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Fleming I (DE-32)

(DE-32: dp. 1,140; l. 289'; b. 35'1"; dr. 8'3"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 156; a. 3 3", 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.), 2 dct; cl. Evarts)

Richard Eugene Fleming, born 2 November 1917 in St. Paul, Minn., entered the Marine Corps Reserve for aviation training 20 January 1940. Captain Fleming served as Flight Officer of the Marine Scout Bombing Squadron stationed at Midway, and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary heroism and courage in the Battle of Midway, during which he led an attack on a Japanese carrier 4 June 1942 and was killed while attacking another carrier 5 June.


The name Fleming was originally assigned to DE-271 on 23 February 1943, and canceled and reassigned to DE-32 on 14 June 1943.


Fleming (DE-32) was launched 16 June 1943 by Mare Island Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. W. E. Rutherford ; and commissioned 18 September 1943, Lieutenant Commander R. J. Toner, USNR, in command.

After training in the Hawaiian Islands, Fleming arrived at Tarawa 15 January 1944 for local patrol and escort duty, as well as escort missions to Makin, Majuro, Funafuti, and Kwajalein, through April. She returned to Pearl Harbor for brief overhaul between 19 May and 7 June, then sailed for Eniwetok where she joined a convoy bound for newly assaulted Guam, arriving 27 June. Fleming patrolled off Orote, and escorted merchantmen from Guam to Tinian and Eniwetok until 20 August, when she sailed to escort an attack transport to Saipan and Pearl Harbor.

Completing her assignment in the Marianas operation, Fleming acted as target for submarines training in Hawaiian waters until 17 October 1944, when she arrived at Eniwetok to begin 4 months of uninterrupted convoy escort duty between Eniwetok and Ulithi, the great base whose buildup was essential to the forthcoming Iwo Jima and Okinawa operations. On the night of 8 January 1945, guarding two tankers en route from Ulithi to Eniwetok, Fleming made a radar contact and began the five hedgehog and depth charge attacks with which she sank the Japanese submarine I-362 just after midnight 14 January.

Late in February 1945 and early in March, Fleming made escort voyages from Eniwetok to Saipan and Guam, then on 13 March arrived at Ulithi to prepare for the Okinawa assault. She sortied 21 March in the screen for escort carriers who provided close air support to the initial landings on 1 April, and sailed with them until 17 April when she departed the action area to escort Natoma Bay (CVE-62) to Guam for repairs. The escort carrier and destroyer escort sailed from Guam 4 May to return to duty at Okinawa 4 days later.

On 20 May 1945, still screening the escort carriers, Fleming splashed two of three Japanese planes which attempted to kamikaze or bomb her, driving the third away. Five days later, she rescued 11 survivors of LSM-135 and 20 of Bates (APD-47), both sunk by kamikazes. Fleming continued to serve off Okinawa until 5 July when she sailed for a west coast overhaul. Still in the yard when the war ended, she was decommissioned 10 November 1945, and sold 29 January 1948.

Fleming received four battle stars for World War II service.

Published: Wed Jul 08 12:31:59 EDT 2015