David John Roche, born in Hibbing, Minn., 2 December 1918, enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve as seaman second class, 13 November 1939. He was appointed aviation cadet effective 15 February 1940, designated naval aviator (heavier-than-air), 14 October, and became an ensign, USNR, effective 21 October 1940. Following training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla., he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron 3 and reported for duty on 1 December. He was officially reported missing in action as of 4 June 1942, when the plane he was piloting was shot down in the Battle of Midway. For pressing home his torpedo attack on Japanese naval units in the face of tremendous antiaircraft fire and overwhelming fighter opposition, he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
(DE - 197: displacement 1,240; length 306’0”; beam 36’7”; draft 11’8”; speed 20 knots; complement 216; armament 3 3”, 6 40mm., 10 20mm., 2 depth charge tracks, 8 depth charge projectors, 1 depth charge projector (hedgehog-type); class Cannon)
Roche (DE-197) was laid down 21 October 1943 by the Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Port Newark, N.J.; launched 9 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Carrie M. Roche; and commissioned at the Brooklyn Navy Yard 21 February 1944, Lt. Robert E. Parker in command.
Following shakedown off Bermuda, Roche returned to New York 12 April 1944. On 21 April she proceeded to Norfolk where she served as schoolship until assigned 12 May to TF 63 as escort for convoy UGS-42, en route to Mediterranean ports. The large convoy of 108 ships plus 17 escorts proceeded across the South Atlantic and into the Mediterranean without incident. Then it was one alert after another. German airpower was active in the area. But the convoy reached Bizerte 2 June without having been attacked. Roche returned to New York 29 June.
Following refresher training at Casco Bay, Maine, Roche departed Norfolk 22 July with a convoy bound for Bizerte. Returning from Gibraltar as escort to a Liberty ship under tow, she evaded a German U-boat and arrived at the Brooklyn Navy Yard 9 September for overhaul.
On 14 October she departed New York escorting a convoy which reached Plymouth, England, 25 October. Throughout the winter and spring of 1945, she made five more of these trips. In mid-Atlantic on 13 March 1945, while en route to Southampton, England, Roche rescued 11 men from the water after the collision of USAT McAndrew and the French carrier Bearn.
In May of 1945, DE-197 was ordered to the Pacific Fleet and on 9 June she was underway for Guantanamo Bay for refresher training. She transited the Panama Canal 1 July; and, after taking on supplies and passengers at San Diego, proceeded to Pearl Harbor where she conducted further training exercises. On 8 August she steamed for Eniwetok, receiving en route, word of the Japanese surrender. Arriving Eniwetok 16 August, she departed 18 August for Ulithi. She then steamed back to Eniwetok and escorted LCI-520 and LCI-761, carrying occupation troops, to Wake Island. Returning to Eniwetok, she operated on antisubmarine patrol as a precaution against any Japanese submarines which had not heard of the surrender.
On 22 September Roche got underway for Tokyo Bay as escort for Florence Nightingale (AP-70). Just a few minutes after morning quarters on 29 September, a loud explosion shook the ship from stem to stern and was immediately followed by another. Battle stations were manned before it was learned that the ship had struck a floating mine. The fantail was a mass of twisted steel; but, due to the quick action of repair parties, all watertight hatches in the vicinity were dogged down to keep the ship afloat and a port list was created artificially to aid in maintaining watertight integrity. There were three deaths in the explosion and many injuries. Ten men were transferred to Florence Nightingale. Roche was taken in tow by ATR-35, and 15 days after the surrender papers had been signed on board Missouri (BB-63), Roche entered Tokyo Bay and moored to Telamon (ARB-8).
On 18 October a board of inspection and survey decided that Roche was beyond economical repair and recommended that she be cannibalized. Subsequently decommissioned, Roche's hulk was sunk off Yokosuka 11 March 1946. She was struck from the Navy list 5 June 1946.
19 October 2005