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Corry III (DD-817)


William Merrill Corry was born on 5 October 1889, to William M. and Sarah E. (neé Wiggins) Corry in Quincy, Fla. The young officer attended and graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. (June 1906–3 June 1910), and on 7 July began five years of service in Kansas (Battleship No. 21).

Kansas deployed with the Second Battleship Division to European waters on 15 November 1910, and visited Cherbourg, France, and Portland, England, before returning via Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to Hampton Roads, Va. Corry’s sea experience continued as Kansas set a course for Europe again the following year (8 May–13 July 1911) and visited Copenhagen, Denmark, Stockholm, Sweden, Kronstadt, Russia, and Kiel, Germany, where Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German High Seas Fleet welcomed the Americans. The increasingly seasoned officer gained more tactical expertise while Kansas took part in fleet exercises stretching from Provincetown, Mass., southward to the Virginia capes before she entered the Norfolk Navy Yard, Va., for an overhaul on 3 November 1911.

Early in 1912, Corry began several months of maneuvers on board Kansas from Guantánamo Bay and then gained more diplomatic and leadership skills when his ship returned to Hampton Roads. There she served as one of the vessels of two divisions of battleships that, together with President William H. Taft on board his yacht Mayflower, welcomed the German squadron commanded by Vizeadmiral Hubert von Rebuer-Pachswitz which comprised battlecruiser Moltke and light cruisers Bremen and Stettin, and the Germans visited there before moving on to New York City (28 May–8 June and 8–13 June, respectively).

Following those diplomatic overtures, Kansas embarked Naval Academy midshipmen at Annapolis for a practice cruise which carried her along the Atlantic coast to Baltimore, Md. (21 June–30 August). The ship then (15 November–21 December 1912) wrapped-up the year training in the Gulf of Mexico, and accomplished an overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pa.

Corry took another voyage to European waters when Kansas completed her yard work on 5 May 1913, trained along the east coast, and then (25 October 1913–14 March 1914) stood out of Hampton Roads bound for Genoa, Italy. From there she proceeded to Guantánamo Bay en route to the Mexican coast off Tampico and Veracruz to protect Americans trapped in Mexico while revolution tore that country apart. Following the ship’s return to Norfolk she accomplished voyage repairs and upkeep at Philadelphia (11 April–1 July). Kansas then transported the body of Pedro E. Rojas, Venezuelan Minister to the United States, back to his homeland at La Guaira, Venezuela (1–14 July).

Ens. Corry exudes confidence and pride in this picture, March 1913. (F. Brunel, Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph 24-P-73)
Caption: Ens. Corry exudes confidence and pride in this picture, March 1913. (F. Brunel, Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph 24-P-73)

As the Mexican Revolution raged, Gen. Victoriano Huerta, one of the strongmen, ruthlessly eliminated rivals and ambitiously amassed power among the Federales (government troops). The chaos continued to endanger U.S. citizens caught in the midst of the war and pushed President Woodrow Wilson beyond forbearance, and he called on U.S. warships to protect, and, if necessary, evacuate Americans. Dispatch boat Dolphin (Lt. Cmdr. Ralph Earle in command) anchored at Tampico, Mexico, on 6 April 1914. Earle sent his paymaster and a boat ashore, but Mexican soldiers arrested the nine men because they landed in a “forbidden area” and paraded them through the streets. Mexicans incarcerated an orderly from Minnesota (Battleship No. 22) when he went ashore for the mail at Veracruz a few days later.

Rear Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander, Fourth Division, demanded a 21-gun salute in apology over the “Tampico Incident,” and on 14 April 1914 President Wilson ordered the Atlantic Fleet to send an expedition. The following day, Wilson wired an ultimatum as the lead ships of the Atlantic Fleet arrived in Mexican waters. The Mexicans could salute the flag prior to 6:00 p.m. the following day or suffer the consequences—they apologized and rendered the salute. Rumors circulated, however, that German interests attempted to smuggle 250 machine guns, 20,000 rifles, and 15 million rounds of ammunition on board 8,142 ton German-flagged cargo steamer Ypiranga of the Hamburg-Amerika Linie [Hamburg America Line] into Veracruz.

Wilson therefore directed Rear Adm. Charles J. Badger, Commander, Atlantic Fleet, to seize the custom house at Veracruz. On the morning of 19 April 1914, U.S. Consul William W. Canada notified Gen. Gustavo Maass, who led the port’s garrison, of the planned landings to avoid bloodshed. Huerta disregarded the warning and ordered Maass to make a show of force to influence foreign opinion. The ships put ashore their detachments of sailors and marines on the 22nd, and the fighting raged across the port. Tensions simmered following the battle, and Corry gained crucial experience in handling such crises when Kansas reinforced the vessels in Mexican waters and patrolled until 29 October.

The battleship swung around and steamed to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to investigate reports of “unstable conditions,” largely as a result of bandit bands called cacos from the mountainous north. Kansas reached Haitian waters on 3 November and on 1 December stood out of the port, and returned to Philadelphia a week later. Corry continued on board as the ship maneuvered off the east coast and out of Guantánamo Bay until he decided to learn how to fly.

Lt. (j.g.) Corry began training in naval aviation at Naval Aeronautical Station Pensacola, Fla., on 7 July 1915, and on 6 March 1916, he was designated Naval Aviator No. 23. He returned to sea (9 November 1916–May 1917) to gain additional flying experience while embarked on board Seattle (Armored Cruiser No. 11), flagship, Destroyer Force, following which he served in North Carolina (Armored Cruiser No. 12).

Some of the earliest U.S. Naval Aviators gather at the Flying School office, named for Lt. (j.g.) Clarence K. Bronson, at Naval Aeronautical Station Pensacola, circa 1915. Standing from left–right: Ens. Harold W. Scofield, Passed Assistant Surgeo...
Caption: Some of the earliest U.S. Naval Aviators gather at the Flying School office, named for Lt. (j.g.) Clarence K. Bronson, at Naval Aeronautical Station Pensacola, circa 1915. Standing from left–right: Ens. Harold W. Scofield, Passed Assistant Surgeon Charles L. Beeching, Lt. (j.g.) Bronson, Lt. (j.g.) Corry, Lt. (j.g.) Joseph P. Norfleet, and Lt. Albert C. Reed. Seated left–right: an unidentified Lt. (j.g.), Lt. (j.g.) Earl W. Spencer Jr., Lt. (j.g.) Walter A. Edwards, Lt. (j.g.) Robert R. Paunack, Lt. Earle F. Johnson, and Lt. (j.g.) George D. Murray. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 90232)

Lt. Corry deployed to France for World War I, where he served with distinction in command of Naval Air Station (NAS) Le Croisic, establishing the station on 27 November 1917. The site became one of eight U.S. flying boat and seaplane patrol stations developed in that country during the war until the Navy disestablished it on 28 January 1919. Corry subsequently received the Navy Cross for “his daring flights over the enemy’s lines, also for untiring and efficient efforts toward the organization of U.S. Naval Aviation, Foreign Service, and the building up of the Northern Bombing [Group] project.” The group carried out a number of missions including bombing raids against German U-boats (submarines) and their support facilities in the Dunkirk-Bruges-Ostend-Zeebrugge region. The French furthermore awarded Corry their Chevalier de la légion d’honneur.

Following his assignment there in the meanwhile, he took command of NAS Brest, France, on 7 June 1918. Corry continued to serve in Europe following the war, a time of great turmoil during the Great Worldwide Influenza Pandemic, but tirelessly worked on the aviation aspects of demobilization into the first half of 1920. Corry set out for his return voyage home on board International Mercantile Marine-flagged ocean liner Finland (ex-Id. No. 4543) from Antwerp, Belgium, to New York on 2 June. Corry then served as an aviation aide on the staff of Adm. Henry B. Wilson Jr., Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, in flagship Pennsylvania (Battleship No. 38—reclassified to BB-38 on 17 July 1920).

Lt. Cmdr. Corry joined Lt. (j.g.) Arthur C. Wagner, USNRF, as a passenger in a Curtiss JN-4 on a flight from Mitchel Field at Mineola on Long Island, N.Y., to Hartford, Conn., on Saturday, 2 October 1920. Born to William and Elizabeth G. Wagner on 18 August 1888, Wagner served with the Atlantic Fleet Ship Plane Division. As they reached the Hartford area they could not discern an available military airfield and landed instead on the grounds of the Hartford Golf Club. Col. Hamilton R. Horsey, USA, who had served as the chief-of-staff of the Army’s 26th Infantry Division during the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives in 1918, and Lt. Col. James S. Howard, USA, kindly let the stranded aviators stay overnight as their guests.

The following afternoon at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, 3 October 1920, Wagner and Corry clambered back into their Jenny and took off for the return flight to Mineola. They lifted off to the northward and climbed to an altitude of 50 feet as they turned toward the southwest. The two men passed over the golf course’s club house and Corry, who sat in the aft seat, waved to Col. Horsey. The Jenny approached a large copse of trees that rose nearby and turned to starboard (north) at an altitude of about 75 feet, but the engine suddenly cut out and the aircraft plunged into the trees. The plane slammed into the ground and turned over end foremost, the propeller caught in the soil, and the Jenny burst into flames.

The crash threw Corry clear nearly 30 feet and broke several of his ribs, but he saw that Wagner was still strapped in as the flames horrifically blazed over him. Corry valiantly rushed back to help Wagner and pull the pilot from the wreckage, but the blazing gasoline ignited Corry’s coat and burned his hands and face. Witnesses including Martin Keane, an attaché of the club, and Walter E. Patterson, an employee of Travelers Insurance Company, rushed over and helped Corry drag Wagner from the inferno. The fire burned away most of Wagner’s nose and ears to where he was all but beyond recognition, as well as the pilot’s coat and shoes, but in spite of the pain he bravely directed the rescuers.

Benjamin Allen, a porter at the club, acted decisively and wrapped his coat around Corry’s head, thus protecting him from further burns across the face. Allen then helped the injured naval aviator out of his burning coat and smothered the other clothes to douse the flames. Despite the help Corry’s hands and face emerged so badly burned that scarcely a trace of exposed skin remained unscarred.

Additional staffers from the kitchen meanwhile brought several gallons of olive and sweet oil and aided the rescuers as they removed Wagner’s burning clothing. They then prepared and carefully wrapped Wagner in oil-soaked linen strips and cotton sheeting, to attempt to allay his pain. As the ambulance arrived and willing hands lifted Wagner into the vehicle, he gamely thanked the men who responded and helped the two aviators. Wagner’s continued fortitude in the face of his unimaginable pain inspired the doctors and nurses who attended him, but he died from his injuries at about 10:00 p.m. that night. Wagner was interred at the Old Cathedral Cemetery in Philadelphia on 8 October 1920.

Corry lingered on in pain but died from his injuries four days later on the 7th. Corry received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his “heroic service” in attempting to rescue Wagner, and was laid to rest in Eastern Cemetery in his beloved home town of Quincy, Fla. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” is inscribed on his grave. He was survived by his wife, parents, three siblings, James W., Alice Wilhoit, and Edwin G. Corry, and one half-brother, Albert D. Corry.

Three U.S. Navy destroyers, Corry (DD-334), Corry (DD-463), and Corry (DD-817); two air stations at Pensacola, Corry Field (later Old Corry Field) and the Naval Air Auxiliary Station (NAAS) Corry Field; and subsequent commands also at Pensacola including the Naval Communications Training Center (later Naval Technical Training Center) Corry Station, and the Center for Information Dominance Corry Station (under NAS Pensacola Corry Station), have been named in his honor.


(DD-817: displacement 2,425; length 390'6"; beam 41'1"; draft 18'6"; speed 35 knots; complement 367; armament 6 5-inch, 12 40-millimeter, 11 20-millimeter, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 6 depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge tracks; class Gearing)

The third Corry (DD-817) was laid down on 5 April 1945 at Orange, Texas, by Consolidated Steel Corp. of Texas; launched on 28 July 1945; sponsored by Miss. Gertrude Corry, niece of the late Lt. Cmdr. Corry; and commissioned on 26 February 1946, Cmdr. Martin S. Shellabarger in command.

Corry reported to the Atlantic Fleet and sailed from Galveston, Texas, for her shakedown training in the Caribbean, then continued on to Norfolk, Va. (28 March–10 July 1946). Following an extensive period of training, Corry set out on her maiden international deployment to European and Mediterranean waters (23 July 1946–19 March 1947).

The destroyer operated at times with the screen for Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42) while the large aircraft carrier also made her maiden deployment, with Large Carrier Air Group (CVBG) 75 embarked, to the Mediterranean (8 August–4 October 1946). Vice Adm. John H. Cassady, Commander Carrier Division (CarDiv) 1, broke his flag in the carrier as she called (5–9 September) at Piraeus near Athens as a show of support for the Greek government’s efforts to stem the tide of communism in the embattled country. Light cruiser Little Rock (CL-92), Cone (DD-866), Corry, and New (DD-818) accompanied Franklin D. Roosevelt during the carrier’s visit, and U.S. Ambassador to Greece Lincoln MacVeagh boarded the carrier upon her arrival on the 5th and met with Capt. Herbert E. Regan and his staff. As Franklin D. Roosevelt stood back out to sea she launched 78 aircraft over the task force in an impressive display of naval air power. On 30 September, President Harry S. Truman declared the permanency of the U.S. naval presence in the region, primarily to contain Soviet aggression.

Little Rock, Cone, Corry, and New (DD-818) lay at Piraeus, the seaport for Athens, 6 September 1946. The ships are Mediterranean-moored (i.e., stern to shore). Note the differing paint schemes on the two destroyers moored in the foreground, refle...
Caption: Little Rock, Cone, Corry, and New (DD-818) lay at Piraeus, the seaport for Athens, 6 September 1946. The ships are Mediterranean-moored (i.e., stern to shore). Note the differing paint schemes on the two destroyers moored in the foreground, reflecting the transition from wartime to peacetime colors. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-703058, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Following Corry’s return home, she conducted Naval Reserve training cruises from the Potomac River Naval Command. The ship then (22 September 1947–28 April 1950) reported to Pensacola to serve as a plane guard for carriers operating off Florida. Corry joined Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 8 at Norfolk on 22 May 1950, for antisubmarine exercises which included a cruise to Québec, Canada, in July. She turned her prow eastward and served with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean (2 September–12 November 1950). In the New Year (1 June–27 July 1951) Corry joined a midshipman cruise to northern Europe and visited Gotesburg [Gothenburg], Sweden, and Cherbourg, France.

Two destroyers and an antisubmarine destroyer nest together in between their deployments (left–right): Noa (DD-841), Corry, and Witek (DDE-848), 1951. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 81822)
Caption: Two destroyers and an antisubmarine destroyer nest together in between their deployments (left–right): Noa (DD-841), Corry, and Witek (DDE-848), 1951. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 81822)

Her next tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet carried the destroyer across the Mediterranean to counter Soviet and East Bloc expansionism (22 April–23 October 1952). Corry sailed out of Norfolk for local operations until 1 April 1953, when she was decommissioned at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at Portsmouth, Va., for conversion to a radar picket destroyer, being reclassified as DDR-817 on 9 April 1953.

Recommissioned at the shipyard on 9 January 1954, Corry carried Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) midshipmen on a cruise to New Orleans, La., and through the Panama Canal for operations at Balboa in the summer of 1954. From September 1954 through 1960, Corry alternated four tours of duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean with operations out of Norfolk along the east coast, and exercises in the Caribbean.

Worsening tensions in the Middle East erupted into Operation Kadesh, Israeli attacks against the Egyptians in the Sinai Peninsula and along the Suez Canal that blossomed into the Suez Crisis (29 October–12 Dec 1956). The next day the British and French issued an ultimatum to the Israelis and Egyptians to pull their forces back ten miles from either side of the vital waterway, to bring about the early cessation of hostilities, and to safeguard the free passage of ships through the canal. The Israelis accepted the terms of the ultimatum but the Egyptians refused to comply.

Adm. Arleigh A. Burke, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), in the intervening time alerted Vice Adm. Charles R. Brown, who commanded the Sixth Fleet, to standby to evacuate Americans stranded by the crisis in Haifa and Tel Aviv, Israel, Beirut, Lebanon, and Alexandria, Egypt. Ships evacuated 1,702 people, naval helicopters took out 165 more, and Air Force crews pulled 310 refugees from harm’s way, often during extremely perilous situations from gunfire, errant bombs or navigational hazards, by 4 November. Just as Strong (DD-758) arrived at Gaza and anchored 3,000 yards off the port to disembark 21 members of a UN truce inspection team, an Egyptian ammunition dump exploded, showering the area with molten fragments and debris. From their vantage point crewmen also observed mortar and small arms fire as the Israelis and Egyptians fought over the strategic city, culminating in strafing and bombing runs by Israeli aircraft against Egyptian troops who refused to surrender. The sailors also witnessed the pitiable spectacle as the fighting compelled hundreds of people to leave on foot, carrying their few belongings as many drove their sheep and goats before them.

Meanwhile, the Anglo-French began Operation Musketeer (Revise) when they dispatched an expeditionary force that bombarded Egyptian forces, and landed paratroopers, commandoes, and marines at key points along the canal to (unsuccessfully) prevent the Egyptians from closing it by sinking ships or laying mines (31 October–7 November). The fighting raged while British Prime Minister Sir R. Anthony Eden announced a cease-fire notice to take effect at midnight of the 6th. Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester B. Pearson proposed creating a United Nations peacekeeping force to separate the combatants, and a majority of the body’s members agreed to support his resolution.

Orders also directed a number of American ships to rendezvous and concentrate in Atlantic waters off east coast ports. Due to concerns over possible Soviet submarine attacks should the crisis escalate, Adm. Jerauld Wright, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, and Atlantic Command, authorized ships proceeding independently to do so at high speed, consistent with the weather and sea conditions. Vessels set sail from various U.S. ports and reached holding areas and mustering ports as type commanders desired by 10 December. By 17 November, Rear Adm. Murr E. Arnold, Commander, CarDiv 4 and Task Force (TF) 26, broke his flag in attack aircraft carrier Forrestal (CVA-59) in command of a powerful concentration of ships that rendezvoused in the eastern Atlantic around the Azores Islands near 36°30'N, 27°18'17"W.

In addition to Forrestal, Rear Adm. Arnold deployed Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), heavy cruiser Des Moines (CA-134), Charles P. Cecil (DDR-835), Corry, O'Hare (DDR-889), Stickell (DDR-888), Douglas H. Fox (DD-779), Healy (DD-672), John Hood (DD-655), Laffey (DD-724), Lowry (DD-770), Robinson (DD-562), Sigourney (DD-643), Stormes (DD-780), store ship Rigel (AF-58), and oiler Severn (AO-61). Additional vessels relieved some of these ships during the following days to enable the original warships to take on fuel or achieve repairs. The carriers conducted air operations “as practicable” to enhance their readiness, and utilized their aircraft to evaluate experiments determining the maximum air group loading for “executing war missions” as they maintained readiness to enter the Mediterranean should their presence be necessary. Adm. Wright meanwhile tentatively scheduled Lake Champlain (CVA-39) to relieve Franklin D. Roosevelt. Forrestal returned to Norfolk to prepare for her first deployment with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Following the Suez Crisis, Corry returned home.

Corry served with Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 262 of DesRon 26 as she continued to deploy to the Mediterranean, and during one such cruise rendezvoused with Davis (DD-934) as the pair spent Christmas at Genoa, Italy (December 1960).

Corry trained out of Guantánamo Bay in September 1961, and then joined Bristol (DD-857) and the pair patrolled Central American waters. Hurricane Hattie meanwhile developed into one of the strongest storms of the Atlantic season that year and swept across the region. The heavy seas pummeled the two destroyers and at one point Corry recorded a huge roll as she heeled into the swells. Hattie in the meantime kept on its destructive path and unleashed a storm tide that devastated Belize City and Stann Creek in British Honduras [Belize], killed 307 people and rendered more than 10,000 homeless (27 October–1 November). The storm wreaked such havoc that the national government temporarily relocated further inland to Belmopan. Bristol and Corry gingerly passed through the reef outside Belize City, setting what became hazardous navigation details as the tempest ripped away all of the channel markers and buoys. Crewmen went ashore to assist victims, delivered food and medical supplies, and treated the injured, while their vessels provided communications with the outside world. The British provided the main humanitarian relief efforts, primarily from frigate Londonderry (F-108), about 200 soldiers of Z Company of The Royal Hampshire Regiment, and the men of the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, the latter brought in by survey ship Vidal and converted trawler Maya Prince, or airlifted by Royal Air Force Avro Shackletons and British West Indian Airways Vickers Viscounts from Kingston, Jamaica. Corry finished her share of caring for the people of Belize, carefully stood back out to sea, and stopped at Kingston for a brief port call before returning to Norfolk.

Dominican President Joaquín Balaguer declared a state of emergency following the return to that country of Héctor and José Trujillo, brothers of assassinated President (Gen.) Rafael Trujillo on 18 November 1961. Corry subsequently reinforced the Caribbean Ready Amphibious Squadron off the coast of the Dominican Republic. Franklin D. Roosevelt launched flights of Douglas A4D (A-4) Skyhawks and the combined force made amphibious feints from outside Dominican waters to emphasize U.S. resolve to prevent a reestablishment of a dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. The ships came about following the formation of a Dominican Council of State on 19 December, and Corry was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for her part in putting an end to the emergency (24 October–12 November and 18–21 November 1961)

The following year Corry deployed again to the Sixth Fleet and the Mediterranean (February–August 1962). The destroyer operated a great deal of the time as a plane guard for carriers, primarily Independence (CVA-62) and Shangri-La (CVS-38). In addition, she called at Gibraltar, Cannes, France (twice), Genoa, Livorno, Gaeta, Civitavecchia, Naples (three times), and Salerno, Italy, Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece, Antalya, Turkey, and Tripoli, Libya.

Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchëv in the meanwhile (May–October 1962) began to deploy additional East Bloc forces to Cuba secretly, intending to address what he considered the strategic imbalance between the U.S. led-Western Alliance and the Russian-dominated East Bloc. While the deployments took time, once these forces, including SS-4 Sandal medium- and SS-5 Skean intermediate-range ballistic missiles, 9M21 Luna-M (FROG-7 Free Rocket Over Ground) tactical rockets, and up to 42 Ilyushin Il-28 Beagles in Cuba or en route, became operational they would threaten much of the southern continental United States with conventional bombardment, or, more ominously, nuclear annihilation.

American intelligence learned of the operation and discovery of the Soviet deception precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis, as President John F. Kennedy and his advisors considered such a threat to U.S. national security unacceptable. When the Chief Executive told Adm. George W. Anderson Jr., the CNO, that “it looks as though this is up to the Navy,” the admiral purportedly replied: “Mr. President, the Navy will not let you down.” Adm. Anderson sent a personal message to the Fleet Commanders on 17 October 1962, advising them to “be prepared to order as many ships as possible to sea on a 24 hour notice,” provided their main propulsion plants were ready.

At the outset of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Corry trained out of Guantánamo Bay and held naval gunfire exercises off Culebra Island, P.R. She then prepared to call on nearby San Juan but suddenly received orders to take part in the crisis, and swung around and made for her operating areas at high speed. Enterprise (CVAN-65), with Carrier Air Group (CVG) 6 embarked, also responded to the great powers’ confrontation and sortied from Norfolk on the 19th, after having loaded provisions and supplies that normally required up to ten hours to load in barely two. The urgency proved such that the carrier got underway with only part of the wing embarked, and some of the aircraft flew on board as she rounded Cape Henry. The Atlantic Fleet announced that the carrier departed rapidly to conduct engineering exercises, and to escape possible damage due to Hurricane Ella, then being tracked off the southeastern coast of the U.S. The cover story, however, seemed less than persuasive, as evidenced by one reporter’s incredulous question: “Engineering exercises! A week after she gets back from the Med? And Ella turned east at noon today. You really want me to believe that?” Security concerns prompted the cordial response: “Absolutely.” Fiske (DDR-842), Hawkins (DDR-873), and William R. Rush (DDR-714) sailed the next day to rendezvous with Enterprise as her initial screen.

The following day, TF 135, Rear Adm. Robert J. Stroh, Commander CarDiv 6 in command, relieved by Rear Adm. John T. Hayward on 24 October, was activated. The powerful task force consisted of the Enterprise and Independence task groups, an underway replenishment group of an oiler and an ammunition ship, Fleet Air Wing (FAW) 11 operating from ashore, and Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 32, comprising Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 333 and Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 331, the group deploying to Guantánamo Bay and Roosevelt Roads, P.R. Independence embarked CVG-7 and was originally scheduled to be relieved by Enterprise, but the crisis forced her to remain on station. Her screen initially included Corry, English (DD-696), Hank (DD-702) and O'Hare, though more ships later rendezvoused with them—at one point 16 destroyers operated with TF 135. Another pair of ammunition ships, ten oilers, and two destroyers reinforced Task Group 135.3 at times.

President Kennedy announced the imposition of a “quarantine” on all offensive military equipment en route to Cuba; the continuation and increase of the close surveillance of Cuba; and a policy to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviets on the U.S. Corry faithfully patrolled on the Quarantine Line but experienced boiler issues at one point and temporarily left to undertake repairs at Kingston before returning to the line. Soviet Premier Khrushchëv eventually accepted U.S. diplomatic overtures to end the crisis. Cuban leader Fidel R. Castro initially rejected the U.S. negotiations but also subsequently consented. Corry received the Navy Expeditionary Medal for her service in the Cuban Missile Crisis (28–31 October 1962).

Moroccan King Hassan II traveled to the United States on board American Export Lines ocean liner Constitution in March 1963. Corry rendezvoused with the ship about 100 miles out from New York City and then escorted her in to the port. The Navy Flight Exhibition Team flew Grumman F-11A Tigers out to meet the ship and the famed Blue Angels performed an air show for the royal entourage before the destroyer led her guest to the port, and then entered the New York Naval Shipyard at nearby Brooklyn for repairs and upkeep.

Corry next took part in the space program’s Mercury-Atlas-9 mission. The ship practiced recovering a space capsule while off the Virginia capes, and then stopped off at Bermuda as she crossed the Atlantic to her planned monitoring and recovery station off the Canary Islands. Antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier Wasp (CVS-18) also operated in the Atlantic during the pivotal flight. Capt. L. Gor­don Cooper, Jr., USAF, piloted space capsule Faith 7 during Mercury-Atlas-9’s launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on 16 May 1962. As it turned out, however, Faith 7 splashed down in the Pacific about 80 miles southeast of Midway Island near 27°20'N, 176°26'W. The capsule impacted within 7,000 yards of primary recovery ship Kearsarge (CVS-33), which retrieved the spacecraft and the astronaut—swimmers dropped from helicopters to fix the flotation collar and retrieve the antenna fairing. Kearsarge returned Cooper to Pearl Harbor, H.I. Corry called at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands and at Bermuda again on the westward voyage home. The ship slipped up the James River to celebrate Independence Day at Richmond, Va. A southward cruise into the balmy Caribbean waters gave Corry the opportunity to hone her antisubmarine warfare skills with sonar school students off Key West, Fla. (12–28 July 1963). Corry was reclassified back to a destroyer and her original identification number (DD-817) on 1 January 1964.

Corry entered one of the milestones of the ship’s career in the summer and autumn of 1964, when she took part in Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) I, a program intended to extend the life of some of the Navy’s ships. Planners envisioned carrying out the initiative in three phases, which in the case of World War II-vintage destroyers consisted primarily of installing equipment and systems to enable the ships to contend more effectively with the numerous and increasingly capable East Bloc submarines. Perhaps most dramatically, Corry underwent a FRAM I conversion to embark and operate a Gyrodyne QH-50 Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH). The work included adding a small hangar and flight deck aft, and systems to facilitate controlling DASH. Shipyard workers and sailors also installed an eight cell Mk 112 to launch RUR-5 Anti-Submarine ROCkets (ASROC) amidships, mounted two new Mk 32 triple torpedo tubes that could launch 12.75-inch Mk 44 antisubmarine homing torpedoes, furthermore enlarged and modernized the Combat Information Center, and installed new radar, sonar, and electronic warfare systems. The ship wrapped up her conversion in September 1964.

The ship’s insignia following her reclassification back to a destroyer, 1 January 1964. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 65846-KN)
Caption: The ship’s insignia following her reclassification back to a destroyer, 1 January 1964. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 65846-KN)

While the newly converted Corry operated in the Caribbean she received orders directing her to return to the waters off Santo Domingo during the Dominican Civil War. The Americans decided to evacuate their people trapped in the fighting and the vessels that responded included amphibious assault ships Boxer (LPH-4), Guadalcanal (LPH-7), and Okinawa (LPH-3), amphibious transport dock Raleigh (LPD-1), high-speed transport Ruchamkin (APD-89), tank landing ship Wood County (LST-1178), and their screens. Corry received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for her patrols protecting these ships and evacuees during the crisis (14–22 May 1965).

Corry displays a distinctively different profile as she steams at sea following her FRAM I conversion, 8 October 1965. The ASROC launcher rises amidships, and the DASH hangar and flight deck are situated aft. (PH1 R. Campbell, Naval History and H...
Caption: Corry displays a distinctively different profile as she steams at sea following her FRAM I conversion, 8 October 1965. The ASROC launcher rises amidships, and the DASH hangar and flight deck are situated aft. (PH1 R. Campbell, Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 107122)

The ship deployed to the Mediterranean and passed through the Suez Canal into the Indian Ocean in 1965. Corry and her crew endured the sweltering heat of the region while they kept the sea lanes safe for other vessels, and at one point called at Bombay [Mumbai], India. Cmdr. John E. Lowell, the ship’s commanding officer, wrote a letter welcoming Cmdr. William J. Aicklen Jr., his scheduled relief, on 13 August 1965. Aicklen was already traveling overseas and they needed to arrange a date and place that would work for both of them. Lowell proudly noted that he would happily continue to command the ship for another year and that all of Corry’s “systems are “GO.” Our engines are old but reliable. We haven’t missed a commitment yet.” Following Corry’s return to the Mediterranean she stopped at Athens, Beirut, Rota, Spain, and Gibraltar on the voyage home.

The following year in 1966, the ship deployed to her familiar operating areas in the Mediterranean. Panamanian-flagged 75-foot oiler Gay Lady, Master Alphonse Gayuela, steamed from Valletta, Malta, to Corfu, Greece, with a cargo of gasoline in mid-October. Her diesel engine failed and as Gayuela and some of the eight British, Moroccan, and Spanish crewmen attempted to repair and restart the engine it sparked a fire with the gasoline. Corry escorted Independence and acted as her plane guard as the carrier performed flight operations about 30 miles away. Cmdr. Daniel G. McCormick III, the executive officer of Fighter Squadron (VF) 41 and the pilot, and Lt. (j.g.) D. E. Germaine, USNR, his radar intercept officer, flew a McDonnell Douglas F-4P Phantom II on a routine patrol from the carrier when they spotted the flames and smoke rising into the air. McCormick and Germaine quickly appraised the situation and realized that Gay Lady lay in danger of sinking, and radioed Independence for help. The carrier and her escort turned toward the area, and the former launched additional aircraft to scour the water for survivors. Gay Lady sank swiftly but all nine men successfully abandoned ship into their life boat and a life raft, and Corry reached the scene and rescued all of the survivors. Gayuela called on United States Ambassador to Malta George J. Feldman at the U.S. Embassy at Valletta on the 15th, and expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the rescue. The ship’s master also thanked Cmdr. Lowell and the ship’s company for their “kindness and courtesies.”

Independence incurred an accident while replenishing at sea in the Mediterranean on 22 October 1966. Boxes of electronics gear valued at nearly $50,000 broke loose and plunged into the water, but Corry scoured the area and retrieved all of the equipment. Aicklen caught up with Corry at Gibraltar, where he relieved Lowell on 26 October. During most of this time frame the ship served in DesRon 36 and consistently supported the squadron. SN Robert L. Ford fell overboard from Robert L. Wilson (DD-847) while the destroyer refueled in heavy seas and rain south of Spain on the night of 6 December 1966. Corry rescued Ford, cold and wet but otherwise unharmed from his harrowing ordeal, and later returned him to his ship.

Corry accomplished an overhaul, for the most part in dry dock, at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (June 1967–March 1968). The ship returned to the destroyer piers at the nearby naval operating base as part of DesDiv 362 of DesRon 36. She trained in Virginian waters and then to the Caribbean, operating out of Guantánamo Bay (May–July). Corry also berthed at the Reynold’s Aluminum Pier for a weekend at Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and at Charlotte Amalie at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, before returning to Norfolk to prepare to sail to the Vietnam War.

Robert L. Wilson led the ships of DesDiv 362 including Corry, Douglas H. Fox (DD-779), and Waller (DD-466) for the Panama Canal and points west on 6 September 1968. A fuel oil fire erupted in Douglas H. Fox’s after fireroom, however, while she steamed about 250 miles east of Charleston, S.C., on the 7th. The blaze killed three crewmen, BT1 Robert N. Rinaldi, BT2 William K. Burkhalter, and FA Ralph Duran, and injured five more. The fire knocked out all electrical power, but the crew contained the conflagration. Douglas H. Fox transferred her three hallowed dead and five injured shipmates via motor launch to Corry. The latter converted her wardroom into a triage and her communications officer contacted Charleston Naval Hospital for details on how to treat burn victims, and relayed the instructions to Lt. Robert Tripplett, MC, and his medical team. Corry swung around and steamed at flank speed back to Charleston, where she disembarked all of the casualties to the hospital staff, who further treated the injured sailors.

Douglas H. Fox suffered severe electrical and mechanical damage including: the gauges on Nos 3 and 4 boilers; cabling on the port side of the fireroom; lagging at the boiler fronts; insulation in the overhead; gaskets and packing; Leslie regulators on No. 3 and fuel oil service pumps; fuel oil heater relief valves; and two safeties on No. 4 boiler. The ship limped into port under her own power but escorted by Robert L. Wilson, and completed repairs at Charleston Naval Shipyard (10 September–2 October), though her Engineering Department afterward reported that gaskets and packing damaged by the fire continued to cause problems.

The troops locked in battle in the Vietnam War desperately required naval gunfire support, however, so Robert L. Wilson, Corry, and Waller resumed their voyage. The trio refueled at Colón at the Panama Canal, passed through the canal overnight, and charted northward courses from Balboa on 12 September 1968. On the 19th they departed San Diego, Calif., turned westward across the Pacific, refueled and provisioned at Pearl Harbor, stood out of that port on the 28th, and on 6 October refueled at Midway Island. Typhoon Faye slammed into the ships with 20–25 foot waves while their men grimly hung-on and battled the turbulent sea for nearly 12 hours. The battered vessels refueled at Guam on the 13th, and on the 17th reached Subic Bay in the Philippines.

Corry refueled, provisioned, and completed voyage repairs and upkeep, and then detached from the other ships of the division and turned for Vietnamese waters. South Vietnamese Ensigns Le H. Dao and Dao V. Hai boarded and acted as liaisons while the destroyer supported South Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase V in the Mekong River Delta in the III Corps Tactical Zone. A pair of allied inshore patrol craft, which the crew nicknamed “swifties” [Swift Boats], escorted the destroyer fore and aft into the labyrinthine waterways of the delta. Corry anchored inshore and provided on call fire to support allied troops fighting the elusive enemy during the daytime, and harassment and interdiction fire during the nighttime battles (23–27 October 1968).

The veteran warship pulled out of the fighting to refuel and replenish, and then took part in Operation Market Time. The allies initiated Market Time to halt enemy smuggling and infiltrating by sea and rivers into South Vietnam, and a growing fleet of vessels patrolled in Market Time. Corry surprised and challenged six suspicious small craft at darken ship, and her confident patrols appeared to deter other vessels from attempting to infiltrate past her vigilance. Following the interceptions she came about for Subic Bay for refueling and maintenance in early November.

Rear Adm. James R. Reedy of TF 77 had established a Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone (PIRAZ) in July 1966 to cover eastern North Vietnam and the Gulf of Tonkin. Cruisers assigned to PIRAZ received the appellation of Red Crown and steamed 25–30 miles off the mouth of the Red River, or Harbormaster to the southward, and a third ship to the northward. Pilots in trouble radioed these cruisers to guide them “straight-in” to aircraft carriers or “bingo” (divert) fields. Corry steered westerly and northerly courses to the PIRAZ and rendezvoused with Wainwright (DLG-28) to screen the guided missile frigate.

Another stop at Subic Bay later in November 1968, prepared Corry to steam into Operation Sea Dragon, additional attempts to intercept enemy smuggling from North Vietnam to South Vietnam, and to further support allied troops with naval gunfire. Corry made to rendezvous with guided missile light cruiser Springfield (CLG-7) off Haiphong, North Vietnam, when she received a “Flash Message” to halt all hostile fire against the enemy forces.

Corry departed the area and steamed to Sasebo, Japan, where she accomplished much-needed repairs and maintenance, as well as further refueling and provisioning. She returned to the Vietnam War on 22 December 1968, and acted as a plane guard for Intrepid (CVS-11). Oiler Ponchatoula (AO-148) refueled Intrepid and Corry on Christmas Day, and those men on the ships who could listened eagerly to the United Service Organization’s Bob Hope Christmas Special over the loudspeakers. Corry celebrated New Year’s Eve in Subic Bay (30 December 1968–early January 1969).

The ship returned to the fighting in the first week of January 1969, and steamed as a plane guard for Ranger (CVA-61). Corry turned southward and operated off Da Nang and Chu Lai in the I Corps Tactical Zone. Corry next (8–10 and 13–31 January) screened New Jersey (BB-62) while the battleship unleashed 16-inch and 5-inch salvoes in support of the 26th Marines and soldiers of the 23rd Infantry Division as they attacked People’s Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF) troops on the Batangan Peninsula during Operation Bold Mariner. Corry joined her more heavily armed companion along with other ships and shot on-call and harassment and interdiction fire. Rear Adm. William W. Behrens Jr., Commander Amphibious Group 1 and Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, commended Corry for her accurate and rapid gunfire and she received a Navy Unit Commendation for her sterling work during the period (12–31 January). In addition, the destroyer sent small boats ashore for men to acquire supplies at Da Nang (11–12 January).

Following Bold Mariner, Corry spent four days in Hong Kong, and then completed voyage repairs and upkeep in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Corry returned to the gun line on 15 February 1969, and through the end of the month provided on call and harassment and interdiction fire against PLAF troops while steaming off the South Vietnamese ports of Nha Trang and Phan Rang in the II Corps Tactical Zone. The ship sent small boats ashore for men to acquire supplies at Nha Trang on 20 February. Corry’s gunners calculated that during their deployment to the war they fired more than 6,600 5-inch rounds in action.

The ship’s company finally received the welcome news that they were going home, and they hauled off the gunline. Corry stopped in Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on 5 March, Yokosuka, Japan (6–12 March), on the 17th at Midway Island, and cruised rapidly to slip into Pearl Harbor on the 22nd. As Corry entered the harbor during the forenoon watch, her crew experienced the rare sight of watching Japanese planes attack the Americans during the filming of the 20th Century Fox motion picture Tora! Tora! Tora! The ship refueled and loaded provisions at Pearl Harbor and then set out again, returning to San Diego on 3 April. Corry resumed the voyage and called at Mazatlán, Mexico, on the 7th, continued through the Panama Canal on the 12th, and on 18 April entered Norfolk. Fire boats shot their spray to salute the weary men as they returned from the Vietnam War, but anti-war protestors sadly dampened their homecoming.

Corry continued with a seemingly recurring cycle of yard work, training exercises, and overseas deployments. The ship returned to the Gulf of Tonkin and supported the allied forces fighting in the Vietnam War but the cease-fire, announced four days earlier, went into effect on 27 January 1973. The following day, Corry joined a number of ships of TF 77 for a series of photographs of the powerful force at sea including: America (CVA-66), Enterprise, Oriskany (CVA-34), Ranger, Cone, William C. Lawe (DD-763), Bronstein (DE-1037), and Fanning (DE-1076). The ships maneuvered at an average distance of 500 yards from each other in a tight formation. Corry escorted Enterprise from the Philippines on 15 April 1973, and the next day Enterprise arrived at Yankee Station and began air operations that ultimately included the carrier’s participation in Operation Frequent Wind—the evacuation of Saigon [Ho Chi Minh City], South Vietnam (29–30 April). Corry, meanwhile, set course for home.

America, Enterprise, Oriskany, Ranger, Cone, Corry, William C. Lawe, Bronstein, and Fanning display a powerful array of naval might as they steam in the South China Sea, 28 January 1973. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph K-97942)
Caption: America, Enterprise, Oriskany, Ranger, Cone, Corry, William C. Lawe, Bronstein, and Fanning display a powerful array of naval might as they steam in the South China Sea, 28 January 1973. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph K-97942)

Corry subsequently joined the Naval Reserve Force and shifted her home port to Philadelphia. West German merchantman Mormannia struck Corry’s starboard side as the destroyer set out from Philadelphia along the Delaware River to sea on 8 May 1976. The impact inflicted minor damage on Corry above the waterline in that area but the ship did not report any causalities and resumed operations.

A fire broke out on board Italian cruise ship Angelina Lauro, Master Antonio S. Di Carlo, of Costa Lines, Inc., while she lay at Charlotte Amalie during the afternoon watch on 30 March 1979. On the 24th Angelina Lauro set out with 669 passengers and 380 crewmembers from San Juan for a week-long cruise through the area and visited the port before her planned return to San Juan the following day. Coast Guard investigators concluded that the most likely cause of the blaze occurred when a crewmember turned on the electric skillet in the Crew’s Galley to its highest setting and temporarily left it unattended. Most of the ship’s passengers had gone ashore, but crewmembers led others down the gangway to safety as the fire spread rapidly to the Continental Dining Room and flames and smoke poured out of portholes. Coast Guardsmen and sailors rushed to the scene and reinforced the civilian firefighters.

Corry and frigate McCandless (FF-1084) also lay at the port when the fire erupted and both dispatched damage control teams, Corry’s battling the flames with hose lines and portable pumps from pierside for more than seven hours until large harbor tug YTB-811 closed the stricken liner to help. Cmdr. George W. Crowninshield, Corry’s commanding officer, also happened to be the senior officer present and assumed On-Scene Commander. Coast Guard cutter Gallatin (WHEC-721), Cmdr. George Moritz, USCG, took part in maneuvers in the Caribbean and turned and made for the port at speed to render assistance. Upon reaching the fire, Moritz relieved Crowninshield as On-Scene Commander, and after the latter detached some volunteers and equipment to stay ashore and support the other firefighters Corry stood down the channel and out to sea. Another damage control team from guided missile destroyer Claude V. Ricketts (DDG-5), completing refresher training following an overhaul, boarded a flight from Naval Station Roosevelt Roads and later arrived to join the battle.

The port authorities, meanwhile, considered taking the burning liner in tow out to sea but abandoned their plan in the face of the strong breeze that swept through the harbor and the choppy water, and fears that she could sink and block the channel. They also realized that none of the vessels present including Corry, McCandless, or YTB-811 would be large enough to safely control the larger cruise ship. The firefighters thus also directed their hoses into the ship’s interior to douse her fuel tanks, though she consequently further settled at her moorings. The combined firefighters continued their heroic efforts to save the ship until 4 April, by which point she became a total loss. Eckhardt & Company of Hamburg, West Germany, raised and scrapped Angelina Lauro that summer. Fortuitously, not a single person perished in the tragedy though two were treated for minor injuries. Corry received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for her part in fighting the inferno.

Corry was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 27 February 1981. On 8 July 1981, Corry was transferred to the Hellenic Navy and renamed Kriezis (D-217), in honor of Greek national hero Antonios Kriezis (1796–1865), who fought the Ottoman Turks as a captain in the Hellenic Navy and later became that country’s prime minister. The Greeks struck Kriezis in 1994 and in 2002 the Turks scrapped her.

Corry received four battle stars for her service in the Vietnam War.

Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Cmdr. Martin S. Shellabarger 26 February 1946
Cmdr. David L. Roscoe Jr. 12 June 1947
Lt. Cmdr. Charles S. Quinn Jr. 15 November 1948
Lt. Owen L. Duffy 11 May 1949
Cmdr. David L. Roscoe Jr. 13 May 1949
Cmdr. Robert S. Mendelkorn 6 July 1949
Cmdr. Milton A. Zimmerman 1 June 1951
Cmdr. Frank D. Whalen 8 January 1954
Cmdr. John E. Greenbacker Jr. 28 November 1955
Cmdr. Richard G. Zimmerman 15 September 1957
Cmdr. Charles W. Ward 7 October 1958
Cmdr. Harold W. Killer 27 December 1960
Cmdr. Archy L. Lupia 8 July 1962
Lt. Virgil C. Snyder 2 December 1963
Lt. Cmdr. Jarvis N. Messer 28 May 1964
Cmdr. John E. Lowell 1 July 1964
Cmdr. William J. Aicklen Jr. 26 October 1965
Cmdr. Cornelius S. Snodgrass Jr. 6 January 1968
Cmdr. Paul P. Connolly 7 October 1969
Cmdr. Robert E. Clark Jr. 3 June 1971
Cmdr. Gerald J. McCormick 4 October 1972
Cmdr. Richard G. Hollenbach 13 April 1973
Cmdr. Anthony P. Porcaro 11 January 1974
Cmdr. Guy A. Archambault 11 October 1975
Cmdr. George W. Crowninshield 6 August 1977
Cmdr. Gary Blair 12 April 1979

Mark L. Evans

15 September 2020

Published: Mon Sep 21 15:55:50 EDT 2020