John Joliffe Yarnall - born in Wheeling, Va. (now W. Va.) in 1786 - was appointed midshipman in the Navy on 11 January 1809. Between 1809 and 1812, Yarnall cruised the coastal waters of the United States in Chesapeake and Revenge performing duty that was tantamount to blockading his own country to enforce President Madison's embargo on trade with the European adversaries during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1813, he was transferred to Oliver Hazard Perry's command on the Great Lakes and became the first lieutenant on board Perry's flagship, Lawrence. He participated in the decisive Battle of Lake Erie on 10 September 1813 and, though wounded, refused to leave his post during the engagement. When Perry shifted his flag to Niagara during the battle, Lt. Yarnall assumed command of Lawrence. After the battle, he took the squadron's wounded on board and carried them back to Erie for medical attention. For his gallantry in the battle, Yarnall earned Perry's commendation as well as a medal expressing the gratitude of Congress and the country.
In the spring of 1815, Yarnall sailed from New York with Stephen Decatur in the frigate Guerriere for the Mediterranean Sea. On 17 June, off the Algerian coast, his ship encountered and captured Meshuda, the flagship of the Algerine "Navy." While defending his country's honor and rights during that engagement the valiant Yarnall again suffered wounds. Probably because of his wounds, Lt. Yarnall was chosen as bearer of dispatches from Decatur's squadron to the government in Washington. In July 1815, he embarked in the sloop-of-war Epervier for the voyage home. The warship was last seen on 14 July 1815 as she passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic. Presumably, Yarnall and all others on board went down with her during the transatlantic voyage.
The first Yarnall (Destroyer No. 143) was laid down on 12 February 1918 at Philadelphia, Pa., by William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co.; launched on 19 June 1918; sponsored by Mrs. Marie H. Bagley; and commissioned on 29 November 1918, Comdr. William F. Halsey, Jr., in command.
Assigned to Division 15, Destroyer Force, Yarnall served briefly with the United Staates naval forces in France during 1919. By 1 January 1920, her division had been reassigned to Flotilla 5, Destroyer Squadron 4, Pacific Fleet, and operated out of the San Diego destroyer base. Her division - redesignated Division 13 in February - received orders in April to proceed to the Asiatic station; but she apparently did not begin that assignment until late the following fall. Yarnall returned from the Far East to the United States late in the summer of 1921 and began repairs at Puget Sound. In December, she was reassigned to Division 11 and again operated out of San Diego until 29 May 1922 when she was decommissioned there and placed in reserve.
After almost eight years of inactivity, the destroyer was recommissioned at San Diego on 19 April 1930, Comdr. John F. McClain in command. Assigned initially to Division 11, Squadron 10, Battle Fleet Destroyer Squadrons, Yarnall operated briefly on the west coast before being transferred to the east coast sometime late in 1930. By New Year's Day, 1931, her homeport had been changed to Charleston, S.C. In March, she joined the Scouting Force as a unit of Destroyer Division 3 but retained Charleston as her home port. The destroyer operated out of that base until late in the summer of 1934 when, though still a unit of Scouting Force Destroyers, she returned to the west coast. Based at San Diego, the warship remained active along the California coast until late in 1936. She then returned to the east coast and, on 30 December 1936, was placed out of commission at Philadelphia and berthed there with the reserve fleet.
As a part of President Roosevelt's program to bolster the minuscule Atlantic Squadron after war broke out in Europe in September 1939, Yarnall ended her 21-month, second retirement on 4 October 1939 when she was recommissioned at Philadelphia, Lt. Comdr. John G. Winn in command. She became a unit of Destroyer Squadron 11 of the Atlantic Squadron, the small fleet assigned the enormous task of keeping war out of the western hemisphere. She operated out of Norfolk in the Neutrality Patrol until the fall of 1940 when the United States concluded the destroyers-for-bases deal with the United Kingdom.
Yarnall was one of the 50 overage destroyers chosen to be turned over to the Royal Navy in return for the right to establish American bases on British territory in the western hemisphere. She proceeded to St. John's, Newfoundland, where she was decommissioned by the United States Navy on 23 October 1940; and, that same day, the Royal Navy commissioned her as HMS Lincoln (G.42), Comdr. G. B. Sayer, RN, in command.
The veteran destroyer departed St. John's on 3 November and arrived in Belfast, Northern Island, on the 9th. Lincoln moved from there to Londonderry where she was assigned to the First Escort Group, Western Approaches Command. For almost a year, she met troop transport and cargo convoys in mid-ocean and escorted them into ports in the British Isles. Between September 1941 and February 1942, the destroyer was refitted at Woolwich, England. At the conclusion of that overhaul, she was turned over to an expatriate Norwegian crew and was sent back across the ocean to serve with the Western Local Escort Force, operating along the Newfoundland coast between Halifax and St. John's. In July 1942, HMS Lincoln became HMCS Lincoln when she was transferred from the Royal Navy to the Royal Canadian Navy - though stilled manned by Norwegians. Her duty in Canadian waters continued until the end of 1943, at which time she recrossed the Atlantic. She departed Halifax on 19 December and arrived back in Londonderry on Christmas Day. Early in 1944, the venerable warship was placed in reserve in the Tyne River. Her service to the Allied cause, however, had not quite ended. On 26 August 1944, she was transferred to the Soviet Navy to be cannibalized to provide spare parts for eight of her sisters previously given to the Russians. Her name had already been struck from the United States Navy list on 8 January 1941 - soon after her transfer to the Royal Navy.
(Destroyer - 541: displacement 2,050; length 376' 5"; beam 39' 7"; draft 17' 9"; speed 35.2 knots (trial speed); complement 329; armament 5 5", 10 40millimeters., 7 20millimeters., 10 21" torpedo tubes, 6 depth charge projector, 2 depth charge track; class Fletcher)
The second Yarnall (Destroyer - 541) was laid down on 5 December 1942 at San Francisco, Calif., by the Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 25 July 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Earl Groves; and commissioned on 30 December 1943, Comdr. Benjamin F. Tompkins in command.
The destroyer spent the first two months of 1944 conducting her shakedown cruise and other training exercises in the San Diego operating area. She departed the west coast early in March and arrived at Oahu on the 19th. For the next 10 weeks, Yarnall carried out additional tactical exercises in the Hawaiian Islands.
On 31 May, the warship stood out of Pearl Harbor with Task Group (TG) 52.17 and set a course - via Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands - for the invasion of Saipan in the Marianas. For that operation, Yarnall was assigned to Fire Support Group 1 under Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf. When her task group began its prelanding bombardment of Saipan on 14 June, Yarnall screened Cleveland (light cruiser - 55) and Montpelier (light cruiser - 57) and managed to add 148 rounds of 5-inch shell of her own to the effort. On 15 June, the day of the assault, she continued to screen Cleveland and, on the following day, carried out her first call fire mission - a dual-purpose action to help repulse an enemy counterattack and to destroy a bothersome pillbox.
On the 17th, as a result of the submarine sightings of the Japanese fleet moving toward the Marianas, Yarnall and 20 other destroyers were detached from direct support for the invasion and ordered to screen the fast carriers. Yarnall joined Task Group 58.7, Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee's hastily composed battle line, in preparation for what would be the Battle of the Philippine Sea. She tasted her first antiaircraft combat at 0515 on 19 June when a "Zeke" tried to bomb Stockham (Destroyer - 683) and then began a strafing run on Yarnall. Three guns of her main battery quickly took the intruder under fire and began scoring hits on him. As the plane closed the destroyer's port quarter, it exploded and splashed into the sea to give Yarnall her first victory over the enemy.
About five hours after that attack, the ship received word of the first of the four large air raids launched by the Japanese Mobile Fleet to attempt to break up the American invasion force off Saipan. At about 1045 Yarnall and Stockham encountered the first carrier-based air of the battle when five "Val" dive bombers peeled off to attach the two picket destroyers. Yarnall's guns opened up on them and splashed one before the remaining four flew off to attack the larger ships of the American fleet. Word of the approach of the second raid arrived at 1110; and, 35 minutes later, about 20 enemy planes managed to break through the reception committee of F6F Hellcats vectored out to intercept them. Yarnall took seven of those planes under fire and splashed one. That was her last combat of the day. Though the Japanese mounted two more raids, they approached Task Force (TF) 58 from directions which did not bring them in close proximity to Yarnall.
On the 20th, no enemy planes attacked Task Force 58. Instead, the Japanese began their retirement toward Japan. American carrier search planes found the enemy late in the day, and Task Force 58 launched air strikes from extreme range. After darkness fell that evening, Yarnall's searchlights helped to guide the returning airmen to their carriers. The following day, the destroyer returned to the coast of Saipan to resume call fire missions supporting the troops fighting ashore. She continued her labors in the Marianas until 8 July, when the warship left in the screen of a convoy bound for the Marshalls. After arriving at Eniwetok on the 12th, she took on ammunition, provisions, and fuel and headed back to the Marianas on the 15th. There, she resumed patrol and antisubmarine screening duties and kept at such tasks until the 25th when she moved inshore to provide gunfire support for the troops occupying Tinian.
The warship alternated screening and bombardment missions in the Marianas until 16 August when she again sailed for the Marshalls. Yarnall remained at Eniwetok from 20 to 29 August. On the latter day, she left the anchorage in company with Task Group 38.2 for an aerial sweep of the Philippine Islands in preparation for the invasion of the archipelago at Leyte. Following those raids, the carriers and their escorts rested at Ulithi Atoll between 1 and 6 October.
On the latter day, Yarnall sortied with the entire Fast Carrier Task Force for a three-day aerial sweep of Japanese air bases on Formosa. During that operation, Yarnall provided aircrew rescue services and performed antiaircraft and antisubmarine screening duties. During the first day of that attack, the destroyer fired on 15 enemy planes and splashed two of them. The following evening, she barely evaded a bomb which exploded close astern. She emerged unscathed from another bombing attack on the 14th.
Following the Formosa raid, Yarnall's unit steamed south to operate off Luzon. She screened the carriers while their planes suppressed Japanese land-based airpower in the vicinity during the landings at Leyte. During the three-phased Battle for Leyte Gulf which thwarted the Japanese attempt to break up the American liberation of Leyte, Yarnall continued to screen the carriers as they raced northward to destroy Admiral Ozawa's decoy force built around planeless aircraft carriers. After successfully completing that mission, Task Force 38 made a fueling rendezvous on 30 and 31 October and then resumed its duty pounding enemy installations on Luzon.
At the end of the first week in November, the carriers and their escorts once again retired to Ulithi. The destroyer returned to sea on 14 November to screen Task Force 38 during further aerial attacks on Japanese installations in the Philippines. On 23 November, she headed back to Ulithi with Task Group 38.1 for logistics. In December, she returned to the Philippines with Task Group 38.1 to support the landings on the island of Mindoro and to continue the pressure on Japanese air forces based on Luzon. During that mission, she successfully weathered the famous typhoon on 17 December 1944 which claimed destroyers Hull (Destroyer - 350), Monaghan (Destroyer - 354), and Spence (Destroyer - 512). She returned to Ulithi on 24 December and remained there until January 1945.
On New Year's Day, Task Group 38.1 stood out of Ulithi to provide air support for landings on Luzon at Lingayen Gulf. The planes hit Formosa on the 3rd and 4th, pounded airfields on Luzon on the 6th and 7th, and returned to Formosa installations on the day of the landings, 9 January. That night, Yarnall accompanied the fast carriers through Bashi Channel into the South China Sea to begin a series of raids on Japan's inner defense line. Unopposed by the Japanese Fleet, Task Force 38 sent planes against bases at Camranh Bay and Saigon in Indochina, then against Formosa on 15 January. Fighters attacked Amoy, Swatow, and Hong Kong in China as well as Hainan Island in the Gulf of Tonkin. On the 26th, they returned to Hong Kong and Hainan for a repeat performance and for good measure made a sweep of Canton. The task force exited the South China Sea via Balintang Channel and then hit Formosa and the Nansei Shoto on 21 January. Okinawa felt the carriers' punch on the 22nd; and, two days later, Task Force 38 set a course back to Ulithi.
On 10 February, Yarnall left Ulithi with Task Force 38 to attack the Japanese home islands for the first time since the Halsey-Doolittle raid and to provide strategic cover for the assault on Iwo Jima. For two days, 16 and 17 February, the skies over Tokyo rained death and destruction. On the 18th, Yarnall steamed south with the carriers to lend the marines a hand during the Iwo Jima landings. While Task Force 38 planes supported the assault, Yarnall protected their floating bases from enemy air and submarine attacks. She remained in the vicinity of the Volcano Islands until the 22nd when she and the carriers again headed toward the Japanese home islands for another swipe at Tokyo on the 25th. Then, after rendezvousing with Task Group 50.8, the logistics group, Task Force 38, sent its planes to strike Okinawa on 1 March.
On 3 March, Yarnall received orders transferring her from Task Group 58.2 to Task Group 59.6 for a practice attack on the main body of Task Group 59. While closing the objective on the night of 4 and 5 March, she collided with Ringgold (Destroyer - 500). Ringgold suffered a sheared off bow while Yarnall also suffered one man killed and six others injured. Towed to Ulithi by Molala (fleet ocean tug - 106), she reached the anchorage on 7 March. On the 8th, her bow broke off and sank. While at Ulithi, she had a false bow fitted for the voyage back to the United States for permanent repairs. She stood out of Ulithi on 5 April and steamed via Pearl Harbor to the Mare Island Navy Yard where she underwent repairs until 2 July.
The warship returned to Pearl Harbor in July and conducted training operations in the Hawaiian Islands through the end of the war. Two days after the cessations of hostilities, Yarnall set a course for Tokyo, Japan, to participate in the postwar occupation. She was present in Tokyo Bay on 2 September when Japanese officials signed the surrender document on board Missouri ((Battleship - 63) and remained in the Far East supporting minesweeping operations until the end of October. On the 31st, she put to sea and shaped a course for San Diego, Calif., where, though she remained commission, she was placed in an inactive status. Berthed at San Diego with the Pacific Reserve Fleet, Yarnall was finally placed out of commission on 15 January 1947.
The outbreak of the Korean conflict in June 1950 brought many ships out of the "mothball fleet." Yarnall was ordered back into active service on 31 August 1950, and she was recommissioned at San Diego on 28 February 1951. She reported for duty with the Pacific Fleet on 20 March and conducted shakedown training and other exercises along the west coast until mid-May. On 15 May, Yarnall departed San Diego for Japan. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, she arrived in Yokosuka on 7 June and, three days later, got underway for her first tour of combat duty in Korean waters. For the most part, Yarnall served in the screen of Task Force 77, the carrier task force, though on occasion she did close the coast of Korea to provide gunfire support for the United Nations troops operating ashore. Her first Korean War deployment was punctuated by periodic port calls, mostly at Yokosuka, but also at Okinawa and at Keelung, Taiwan. In August, she served briefly with the Taiwan Strait patrol before returning to the Korean combat zone in September.
Her first Korean War deployment lasted until December. On 8 December, the desstrroyer departed Yokosuka and steamed via Midway and Pearl Harbor to San Diego where she arrived on the 21st. From there, she moved to Long Beach early in 1952 for an overhaul. The warship completed repairs early that summer and returned to San Diego on 11 June. A month and a day later, she departed San Diego; set a course via Pearl Harbor and Midway for the western Pacific; and arrived in Yokosuka on 6 August. On the 8th, she again got underway and, after an overnight stop at Sasebo on 10 and 11 August, headed for the Korean operating area. Again, her duties consisted of screening Task Force 77 carriers and providing bombardment services, frequently at the besieged port city of Wonsan. As during the previous deployment, she alternated tours of duty in Korean waters with port calls at Japanese ports for repairs, upkeep, rest, and relaxation. Later, in November, she returned to the Taiwan Strait patrol before resuming her tours of duty with Task Force 77 and on the bombline. On 30 January 1953, she concluded her second Korean War deployment by departing Sasebo for the United States. Steaming via Midway and Pearl Harbor, Yarnall arrived in San Diego on 16 February.
While Yarnall enjoyed her stateside rotation, hostilities in Korea ceased when an armistice was finally signed on 27 July 1953. The warship, however, continued to make annual deployments to the Far East and frequently operated in Korean waters with Task Force 77. She continued to alternate deployments to the Orient with periods of normal operations out of San Diego until September of 1958 when she was decommissioned.
Berthed at Stockton, Calif., Yarnall remained inactive for almost a decade. On 10 June 1968, she was transferred, on a loan basis, to the Taiwanese Navy which she served as Kun Yang (Destroyer - 8). She was returned to the United States Navy in 1974 for disposal. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 25 January 1974, and she was retransferred back to Taiwan by sale. As of early 1980, Kun Yang remained active with the Taiwan Navy.
Yarnall (Destroyer - 541) earned seven battle stars during World War II and two battle stars during the Korean conflict.
26 August 2002