Donald Steven Runels, born 8 July 1904 at Santa Maria, Calif., enlisted in the Navy 19 March 1926; was appointed machinist 14 September 1938; warranted machinist (to rank from 10 September 1938) on 25 November 1939; and commissioned ensign 23 June 1942. Ensign Runels was killed when his ship, Northampton (CA-26) was torpedoed and sunk during the Battle of Tassafaronga 30 November 1942.
(DE - 793: displacement 1,400; length 306’; beam 36’10”; draft 13’6”; speed 24 knots; complement 213; armament 3 3”, 4 1.1”, 4 40mm., 10 20mm., 2 depth charge tracks, 8 depth charge projectors, 1 depth charge projector (hedgehog-type); class Buckley)
Runels (DE-793) was laid down 7 June 1943 by the Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; launched 4 September 1943; sponsored by Mrs. D. S. Runels, widow of Ensign Runels; and commissioned 3 January 1944, Lt. Comdr. H. G. Claudius in command.
Runels, assigned to Escort Division (CortDiv) 47, completed shakedown off Bermuda in April. In March [sic] she joined TF 67, at Brooklyn, for transoceanic convoy duty. Between 25 March and 11 May, she escorted a convoy to the United Kingdom and back; then, toward the end of May, shifted to a more southerly route and convoyed ships to Casablanca. Returning in mid-June, she operated with escort carriers off the coast of southern New England until the 30th when she headed for North Africa again. On 10 July she arrived at Mers-el-Kebir; reported to TG 80.6; and commenced escort and patrol duty along the western North African coast. Within the week, however, her escort runs were extended to Naples where Allied forces were preparing for the invasion of southern France.
On 13 August Runels cleared Naples with others assigned to convoy control of Operation "Dragoon" forces. On the 15th, she arrived in the assault area and took up station in the transport screen. For the next 2 months, however, she continued to escort troops and supplies, from Mers-el-Kebir and from Naples, into the offloading areas along the southern coast of France. Then, in November and December, she protected LSTs shuttling supplies between Bastia, Corsica, and Marseille [sic; Marseilles].
Ordered back to the United States for conversion to a destroyer transport, Runels departed the Mediterranean at the end of the year and arrived at New York on 18 January 1945. Redesignated APD-85 on 24 January, she completed conversion 8 April; conducted training in Chesapeake Bay; and departed for the Pacific on the 28th. In mid-May she arrived in Hawaii for further training and on 9 June cleared Pearl Harbor with an Eniwetok-bound convoy. From the Marshalls, Runels continued on to the Marianas, thence to Okinawa. Arriving 4 July, she patrolled off the Hagushi Anchorage until the 13th; escorted Leyte-Okinawa convoys between the 14th and 6 August; then served as radar picket ship until the cessation of hostilities.
Detached 16 August, Runels operated briefly with the fast carrier replenishment group, then joined TF 31, and on the 27th anchored in Sagami Wan to begin 7 months of occupation duty. During September she assisted in the evacuation of Allied POW's from Japanese camps and provided mail, passenger and freight service between Iwo Jima and Tokyo. In October and November, she participated in the demilitarization of islands in the Izu group; and, in December, she served as mobile headquarters for the Director of Port Activities, Empire Area; and conducted an inspection trip to the Ryukyus. With the new year, 1946, Runels continued her varied duties in support of the occupation of Japan. On 9 April she sailed east for the United States and inactivation, arriving at Philadelphia 31 May. In July she shifted to Charleston and in January 1947, to Mayport, Fla. There she decommissioned 10 February 1947 and was berthed as a unit of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She remained in the Reserve Fleet until struck from the Navy list 1 June 1960. Two years later she was sold for scrap to the Portsmouth Salvage Co., Portsmouth, Va.
Runels earned one battle star for World War II service.
21 October 2005