Robert Lee Pettit was born in Clare, Mich., 17 November 1906. He enlisted in the Navy 13 September 1927, and attained the rate of Radioman First Class on 16 February 1938. He died in his attacking PBY aircraft at Jolo Harbor, Philippines, 27 December 1941, as he remained bravely at his post in the burning, gasoline-flooded radio compartment. For his heroism he received the Navy Cross.
(DE253: dp. 1,590 (f.); l. 306; b. 37; dr. 14; s. 21 k.; cpl. 216; a. 3 3, 6 40mm., 10 20mm., 2 dct., 8 dcp., I dcp. (hh.); cl. Edsall)
Pettit (DE253) was laid down 6 February 1943 by the Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Tex.; launched 28 April 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Robert Lee Pettit; and commissioned 23 September 1943, Lt. Commander William B. Ellis, USCG, in command.
After Atlantic shakedown, Pettit reported for duty to Commander, Destroyers, Atlantic. Assigned to Destroyer Escort Division 20 in December 1943, she operated out of Norfolk, Va., that month to train destroyer escort nucleus crews. Later in December she escorted a convoy from Norfolk, Va., to Casablanca, Morocco, where she arrived 2 January 1944. She returned from this assignment to Brooklyn, N.Y., 24 January 1944. When stationed in home waters, Pettit trained periodically at Montauk Point, N.Y., and Casco Bay, Maine. From February 1944 to June 1945, she escorted trans-Atlantic convoys principally between Londonderry, North Ireland, and New York, N.Y. She also called at the ports of Cherbourg and Le Havre, France, and Plymouth, Liverpool, and Southampton, England.
After VE day, Pettit proceeded via Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Panama Canal, and San Diego, Cal., to Hawaii, arriving Pearl Harbor 25 July. She departed for Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, 27 August, and arrived there 3 September. From September into November 1945, she searched for possible Allied survivors on islands in the southwest Pacific. In December 1945 she operated from Pearl Harbor on a weather patrol.
Pettit decommissioned 6 May 1946 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Into 1970 she is berthed at Norfolk.