John M. Steele, born at Bruno, Minn., on 24 August 1920 enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on 29 December 1941. Private Steele was a member of the Marine Detachment on board Lexington (CV-2) and was killed during the Battle of the Coral Sea on 8 May 1942.
Private Steele was commended by the Commanding Officer of Lexington for remaining at his antiaircraft battery during strafing and the explosion of four torpedoes near the battery, and after a bomb had burst and set fire to a locker of heavy ammunition at the battery. He and other members of the gun crew extinguished the fire and readied the only remaining serviceable gun for further defense of the ship.
(DE-8: dp. 1,140; l. 289'5"; b. 35'2"; dr. 11'; cpl. 198; a. 3 3", 4 40mm., 9 20mm., 2 dct., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.) ; cl. Evarts)
Steele (DE-8), ex-BDE-8, was laid down on 27 January 1942 by the Navy Yard, Boston, Mass.; launched on 9 January 1943; sponsored by Mrs. John Steele; and commissioned on 4 May 1943, Lt. Cmdr. Mark E. Dennett in command.
Steele sailed from Boston for Bermuda to begin her shakedown cruise on 25 May and returned on 27 June for post-shakedown availability. She stood out of port on 6 July en route to the Pacific war zone. After making port calls at the Society and Tonga islands, Steele arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia, on 10 August. She escorted merchant ships and transports among the New Hebrides, Fiji, and Solomon Islands until 13 December 1943 when she got underway for the west coast of the United States to be repaired.
Steele arrived at Mare Island, Calif., on 3 January 1944 and headed for Hawaii exactly one month later. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 9 February and sailed with a convoy to the Marshall Islands on the 14th. They reached Majuro on the 22d. The DE performed escort and patrol duty in the Marshalls until 7 May when she sailed for the Gilbert Islands to serve in the destroyer screen at Tarawa. These orders were countermanded the day after her arrival, and she returned to Majuro on the 12th. Two days later, the escort put to sea with two tankers for a fueling rendezvous with carriers of Task Force (TF) 58, which was conducting air strikes against Marcus and Wake Islands.
Upon completion of this assignment, the ship was routed to Kwajalein for tender availability. Steele sailed on 5 June for Kusaie Island in the eastern Caroline Islands to observe enemy activity and possibly to intercept a Japanese submarine believed to be due there on the 6th. The submarine did not arrive, so the destroyer bombarded Lele Harbor on the east coast of the island and ascertained that the island was lightly fortified. She returned to the Marshalls and operated there until 23 June.
Steele escorted Chandeleur (AV-10) to the Marianas and arrived off Saipan the morning of 26 June. She was assigned to the antisubmarine screen and then joined a convoy for the return trip to the Marshall Islands. She made another escort voyage to the Mariana Islands in early August. After a short upkeep period, Steele was assigned to a hunter-killer group centered around Hoggatt Bay (CVE-75). The group sortied on 21 August and was designated as one of the eight groups of Admiral Halsey's Western Carolines Forces which supported the fast carriers of TF 38.
Steele, with her group, supported the amphibious assault on Peleliu, Palau Islands, by patrolling between there and Mindanao, Philippine Islands. After refueling on 23 September, the group shifted their patrol area to the northeast of the Palaus. On 3 October, Samuel S. Miles (DE-183) made a surface contact which was identified as a Japanese submarine. Steele was detached from the screen to assist the escort. The submarine had submerged, but Samuel S. Miles made sonar contact and fired two hedgehog patterns. The second pattern produced two underwater explosions which Steele's sonar equipment picked up and a third explosion so violent that it damaged some of Miles' sonar and radar. Steele made more runs over the area but could not make contact. Miles had sunk the Japanese submarine 1-364.
Steele made a logistics stop at Manus from 9 to 13 October and sallied with the group for the Philippine Islands. As the fast carriers launched strikes against Leyte, Luzon, and Formosa, the aircraft from Hoggatt Bay protected the refueling operations. On the 20th, Steele and her group rendezvoused with the damaged Houston (CL-81) and Canberra (CA-70) which had been hit off Formosa while serving with the 3d Fleet. After furnishing protection for the cruisers for two days, the group was detached to rejoin the 3d Fleet fueling group which was then supporting the liberation of Leyte. The group arrived at Ulithi on 27 October and was dissolved the following day. On 1 November, Steele returned to the Palaus and operated from there until 8 January 1945 when she arrived at Ulithi for upkeep. After escorting a convoy to Saipan, the escort headed for Pearl Harbor.
Steele was there for a month and then escorted ships to Eniwetok, Saipan, Ulithi, and Guam. She arrived at Apra Harbor on 5 May and operated from there until 18 September when she sailed for the west coast. The destroyer escort arrived at San Pedro, Calif., on 5 October. An inspection team checked the ship on the 23d and recommended that she be scrapped.
Steele decommissioned on 21 November and was struck from the Navy list on 5 December 1945.
Steele received two battle stars for World War II service.