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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Neunzer

 

Weimar Edmund Neunzer, born in Lynn, Mass., 31 July 1912, enlisted in the U.S.Navy 24 February 1934. In the ensuing years he rose in rank while in Portland (CA–33), Chaumont (AP–5), Shaw (DD–373), and Reina Mercedes (IX–25) as well as several shore stations. Appointed Machinist 22 April 1942, Neunzer served in Patrol Squadron 43 during action against the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands Campaign 10 to 20 June 1942. Killed in action 2 July 1942, Machinist Neunzer was awarded the Air Medal posthumously for his skill and courage.

 

(DE–150: dp. 1,200; l. 306’; b. 36’7”; dr. 8’7”; s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3”, 2 40mm., 8 20mm., 2 dct., I dcp. (h.h.); cl. Edsall)

 

Neunzer (DE–150) was laid down by the Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex., 29 January 1943; launched 1 June 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Weimar E. Neunzer, widow of Machinist Neunzer; and commissioned 27 September 1943, Lt. John E. Greenbacker in command.

 

Designed to take the place of fleet destroyers on convoy duty, the destroyer escorts proved their worth in long miles of steaming on escort and antisubmarine duties. Their efforts played a major role in defeating German submarine depredations at a time when the U-boats were threatening to cut Allied supply lines.

 

Neunzer steamed to Galveston, Tex., and then to New Orleans, La., for fitting out. During October and November 1943 she went through shakedown off Bermuda. The new destroyer escort next visited Charleston, S.C., enroute Quonset Point, R.I. For 4 weeks she operated with an Atlantic Fleet research group, developing new equipment for antisubmarine warfare.

 

After escorting a group of troop transports from Boston to join a large convoy bound for England from New York Neunzer proceeded to Norfolk, joining TF 62 on 1 January 1944. With this group she escorted a large convoy to the Mediterranean, spending 8 days at Gibraltar before sailing for home.

 

On her homeward voyage, she shepherded five Italian submarines to Bermuda for training purposes. During this trip, Neunzer carried out an operation which is believed to be unique for a destroyer escort. She refueled two Italian subs at sea, pumping 12,000 gallons of fuel through a fire plug and 200 feet of fire hose to the submarine.

 

After two more voyages escorting convoys to the Mediterranean, Neunzer was detached from TF 62 to join escort aircraft carrier Guadalcanal (CVE–60) in a hunter-killer group. Following training at Casco Bay, Maine, and Bermuda, the task group made two search patrols for submarines in the Middle Atlantic, refueling in Bermuda. Neither of these patrols uncovered any submarines, and Neunzer returned to New York in late August.

 

During October the group put to sea again, this time searching for submarines in the North Atlantic. Although no submarines were discovered, the force ran through a very severe storm which damaged some of the ships. The patrol was finally broken off; the task group refueled at Ponta Delgada, Azores, before returning home early in November.

 

The antisubmarine group sailed from Norfolk 1 December for brief training in Bermuda en route Jacksonville, Fla., where for 5 weeks the carrier trained student pilots. The group proceeded to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, late in January 1945 for 2 weeks of exercises; then Neunzer returned to New York for a brief overhaul.

 

After returning to Cuba for exercises in early March, the destroyer escort went to Miami for 3 weeks as training ship for student officers of the Naval Training Center there.

 

But now the Germans were ready for their final push, sending their new snorkel-equipped subs across the Atlantic to attack the east coast. Neunzer suddenly received a message at midnight 8 April to get underway 6 hours later for Newfoundland. After refueling and provisioning in Argentia, she left on the 19th and rendezvoused in mid-ocean with one of several carrier task groups strung out across the Atlantic between St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Fayal in the Azores as a net to trap the snorkels.

 

Frederick C. Davis (DE–136) made contact with U–546 on 24 April and was proceeding to attack when the submarine fired a stern shot which tore the DE apart and sent her down with heavy loss of life.

 

Eight destroyer escorts immediately joined the action. Neunzer and Hayter (DE–212) conducted a search while Pillsbury (DE–133) circled the area and Flaherty (DE–135) picked tip survivors. Flaherty made contact in less than an hour and with Pillsbury proceeded to attack. The U-boat went to 600 feet. Contact was lost from 1045 until 1201 when Varian (DE–798), Janssen (DE–396), and Jos. C. Hubbard (DE–211) began another attack.

 

Neunzer got into the fight after several attacks by the other DE’s, delivering a creeping attack with Varian and Hubbard while Chatelain (DE–149) directed. Contact was lost once more at about 1600, and Chatelain and Neunzer were ordered to return to the scouting line.

 

The line was expanded, and the ships began a sweep through the area, determined to prevent the submarine’s escape. Varian made contact once more at 1731 and Flaherty was ordered to attack. She fired at 1810. Four minutes later a small oil slick began coming to the surface. Flaherty made another hedge-hog attack at 1828, and at 1838 the U-boat broke surface.

 

Every ship in the line within range began firing. At 1844, after more than ten and a half hours of attacks, U–546 rolled under for her last dive. Thirty-three of her crew, including the captain, were taken prisoner.

 

After V–E Day, Neunzer returned to New York for 2 weeks and left on 25 May to escort the last Atlantic convoy of World War II from New York to Southampton, England. She returned without a convoy, and remained in New York harbor from 15 June until 6 July.

 

In July the ship trained at Casco Bay, Maine, and served as target for the Motor Torpedo Boat Training Center, Melville, R.I. On 1 August she sailed to New London, Conn., to escort German submarine U–505, captured by Guadalcanal’s task group in June of 1944. The sub was exhibited along the east coast and the Gulf throughout the end of 1945 in a drive to sell War Bonds.

 

After operations along the Atlantic coast, Neunzer decommissioned in January 1947 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Into 1970 she remains berthed at Philadelphia.

 

Neunzer received one battle star for World War II service.