Robert Walter Rolf was born 26 August 1914 in Rock Island, III. He attended Augustana College in his hometown before enlisting in the U.S. Naval Reserve at Chicago 5 August 1941. Rolf began his training at the U.S. Naval Academy 9 January 1942, accepted appointment as midshipman, USNR, 9 February, and was promoted to ensign 5 May. After duty at San Diego, further training at Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind., and assignments at the Norfolk Naval Base and Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex., he was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade). Rolf was appointed commanding officer of an LCI(L) effective 12 June 1942. He was killed in a Japanese bombing raid 6 September and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his outstanding behavior as commanding officer of a disabled landing craft which he skillfully beached at enemy-occupied Lae on New Guinea. Lieutenant (junior grade) Rolf " ... personally led a party in extinguishing the numerous fires aboard, carrying on his dangerous task under repeated enemy bombing and strafing attacks until he was killed by Japanese fire. As a result ... his ship was saved for further active service."
(DE - 362): displacement 1,745 (full load); length 306’; beam 36’7”; draft 13’4”; speed 24 knots; complement 223; armament 2 5”, 10 40mm., 3 21” torpedo tubes, 2 depth charge tracks, 8 depth charge projectors (hedgehog-type) [sic; 8 depth charge projectors, 1 depth charge projector (hedgehog-type)]; class John C. Butler)
Rolf (DE-362) was laid down 20 March 1944 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; launched 23 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Martha M. Rolf, mother of Lieutenant (Junior grade) Rolf; and commissioned 7 September 1944, Lt. Comdr. Lester E. Hubbell, USNR, in command.
Following shakedown off Bermuda, she departed Norfolk, Va., 30 November and reached San Diego 5 December. Rolf then sailed for the southwest Pacific and escorted a convoy from Hollandia, New Guinea, to Leyte Gulf. The ship subsequently operated under the Philippine Sea Frontier, and from May to August was part of a hunter-killer group at Subic Bay, Philippine Islands. Just prior to the close of hostilities, Rolf participated in a search for enemy midget submarines believed to be operating northeast of Casiguran Bay, Luzon.
Following the Japanese surrender, the destroyer escort sailed with a task group via Okinawa to Jinsen, Korea, for operations in support of the Korean occupation. She later took part in the occupation of China.
Rolf decommissioned 3 June 1946 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet at San Diego, where she remained until stricken from the Navy list 1 December 1972.
20 October 2005