Joseph William Ozbourn, born in Herrin, Illinois, 24 October 1919, enlisted in the Marine Corps 30 October 1943. After boot training, he became a Browning Automatic Rifleman with the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division. Pvt. Ozbourn was killed during the battle for Japaneseheld Tinian Island, Marianas, 30 July 1944. As a member of a platoon assigned to clear the remaining Japanese troops from dugouts and pillboxes along a tree line, he was moving forward to throw an armed hand grenade into a dugout when a blast from the entrance severely wounded him and four other men flanking him. Unable to throw the grenade into the enemy position and with no place to hurl it without endangering the other men, Pvt. Ozbourn fell on it and sacrificed his own life to save his comrades by absorbing the full impact of the explosion with his own body. For “his great personal valor and unwavering loyalty” Pvt. Ozbourn was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
(DD–846; dp. 2,390; l. 391’; b. 41’; dr. 19’; s. 35 k.; cpl. 363; a. 6 5”, 16 40mm., 17 20mm., 5 21” t.t., 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Gearing)
Ozbourn (DD–846) was laid down by Bath Iron Works 16 June 1945; launched 22 December 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Joseph W. Ozbourn; commissioned 5 March 1946, Comdr. Bernard A. Smith in command.
Following shakedown, Ozbourn reported for duty with the U.S. Pacific Fleet at San Diego in August 1946. She departed San Diego 6 January 1947 with DesDiv 171 for the Far East; returned to San Diego in October; began her next deployment 1 October 1948, shortened by a collision with Theodore E. Chandler (DD–717). Although two crew members were killed, damage control parties saved the ship and she returned to Long Beach Naval Shipyard for repairs. During 1949 and early 1950, Ozbourn trained midshipmen, underwent overhaul and participated in various exercises, one of which was the first guided missile test at sea conducted with Norton Sound (AVM–1).
When hostilities began in Korea, Ozbourn joined TF 77. She participated in the Inchon landing and assisted with air operations off the Korean coast, twice receiving the Korean Presidential Citation for her efforts. In February 1951, despite having received two direct hits and several near misses from enemy shore batteries the same day, Ozbourn sent her motor whale boat to rescue a downed pilot floating in an enemy mine field. After returning to San Diego for repairs and overhaul and a brief assignment with TF 95 in the Wonsan area, Ozbourn returned to TF 77 in July 1952. In short order she rescued 18 men who had jumped from Boxer (CVA–21) to avoid a menacing fire and picked up 3 downed airmen from Essex (CVA–9). During the next two years Ozbourn made regular tours with the 7th Fleet followed by training operations in the San Diego area.
From 1956 to 1964 Ozbourn underwent major overhaul, engaged in intensive training exercises, participated in festivals and celebrations in several west-coast cities and in Australia, and operated periodically with the 7th Fleet. Having undergone FRAM Mark I conversion earlier, she joined TG 10 for a major Presidential Demonstration to display the power and versatility of AAW and ASW forces. From the flight deck of Kitty Hawk (CVA–63), President Kennedy watched Ozbourn’s ASROC launching 6 June 1963.
Ozbourn sailed independently for Pearl Harbor 8 July 1964 to join DesDiv 233 and ASW Group 1 for a six-month Western Pacific deployment. From Yokosuka, Japan, ASW Group I sailed for the South China Sea after North Vietnamese PT boats had attacked American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. After providing ASW protection for TF 77 and after participating in a naval weapons demonstration held by CinCPac, Ozbourn returned to Long Beach. Several months of maintenance, repairs and intermittent local training operations followed; then came another deployment to the Western Pacific 20 August 1965. Attached to TG 77.6, Ozbourn provided gunfire support in the III and IV Corps areas of South Vietnam delivering tons of high explosives in covering fire. Eight crewmen were recommended for decorations during these actions.
In July 1966 Ozbourn began a two-year tour of duty with the 7th Fleet as a member of DesRon 9. A great part of that time was spent on gunfire assignments supporting troops in South Vietnam and interdicting enemy supply and communications routes in North Vietnam. She received direct hits from the enemy on 25 March and 4 December 1967 but continued her mission each time. For outstanding actions against the enemy and for excellent combat readiness, she received both the Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Battle Efficiency “E.”
Ozbourn returned to Long Beach 6 September 1968 and remained there, with intermittent movements to Portland and San Diego, for the next year. In September 1969 she deployed again to WestPac where she operated with the 7th Fleet into 1970.