James Richard Ward was born in Springfield, Ohio, 10 September 1921, and enlisted in the Navy at Cincinnati 25 November 1940. After basic training, he reported on board Oklahoma (BB-37) to lose his life in her during the attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941. The gallant ship was one of the first to be hit, taking three torpedoes soon after the attack began. She listed dangerously; and it was soon apparent that she would capsize. The order was given to abandon ship, but Seaman First Class Ward "remained in a turret holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life." For his valor in that dark hour, Ward was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
(DE-243: dp. 1,200; l. 306'; b. 36'7"; dr. 8'7"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 2 40mm-, 8 20mm., 2 dct, 8dcp. (h.h.); 321" tt;cl. Edsall)
J. Richard Ward (DE-243) was launched by Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Tex., 6 January 1943; sponsored by Miss Marjorie Ward, sister of Seaman First Class Ward; and commissioned 5 July 1943, Lt. T. S. Dunstan in command.
Following shakedown training in waters off Bermuda, J. Richard Ward reached Charleston 1 September 1943 where she joined Atlantic convoy escort forces. Steaming between Norfolk and Gibraltar in the months that followed, the ship made three complete convoy voyages in support of the Allied effort in Europe. After training in March 1944, the ship was assigned to a hunter-killer group built around Tripoli (CVE-64). Departing New York 15 March, the ships patrolled the Atlantic between the Brazilian coast and the Cape Verde Islands. No German submarines were encountered; and they returned to New York 18 June 1944.
J. Richard Ward was assigned school ship duties at Norfolk during July 1944, and in August was assigned to another hunter-killer group. This unit, headed by Core (CVE-13), a veteran of the Battle of the Atlantic, sailed 8 August. After a short training period off Bermuda, the ships began scouring the Atlantic for submarines, making attacks on several sound contacts during August. After replenishing at Argentia, the task group continued operations against German submarines, now greatly reduced in numbers, before returning to New York 9 October. American antisubmarine tactics and skill had once again made the sea-lanes safe.
From October 1944 to January 1945, J. Richard Ward performed her tactical mission during pilot qualifications. She sailed again 24 January for antisubmarine patrol in the heavy weather of the north Atlantic, returning 28 March. She was at sea on her final Atlantic cruise when the German surrender came, and returned to New York 11 May 1945.
J. Richard Ward underwent modernization at Boston Navy Yard preparatory to transfer to the Pacific Fleet. She sailed 28 June 1945, for refresher training in the Caribbean, then sailed via the Panama Canal for Hawaii. En route, she received word of the Japanese surrender. After her arrival Pearl Harbor 1 September, the ship screened flight operations with Tripoli.
The veteran destroyer escort returned to San Diego 17 October 1945. After transiting the Canal and stopping at Norfolk, she arrived Green Cove Springs, Fla., 13 December 1945. There she decommissioned 13 June 1946, and entered the Reserve Fleet. She is at present berthed in Texas.