Frederick Warren Purdy, born 4 December 1911 in Chicago, Ill., graduated from the Naval Academy and was commissioned Ensign 1 June 1933. Prior to World War II he served at sea in Mississippi, Bagley, and California and ashore at Newport, Washington, D.C., and Annapolis. On 10 June 1942 he reported to Strong as prospective executive officer and after commissioning sailed in her to the Solomons. On the night of 4–5 July Strong, a unit of a task force which bombarded Vila and Bairokc, to initiate the naval part of the campaign for Munda, was sunk. Lt. Comdr. Purdy assisted forecastle personnel to a rescue vessel, then returned to search for an injured man reported to be on the deck behind the gun mount. Not seen again, Lt. Comdr. Purdy was posthumously awarded the Silver Star in recognition of his heroic spirit and inspiring conduct.
(DD734: displacement 3,315 tons; length 376 feet, 6 inches; beam 40 feet, 10 inches; draft 15 feet, 8 inches; speed 34 knots; complement 345; armament 6 5-inch guns, 12 40 mm., 11 20 mm., 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 2 depth charge ttacks, 6 depth charge projectors; class Allen M. Sumner)
Purdy (DD–734) was laid down by the Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine, 22 December 1943; launched 7 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. F. W. Purdy, widow of Lt. Comdr. Purdy; and commissioned 18 July 1944 Comdr. Frank L. Johnson in command.
Following shakedown off Bermuda and operations in the Caribbean, Purdy departed Trinidad, 7 February 1945 for San Diego, whence she steamed west arriving at Leyte 17 March to rehearse the invasion of Okinawa. Ten days later she sailed with TU 51.13.2 for Okinawa. Screening the transports of the Southern Attack Force enroute, she arrived 1 April and assumed radar picket station duty off that last Japanese bastion. Continuing that kamikaze imperiled duty after the initial landings, she fought fires on, and then returned injured survivors from, heavily damaged Mullany (DD–528) to Kerama Retto on the 6th. Six days later, with Cassin Young (DD–793) some 60 miles off Okinawa, she suffered a similar fate.
Attacked by a formation of about 30 enemy planes, both ships opened fire and with the aid of carrier aircraft were able to turn away most of the attackers. Two, however, bent on suicide, broke through to score on Cassin Young. A third, closing Purdy, was splashed but momentum carried it to the destroyer where its bomb broke loose, pierced her plating and exploded to kill 15, seriously wound 25, and cause extensive damage.
Purdy made it back to Kerama Retto, underwent temporary repairs there and at Guam, and arrived at San Francisco 28 May. Repairs and training completed she sailed to Hawaii, thence 20 October to Japan. In Japanese waters for the next four months, she served as harbor control vessel at Point Bungo, transported passengers and mail, and performed medical and guard duties. On 21 February 1946, she sailed for San Diego, thence proceeded to Portland, Maine, arriving 16 April. In June, she entered the Boston Navy Yard for a six month overhaul; then, in December, shifted to her homeport, Newport, R.I. Spring maneuvers in the Caribbean preceded her first Mediterranean tour and in mid-August 1947 she returned to Newport. From September 1948 to January 1949 she again sailed in European waters and in June she reported to New Orleans, whence she conducted naval reserve training cruises until March 1951. Then deployed to the Mediterranean, she resumed operations out of Newport in June.
Four months later Purdy, with DesDiv 122, got underway for a return to a Pacific combat zone and on 31 October reported to TF 95 off the coast of Korea. Fire support for minesweeping operations at Hungnam preceded five weeks as flagship, Songjin-Chongjin unit of the Blockade and Escort Force. Christmas in Japan and antisubmarine training exercises off Okinawa interrupted combat operations, but in January 1952 she returned to Korean waters and for the next six weeks sailed with TF 77, the fast carrier force.
Relieved from Korean duty 27 February, Purdy sailed for home via the Suez Canal and on 21 March completed her round-the-world cruise. Western Atlantic and Caribbean exercises carried her into 1953 and on 27 April she departed Newport for a second circumnavigation of the earth. Steaming via Suez, she arrived at Yokosuka 9 June and after availability again took up duties with TF 77. Escort duty for Bremerton, bombardment and patrol operations from Chongjin to Wonsan, and duty with TF 96 preceded a reassignment to TF 77 and finally to TF 95 again for Pusan-Pohang patrol. Departing the Far East almost two months after the truce, she arrived at San Francisco 5 October and was back in the New England area by the end of the month. It should be noted that Purdy's unusual round-the-world cruises illustrate the wide ranging and diverse committments of the Navy during the early years of the Cold War.
After Korea, Purdy regularly rotated east coast and Caribbean training operations with NATO exercises and 6th Fleet duty. In June 1955 she received the first Atomic-Biological-Chemical washdown system to be introduced to the fleet and-during the summers of 1956, 1957, and 1958—she made midshipmen summer training cruises, to Chile in 1957 and to Europe in 1958. Two years later while calling at Gythion, Greece, three of her crew were injured ashore assisting the local inhabitants contain a raging fire until fire fighting equipment could be brought from 25 miles away. On its arrival Purdy’s “fire-fighters” continued to assist by manning hoses which replaced the bucket brigade.
Purdy was employed with the recovery forces for Project Mercury in the spring of 1961 and in the fall she cruised off the Dominican Republic supporting U.S. efforts to maintain stability in the Caribbean. A year later she returned to that sea for the same reason, but off a different island, and during November operated with other vessels implementing the Cuban Quarantine.
On 1 April 1965 Purdy left DesRon 12 to commence operations with ResDesRon 30. Homeported at Fall River, Mass., into 1970, she has trained naval reservists, served as a school ship for Naval Destroyer School officer students, and tested and evaluated new equipment.
Purdy earned I battle star during World War II and 3 during the Korean Conflict.
11 April 2005