Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS John Willis (DE-1027)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS John Willis (DE-1027)

USS John Willis (DE-1027) was launched by the New York Shipbuilding Co. of Camden, N.J., 4 February 1956; sponsored by Mrs. Winfrey M. Duke, widow of John Willis; and commissioned at Philadelphia Naval Yard 21 February 1957, Lt. Comdr. H. O. Anson, Jr., in command.

USS John Willis (DE-1027) reported to Newport, R.I., 7 April for duty with the Atlantic Fleet. Following 2 months of shakedown along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean, she departed Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 7 June for a 5-week cruise to Northern Europe that carried her to Dutch, German, and Danish ports on the North and Baltic Seas. Upon her return to Newport 14 July, she commenced 10 months of ASW exercises along the Atlantic coast in preparation for deployment with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean.

USS John Willis (DE-1027) steamed from Newport 12 May 1958 for the Mediterranean; and following her arrival at Gibraltar 21 May, she sailed with units of the 6th Fleet to participate in joint NATO antisubmarine exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean. On 29 November USS John Willis (DE-1027) entered the New York Shipyard to receive an experimental model of the Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) and thus became the first of the destroyer escorts to employ this latest development in ASW equipment. USS John Willis (DE-1027) returned to Newport 20 October and resumed coastal operations. On 8 May 1961 she sailed to Guantanamo Bay for patrol duty along the Windward Passage of the Caribbean. Following the assassination of Dominican Dictator Trujillo 27 May, USS John Willis (DE-1027) conducted patrols along the coast of the Dominican Republic. 

USS John Willis (DE-1027) resumed ASW and convoy escort exercises out of Newport and during August received additional ASW equipment. Following 4 months of extensive overhaul, she steamed to the Caribbean 1 March 1963 for an operational readiness inspection. For the next 3 years USS John Willis (DE-1027) continued to operate along the Atlantic Coast and in the Caribbean while taking part in squadron exercises and serving as school ship at Key West. During the latter half of 1964 and 1965 USS John Willis (DE-1027) participated in UNITAS V and UNITAS VI and made two cruises along the coasts of South America as part of the U.S. sponsored "People-to-People" Program. Between January and June 1966 she underwent extensive overhaul at Boston where USS John Willis (DE-1027) received HASH capabilities and communications alterations: thence she resumed refresher and readiness training out of Newport.

For a complete history of USS John Willis (DE-1027) please see its DANFS page.