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Dennis (DE-405)

19441946

 

Otis Lee Dennis was born in Scottsville, Allen County, Ky., on 25 March 1913 to John L. and Mattie P. (Newman) Dennis. While still a young boy he moved with his family to Fowler, Co., where he attended grade school. His parents described him as a cheerful, happy-go-lucky boy with a passion for sports who eventually acquired the rather colorful nickname of “Toad.”

Dennis enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Denver, Co., on 25 October 1940, and on 10 December of that same year, completed basic training at the U.S. Naval Training Station, San Diego, Calif. He subsequently attained the rank of apprentice petty officer first class.

Assigned to Scouting Squadron (VS) 6, in the air group assigned to the aircraft carrier Enterprise (CV-6), operating in the Pacific Fleet, Dennis specialized as a radioman or “rear-gunner,” as they were often called. By late 1941, Dennis had attained the rank of radioman third class (RM3c) and worked out of a Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless dive-bomber with Scouting Squadron (VS) 6, one of the four squadrons comprising the Enterprise Air Group.

On the morning of 7 December 1941, Dennis was the passenger in a Douglas SBD-2 (BuNo 2172), side number 6-S-11, flown by Ens. Carlton T. “Misty” Fogg, in a two-plane section assigned the task of scouting ahead of Enterprise, the flagship for Vice Adm. William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander Aircraft, Battle Force, and her screen, Task Force (TF) 8, returning from a ferry mission to Wake Island. Enterprise’s planes encountered Japanese aircraft in the skies over and near Oahu, and Fogg and Dennis emerged unscathed, landing at Ewa Mooring Mast Field, the Marine Corps air facility on Oahu that took heavy damage in the enemy attack.


RM3c Dennis, remembered by a shipmate as “jolly, good-natured, and easily-kidded,” circa January 1942. Dennis (DE-405) Ship Name and Sponsor File, Naval History and Heritage Command)
Caption: RM3c Dennis, remembered by a shipmate as “jolly, good-natured, and easily-kidded,” circa January 1942. Dennis (DE-405) Ship Name and Sponsor File, Naval History and Heritage Command)

 

In late January 1942, Vice Adm. Halsey, commanded TF-8, as it, along with TF-17 (Rear Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher) struck the occupied Gilbert and Marshall Islands. The attack began on Sunday, 1 February 1942, with Enterprise comprising the centerpiece of Task Group (TG) 8.5, one of the three task groups participating in the attack. Primarily the strike targeted Japanese positions at Kwajalein, Maleolap, and Wotje.

 

Amid “good weather conditions and low scattered clouds,” aircrews on Enterprise assembled at 0345 and planes from the carrier launched in two successive waves, departing the flight deck at 0445 and 0510 respectively. The Douglas TBD-1 Devastators from Torpedo Squadron (VT) 6, each carrying three 500-pound bombs, bore down on the small island of Roi, located at the northern tip of the Kwajalein Atoll, and inflicted significant damage to the airfield there. The aerial bombardment was heavily resisted by both Japanese fighters and intense anti-aircraft fire with “absolutely no diversion or support.” An after-action report from the attack observed that, the very fact that a, “…majority of these planes were not lost may be regarded as a minor miracle.”

 

While losses were not overwhelming, they were nonetheless, significant, with VS-6 alone losing three planes in the initial attack. RM3c Dennis’ SBD-2 (BuNo 2172) piloted by now-Lt. (j.g.) Fogg, was among the VS-6 planes lost. “Believed to have been hit by anti-aircraft fire as the airplane did not fully recover from its dive,” Lt. (j.g.) Fogg and RM3c Dennis’ plane was last observed careening “across the island and eventually crashed into the sea about a half-mile north of Roi.”

 

“For heroic conduct in action as an aircraft gunner” which contributed “greatly to the success” of the attack on Kwajalein Atoll, Dennis was posthumously commended by Adm. Halsey. In addition to his letter of commendation, Dennis received a Purple Heart Medal, American Defense Service Medal and Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal.

 

(DE-405: displacement 1,350; length 306'; beam 36'8"; draft 9'5"; speed 24 knots; complement 186; armament 2 5-inch, 2 40-millimeter, 8 20-millimeter, 2 depth charge tracks, 8 depth charge projectors, 1 depth charge projector (hedgehog), 3 21-inch torpedo tubes; class John C. Butler)

 

Dennis (DE-405) was laid down on 15 September 1943 at Houston, Texas, by Brown Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 4 December 1943 and sponsored by Mrs. Mattie P. (Newman) Dennis, the mother of RM3c Dennis, and commissioned on 20 March 1944, Lt. Cmdr. Sigurd Hansen, DE-V (G), USNR, in command.

 

Following her commissioning, Dennis remained moored for several days at the Tennessee Coal & Iron Co., dock at Houston, “completing logistics.” In the early afternoon, on 23 March 1944, she steamed to the Ordnance Depot Dock, San Jacinto, Texas, and took on ammunition. Loading continued until 1530 the following day, after which Dennis got underway for Galveston, Texas, arriving there within a few hours. From 25 March to 6 April, the escort ship fitted out near Galveston.

 

Early on 7 April 1944, Dennis, in company with fellow escort ship Eversole (DE-404), got underway for Bermuda, British West Indies, to conduct her shakedown. Following a brief five-day voyage Dennis stood into Bermuda Harbor and at 1210, moored in a nest alongside the destroyer tender Hamul (AD-20)—commencing a month-long shakedown training program.

 

On 10 May 1944, still in company with Eversole, Dennis weighed anchor from Bermuda Harbor and shaped a course for Boston, Mass. At 0750 on the 12th, the escort ship entered the Boston Harbor Channel and at 0843, moored to Pier No. 1, Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Mass. With her arrival, Dennis commenced her post-shakedown availability, upon the conclusion of which she received orders to the Pacific.

 


Starboard broadside view of Dennis standing out of Boston Harbor, 20 May 1944, in a two-color camouflage of Ocean Grey and Black. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS-65964-A, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Starboard broadside view of Dennis standing out of Boston Harbor, 20 May 1944, in a two-color camouflage of Ocean Grey and Black. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS-65964-A, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)


Port broadside view of Dennis, Boston, 20 May 1944. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS-65964-B, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Port broadside view of Dennis, Boston, 20 May 1944. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS-65964-B, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

On 20 May 1944, the escort ship stood out of Boston and steamed to Naval Operating Base Hampton Roads [Naval Station Norfolk], Va., arriving there on the morning of the 22nd. She replenished her fuel and within just five hours of her arrival got back underway again, steaming for Colón, Panama, in company with Eversole and the transport Arlington (AP-74).

Following a voyage in which “no incidents of note occurred,” Dennis and Eversole stood into Colón Harbor on 28 May 1944. That evening Dennis took on 46,503 gallons of fuel oil, and then early the next day began the process of transiting the Panama Canal. She entered the lower chamber of the Gatun Locks at 0735 and departed the Miraflores Locks at 1336. At 1406, on the 29th, Dennis moored to Pier No. 18, Balboa, Canal Zone.

Shortly after sunrise, on 30 May 1944, Dennis, in company with Eversole, got underway for San Diego, Calif. Six days later, on 6 June, Dennis entered the San Diego Channel and at 0930 moored to Pier No. 4, U.S. Naval Repair Base, San Diego, Calf., beginning a period of “availability for voyage and other necessary repairs.” With her upkeep completed, Dennis stood out of San Diego on the morning of 13 June and shaped a course for Pearl Harbor, T.H. On 18 June, Dennis rendezvoused with the escort aircraft carrier Windham Bay (CVE-92) while still at sea, and then after taking up screening station with the carrier, continued on to Pearl. Early the following day, Dennis sighted Makapuʻu Point Light and at 0932 moored to the northwest side Pier DE-3 at Pearl.

During her first few days at Pearl, Dennis ventured out to sea only a few times to conduct anti-submarine and gunnery exercises but otherwise remained moored at the docks. On 25 June 1944, she stood out of Pearl to escort a convoy to Eniwetok and Kwajalein. At 1516, she rendezvoused with the five-ship convoy 4219, at sea, and maneuvered into an assigned screening station. Later that morning, due to a sound contact, the escort ship “executed an emergency turn,” and dropped a full pattern of depth charges. The contact was later determined to be “non-submarine.”

On 2 July 1944, Dennis came within sight of Majuro Atoll and then, the following day, part of the convoy split off, bound for Kwajalein Atoll. On the 4th, Dennis arrived at Eniwetok and moored port side to the oiler Neshanic (AO-71). The escort ship completed fueling at 1436 and continued to Kwajalein. The following day, Dennis passed through the Gea Main Pass Channel, and shortly thereafter entered the Kwajalein Island Anchorage. Just four hours after her arrival Dennis got back underway again with the escort ship Greiner (DE-37), accompanying a convoy to Pearl.

At 0544 on 13 July 1944, Dennis arrived back at Pearl and screened the convoy’s entrance into the Pearl Harbor Channel. A few hours later, she moored starboard side in berth No. 2 at the “DE” docks at Pearl, and began a period of availability for “voyage repairs and routine upkeep” that lasted through the 21st. Ready for sea again a short time later, Dennis prepared for another escort duty screening the small aircraft carrier Belleau Wood (CVL-24) to Eniwetok. Dennis stood out from Pearl at 1340 on 22 July, and maintained a plane guard station for Belleau Wood as the carrier steamed to Eniwetok. On 29 July, Dennis screened Belleau Wood during the carrier’s arrival at Eniwetok, and Dennis shortly thereafter dropped anchor there.

After spending just one day moored at Eniwetok, Dennis again got underway with Belleau Wood, headed for a rendezvous point with TG 58.4 approximately 300 miles from Guam. On 4 August 1944, Dennis received orders to steam independently to Eniwetok and she shaped a course for that locale the same day. Dennis eventually arrived at her destination on the afternoon of the 8th, and moored in berth 354. The day after her arrival, Dennis joined the Fifth Fleet as an escort for Carrier Division 22 (CarDiv22), which consisted of the escort carriers Sangamon (CVE-26), Santee (CVE-29), Suwannee (CVE-27), Chenango (CVE-28) and St. Lo (CVE-63), as well as the escort ships Richard S. Bull (DE-402), Shelton (DE-407) and Eversole. Dennis got underway that same day with CarDiv22 for the Admiralty Islands. Following an uneventful voyage excepting “for routine incidents and daily operational and training flights,” the carrier division entered Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, on the 13th, and Dennis dropped her anchor in berth 261.

With her arrival at Manus, Dennis underwent a “routine overhaul and the completion of logistics.” The escort ship weighed anchor for a two-day exercise with Shelton and Santee from 18-19 August 1944, and then promptly returned to the anchorage at Seeadler Harbor. On the 21st, Dennis shifted over to the repair base at Lombrum Point, “for engine and sound gear repairs, as well as the installation of VHF radio equipment.” Despite the work being completed on the 25th, an at sea exercise on the 26th revealed ongoing issues as “the sound gear became inoperative,” and compelled Dennis to return to Seeadler Harbor for additional repairs.

Dennis had her upkeep and repairs completed by 28 August 1944, and beginning on the 29th, she started conducting a series of daily exercises with CarDiv22 in the vicinity of Manus. On 10 September, Dennis got underway for a sortie with Task Force (TF) 77, providing air support for Allied forces landing on Morotai Island between 15 and 27 September. The escort ship joined company with TF 77 at sea, on the 13th, and by the 15th, the force arrived in its designated area of operation off Morotoai. Dennis shifted between screening duties and maintaining a plane guard station while TF 77 aircraft pummeled Morotoai. The order for “All hands at battle stations,” occurred on a near daily basis, but Dennis never came under direct attack during the operation.


Dennis (background) transfers S1c Harold J. Scribner, V-6 SV, USNR, to Sangamon (CVE-26) for emergency medical treatment on 21 September 1944. Note the men on Dennis’ main deck handling the required lines, as well as shipmates topside watching from the upper decks, including two men in the forward 5-inch/38 mount (Mt. 51). Also note the weathered condition of the escort vessel’s camouflage after about four months’ of service. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-283962, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Dennis (background) transfers S1c Harold J. Scribner, V-6 SV, USNR, to Sangamon (CVE-26) for emergency medical treatment on 21 September 1944. Note the men on Dennis’ main deck handling the required lines, as well as shipmates topside watching from the upper decks, including two men in the forward 5-inch/38 mount (Mt. 51). Also note the weathered condition of the escort vessel’s camouflage after about four months’ of service. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-283962, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

As the last of the strike aircraft returned to their carriers at 1804 on 27 September 1944, Dennis got underway with Sangamon and Santee en route to Manus. The escort ship stood into Seeadler Harbor on 1 October with her cohorts and then proceeded to her assigned moorings in berth 3. Shortly after her anchor went into the water, Lt. Cmdr. Hansen received word that Dennis was “Under orders to get underway on a one hour notice, and remain under half boiler power in the event of necessity.” On the 2nd, TF 77 dissolved and the escort ship resumed her assignment with the Seventh Fleet. Despite the threat of quick mobilization, Dennis remained undisturbed at Seeadler Harbor through 11 October.

On the morning of 12 October 1944, Dennis got underway from Seeadler Harbor in conjunction other with air, land and sea forces preparing for the invasion of Leyte. Within just a few hours of her departure, she joined company with the escort carrier Kitkun Bay (CVE-71) and proceeded to a rendezvous point with TF 78 off Hollandia, Netherlands New Guinea. The following day Dennis made it to the vicinity of Hollandia and joined with TF 78, assigned to be the northern air support group covering the initial landings at Leyte. On the 21st, Dennis arrived in her designated area and began screening the carriers in her task force as they conducted air operations. As of the 22nd, things remained relatively uneventful with Lt. Cmdr. Hansen commenting, “All has been quiet thus far… no indication of the enemy.”

Though absent during the previous week of operations in the area, on the morning of 25 October 1944, the Imperial Japanese Navy suddenly appeared in the area in force, and attacked Pacific Fleet Task Unit 77.4.3 (Taffy 3), initiating an engagement later known as the Battle off Samar. Shortly after sunrise that day, scheduled plane launchings commenced from the carriers of TU 77.4.3. Then, abruptly, at around 0650, gunfire “shook the air” off Dennis’ port quarter. A carrier plane subsequently reported a “large enemy force astern, 15 miles distant,” consisting of “four battleships, twelve cruisers and numerous destroyers.” In actuality, the Japanese Central Battle Force in question, which had just transited the San Bernardino Straits, comprised four battleships, eight cruisers, and twelve destroyers. Within two minutes of the report coming in over the radio, Dennis’ crew had manned their battle stations and the carriers were rapidly launching their planes in “ready condition.”

At 0705, Lt. Cmdr. Hansen reported observing the first salvo from the enemy fleet, which landed in the center of the formation. Dennis quickly commenced laying down a smoke screen and then at “0735 was ordered to take a position on the carriers… between them and the enemy.”


Dennis lays funnel (black) and chemical (white) smoke during the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944, in this considerably enlarged image captured by a photographer on board the escort carrier Kitkun Bay (CVE-71). (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-287459, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Dennis lays funnel (black) and chemical (white) smoke during the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944, in this considerably enlarged image captured by a photographer on board the escort carrier Kitkun Bay (CVE-71). (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-287459, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Five minutes later Dennis commenced firing her No. 1 and No. 2, 5-inch guns at a range of approximately 15,200 yards. At 0740, destroyers in the group were ordered to make a torpedo attack, and then, ten minutes later, Dennis received orders to “close the enemy and deliver a torpedo attack.”

Dennis made a right turn and steadied under the cover of a rain squall. At 0759, the escort ship turned left and developed a target at 8,000 yards, at which point, she slowed her speed and launched three torpedoes. The bridge was unable to follow the track of the “fish,” due to poor visibility, but “one of the torpedo men claims he was able to follow them,” and observed at least one direct hit on the target, which created a large explosion. After firing, Dennis maneuvered to rejoin the carrier group while laying down a smoke screen with her generators. As she maneuvered her 5-inch batteries, she continued firing at an enemy vessel located off her port quarter.

At 0847, “enemy salvos were observed falling close abroad,” and just a few minutes later at 0850, Dennis received a direct hit on her port side near frame 35. In addition to the direct hit, shell fragments struck the ship at frame 137, just below the main deck line. Within ten minutes another direct hit from an enemy warship struck the after 40-millimeter director as well as at the rear of the number one 5-inch gun shield. During this intense exchange of naval gunfire, Dennis also claimed to have made at least six direct hits. The Japanese battle force finally withdrew at around 0930.

During the course of the next hour, Dennis rallied into “Charlie formation,” with St. Lo, Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70), Kitkun Bay, White Plains (CVE-66), Heermann, Raymond (DE-341) and John C. Butler (DE-339). However, at about 1050, eight enemy planes launched a suicide attack against the formation targeting the carriers. Upon observing the approaching Japanese aircraft, Dennis immediately opened fire on them with her 40-millimeter guns. One enemy plane crashed into the sea and another flew directly into the flight deck of St. Lo. Dennis “took a position as close as we dared on account of the violent explosions occurring and commenced picking up survivors,” who were by then abandoning ship. At 1108, another enemy plane crashed into the carrier White Plains. Dennis continued picking up survivors for the next several hours, eventually bringing 425 of them on board from St. Lo, six from White Plains and three from Petrof Bay (CVE-80). Finally, at 1432, Dennis “secured from general quarters.”

In the aftermath of the Battle off Samar, Dennis joined company with Heermann, “who was badly damaged and had inoperative sound gear,” in order to accompany the destroyer to “Kossol Passage… proceeding on base course.” Dennis herself sustained considerable damage “due to a hit at frame 35, and in consequence of the passage of a shell through the ship, the ordnance storeroom was flooded.” Initially steaming at reduced speed, several plates were welded to the inside of the escort ship’s hull and “The following morning she was sufficiently repaired to make desired speed.”

For “quickly laying down a heavy smoke screen,” and waging fierce battle against an enemy force possessing “superior speed and firepower,” Dennis, along with the other ships of TU 77.4.3, was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. For her role in rescuing survivors of the doomed St. Lo, and aggressively engaging an enemy cruiser, Lt. Cmdr. Hansen received a Navy Cross.


Cmdr. Sigurd Hansen, who received the Navy Cross for his performance of duty off Samar, is seen here at Guam, 20 June 1945. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-338997, taken by CSP Jerome Zerbe, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Cmdr. Sigurd Hansen, who received the Navy Cross for his performance of duty off Samar, is seen here at Guam, 20 June 1945. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-338997, taken by CSP Jerome Zerbe, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

On 26 October 1944, while still en route to Kossol Passage, Caroline Islands, “burial at sea services,” were conducted for six men. Five of the sailors were crewmembers from Dennis and included FC3c William A. Curtis, USNR, F1c Charles B. Davis Jr., USNR, F1c Maynard W. Emery, USN, S1c George W. Grater, USNR, and F1c John A. Sambo, USNR; and one other man from St. Lo, ACM (T) William B. Greaves, USN. The following evening Dennis and Heermann steamed into Kossol Passage and Dennis entered berth #93. She transferred several casualties to the hospital ship Bountiful (AH-9) and the remainder of the survivors to Commander Service Squadron 10 (ComServRon10) for transportation. The next day Dennis shifted over to berth 3, and settled in to get some badly needed repairs and upkeep.

At 0749, on 31 October 1944, Dennis got underway for Manus, screening Heermann. On 3 November, the escort ship entered Seeadler Harbor and anchored in berth 32 with 45 fathoms of chain out on the port anchor. From the 4th to the 6th ComServRon 10 inspected Dennis’ battle damage and determined she needed to return to San Francisco for an overhaul and repairs. In accordance with her orders, just before sunrise on the 7th, Dennis weighed anchor and got underway for Pearl Harbor accompanied by Fanshaw Bay, Kitkun Bay, White Plains, Kalinin Bay (CVE-68), Hutchins (DD-476), and Raymond. After an uneventful ten-day voyage, Dennis entered Pearl Harbor at 1443 on 18 November, and moored at about 1527, in berth Dog 3, starboard side to the destroyer Mullany (DD-528).

Following a brief two-day stay at Pearl, Dennis got underway on 20 November 1944, for San Francisco in company with TU 16.2.5. On the 25th, Dennis parted company with the convoy and proceeded independently, sighting Farallon Island Light, Calif., at 0412 the following day. Dennis then steamed to the Naval Ammunition Depot at Mare Island to discharge her ammunition. After completing the removal of her ordnance at 1532, the escort ship steamed to the General Engineering & Dry Dock Co. at Alameda, Calif., to begin battle damage repair and overhaul.

Dennis remained in dry dock well into the middle of December 1944. On 19 December, the ship at last again prepared to put back out to sea, getting underway at approximately 0755 for Hunters Point, San Francisco, to retrieve a load of torpedoes. The following morning she proceeded to the Naval Ammunition Depot, and then steamed back to San Francisco for degaussing and compass adjustments.

Dennis got underway independently for Pearl on 22 December 1944, and arrived there six days later on the 28th. On 2 January 1945, Dennis weighed anchor for a brief daytime, anti-submarine exercise and then returned to her moorings. On the 12th, she got underway again for a training sortie with TF 51, cruising in the area of Pearl for almost a week before returning to port on the 18th. Following another brief daylong exercise on 20 January, Dennis then prepared for another wartime mission and replenished her stores. At 0900, on the 24th, she got underway with TG 51.5 and headed for Eniwetok. Dennis arrived at Eniwetok Harbor with her counterparts on 6 February and anchored at berth Baker 1.

After only a few short days at the port there, Dennis got underway on 8 February 1945, with TG 51.5 bound for Apra Harbor, Guam. Her task group arrived at Apra at 1300 on the 13th and Dennis anchored in 20 fathoms of water. In support of the impending invasion of Iwo Jima, Dennis departed Guam with TG 51.5 on 16 February. On the second day of the voyage, the escort ship spotted a floating contact mine and destroyed it with 540 rounds of 20-millimeter. On the 20th, Dennis arrived in her operational area, at which point she detached from TG 51.5 and reported to TG 51.2. As operations commenced at Iwo Jima, Dennis began her patrol duty in sector “Charlie 8.”

On 24 February 1945, Dennis shifted over to patrol sector Charlie 6 and then later moved to sector Charlie 7, during which time she observed heavy anti-aircraft near the embattled volcanic island. Two days later, on the 26th, the escort ship briefly steamed away from her assigned station to investigate a possible submarine contact reported by an air patrol. Dennis located a pontoon barge at close range, and believing the vessel to be the mistaken contact, she sank the small boat by gunfire. Her crew observed no survivors of the barge and shortly thereafter Dennis returned to her assigned station, Charlie 7.

Dennis diligently patrolled her assigned area well into the next week. Finally, on 8 March 1945, she got underway steaming with TU 52.2.1, to escort a convoy to Ulithi. The escort ship entered Ulithi Harbor with TU 52.2.1, at 1530 on 12 March and moored at the dock. As part of the buildup of forces preparing for the invasion of Okinawa, Dennis got underway from Ulithi on 21 March, in company with TG 52.1.1. Six days later, she arrived in her assigned operating area off the coast of Okinawa and took up a station with TU 52.1.2, screening a carrier group as it began launching air strikes in support of the coming amphibious operations on the island. While screening the ships of her task unit on 3 April, the formation came under enemy air attack. Dennis did not directly engage any of the three Japanese planes picked up by radar but did participate in the rescue of several sailors that fell overboard from the escort carrier Wake Island (CVE-65).

With Wake Island damaged by several near misses, Dennis proceeded to escort her back to Kerma Retto, Ryukyu Islands. Dennis and Wake Island arrived at Kerama Retto at 0725 on 4 April 1945, and Dennis anchored in 25 fathoms of water. She then transferred survivors to Wake Island and at 0900 departed Kerama in company with fellow escort ship Goss (DE-44) to rejoin TU 52.1.2. At 1415 that same day, Dennis took up station five in an 11-ship screen with her task unit.

Operations remained relatively calm until 7 April 1945, when Dennis’ formation briefly came under enemy air attack, which was quickly neutralized by one of the unit’s carriers. Shortly thereafter, Dennis made a sound contact and consequently conducted three depth charge attacks—the target was eventually identified as a large school of fish. On the 9th, the escort ship detached from TU 52.1.2 and proceeded with Kendall C. Campbell (DE-443) and Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81) to Kerama Retto, for replenishment. At 0640, the following day, Dennis passed through the gate at Kerama Retto and at 1150 anchored in berth K99.

On 11 April 1945, Dennis stood out of Kerama Retto with Rudyerd Bay and Kendall C. Campbell escorting a large convoy of ships back to the operational area. On the 15th, Dennis detached from TU 52.1.2 and escorted Makassar Strait (CVE-77) back to Kerama Retto. Arriving at Kerama on the 16th, at about 0730, Dennis then weighed anchor again, later that afternoon, and proceeded to rejoin TU 52.1.2. She made it back to her task unit just before dawn on the 17th and resumed her patrol and screening duties as the formation’s carriers continued their air operations. During the early morning hours of the 30th, Dennis “rendezvoused with TU 52.1.3 and assumed station three in screen 56.” On 2 May, she shifted over to station six, screening Sangamon, Suwanee, Chenango and Santee. The following day she accompanied Sangamon and Fullam (DD-474) to Kerama Retto.

Just after sunrise on 4 May 1945, Dennis stood into Kerama Retto with Sangamon and proceeded to take on fuel and provisions. Later that day the escort ship got back underway with Sangamon to rejoin their task unit. While en route at 1900 “enemy aircraft were detected on SA radar at a distance of 10 miles.” An enemy plane, believed to be a “Tony,” attacked Sangamon and received heavy fire from both her and her screens. The plane crashed “close aboard the starboard quarter,” of the carrier, and was noted to have “attempted suicide tactics.” Twenty minutes later, several more Japanese planes were detected and one of them, “was observed crashing into the flight deck of USS Sangamon,” while a second was believed to have been shot down by Fullam. Lt. Cmdr. Hansen noted “tactical and visibility conditions prevented this vessel from firing” during the attack.

The kamikaze attack on Sangamon penetrated to the carrier’s hanger deck amidships and “started heavy fires.” Having observed the attack, Dennis “stood by to render assistance and conduct rescue operations.” As darkness set in, Dennis’ crew pulled stranded sailors from the water. In total 67 survivors were brought on board Dennis, and at least twenty others were delivered to other rescue vessels. At about 2300, Dennis transferred all of the rescued sailors she had on board to the escort patrol (rescue) vessel PCE(R)-853 and then proceeded to guide the damaged Sangamon to Ulithi. At dawn on 9 May 1945, Dennis arrived at Ulithi with Sangamon and the escort ship anchored in berth 322, commencing a ten-day availability.

Following the conclusion of her availability at Ulithi, Dennis got underway on 19 May 1945, to relieve Richard W. Suesens (DE-342) patrolling at early warning radar picket station number four, off Ulithi. Dennis commenced her radar picket duty at around 1130 that day and continued operating in that capacity until the end of the month. On the 31st, the escort ship was relieved of her patrolling station and returned to the Ulithi anchorage. The following morning Dennis briefly stood out of port to conduct an anti-submarine exercise with the submarine Gar (SS-206) and then returned to port.

On 3 June 1945, Dennis stood out of Ulithi, steaming with TG 94.6, escorting the battleship Tennessee (BB-43) to Okinawa. During an exercise, while en route on 6 June, Dennis shot down a drone launched by Tennessee and then spent several days searching for a OS2U-3 Kingfisher (BuNo 09671) lost by the battleship, before eventually giving up and continuing on her original course. Upon her arrival at the Hagushi Anchorage, Okinawa Gunto, Dennis reported for duty with TF 31 and then the following day rendezvoused with TU 32.1.1. The escort ship took up a post screening carrier forces of the Third Fleet as they launched air strikes against the Japanese mainland.

Dennis left formation to be an escort for Wake Island on 16 June 1945 and arrived at Kerama Retto the following day. Upon receiving provisions, the ship departed the Kerama anchorage that same day, in company with Wake Island, and rejoined TU 32.1.1. Dennis continued in that capacity, screening carriers of her task unit, until the 26th, at which time she returned to Ulithi. On 30 June, Dennis stood out of Ulithi and steamed independently to Guam transporting mail and passengers. She arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam, on 1 July and moored in berth 2.

Standing out of Apra Harbor on 4 July 1945, Dennis steamed to the Ulithi anchorage, arriving there the following day. On reaching Ulithi on the 5th, Dennis began a long series of escort duties that lasted until the end of the war. First, she voyaged from Ulithi to Subic Bay from 8-12 July. On 16 July, she stood out of Subic Bay to escort TU 72.10.3 to Okinawa, however, on the 17th “as a result of a storm warning, the convoy reversed course and proceeded to Lingayen Gulf, Philippines, for haven.” The convoy attempted to set out again the following day but the weather forced them to head south at reduced speed. On the 19th, the convoy resumed course but then had to maneuver to avoid a storm that came in from the northeast. A number of U.S. Army crash boats in the convoy were detached and escorted to a nearby port while the others continued on. At last, on 23 July, Dennis and her convoy arrived at the Hagushi Anchorage. Early the next morning Dennis steamed to Buckner Bay and anchored in berth B-45.

Dennis continued with her convoy duties, standing out of Buckner Bay on 25 July 1945, to escort convoy OKL 7 to Leyte Gulf. Other than her sonar gear going out on the 28th, Dennis had a relatively uneventful voyage and arrived at Tolosa, Leyte, on the 30th. After departing from the convoy, the escort ship proceeded to San Pedro Bay to re-fuel and moor for the night. The following day she again got underway escorting a convoy to Hollandia. She entered Hollandia Bay on 4 August, and “secured her engines” for six days of availability, rest, and recreation.

On 11 August 1945, Dennis stood out of Hollandia and proceeded alone to Sorido Lagoon, Biak Island. She arrived at Sorido late on the morning of 12 August and anchored in berth 16. At 1545, on the 13th, the escort ship prepared to get underway with TU 76.15.22 escorting a group of seven tank landing ships (LST). One of the LSTs was unable to get off the beach due to low water, and Dennis assisted the vessel by “making a wash.” Other than that early difficulty, the voyage went smoothly, and Dennis arrived with her task unit at Leyte on the 18th.

Following her arrival at Leyte, Dennis proceeded independently out of Tolosa on 19 August 1945, and steamed out to relieve the escort ship Lough (DE-586), patrolling station “Dog,” in nearby waters. Dennis maintained that patrolling station through the 28th and then on the 29th went to the anchorage at San Pedro Bay for an assigned availability. On 5 September, just three days after the official surrender of the Empire of Japan, Dennis got underway to rendezvous with TU 53.10.1. Having joined company with her new task unit at 1030 that same day, the escort ship proceeded to Buckner Bay.

Shortly after arriving at her destination on 15 September 1945, Dennis received word that “typhoon plan X-Ray” was in effect. The following morning she got underway to attempt to seek haven from the storm by steaming independently southwest of Okinawa. In commenting on the event Lt. Cmdr. Stanley N. Gleis, USNR, Dennis’ commanding officer, remarked that, “she rode the storm remarkably well, receiving only superficial damage.” An intriguing point considering the fact that winds reached an estimated “force 9 and the barometer dropped to 29.02.” With the cessation of the gale, Dennis journeyed independently along a southerly course to Leyte, and entered the anchorage at Tolosa on 19 September.

Having topped off her fuel, Dennis got underway at 1236 on 30 September 1945, bound for Guinan, Samar; she arrived there later that same day and anchored in berth Z-28. A few days later on 2 October, the escort ship stood out of Guinan and proceeded to relieve Jesse B. Rutherford (DE-347) at patrol station “Easy.” Dennis remained in her patrol area until late on the 7th, and then returned to Guinan. The following morning she steamed to Tolosa and then on the 10th shifted over to San Pedro.

Dennis’ crew got welcome news on 13 October 1945, when she received orders to transport passengers back to the United States. Traveling in company with Escort Division 63 (CortDiv63), Dennis got underway the following day for San Diego, via Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor. On 21 October, the escort ship “entered Deep Channel, Eniwetok,” and then after refueling continued on her way. She reached Pearl on the 27th and moored in berth D-4, Middle Loch, with a fully “dressed ship, in celebration of Navy Day.” A few days later, on the 30th, Dennis continued steaming to the West Coast, finally entering San Diego Harbor at 0543 on 6 November.

Upon her arrival at San Diego, Dennis discharged her passengers and moored to buoy #27. On the 9th, the escort ship stood out of San Diego to conduct “a full power trial and jettison her hedgehogs.” Four days later, she made her way to the pier at the San Diego Repair Base and moored in berth 41 for a “pre-in-reserve overhaul.” Dennis remained moored there for the rest of the month and then, along with the other remaining ships of CortDiv63, she was assigned to the Reserve Pacific Fleet effective 31 May 1946. Just a few months later on 31 June, Dennis was decommissioned and then on 3 August she became inactive.

Dennis was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 December 1972. On 12 September 1973, the ex-Dennis was sold for scrap to the National Metal & Steel Corp., Terminal Island, Calif.

In addition to her Presidential Unit Citation, Dennis received four battle stars for her service in World War II.

Commanding Officers Dates of Command
Lt. Cmdr. Sigurd Hansen, USNR 20 March 1944–16 June 1945
Lt. Cmdr. Stanley N. Gleis, USNR 17 June 1945–15 November 1945
Lt. Robert W. Crenshaw, USNR 15 November 1945–31 December 1945
Lt. (j.g.) Charles W. Baugh, USNR 1 January 1946–31 June 1946


Jeremiah D. Foster

30 July 2019

Published: Wed Jul 31 15:35:14 EDT 2019