the enemy’s homeland, shelling and bombing industrial and military centers on Honshu and Hokkaido.
Melvin remained with the carriers until 10 August when she sailed north to join TF 92 in an antishipping sweep and bombardment of Paramushiro. That mission completed on the 12th, she sailed east to Ada where she received word of the Japanese surrender, an, new orders to return to Japan for occupation duty with minesweepers off northern Honshu. On 12 October she departed for the United States, arriving at San Francisco 4 November. At San Diego, 31 May 1946, she decommissioned and joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
Melvin recommissioned 26 February 1951 and sailed 1 June for Newport to join the Atlantic Fleet’s DesRon 24 and bolster the 2d and 6th Fleets so that they could spare destroyers for the U.N. effort in Korea. For 21⁄2 years she cruised off the east coast and in the Caribbean, deploying to the Mediterranean from 22 April to 8 October 1952 and 22 April to 6 June 1953.
On 13 January 1954 she again decommissioned and joined the Reserve Fleet at Charleston, S.C. She remained berthed there until 1960, when she was reassigned to the Philadelphia Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, where she has remained into 1969.
Melvin received 10 battle stars for World War II service.