Donald B. Steinaker was born at Syracuse, N.Y., on 15 September 1922 and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on 20 March 1941. He served at Parris Island, S.C., and Quantico, Va., before he was sent to the South Pacific.
During the Solomons campaign, Private First Class Steinaker was killed in action at the Matanikau River, Guadalcanal, on 9 October 1942, when his unit was attacked during a heavy Japanese offensive. The small group of marines fought furiously against the overwhelming enemy forces and exacted a tremendous toll. Steinaker refused to be dislodged from his position and died at his post.
Steinaker was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for gallantry in action.
(DE-452: dp. 1,350; l. 306'; b. 36'7"; dr. 13'4"; cpl. 222; a. 2 5", 10 40mm.; cl. John C. Butler)
Steinaker (DE-452) was laid down by the Federal Shipbuilding- and Drydock Co., Newark, N.J.; but the contract was cancelled on 6 June 1944; and the ship was not completed.
(DD-863: dp. 2,425; l. 390'6"; b. 4010"; dr. 14'4"; s. 34.6 k.; cpl. 345; a. 6 5", 12 40mm., 10 21" tt.; cl. Gearing)
Steinaker (DD-863) was laid down on 1 September 1944 by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Staten Island, N.Y.; launched on 13 February 1945; sponsored by Miss Carol Steinaker; and commissioned on 26 May 1945, Comdr. S. A. McCornock in command.
Steinaker held her shakedown cruise off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and returned to Norfolk, her home port, where she acted as a training ship for the remainder of the year. Until 1952, the destroyer alternated her operations between the east coast with the Atlantic Fleet and deployment with the 6th Fleet. She was deployed to the Mediterranean in 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, and the first five months of 1952.
Steinaker entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 1 July 1952 for conversion to a radar picket destroyer and was classified as DDR-863. The work was completed on 28 February 1953 and shakedown at Guantanamo Bay followed. She made her first deployment to the 6th Fleet as a picket destroyer from 16 September to 3 February 1954. She also served with the 6th Fleet for portions of 1955, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, and 1965. In 1964, the destroyer was converted under the FRAM program and given modern antisubmarine weapons and detection equipment. On 1 July of that year, she resumed the designation, DD-863.
Steinaker was in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean for two months in 1967 as a unit of the Middle East Force. On 26 March 1968, she stood out of Norfolk headed for her first tour in the western Pacific. She transited the Panama Canal on 31 March and—after calling briefly at San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Midway, Guam, and the Philippine Islands—arrived off Vietnam.
Steinaker was assigned to the 7th Fleet from 20 May trough 1 October and participated in naval gunfire support operations off Binh Thuan and Phu Yen Provinces; “Sea Dragon” operations off the coast of North Vietnam to interdict seaborne infiltration of Communist forces into South Vietnam; and antiaircraft picket duty off the demilitarized zone. She also operated with aircraft carriers conducting strikes against North Vietnam.
Steinaker returned to the east coast of the United States, via Subic Bay, Singapore, Yokosuka, and Okinawa. She arrived at Norfolk on 5 November 1968 and resumed Atlantic Fleet operations until 9 January 1970. At that time, she was assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Standing Naval Force, Atlantic. This tour lasted until 23 July 1970. She made another voyage to the Mediterranean from 23 February to 23 July 1971 and returned to the North Atlantic from 10 July to 18 November 1972.
Steinaker was transferred to Destroyer Squadron 10, Naval Reserve Force, on 1 July 1973 and changed her home port to Baltimore. Into December 1974, she serves as a training ship for reserves.
Steinaker received two battle stars for service in Vietnam.