Joel Roberts Poinsett Pringle, born in Georgetown, S.C., 4 February 1873, was appointed to the Naval Academy in 1888, and commissioned Ensign in 1894. Attaining the rank of Vice Admiral in 1932, his commands included Perkins; Dixie; Flotilla 2, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet; Melville; Idaho; Naval War College; Battleship Division 3, Battle Force; and Battleships, Battle Force. For his service during World War I he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility as commanding officer, Melville and Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas, European Waters. He died at San Diego, Calif., 25 September 1932.
(DD–477: dp. 2,940 (f.); l. 376’5”; b. 39’7”; dr. 13’9”; s. 35 k.; cpl. 329; a. 5 5”, 10 40mm, 7 20mm, 10 21” tt., 2 dct., 6 dcp.; cl. Fletcher)
Pringle (DD–477) was laid down by the Navy Yard, Charleston, S.C., 31 July 1941; launched 2 May 1942; sponsored by Mrs. John D. H. Kane; and commissioned 15 September 1942, Lt. Comdr. Harold O. Larson in command.
Following shakedown, Pringle joined Convoy ON–154 in mid-Atlantic 1 January 1943 to escort the Halifax-bound contingent. While on this duty she was the first U.S. destroyer to use an aircraft with catapult. On 6 February, she got underway for the Pacific Theater. Arriving off Guadalcanal 30 May, she took up patrol duties off the Solomons, and, on the night of 17–18 July, joined Waller (DD–466) and Saufley (DD–465) in attacking three Japanese destroyers off Vanga Point, Kolombangara. Scoring several torpedo hits, she also splashed a Japanese plane.
As the Solomons’ Campaign continued into August, Pringle screened advance units of the Vella Lavella assault force, escorted LST’s through Gizo strait and on the 24th covered minelaying operations off Kolombangara under Japanese guns. On the night of 3–4 September Pringle with Dyson (DD–572) made a sweep of Japanese barges between Gambi Head, Choiseul, and Kolombangara, sinking three.
While escorting TG 31.7 into Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, 11 November, 10 days after the initial landing there, Pringle shot down one Japanese plane and damaged another. With the exception of a run to Sydney in late January 1944, she continued to operate in the Solomons for the next few months. She swept the southwest coast of Bougainville during daylight in early March, bombarding enemy installations and beached barges.
The Marianas operation produced another long period of bombardment, screening and anti-submarine missions for Pringle. During the assaults on Saipan and Tinian, she conducted fire support operations.
After overhaul at Mare Island, Pringle sailed for Pearl Harbor 19 October. She departed Pearl Harbor 10 November and bombarded near Ormoc Bay, Leyte, 27–28 November, splashing a Japanese plane on the same day.
Pringle came under her most intense air attack while escorting a resupply echelonto Mindoro from 27 to 30 December. Several ships in the convoy were sunk, while Pringle shot down two planes. On the 30th a Kamikaze crashed into her after deckhouse, killing 11 men and injuring 20, totally destroying one 40mm mount and damaging two 5-inch mounts.
Back in service in February, Pringle screened transports to Iwo Jima for the assault there on the 17th, then provided fire support for the Marines ashore. Returning to Ulithi 4 March, she prepared for the assault on Okinawa.
Operating with DesDiv 90, she screened transport areas, covered minesweepers, and provided support fire. Assigned to radar picket duty, 15 April, she splashed two Kamikazes on the 16th before a third crashed into her bridge, and plowed through the superstructure deck, abaft the base of number one stack. A single 1000 pound bomb, or two 500-pounders, penetrated the main and superstructure decks and exploded with a violent eruption, buckling the keel and splitting the vessel in two at the forward fire room. Six minutes later 258 survivors watched Pringle slide beneath the surface.
Pringle earned 10 battle stars for World War II service.