(DE-348: dp. 1,350; l. 306'; b. 36'8"; dr. 9'5"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 2 5", 4 40mm., 10 20mm., 3 21" tt, 8 dcp.; 1 dcp. (h.h.), 2 dct.; cl. John G. Butler)
Eugene Morland Key, born Conroe, Tex., 5 October 1916 enlisted as a Private in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve 17 January 1941. Commissioned Second Lieutenant 29 May, he served at San Diego and Washington, D.C., before joining the 1st Marine Raider Battalion 19 March 1942. Promoted to First Lieutenant 4 June, he participated in the amphibious invasion of Tulagi Island, Solomons, 7 August. While leading the assault against a heavily defended, enemy position, Leiutenant Key was hit by hostile sniper fire. Although mortally wounded, he courageously struggled forward and threw hand grenades into the Japanese position, thus destroying the enemy resistance and allowing his platoon to advance without further loss. For his "indomitable fighting spirit, outstanding skill, and great personal valor" First Lieutenant Key was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
Key (DE-348) was launched 12 February 1944 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex., sponsored by Mrs. Ira F. Key, mother of Lt. Key; and commissioned 5 June 1944, Lt. Comdr. F. D. Buckley in command.
Following shakedown off Bermuda, Key operated out of Norfolk, training crews for destroyer escorts and patrolling the North Atlantic in quest of submarines. Clearing Hampton Roads 20 September, she escorted a convoy to Naples, Italy, then returned to New York 24 October. As a unit of CortDiv 76, she sailed from New York 10 November for duty with the 7th Fleet in the Southwest Pacific.
Key arrived Hollandia, New Guinea, 27 December, and between 1 January 1945 and 6 February she made five escort runs from Hollandia to Leyte Gulf. On 9 February she began antisubmarine patrols east of Leyete Gulf; then she steamed to Mangarin Bay, Mindoro, 19 February for similar duty in the South China Sea. Returning to Leyte 14 March, the versatile destroyer escort operated out of Leyte Gulf and Polloc, Mindanao, screening ships en route to Lingayen Gulf, Luzon; Zamboanga, Mindanao; Jolo, Sulu Archipelago; and Legaspi and Manila, Luzon. After escorting a convoy of LSM's and LCI's to Davao Gulf 15 May, Key bombarded and destroyed an important Japanese PT base at Piso Point before returning to Polloc the 17th.
After additional escort runs to Davao Gulf, Leyte Gulf, and Legaspi, Luzon, Key departed Manila Bay 11 June for duty in the Dutch East Indies. Arriving Morotai Island 14 June, she screened Tawitawi-bound LCI's 23-26 June before escorting a convoy the 28th to a rendezvous the following day with the amphibious force en route to the assault at Balikpapan, Borneo. While at Balikpapan 7 July, Key rescued a survivor from a LCM sunk by a mine in the harbor. She patrolled for enemy submarines until 22 July when she sailed via Morotai for Leyte Gulf, arriving 4 August.
Operating out of Leyte after the end of hostilities, Key steamed on antisubmarine patrols east of Leyte 22 to 31 August and escorted a convoy to Ulithi, Western Carolines before sailing to Manila 8 September. Between 18 September and 23 November she made two escort runs from Manila Bay to Okinawa to support American Occupation operations in Japan. Clearing Manila Bay 25 November, she embarked homebound veterans 27 November at Guiuan, Samar and departed the next day for the United States. Arriving San Pedro, Calif., 17 December, she decommissioned 9 July 1946 at Terminal Island and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet. At present she is berthed at Bremerton, Wash.
Key received one battle star for World War II service.