Joseph Orleck, born 22 January 1906 at Columbus, O., enlisted in the Navy 23 June 1924. Rising through the enlisted ranks, he was warranted Boatswain, 14 December 1938, and appointed Ensign, 15 June 1942. He assumed command of Nauset (AT–89), 28 May 1943 with the rank of Lieutenant. Lt. Orleck went down with his ship after a Luftwaffe bomber attack in the Gulf of Salerno, 9 September 1943. A recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for rescue work during the Casablanca invasion, he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his courageous firefighting and flood control efforts to prevent total loss of his ship during the Salerno assault.
(DD–886: dp. 2,425; l. 390’6”; b. 41’1”; dr. 18’6”; s. 34 k.; cpl. 367; 6 5”, 16 40mm., 5 21” tt., 6 dcp., 2 dct., 1 dcp (hh); cl. Gearing)
Orleck (DD–886) was laid down 28 November 1944 by Consolidated Steel Corporation of Texas, Orange, Tex.; named Orleck 11 January 1945; launched 12 May 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Joseph Orleck, widow of Lt. Orleck; and commissioned 15 September 1945; Comdr. J. D. Andrew in command.
Following a Caribbean shakedown, Orleck got underway, 20 January 1946, for San Diego whence she steamed west, in mid-March, to join the 7th Fleet. Between 20 April and 15 August she conducted mail runs from Hong Kong to Shanghai, Tsingtao, and Taku, China, and Jinsen, Korea and also assisted in minesweeping operations in Hainan Strait. A month of exercises off Guam preceded her joining TF 77 for new operations off China and Japan.
Sailing home in January 1947, she remained on the West Coast until departing for the western Pacific in February 1948. At Eniwetok during March, she participated in Atomic Energy Commission experiments. From Eniwetok, she continued west, reporting to COMNAVFE 5 April. On completing her second WestPac tour she turned northeast for cold weather operations off Alaska from January to March 1949. Operations off the west coast and Hawaii ended in October as the destroyer again sailed west for her annual overseas deployment. By returning to San Diego in July 1950, she just missed the outbreak of hostilities in Korea.
On 18 February 1951, Orleck sailed for her first combat operations. Joining United Nations forces off the east coast of Korea, she remained off that peninsula until June, alternating carrier escort duties (TF 77) with shore bombardment missions (TF 95). Retiring to Okinawa during June, she returned to the combat zone in July and again operated with both TF 77 and TF 95.
Arriving back at San Diego 15 October, she trained destroyer crews and conducted individual and squadron exercises until her next return to the Far East in late June 1952. Arriving at Sasebo on the 26th, she soon joined TF 95 for blockade and logistics interdiction missions. On 15 July, while patrolling to the south of Yang-do Island, she became a charter member of the force’s Train Busters Club. Planning and patience had put her in the right position to smash a North Korean supply train as it passed between two tunnels. Duplicating the feat on the 27th, she kept up her offensive tactics until reassigned, first to carrier duties with TF 77 and then to TF 72 for Taiwan Strait patrol. She returned to Korea 8 October and during the remaining two months of her tour again alternated between TFs 77 and 95.
After Korea Orleck rotated regularly between duty in WestPac and training exercises off the west coast. In the Far East when the Tachen Islands crisis arose, she patrolled off those islands until relieved just prior to their evacuation in February 1955.
In May 1960, Orleck’s rotation schedule changed and she joined DesRon 3, the first squadron to be homeported in the Western Pacific since before World War II. Based at Yokosuka for 27 months she operated primarily with fast carrier forces and served three tours with TF 72. In August 1962 she returned to the west coast for Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization. The Mark I overhaul and conversion brought on board the newest in technical equipment and weaponry, including ASROC and DASH.
From November 1963 to June 1964, the “new” destroyer, homeported at Long Beach, conducted training exercises with the 1st Fleet off the west coast. Then rotated back to Yokosuka, she joined TF 77 in the South China Sea as American commitments to the Republic of South Viet Nam escalated. Into October she escorted carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin, then returned briefly to Japan before taking up patrol of Taiwan Strait. From Taiwan she sailed to the Philippines, thence to the Viet Namese coast for TF 77 operations until June. Detached for a month, she joined TF 130 to assist in the recovery of the Gemini IV space capsule. In July she returned to Viet Nam to provide escort and plane guard services to Oriskany. Shore bombardment and gunfire support activities followed as the destroyer participated in operations “Starlight”, a regimental attack involving amphibious, helo-borne, and ground operations in the Chu Lai area, and “Piranha”, a similar assault at Van Tuong. In late September she departed the gun line only to return the next month to support the last “Dagger Thrust” operations at Lang Ke Ga and Phu Thu.
Spending Christmas in Japan, Orleck was back off Viet Nam in January 1966 for surveillance operations followed by 30 days bombardment duty in the Chu Lai-Tam Ky area during operation “Double Eagle”. In mid-March she returned to Japan, whence she headed for the west coast, again to be homeported at Long Beach. She remained on the west coast for overhaul and local operations until departing for Viet Nam 19 September 1967. Assigned first to Yankee Station in Tonkin Gulf, she alternated plane guard duties with surveillance of a Russian electronic intelligence “trawler”. At the end of January 1968, as the Tet offensive reached a climax, she shifted to gunfire support duty off Vung Tau. She remained in that area until setting a homeward course 17 February.
Arriving at Long Beach in March, she departed 31 July for her third tour as a non-rotated unit of the 7th Fleet. Again based at Yokosuka, she was off Viet Nam by 13 September to support the 9th R.O.K. Infantry in the Cam Ranh Bay-Nha Trang area. She spent much of the remainder of the year off that embattled coast in roles which ranged from blockade and interdiction of Viet Cong logistic vessels in the I Corps area to gunfire support south of Saigon. Into 1970 she has continued to conduct similar missions in support of Allied operations in Viet Nam.
Orleck received 4 battle stars for service during the Korean Conflict.