Douglas Harold Fox was born on 26 March 1905 in Walled Lake, Mich., the son of Rev. and Mrs. Joseph and S. Laura Fox. He attended Dowagiac High School in Dowagiac, Mich., prior to entering the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., from his native state on 8 August 1922. The Naval Academy’s Lucky Bag yearbook described Fox as “Big-hearted,” adding that he gave away everything that he possessed, including his time and knowledge, which he “imparted liberally and without reservation.” In addition, he participated in the Radiator Club, a popular fraternal organization, and enjoyed classical music, bridge, and crossword puzzles. Upon graduating from the Naval Academy on 3 June 1926, he remained there for the summer course in aviation through 11 August.
His first tour of duty at sea took him to Seattle (Armored Cruiser No. 11), flagship of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, reporting on board on 17 October 1926. Fox was detached from Seattle on 12 September 1927, and after two months at the Fifth Naval District at Norfolk, Va., joined battleship New York (BB-34) on 5 November. On 17 June 1930, Fox reported on board destroyer Claxton (DD-140), and from there transferred to Pope (DD-225), serving in her on the Asiatic Station (27 March 1931–15 May 1934). The next two years he trained reservists on board Eagle No. 32, attached to the Twelfth Naval District at San Francisco, Calif. Upon completing that tour, Fox travelled to Mare Island Navy Yard, Calif., reporting on board Preston (DD-379) on 24 July 1936 while she fitted out, and became the ship’s gunnery officer upon her commissioning on 27 October 1936. He then (5 June 1939–31 May 1940) served as her executive officer. For a couple of months following that assignment, Fox served at the Recruiting Training School at San Diego, Calif., and then (13 July 1940–13 March 1942) was officer in charge of the Naval Recruiting Station at Minneapolis, Minn. He honed his submarine hunting skills while briefly attending the Naval Fleet Sound School at Key West, Fla. (16–28 March 1942).
On 1 April 1942, he reported to the Bethlehem Steel Co., at Quincy, Mass., for duty in connection with fitting out Barton (DD-599), and assumed command of the destroyer when she was commissioned on 29 May 1942. Allied intelligence meanwhile revealed that the Japanese began building an airfield on Guadalcanal in the southern Solomons. Upon completing the airstrip, enemy planes flying from the field would imperil Allied convoys crossing the South Pacific to Australian and New Zealand waters. Allied planners consequently envisioned ousting the Japanese in order to facilitate the liberation of the Solomons, Bismarcks, and New Guinea, and launched Operation Watchtower—the seizure of Japanese-held Guadalcanal, Florida, Gavutu, Tanambogo, and Tulagi. The 1st Marine Division gained surprise and wrestled control of the neighboring islands from the Japanese, simultaneously moving inland on Guadalcanal, on 7 August 1942. The following day the marines captured the unfinished Japanese airstrip, redesignating it Henderson Field in honor of Maj. Lofton R. Henderson, USMC, who had been shot down while leading Marine Scout Bombing Squadron (VMSB) 241 on an unsuccessful attack on Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryū at the Battle of Midway on 4 June.
Japanese ships, Vice Adm. Mikawa Gunichi in command, then slipped undetected to the west of nearby Savo Island and inflicted a singularly devastating defeat upon the Allies during the Battle of Savo Island, on 9 August. The losses suffered convinced U.S. planners to request reinforcements. Adm. Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet, ordered additional reinforcements to the South Pacific from the Atlantic Fleet, including battleships South Dakota (BB-57) and Washington (BB-56), light cruiser Juneau (CL-52), and destroyers Barton, Duncan (DD-485), Lansdowne (DD-486), Lardner (DD-487), McCalla (DD-488), and Meade (DD-602). Fox took part in a number of clashes and operations during the ensuing months, including the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on 26 October 1942.
Task Force (TF) 17, Rear Adm. George D. Murray in command, broke his flag in aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-8), which steamed at the middle of her screen, consisting of heavy cruisers Northampton (CA-26) and Pensacola (CA-24), light cruisers Juneau and San Diego (CL-53), and destroyers Anderson (DD-411), Barton, Hughes (DD-410), Morris, Mustin (DD-413), and Russell (DD-414). The American practice of operating their limited number of aircraft carriers separately, with the intention of ensuring that the enemy only attacked a single carrier at a time, proved erroneous, because it weakened the numbers and firepower of the fighters of the Combat Air Patrol (CAP), and of the antiaircraft guns provided by the additional escorts. The lessons learned during these earlier battles of World War II led to the revision of this doctrine, and as more carriers entered service, they sailed in combined task forces.
At 0845 on 26 October the radar team on board Northampton detected ‘bogeys’ -- enemy planes -- approaching TF 17, bearing 295°, range 70 miles. The Japanese closed the range and spotted Hornet and her consorts, and sent the signal To-to-to (All forces attack), at 0958. In barely ten minutes, planes from aircraft carriers Shōkaku, Zuikaku, and Junyō left Hornet ablaze from two Type 91 air-launched torpedoes, three bombs, and two crashing Aichi D3A1 Type 99 carrier bombers (kanjō bakugekiki or kanbakus — dive-bombers). South Dakota recorded that Hornet and her group disappeared from sight, “except for column of smoke.” Hornet’s crewmen controlled the flames, and Northampton took the battered carrier in tow. Murray transferred his flag to Pensacola at noon.
Japanese planes struck Hornet again before dusk on 26 October 1942, scoring crippling hits on the carrier. At one point in the battle, Hughes attempted to fight the fires on board Hornet and take off her survivors, but collided with the carrier. American antiaircraft fire had already damaged Hughes. Fox maneuvered Barton through the fierce enemy attacks and rescued 235 men from the stricken carrier, afterward receiving the Navy Cross for his “superb judgment and expert seamanship.”
Murray withdrew the surviving ships of TF 17 to the southeastward. Destroyers Anderson and Mustin attempted but failed to scuttle Hornet, and Murray eventually ordered them to come about and rendezvous with the task force. Japanese planes searched for the destroyers, dropping flares and float lights, and enemy destroyers pursued them, but Anderson and Mustin regained the task force. The following day, Japanese destroyers Akigumo and Makigumo sank the carrier. The damage to Enterprise (CV-6) was not as extensive as the damage inflicted on Hornet, but Kinkaid concluded “without hesitation” to prudently withdraw to ensure the survival of Enterprise — the only operational U.S. fleet carrier remaining in the South Pacific.
A few days after the battle, Barton performed an unusual rescue operation. “Lana T,” a USAAF Douglas C-47 Skytrain piloted by Capt. Petty, USAAF, with six crewmen and 18 wounded marines, took off from Henderson Field at 1930 on 20 October during an intense enemy artillery bombardment. Japanese fire hit and slightly damaged the Skytrain but it continued on its mission of mercy. Straying off course and becoming lost while attempting to reach Nouméa on New Caledonia or Efaté in the New Hebrides (Vanuatu), however, the plane ditched when its fuel ran out, on a reef to the northwest of New Caledonia near 18°15ˈS and 163°00ˈE. Tropical thunderstorms helped the men slake their thirst, and they caught a handful of reef fish for food, but exhaustion and dehydration took their toll. Eight days later an Army plane discovered the wreck, and an Australian bomber dropped blankets, food, and cigarettes to the survivors. Three Consolidated PBY-5 Catalinas, 11-P-9 (BuNo. 2355), 23-P-5, and 51-P-5, arrived the following day and landed close to the reef in a rough sea. The Catalinas took the 17 survivors on board from rubber rafts, but the heavy seas prevented them from taking off, and they radioed for help.
On the early morning of 29 October, Barton received orders to come about and make for a reef. Fox swung the ship about and increased speed to 32 knots in an attempt to reach the area before dusk. Barton failed to reach any of the aircrewmen by radio, however, and when the destroyer’s crewmen checked the charts they decided that the destroyer would not reach the area of the crash until after dark, so her navigation team adjusted the ship’s course and speed to arrive near the area by sunrise. Another message reached the ship overnight, informing her that two patrol planes drifted westward, and Barton consequently altered her course and speed to arrive 60 miles downwind from the wrecks. In addition, intelligence information reached the ship indicating that an enemy submarine prowled in the area. Barton reached the scene on 30 October as the weather deteriorated, and heavy swells and high winds buffeted the ship, the reef furnishing little lee. Fox and his crewmen used echo ranging to determine that they could not safely approach inside of 3,000 yards distance from the planes.
Despite the heavy seas, Barton lowered two whaleboats into the water, but the first failed to start and the second, Ens. J. B. Sommers in command, proceeded and discovered the patrol plane lying across the reef beyond two lines of breakers. The seas broke so high over the reef that the sailors could not get their boat through to the plane. The boat crew unsuccessfully attempted to heave a line to the plane, so Sommers dove into the water and swam it through the heavy swells. The downed aviators and their passengers had been wrecked for nearly ten days, and the weakened men could offer little assistance. The rescuers and one of the survivors used the line to aid in ferrying a rubber life float through the reef. The line parted after one man got through. The second boat crew meanwhile started her engine and battled through the surf, using a line throwing gun to get a line over with the destroyer’s last cartridge. The men of that boat then anchored their boat between the wind and sea and held onto Sommer’s boat with a long painter. They ferried the survivors through the reef on a rubber raft to the first boat, and through the coral heads to the second. A boat crewman made every trip in a rubber raft, helping all 17 exhausted survivors on board by 1530.
A patrol plane reported the bearing and distance to the two drifting aircraft, and Barton came about and reached them by 1800. The planes drifted at about two knots in a heavy sea with a 30 knot wind but appeared to be riding fairly well. Fox surmised that because the survivors had broadcast their position and predicament more than once that a Japanese submarine might have intercepted a message and be headed their way. The ship thus made a sound search but did not detect a submarine, and the first plane’s pilot asked if Barton could standby overnight, stating that he had enough fuel remaining for a light of approximately 300 miles. The ship responded that the nearest Allied-held territory lay beyond that range but added that she would standby. The pilot chose to abandon, and Barton brought those ten additional survivors on board by sunset.
Sailors struggled to see in the twilight, and threw a line to the first plane and hauled it up to the quarter. They removed a man but the ballard on the plane carried away and it drifted and sank, so the 17 survivors entered two rafts and the crew then helped them on board, the darkness complicating the rescue. Fox recommended that in the event that he would be called upon to make another such rescue in heavy seas, he would drag one of the ship’s life rafts with a long lead on it across the plane’s bow. Barton, with her passengers from Hornet and the planes outnumbering the ships company and packing the destroyer, steamed northward and then changed to the southeast to skirt the rescue area, detecting a radar contact near the crash site. The ship reached Nouméa on 31 October, and put her passengers safely ashore. Fox subsequently received a Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross -- he received the first award for his part in the Battle of Guadalcanal the following month -- for his actions during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands and for this epic of survival.
The Allies reinforced Guadalcanal to counter Japanese movements the following month. Further troops and equipment arrived from Efaté on 6 November 1942. Reinforcements comprising nearly 6,000 men and supplies awaited their dispatch to the embattled marines on Guadalcanal. Rear Adm. Richmond K. Turner broke his flag in transport McCawley (AP-10) in command of a force also consisting of heavy cruiser Portland (CA-33), Juneau, destroyers Barton, Monssen (DD-436), O’Bannon (DD-450), and Shaw, and transports Crescent City (AP-40), President Adams (AP-38), and President Jackson (AP-37). These movements contributed toward the Battle of Guadalcanal — arguably divided into the 1st and 2nd Battles of Guadalcanal. The two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, and eight destroyers of Task Group (TG) 67.4, Rear Adm. Daniel J. Callaghan in command, repulsed the Japanese from an intended bombardment of Henderson Field during the 1st Battle of Guadalcanal, overnight on 12 and 13 November 1942. Rear Admirals Callaghan and Norman Scott -- who commanded TG 62.4 -- died, both men subsequently receiving the Medal of Honor (posthumously).
The enemy sank Atlanta, destroyers Barton, Cushing, Laffey (DD-459), and Monssen, and damaged heavy cruisers Portland and San Francisco (CA-38), light cruisers Helena (CL-50) and Juneau, and Aaron Ward (DD-483). Friendly fire damaged O'Bannon. The Japanese lost destroyers Akatsuki and Yudachi, while Hiei, Amatsukaze, Ikazuchi, and Murasame sustained damage. Japanese submarine I-26 torpedoed and sank Juneau as the light cruiser retired toward Espíritu Santo on the morning of 13 November. At least one of the ship’s magazines exploded and she sank with a heavy loss of life, including five brothers of the Sullivan family of Waterloo, Iowa.
Lt. Cmdr. Fox went down with his ship when she was torpedoed and sunk. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his “daring and determination [that] contributed materially to the victory which prevented the enemy from accomplishing their purposes.” Fox was survived by his wife, Mary B. Fox, his parents, and sister, G. M. Reams. In addition to the Navy Cross and Gold Star in lieu of the second Navy Cross, Fox also held the Yangtze Service Medal, and was entitled to the posthumous award of the Purple Heart Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal.
Fox displays a determined and proud countenance in this photograph. (Unattributed or dated U.S. Navy Photograph NH-67426, Douglas H. Fox (DD-779) Ship Naming File, Ships History, Naval History and Heritage Command)
(DD-779: displacement 2,220; length 376'6"; beam 41'1"; draft 15'8"; speed 34 knots; complement 336; armament 6 5-inch, 12 40 millimeter, 11 20 millimeter, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 6 depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge tracks; class Allen M. Sumner)
Douglas H. Fox (DD-779) was launched on 30 September 1944 by Todd-Pacific Shipyards, Inc., Seattle, Wash.; sponsored by Mrs. Helen K. Boone, wife of Capt. Joel T. Boone, MC, Medical Officer in Command, Naval Hospital Seattle; and commissioned on 26 December 1944, Cmdr. Ray M. Pitts in command.
Douglas H. Fox launches at Todd-Pacific Shipyards, Inc., Seattle, Wash., 30 September 1944. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph NH 67421, Photographic Section, Naval History and Heritage Command)
Mrs. Helen K. Boone (center), the ship’s sponsor, cut the cake during the commissioning ceremony at Seattle, Wash., 26 December 1944. Cmdr. Ray M. Pitts, the ship’s first commanding officer, stands to her right. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph NH 67423, Photographic Section, Naval History and Heritage Command)
Men of the ships company proudly stand tall while Pitts reads his orders as he assumes command of Douglas H. Fox at Seattle, Wash., 26 December 1944. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph NH 67424, Photographic Section, Naval History and Heritage Command)
Douglas H. Fox joined in exercises off the Hawaiian Islands (31 March–21 April 1945), following which, she made for the waters off Okinawa in the Ryūkyū Islands. On 18 March meanwhile, Task Force (TF) 58, Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher in command, supported Operation Iceberg — the invasion of Okinawa. The Japanese struck back vigorously, repeatedly launching kamikaze suicide plane attacks against the Allied ships operating offshore. On 6 April, they began the first of a series of ten mass kamikaze raids, interspersed with smaller attacks and named Kikusui (Floating Chrysanthemum) No. 1. These attacks involved 1,465 aircraft through 28 May. Douglas H. Fox therefore joined the radar picket line at a crucial time when she reached the fighting on 5 May.
The ship relieved Cowell (DD-547) on Radar Picket Station 9 off Okinawa at 25°59'5̎ N, 126°53'6̎ E, at 0812 on 17 May 1945. She joined company with Van Valkenburgh (DD-656) and landing support craft LCS-53, LCS-65, LCS-66, and LCS-67, and commenced patrolling the station. The day demonstrated the rigors of Douglas H. Fox’s service when she investigated a sonar contact during the afternoon watch, only to discover a school of fish, and shortly thereafter sounded general quarters when four planes made a low pass over the ship from her port side, only to learn that they were American aircraft and the ship belayed manning her battle stations.
Douglas H. Fox went to general quarters for her dusk alert at 1800, and an hour later her SC radar picked up a “bogey” (unidentified aircraft) bearing 270° T, range 70 miles. The ship vectored “Drake 56,” the four Vought F4U Corsairs of the CAP, toward the contact, but the Corsairs did not intercept the intruder and began orbiting at 280° at an altitude of 5,000 feet, 10 miles from the ship. Douglas H. Fox darkened ship when the sun set at 1912, and the gunners replaced their smokeless powder with flashless powder at their mounts. A few minutes later “Drake 56” returned to base, but at 1927 Van Valkenburgh obtained an unidentified contact, bearing 270° 12 miles, low. A minute later Douglas H. Fox detected the bogey on her SG microwave search radar. The attacker maneuvered radically but Van Valkenburgh opened fire and splashed the plane.
Almost immediately, Douglas H. Fox’s radar operators reported multiple bogeys as a flight of up to ten Japanese planes flew low on the horizon to the west after the Corsairs came about, and then with “suspicious promptness” roared inbound -- apparently on signal -- in a coordinated attack from 250°–300°, from a range of four to five miles and closing rapidly. Lookouts struggled to spot the planes, which appeared as small black dots on the refraction blurred evening sky. Douglas H. Fox and Van Valkenburgh increased speed from 15 to 25 knots and turned to port, uncovering their starboard batteries. At 1930 Douglas H. Fox commenced firing and within the first minute her 5-inch guns splashed a plane by firing VT proximity fuses. The 5-inch, 40 millimeter, and 20 millimeter guns shot down another attacker a minute later, but the enemy savagely concentrated their dives and almost simultaneously the three .50 caliber machine guns mounted on the main deck starboard side splashed a plane close aboard, and the ship splashed a fourth attacker at 1934. In total, the ship’s combined fire shot down one of these planes off the starboard bow, and one of the attackers crashed close aboard alongside the starboard quarter.
“In the intense action which lasted about 8 minutes,” Cmdr. Pitts reported,” all ship’s guns were firing simultaneously with as many as three or four enemy aircraft on a side.” The fighter director officer added: “The ship did a magnificent job shooting, most of the time having several targets at various ranges and bearings all under fire at the same time.” Lt. Cmdr. Conrad H. Carlson served as the evaluator in the ship’s Combat Information Center, and afterward received the Bronze Star for his “outstanding designation” of the attackers, which enabled the ship to fire so effectively. The destroyer’s chain of command worked well under fire, and Lt. James H. Davis, the gunnery officer, relied on Carlson’s timely information and was awarded the Bronze Star for “the superb skill with which he controlled his guns.” Van Valkenburgh maneuvered independently but faithfully within 1,500 yards of Douglas H. Fox and shot down three enemy planes, while LCS-53 also splashed one during the fierce battle. The lookouts encountered difficulty identifying the planes in the confused fighting and gathering darkness, but evaluated at least three as displaying profiles similar to Aichi D3A1 Type 99 Val carrier bombers.
Smoke from Douglas H. Fox’s stakes and flashless powder clouded her director optics and reduced the vision of the machine gunners, however, and despite her determined fire a kamikaze, tentatively identified as an army Nakajima Ki-44 Tojo Type 2 single-seat fighter, dove on the ship from her port quarter at 1935. Gunfire shot off the plane’s tail assembly but it dropped a 100 kilogram bomb that penetrated the overhead and backside of Mount II (the second of the forward twin 5-inch turrets) and exploded on impact with the main deck. The Tojo crashed into the forecastle deck, spraying burning gasoline across the ship. The impacts and explosions knocked Mounts I and II out of commission, pierced the main, 1st, platform, and 2nd platform decks, ruptured the fire main and destroyed all services forward of crew’s messhall A-205-L, and caused fires in No. 2 handling room, Mount I, and the anchor windless room. The attack wiped out half of the Forward Repair Party.
Sailors defiantly battled the flames and extinguished the fires within minutes, and partially flooded No. 1 magazine by letting water drain into the compartment to reduce the ship’s top hamper. Ens. Leo D. Fay, the assistant first lieutenant, commanded the Forward Repair Party. In spite of suffering a broken leg and arm, serious head wound, and forty percent burns, he directed the men under his command to repair the damage, continuing to exercise his “command with consummate courage and skill until he was carried away from his station.” Fay subsequently died from his wounds and received the Navy Cross posthumously.
High velocity fragments sliced into bedding bags and started fires within. The hose teams discovered to their dismay that the water simply ran off, and they had to individually tear open the bedding bags to extinguish the fires. Damage control teams checked the bulkheads and verified that the attack did not hole the ship below the waterline and incur flooding. Crewmen used handybillies and submersible pumps and pumped all the water-logged compartments dry. “They knew what had to be done and did their work quickly and efficiently,” Pitts proudly summarized the crew. “The results of much intensive training bore fruit.” Sailors removed the stricken from the vicinity of the damage and treated the wounded. CBM Harold W. Brown afterward received the Bronze Star for leading a repair party into the inferno. “Exposing himself repeatedly to great danger,” the chief “skillfully directed and aided in removing wounded to safety, throwing burning ammunition over the side and in locating and extinguishing fires throughout spaces below deck.” SF1 Roy B. Clark was also awarded the Bronze Star while serving in a repair party. When Clark learned that the attack damaged the fire main and sprinkling systems, he “proceeded calmly and capably to restore these vital services, thus allowing immediate sprinkling of a magazine in danger from fires not yet under control.”
Mount III meanwhile continued to fire in local and together with the machine guns splashed a fifth attacker, which crashed close aboard on the port side of the fantail, broke the life line, and spread gasoline over the fantail. GM1 Claude E. Stogsdill, one of the turret’s gunners, received the Bronze Star for “his outstanding leadership and conduct” while delivering “accurate and effective gunfire in local control.” More enemy planes reached the area and circled ominously overhead during the second dog watch, and Douglas H. Fox’s gunners continued to man their guns but the Japanese did not attack her, though Van Valkenburgh drove off an attacker.
Ships operating in the area rendered assistance to Douglas H. Fox and at 2113 Van Valkenburgh steamed alongside and transferred a medical team, followed two minutes later by men from a small boat from Converse (DD-509). William D. Porter (DD-579) relieved Douglas H. Fox on her station at 2134. The Japanese determinedly renewed their attacks and another plane hurtled toward the ships at 2040, but Van Valkenburgh cleared Douglas H. Fox and drove off the intruder with gunfire. Van Valkenburgh closed Douglas H. Fox and recovered her medical team, and then stood clear as Douglas H. Fox came about at 2140, fell in astern of Converse, and the two ships proceeded in company at 15 knots under the cover of darkness to Kerama Rettō. Douglas H. Fox secured from battle stations at 2145, and then held quarters for muster and her men set about the grim task of identifying their fallen shipmates. The ship stood into the anchorage at Kerama Rettō for temporary repairs, and then continued to San Francisco, Calif., for permanent repairs, arriving on 23 June.
Sailors examine the damage to the forward 5-inch gun following the Japanese kamikaze attack, most likely while anchored at Kerama Rettō. Note the cartoon on the rear of the gun. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-330102, Photographic Section, Naval History and Heritage Command)
The attack killed ten men: Fay, S1c Richard H. Franklin, S1c Paul B. Hodges, S1c John C. Pilafas, S1c Stanley F. Strock, GM2c Jack T. Askew, S2c Willard W. McKinley, GM2c Richard M. Peed, S2c William A. Thiessen, and MM3c Chester E. Hudson Jr. Pilafas and Askew were initially listed as missing, and although Van Valkenburgh and four of the landing support craft searched into the next day, they only sighted a life jacket, mattresses, and pillows, and failed to locate the missing men. In addition, the Japanese raid wounded 35 crewmen.
Pitts afterward received the Navy Cross for his “extraordinary heroism” leading the ship through her harrowing ordeal, “skillfully” directing the men while they fought the fires. The commanding officer powerfully described his experience in his report of the action: “The first instinct of a Destroyer Skipper who has been blitzed on Radar Picket Station is to “speak his piece.” He feels, as he did when he took his ship out to relieve, that something is fundamentally wrong with the picture. He looks down into the smoldering ruins of his new ship, sees the dead lying in mute rows along the passageways, and wonders if perhaps he has failed either the ship or the dead in any way. In the boneyard he talks with officers who have endured the ordeal before, and the cry that arises, confused but clear above all else is, “Something is Wrong!””
The captain recommended that the fleet deploy at least four and preferably six destroyers on a radar picket station, steaming at 15 knots in a tight circular screen with 1,000 yards between the ships. The destroyers were to keep boiler power available for maximum speed during all alerts, and when enemy planes appeared, they were to increase speed to 30 knots and turn simultaneously to chase tails in a “Luffbury Circle.” All machine gun batteries inboard in this circle would cover the danger cone of high approach. The main and outboard machine gun batteries were to engage low position angle targets in general. Pitts further advised other commanding officers to stay in a tight circle unless an enemy plane approached very close and under fire, in which case individual ships were to pull out of the formation just long enough for the attack to pass and then use their reserve speed up to full power to return to the circle. In the event that the enemy struck a ship, the next astern was to slide outboard so as to place the damaged ship in the center of the remaining circle.
Pitts furthermore observed that when “the Navy needed destroyers with torpedo batteries we didn’t have them. Now the need is for anti-aircraft and we have torpedoes.” He therefore suggested that the Navy add antiaircraft guns to ships, often replacing other systems he considered redundant. On board Douglas H. Fox, this meant removing her after torpedo mounting and installing a quad 40 millimeter mount and a director for Mount III (5-inch)—this occurred while she completed repairs. In addition, he recommended replacing all single 20 and 40 millimeter guns with twin mounts. Finally, he noted that airborne radar could handle much of the radar picket duties performed by ships if “properly exploited,” and that submarines could operate as distant pickets.
The Japanese surrendered unconditionally while Douglas H. Fox completed refresher training (RefTra) at San Diego, Calif. The ship therefore sailed on 30 September 1945 for the east coast, passing through the Panama Canal on 9 October, and arriving at New York in time (17–29 October) to take part in the Navy Day celebrations. Crewmen painted the ship’s abbreviated name (D.H. FOX) on her hull portside amidships for the benefit of spectators and she was open for visitors over the weekend, firing a 21-gun salute in honor of President Harry S. Truman on 27 October.
A port bow view of the ship anchored in the Hudson River during the Navy Day’s Victory Fleet Review, 27 October 1945. Note her abbreviated name (D.H. Fox) on the hull portside amidships. (Donated by Lt. Gustave J. Freret, U.S. Navy Photograph NH 81124, Photographic Section, Naval History and Heritage Command)
Douglas H. Fox steamed in company with Midway (CVB-41) during part of the large aircraft carrier’s shakedown cruise, and then put in to her new home port of Norfolk, Va. (30 October–2 November). The destroyer sailed from Norfolk as Midway’s plane guard off Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (7 November–13 December), and returned to the United States to spend Christmas for upkeep at New York Naval Shipyard.
The destroyer returned to Norfolk early in the New Year (10–11 January 1946), and then aided in the shakedown cruise of Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42) in Caribbean waters (14 January–6 March), refueling briefly at Trinidad in the British West Indies on 26 January and Pernambuco in Brazil on 31 January, and visiting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (4–10 February). Douglas H. Fox remained in the Caribbean in various escort duties and training. Curtailing her escort duties for a while, the ship embarked midshipmen at Earle, N.J., for a brief training cruise, and then resumed her screening role by escorting battleships North Carolina (BB-55) and Washington (BB-56). She wrapped-up the remainder of the year with training cruises, tender availabilities, and escorting duty, primarily around Guantánamo Bay, and she arrived at New London, Conn., for leave and upkeep on 14 December 1946.
Douglas H. Fox departed Norfolk in company with the ships of Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 2 on 21 July 1947 for a tour of duty to the Mediterranean Sea. She passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and on 1 August reached Sardinia, Italy. The destroyer joined several other ships that supported an amphibious landing exercise at San Rafael, France, on 15 August, commemorating Operation Dragoon—landings by the U.S. VI and Free French II Corps in southern France in 1944.
On 29 September, while crossing the northern Adriatic Sea bound for the Free Territory of Trieste, she struck a World War II mine. The explosion severely damaged her starboard side aft of Frame 180, killed three crewmen, GM1 Melvin L. Berthold, SM3 Charles R. Charlton, and RM3 Robert L. Mockford, and wounded 12 more. Most of the casualties were working or resting in C205L, the extreme after crew’s berthing compartment, or were on deck near the after 5-inch gun mount, when the mine detonated. The chief pharmacist’s mate gave the three fallen men first aid but their wounds proved too severe for treatment. The explosion buckled bulkheads, frames, struts, and watertight doors, lifted the entire steering engine assembly from its foundation and threw it against the port bulkhead, and bent the starboard shaft. The sea roared in through the torn hull and flooded multiple compartments, but the crew determinedly contained the flooding. Two Italian tugs took Douglas H. Fox in tow for emergency repairs in drydock at Venice, Italy. The ship transferred Berthold’s, Charlton’s, and Mockford’s remains to the Army’s 391st Station Hospital at Undine, which placed them in the care of the American Graves Registration Service. The destroyer returned to sea on 13 November in tow of fleet ocean tug Luiseno (ATF-156), arriving on 5 December at Boston, Mass., for repairs in drydock that lasted until 8 June 1948.
Sailing from Newport, R.I., on 20 July 1948, Douglas H. Fox returned to the Mediterranean and visited Gibraltar, Malta, Naples, Capri, and Sicily, Italy, Palestine, Greece, and Egypt. On 28 September she rendezvoused with light cruiser Huntington (CL-107) for a good will cruise to Mombasa, Kenya; Durban, South Africa; and round Cape Horn to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Uruguay, Trinidad, and Culebra Island, P.R. She returned to Norfolk on 8 December and then took part in operations off the Virginia capes. The day after Independence Day of 1949, she stood down the channel for training with TF 81 in Caribbean waters. On 6 July Douglas H. Fox and Willard Keith (DD-775) collided while en route to Guantánamo Bay. Neither ship reported casualties but both sustained minor damage that required repairs, Douglas H. Fox completing her work at Portsmouth, Va. On 5 January 1950, the ship arrived at Charleston, S.C., and was placed out of commission in reserve on 21 April 1950.
Despite warnings from multiple intelligence sources the North Koreans invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950. The invaders achieved tactical surprise and their aggression began the Korean War. Douglas H. Fox was consequently recommissioned on 15 November 1950, Cmdr. Harry A. Adams Jr., in command. The ship worked up on the east coast while preparing to return to battle, and on 22 January 1952, got underway in company with Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 261 from Norfolk for the Far East. The warship passed through the Panama Canal, called at San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and Midway Island, and reached Yokosuka, Japan, on 27 February. She refueled and replenished, and then joined the screen of TF 77 on patrol off the Korean peninsula.
The ship’s emblem, printed on a matchbox cover, shows a fox pouncing on a submarine, most likely from the 1950s. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph NH 88340-KN, Photographic Section, Naval History and Heritage Command)
On 16 February 1951, United Nations forces began a naval siege of the North Korean port of Wŏnsan that continued throughout the war. The allies temporarily developed the port into a sanctuary for aircraft damaged by enemy fire that ditched in the harbor. Helicopters pulled the downed aircrew to safety and thereby saved men from death or imprisonment by the enemy. Douglas H. Fox joined the ships operating off the port and rendezvoused with Manchester (CL-83), and during the forenoon and afternoon watches on 13 March 1952, they carried out a coordinated gun strike with an airspot at Wŏnsan. The two ships hit a boat repair works, railroad cars, a locomotive repair shop, railroad trestle, and large supply buildings. Enemy shore batteries on the Kalma Peninsula returned fire and straddled both ships, but TF 77 planes silenced the guns with a well-timed raid. Manchester and Douglas H. Fox renewed their bombardment the following day, setting boxcars on fire, and damaging a by-pass, bridge, railroad marshalling yard, two large buildings, and motive repair facilities. Communist guns hidden in a cave bracketed the ships with “heavy fire,” but aircraft flying from TF 77 carriers dropped napalm and bombs that hit two of the guns firing from the mouth of the cave. The cruiser and destroyer escaped without damage in both of these battles. Crewmen often gathered topside to watch the ships duel with the enemy ashore.
Fierce fighting between the allied and North Korean and Chinese communist troops continued ashore, and Manchester and Douglas H. Fox steamed through a snowstorm and heavy seas to support the United Nations soldiers during a battle on 19 March. The following night and into the morning, the ships maneuvered off the eastern terminus of the front line and fired nearly 200 rounds of 6-inch and 5-inch shells in interdiction salvoes, blasting enemy bunkers and troop positions. The two ships fired on 18 enemy strongpoints overnight on 21 March, and eight more the next night. Manchester and Douglas H. Fox then shifted their maneuver areas nearly 50 miles northward and shot nearly 500 rounds of 6-inch and 5-inch shells against enemy soldiers in the Kojo area on 25 March, using a spotter to strike coastal batteries and artillery emplacements, troop concentrations, buildings, and supply areas. The ships hit 18 enemy strongpoints along the battle line on the eastern side of the Korean peninsula overnight on 26 March, and then returned to northerly courses and a spotter guided the cruiser’s main batteries against a battalion command post, eight revetments, and a supply storage area, and both ship’s 5-inch guns into four shore batteries. Douglas H. Fox fired on factory buildings at Hŭngnam and gun emplacements at Lighthouse Point on 30 April, and a battery of four enemy 105 millimeter guns near the point returned fire ten times but missed her, their shells splashing 200 to 400 yards over. The Pacific Fleet reported that the ship “returned smothering fire followed by deliberate fire.”
Cmdr. Dare developed the tactic of approaching an enemy gun position and firing a single shot at the battery, and in the event that the communist gunners revealed their position by opening fire, he then closed the range and smothered the guns with salvoes. “Those batteries which were silenced,” he later summarized in Memo 9-52 to the Navy’s “All Hands” magazine, “re-engaged and pounded the first time they fired on us, never gave us trouble a second time. If, as some ships have done, we had merely run away, those batteries would have fired on us every time we were within range, and they would probably have become more accurate each time.” Dare routinely utilized the “Big Glasses” to observe the fall of shot during the fighting. “When we operated this way,” he afterward explained to Rear Adm. Malcolm W. Cagle in The Sea War in Korea, “steaming along the coast, I always felt like one of the bad guys in a western movie riding into town with pistols banging in all directions. By looking ahead with the 20-power binoculars you could actually see North Koreans running for the hills…”
Helicopters assumed an increasingly significant role during the Korean War as they rescued downed aircrew, evacuated wounded, flew short-ranged supply missions to marines and soldiers ashore, enhanced command-and-control options for marines, spotted gunfire for ships during shore bombardment, and scoured coastal areas for mines. While Douglas H. Fox steamed in Korean waters she often received her guard mail via helos. In addition, a Sikorsky HO3S-1 of a detachment Helicopter Utility Squadron (HU) 1 hoisted Lt. Cmdr. Henry E. Hollingsworth, the ship’s executive officer, to a carrier when he was relieved to assume command of control escort vessel Frybarger (DEC-705). Hollingsworth swung precariously beneath the helo as it flew him between the ships.
In May Douglas H. Fox began independent operations. She weakened the North Korean fishing industry by sending “Doran’s Raiders,” a detachment of sailors led by Ltjg. William K. Doran, in her 26-foot motor whaleboat against the enemy. Doran and his men, SN Chester Shepherd, the coxswain, SN Frank Moscaritolo, the bow hook, MM2 Albert Lindsey, RM3 Jerry Alaburda, QM3 Rathmann, and GM3 George Smith, together with South Korean Ens. Koo Un-Soh, ROKN, who served as that country’s naval liaison and a Korean interpreter, fought with a 75 millimeter recoilless rifle, small arms, demolition charges, grenades, a radio, and tools for destroying fishing nets. Every night, the boat sortied five to seven miles from the ship (within range of the destroyer’s radios and surface search radar) to wreak havoc with fishermen who supplied the enemy with the bounty of the sea. The raiders captured three sampans and 15 prisoners on 8 May, and eventually seized a total of 26 sampans and 120 fishermen, and destroyed 24,000 lineal feet of fish traps and nets. The ship turned her charges over to marines at Wŏnsan. The allies also gained military intelligence by questioning the fishermen about where the enemy positioned their coastal artillery and the daily routines of the gun crews. The night before May Day 1952 (1 May), Doran’s Raiders planted an American flag on an island at the mouth of Hŭngnam’s harbor. The ship’s doctor, Dr. Zisman, afterward composed a poem in their honor titled “The Epic of the Doran Raiders”:
When stories are told
of the brave and the bold
remember those “Hot Potaters”
With a box of groat
In a motor whaleboat
they were known as Doran’s Raiders…
While the ship exchanged fire with enemy shore batteries on 2 May 1952, she rescued a boat filled with Korean refugees. The three families of 18 people, including nine women and five children, aged one to nine, had planned their escape to freedom for three months, timing their desperate flight to coincide with the May Day celebrations, which distracted the communist troops. The ship meanwhile fired over 200 shells into the enemy gun positions, scoring several direct hits and several near misses. The undaunted communist gunners returned fire but missed the ship by about 200 yards. Douglas H. Fox then went on to shell other gun positions, a factory, and warehouses. The warship bombarded gun emplacements, boats, vehicles on a road, and factories on 4 May. Enemy shells splashed within 30 yards of the ship, but her crewmen failed to spot the hidden battery. She continued supporting the troops locked in combat on the ground and on 8 May enemy batteries opened fire on the ship, but her gunners silenced the return fire with accurate salvoes.
Douglas H. Fox meanwhile rendezvoused with James C. Owens (DD-776) and the ships fired at enemy shore batteries on 9 May, their salvoes knocking out one gun position, caving in another, and hitting the area near at least two more. Douglas H. Fox joined Birmingham (CL-62) and Stickell (DD-888) on 12 May, the trio blasting enemy 76 millimeter guns, antiaircraft batteries, and bunkers. On 14 May an enemy shell, estimated as a 76 millimeter round, slammed into the ship’s port side while she steamed off Hŭngnam, slightly wounding three men but causing negligible damage. Douglas H. Fox continued her operations on the gun line, starting several fires and explosions while shooting at communist bunkers and installations on 17 May. The destroyer carried on shelling targets, and supported minesweeping operations until -- twice commended for her aggressive action against the enemy -- she came about after firing nearly 8,500 rounds of 5-inch shells during the Korean War and returned to Japanese waters. Enemy fire hurtled toward the ship at least 160 times but only struck her once.
The ship stood down the channel of Yokosuka on 21 June 1952. She sailed across the Indian Ocean, called at the British enclave of Aden the following month, and then steamed northerly courses across the Red Sea, passing dhows and transiting the Suez Canal on 22 July in company with the ships of DesDiv 261: James C. Owens, Laffey (DD-724), and Lowry (DD-770). The division just missed being caught in the middle of a crisis when, the very next day, Gamal A. Nasser and Muhammad Naguib led a group of Egyptian army officers in a coup against King Farouk. The ships stood periodic alerts during the tense days following the coup, steaming toward the Dardanelles and a visit to Istanbul, Turkey, with their guns at maximum elevation—just in case. Douglas H. Fox visited Naples in August, steamed westward through the Strait of Gibraltar, and completed a global circumnavigation at Norfolk on 19 August.
Douglas H. Fox accomplished an overhaul at Portsmouth, and early in 1953 visited Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In June the ship put into New York City for a brief visit, and a few weeks later began a three-month overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where she replaced her 40 millimeter guns with a new antiaircraft battery of six 3-inch guns, and removed the port stern depth charge track. In November 1953, the ship completed RefTra off Guantánamo Bay, often training with attack aircraft carrier Midway (CVA-41).
The ship then sailed for her second tour to Korean waters. She set out in company with DesDiv 261 across the Atlantic in February 1954, passed through the Strait of Gibraltar, and returned to Naples in company with Stormes (DD-780). The latter destroyer required lengthy repairs that extended both ships’ stay at the Italian port. Following that work, the ships continued on their voyage, calling at Port Said, Egypt, transiting southward through the Suez Canal, passing across the Indian Ocean to Singapore, and from there to Yokosuka. While en route in the Western Pacific, Stormes passed via highline to Douglas H. Fox an officer who acted as an observer for competitive exercises. Douglas H. Fox operated with TF 77, patrolling the Korean coast for three months during the uneasy truce. The ship came about in June and crossed the Pacific in company with Stormes. The ships called at Pearl Harbor and San Francisco, traversed the Panama Canal, and returned to Norfolk, Douglas H. Fox completing another world cruise.
In November 1954, the ship took part in LantFlEx-54, a major Atlantic Fleet exercise off the east coast of the United States. After a long and well-deserved holiday break and upkeep, she took part in Springboard 55 in the Caribbean (February–March 1955). While there she also visited Kingston, Jamaica. Douglas H. Fox made a midshipman training voyage to Canadian waters and visited Sydney, Nova Scotia (20 June–8 July 1955). The warship then honed her skills during several antisubmarine and air defense exercises, and during one such cruise in the Gulf of Mexico visited Havana, Cuba, and New Orleans, La. She completed an overhaul at Portsmouth early in 1956.
On 29 October 1956, worsening tensions in the Middle East erupted into Operation Kadesh, Israeli attacks against the Egyptians in the Sinai Peninsula and along the Suez Canal. The seasoned destroyer thus deployed into a burgeoning crisis when she sailed for the Sixth Fleet and the Mediterranean (7 November 1956–20 February 1957). Due to concerns over possible Soviet submarine attacks should the crisis escalate, CINCLANTFLT authorized ships proceeding independently to do so at high speed, consistent with weather and sea conditions. Ships set sail from various U.S. ports, arriving at holding areas and mustering ports as type commanders desired by 10 December. By 17 November, Rear Adm. Murr E. Arnold, Commander, Carrier Division 4 and TF 26, broke his flag in Forrestal (CVA-59) in command of a powerful concentration of ships that rendezvoused in the eastern Atlantic around the Azores, also including: Franklin D. Roosevelt, heavy cruiser Des Moines (CA-134), radar picket destroyers Charles P. Cecil (DDR-835), Corry (DDR-817), O-Hare (DDR-889) and Stickell, destroyers Douglas H. Fox, Healy (DD-672), John Hood (DD-655), Laffey, Lowry, Robinson (DD-562), Sigourney (DD-643) and Stormes, store ship Rigel (AF-58), and oiler Severn (AO-61). Additional ships relieved some of these vessels during the following days to enable the original ships 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. Douglas H. Fox came about for home as the crisis gradually defused.
Following the usual post deployment upkeep and type training, the ship shoved off for Mayport, Fla., serving as a plane guard for Forrestal and visiting Miami. Douglas H. Fox celebrated Independence Day at Washington, D.C., where she opened her gangways to thousands of visitors. The warship then deployed to European waters (3 September–22 December 1957). A violent storm mercilessly lashed Douglas H. Fox as she plowed through the heavy swells, her crewmen gratefully sighting Scotland and navigating the ship up the River Clyde on 14 September. The warship accomplished voyage repairs and then joined British and Canadian ships and aircraft for NATO exercise Strikeback in the North Atlantic (17–28 September), testing her mettle against simulated air and submarine attacks. She then detached for the Mediterranean, operating with allied forces there and visiting Athens, Greece, for ten days, as well as Rhodes and Thessaloniki, along with Beirut, Lebanon. Douglas H. Fox shifted from the Sixth Fleet to the Second Fleet on 7 December 1957, and returned to Norfolk and resumed local operations. She completed an overhaul at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Pa. (27 January–20 May 1958), and RefTra in Cuban waters (13 June–26 July). Douglas H. Fox then trained to hunt submarines with TG 83.3.
The ship, refitted with an antiaircraft battery of six 3-inch guns, steams at sea, 20 May 1957. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph NH 99976, Photographic Section, Naval History and Heritage Command)
Douglas H. Fox was detailed to DesDiv 601 to provide services for the Fleet Sonar School at Key West, Fla. (February–April 1959). On returning to Norfolk, the ship joined DesRon 32 and participated in SlamEx 1-59 in March. Douglas H. Fox took part in LantFlEx 2-59 in the summer, and more than a thousand visitors toured the ship when she briefly interrupted the primarily antisubmarine warfare exercise and berthed at the west end of New York’s 50th Street during the city’s celebration of the 350th anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River (11–15 June). The warship enhanced coordination and cooperation with the British when she trained with their aircraft carrier Victorious (R.38) during Riptide (14–20 July).
The destroyer served again in the Mediterranean, as well as in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf (7 August 1959–26 February 1960). She reached Sardinia 11 days later and turned over with DesRon 16. The ship participated in air defense and antisubmarine exercises, including repelling a simulated attack by enemy aircraft during Crescent Mace in September. In addition, Douglas H. Fox visited: Livorno, Italy; Palermo, Sicily; Athens; Istanbul; Larnaca, Cyprus; and Beirut. The ship passed through the Suez Canal on 29 October, and began patrolling the Red Sea and Persian Gulf with the Middle East Force. She visited: Massawa, Eritrea; Saudi Arabia; Bahrain; and Karachi, Pakistan; and spent Christmas at Aden, where her historian noted the British hospitality. Douglas H. Fox steamed through the Suez Canal on New Year’s Day 1960, and put in to Beirut. After eight days of Sixth Fleet exercises, the ship accomplished a tender availability at Marseilles, France (13–25 January). The destroyer visited Barcelona, Spain (30 January–6 February), took part in what she reported as “intensive fleet operations,” and came about on 14 February, battling through storms on the homeward voyage.
Following her return and an overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (30 March–15 June 1960), Douglas H. Fox completed RefTra in Cuban waters (27 June–7 August), operated off the east coast, and then took part in NATO exercise FallEx (6 September–late October). While crossing the North Atlantic, the ship passed north of the Arctic Circle, enabling her crewmen to become “Blue Noses.” The Belgians warmly received the destroyer when she visited Ghent in early October. Douglas H. Fox returned to Norfolk for what her crewmen anticipated would provide a welcome break before their next deployment to the Sixth Fleet, but political unrest in Guatemala compelled the ship to stand out to sea just after Thanksgiving. She patrolled the Caribbean until the threat subsided, returning to Norfolk in time for Christmas 1960.
The ship deployed to the Mediterranean (2 February–late August 1961), operating with NATO forces in antisubmarine warfare exercises and visiting ports including: Rota, Spain; Augusta Bay and Palermo, Sicily; Cannes, France; and Naples. Douglas H. Fox then underwent a Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) II conversion during an overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (March–November 1962). The work included installing a hangar and flight deck to enable her to operate a Gyrodyne QH-50A drone anti-submarine helicopter (DASH), removing the 3-inch guns, installing a variable depth sonar system, and updating her torpedo mounts and other equipment. The ship carried out her RefTra off Guantánamo Bay in December 1962. Cold War tensions between the superpowers continued at a high level following the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Douglas H. Fox remained in the Caribbean into the New Year, taking part in exercise Springboard 63 (February–March 1963). The ship then came about and resumed hunting Soviet submarines with TG Alpha in the Atlantic.
A starboard bow view of the ship shows her following the FRAM II conversion. Note the enhanced communications and radar antennae, and the DASH hangar and flight deck aft. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph NH 99977, Photographic Section, Naval History and Heritage Command)
During the evening of 11 May 1963, she received word from the Atlantic Fleet that radar picket ship Skywatcher (AGR-3) had an injured man who required immediate medical attention. Skywatcher did not have a doctor on board and operated nearly 157 miles to the southeast of Douglas H. Fox, but the destroyer, which did have a doctor, came about and sped through the night, rendezvousing at dawn with the radar picket ship. Skywatcher transferred her injured man to Douglas H. Fox via highline at 0600, and the warship then came about and joined antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier Randolph (CVS-15) by nightfall, to which a helo transferred the man. The ship continued her training with TG Alpha in preparation to receive DASH, operating in the Caribbean and visiting: Puerto Rico; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Colón, Panama Canal Zone; and Guantánamo Bay (25 July–9 September). The warship received her first DASH the following month, and spent two weeks at sea training with the submarine hunting drone, qualifying to operate DASH on 15 November. She trained with TG Alpha off the Virginia capes and the immediate waters surrounding Bermuda, and Vogelgesang (DD-862) performed an operational readiness inspection of Douglas H. Fox. The ship then returned home for Christmas, her first opportunity to spend the holidays at home in three years. She twice trained with TG Alpha in the spring of 1964, visiting Bermuda during each cruise -- including the Easter holiday -- and taking part in CanUS/SilEx, a joint American and Canadian antisubmarine exercise in Canadian waters, in May.
Douglas H. Fox then deployed to the Mediterranean, but her voyage included an unexpected patrol off Cyprus. The Greeks and Turks had historically clashed on the island and tensions increased. Two days after Christmas of 1963, Sixth Fleet Operation Order 53-63 had assigned forces to “stand by Cyprus should evacuation of U.S. nationals be directed.” International negotiators briefly defused the tensions but they flared again, and on 27 January 1964, the fleet’s Operation Order 51-64 re-established the patrols. Destroyer Bache (DD-470) thus steamed within three hours sail of Cyprus, and Amphibious TF 61 within ten hours. During the following weeks ships operated in Cypriot waters to pull Americans from the island and as a show of force. Meanwhile, Greece’s King Paul died and the State Department directed ships to cancel scheduled visits to Greek ports. The friction calmed after a few days and the Joint Chiefs of Staff relaxed reaction time requirements and allowed ships to make port calls, but the Greeks and Turks on Cyprus renewed their conflict and ships came about for the Cyprus Patrol. On 14 March the Joint Chiefs ordered a carrier task group to sail within eight hours of the island, and Sixth Fleet Operation Order 53-64 directed attack aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVAN-65) to swing around and make for Cypriot waters. Douglas H. Fox’s historian reported that her deployment in the spring took her into “the thick of the Cyprus Conflict.” Following those patrols, the ship took part in several NATO antiair and antisubmarine exercises, visited various ports, and upon departing the Mediterranean on 20 October, participated in the large amphibious exercise Steel Pike I in Spanish waters.
Aircraft 08, a Kaman UH-2A Seasprite of Helicopter Utility Squadron (HU) 2 (BuNo. 149757), flying from Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), hoists a crewman aloft from Douglas H. Fox in the Atlantic, 12 August 1964. Note the variable depth sonar on the ship’s fantail. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph USN 1107341, Photographic Section, Naval History and Heritage Command)
The ship fired 76 exercise torpedoes during Springboard 65 in the Caribbean in early January 1965, and then took part in a series of antisubmarine warfare exercises and patrols with TG 4. Douglas H. Fox deployed to the Mediterranean and Middle East during the summer of 1965, operating with British ships, and taking part in contingency operations off the Pakistani coast during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Upon returning to the United States she completed an overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (November 1965–April 1966). After a brief shakedown off the Virginia capes, she completed additional repairs to the sonar while at Newport. The destroyer accomplished six weeks of RefTra in Cuban waters, also defending Guantánamo Bay by carrying out off-shore and gunfire support patrols. In addition, she visited Port-au-Prince and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Douglas H. Fox then sailed again to the Sixth Fleet, operating at times with Independence (CVA-62) and training with NATO forces in the Mediterranean (22 July–17 December 1966). In addition, the ship visited: Gibraltar; Argostoli Bay, Greece (August); La Spezia, Naples, and Terracina, Italy; Beirut, Lebanon; Valletta, Malta; on 10 September joined William M. Wood (DD-715) during Izmir’s annual International Trade Fair at the Turkish port; and also entered Safi, Morocco (3–6 December). Douglas H. Fox made her return voyage across the Atlantic in company with 13 other destroyers, comprising the ships of DesRon 36, along with those of DesRon 32, returning from a six-month deployment to Vietnamese waters. Some of the crewmen’s dependents referred to the ships’ homecoming as “DD Day.”
The destroyer carried out a variety of antisubmarine warfare exercises during 1967. Heavy seas pounded the ship during ASWEx VI in January, compounded by evaporator and steering problems. Her historian summarized the training as “more an exercise in survival than surveillance, creating below deck discomfort and topside storm damage.” She steamed in company with Randolph and TG 83.2 during one such exercise off Key West (6–22 March). Douglas H. Fox embarked seven members of the National Security Industrial Association to observe the submarine hunting demonstration on 10 March, and then visited Miami with DesRon 36. The ship spent a weekend at New York City (5–7 May), and then joined 55 U.S. and allied ships during FixWex Sunrise (8–15 May). Additional training followed, including gunnery shooting off Bloodsworth Island (16–19 May) and worked with the Canadians in the North Atlantic during the “highly competitive” NATO exercise New Look (5–12 June). The ship turned her bow toward warmer waters when she visited Key West and embarked students from the Fleet Sonar School for two weeks of training (1–20 July). Nearly 2,500 people toured Douglas H. Fox while the destroyer moored at Old Mallory Square at Key West for Independence Day, and she also visited Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The ship replaced her sonar dome and transducer while in non-self-propelled auxiliary repair dock ARD-16 at Davisville, R.I. (17–22 August).
She then deployed in company with Laffey, Waller (DD-466), William M. Wood, and oiler Mississinewa (AO-144) to the Mediterranean (1 September 1967–29 January 1968). The Arabs and Israelis had fought the Six-Day War in June and tensions remained high in the region. Douglas H. Fox turned over with Massey (DD-778) at Rota, and then took part an antisubmarine exercise with TG 60.2. The ship visited Valletta (19–22 September), and operated with Saratoga (CVA-60) as part of Task Groups 502.2 and 60.2.2 in the Ionian Sea (23 September–8 October). During the first part of the ship’s voyage into Greek and Turkish waters she supported an amphibious landing at Saros Bay, Turkey, during Operation Eager Beaver. Following the exercise, the warship visited Thessaloniki (9–15 October). Douglas H. Fox operated with TG 60.2 in the eastern Mediterranean (16–22 October), steamed to a contingency position south of Crete on 22 and 23 October, and then (24–27 October) operated as part of TG 60.2 in the Tyrrhenian Sea before visiting Naples through 7 November. While taking part in PoopDeck 68 with TG 60.2 and the Spanish Air Force, Douglas H. Fox and Waller were detached to search for the wreckage of a missing Spanish North American C.5 (F-86F) Sabre that crashed during the exercise (8–15 November). The ship visited Toulon, France (16–19 November) and then took part in MedTacEx 12 with Laffey and the French and Italians. Douglas H. Fox usually anchored at Salins d’Hyeres overnight and protected convoys during the day, detecting and attacking one of six submarine attacks by one Italian and two French boats. French aircraft and torpedo boats operating from Corsica also stalked the ship.
The New Year found her moored at Naples, but she stood out to sea for home with Task Unit 60.2.9 on 3 January 1968, the following day passing through the Strait of Messina. Heavy seas slammed into the ship while she took part in amphibious exercise PhiblEx 10-68, and Douglas H. Fox reported that after “ten days of pounding, pitching and rolling…” she finally moored at Valencia, Spain (14–17 January). The ship continued her homeward voyage and moored at Gibraltar on 19 January, Punta Delgada in the Azores on 21 January, Bermuda on 27 January, and from there to Norfolk. Douglas H. Fox replaced her gun barrels while completing yard work at one point, testing the barrels during Springboard 68 in the Caribbean (25 March–21 April 1968). Her tropical sojourn also included stops at Charleston on 27 March, San Juan, P.R. (31 March and 7 and 11 April), anchoring at St. Thomas (12–14 April) and mooring at St. Croix the next day in the Virgin Islands, and at Roosevelt Roads, P.R., on 16 April. When the ship returned to Norfolk, she hosted Glamorgan (D.19) during the British destroyer’s visit (23–28 April).
Submarine Scorpion (SSN-589) sank while on patrol in the Atlantic southwest of the Azores on 22 May 1968. When the attack boat did not report as scheduled, the Navy considered her overdue and initiated a huge search. Douglas H. Fox steamed en route to participate in antisubmarine warfare exercise ASWEx VIII when the Atlantic Fleet directed her to join the search. The ship searched a vast area along the submarine’s likely patrol routes, stretching from the Virginia capes to Cruiser Bank, Hyeres Bank, and the Azores, but failed to locate Scorpion (28 May–27 June). Rear Adm. Lawrence G. Bernard, Commander Submarine Flotilla 6, broke his flag in the ship during eight of the search days (6–13 June), utilizing her facilities to control the search while awaiting the arrival of his primary flagship, mine countermeasures ship Ozark (MCS-2). The resulting extra communications traffic load, however, compounded by foul weather, repeatedly interfered with the destroyer’s operational effectiveness. “Transmitters,” the Communications Department summarized, “were going down faster than the ET’s could keep them up.” She also put in to Punta Delgada thrice to refuel and replenish (9, 14, and 20 June). Douglas H. Fox then came about from the search, refueled at Bermuda on 25 June, and returned to Norfolk two days later. Navy investigations into the cause of Scorpion’s loss proved inclusive. Douglas H. Fox then evaluated variable depth sonar while hunting submarines in shallow water during exercise Sneaky Pete off Jacksonville, Fla. (12–18 July).
Douglas H. Fox prepared to deploy to the Vietnam War, and on 6 September 1968, she set out with the other three ships of DesDiv 362 for the Panama Canal and points west. A fuel oil fire erupted in the after fireroom, however, while Douglas H. Fox steamed about 250 miles east of Charleston on 7 September. 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. The ship 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 (DD-847). Douglas H. Fox completed repairs at Charleston Naval Shipyard (10 September–2 October), but her Engineering Department afterward reported that gaskets and packing damaged by the fire continued to cause problems.
The ship carried out gunnery practice off Bloodsworth Island in Chesapeake Bay on 16 October, anchoring overnight at Thimble Shoals. She served as a plane guard for John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) off the Virginia capes (21–25 October), and took Windchime, a civilian boat registered in Boston that broke down near Frying Pan Shoals off the coast of Cape Fear, N.C., in tow to a safe lee area (7–8 November). The ship hosted Annapolis (DDH.265) when the Canadian destroyer visited Norfolk (29 November–4 December 1968), and then completed pre-deployment upkeep alongside destroyer tender Shenandoah (AD-26).
Douglas H. Fox deployed to the Vietnam War (16 January–3 September 1969). The destroyer stood out of Norfolk in company with the other ships of DesRon 14, training en route for her return to battle. She passed through the Panama Canal and refueled there on 21 January, refueled at Manzanillo, Mexico, on 26 January, and her crewmen received briefings and training concerning the war while at San Diego (30 January–1 February). The warship then continued her westerly voyage, moored at Pearl Harbor, Hi. (6–12 February), crossed the International Date Line on 14 February, four days later shifted from the Third Fleet to the Seventh Fleet, and visited Yokosuka (20–21 February), and then Subic Bay in the Philippines (26–27 February).
The ship repeatedly fought in the war during the following months (2–7 and 11 March–2 April, 22 April–5 May, 19 May–4 June, 12–15 July). Douglas H. Fox alternatively shot at enemy troops ashore by using what her sailors dubbed “H and I” (harassment and interdiction fire) into the I, II, and III Corps Tactical Zones in South Vietnam, searched for enemy infiltrators and smugglers as part of Operation Market Time, and operated as a plane guard for carriers launching strikes from Yankee Station. In between these times in action, the ship often completed maintenance and voyage repairs at Subic Bay, Yokosuka, or Sasebo, Japan.
She took an all too fleeting break from the war to make a goodwill cruise in Philippine waters. Douglas H. Fox refueled at Subic Bay on 7 May, and moored at Iloilo on Panay (9–11 May) and Legaspi on Luzon (13–16 May). One of her crewmen accidently drowned at Legaspi, marring the ship’s visit. Douglas H. Fox returned to Subic Bay on 17 May, just as a crisis unfolded in Korean waters. The two Koreas had glared across the DMZ at each other for years and tensions flared into repeated clashes. On 14 April North Korean MiGs shot down Deep Sea 129, an unarmed Lockheed EC-121M (BuNo. 135749), of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1 while the Constellation flew a routine reconnaissance patrol in international airspace over the Sea of Japan. Allied forces in the region operated at a high level of readiness during the succeeding days, and while Douglas H. Fox visited Sasebo on 9 June, she received orders to cancel her port call and make speed for the Sea of Japan. The destroyer steamed off the Korean coast for five days before coming about on 14 June and returning the following day to Sasebo.
The ship lays alongside Samuel Gompers (AD-37) for repairs, most likely at Subic Bay, Philippines, May 1969. The ships nested with the destroyer tender are (left to right) Higbee (DD-806), Douglas H. Fox, Robison (DDG-12), and Leary (DD-879). (PH3 Stephen L. Howk, U.S. Navy Photograph USN 1139041, Photographic Section, Naval History and Heritage Command)
Douglas H. Fox then visited Hong Kong (19–25 June), returned to Sasebo (30 June–5 July), and visited Kaoshiung, Taiwan (7–10 July), before resuming the fighting. The ship came about from those trouble waters on 16 July. The following day she refueled at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, completed repairs at Yokosuka (20–28 July), and set out for home. The warship passed from the Seventh Fleet to the Third Fleet on 31 July, crossed the International Date Line on 1 August, refueled at Midway Island the next day, moored at Pearl Harbor (5–6 August), and reached Californian waters when she moored at San Francisco (13–14 August) and San Diego (16–18 August). Douglas H. Fox briefly refueled at Manzanillo on 21 August, visited Acapulco, Mexico (23–24 August), passed through the Panama Canal on 28 August, and returned to Norfolk on 3 September. Her Medical Department reported that the most common ailments that the crewmen presented with during this deployment included gonorrhea, urinary tract infections, lacerations, fractures of fingers and toes, fungus infections of skin, epididymitis, gastroenteritis, and dental problems.
The warship sailed from Norfolk for New England waters and embarked 30 Naval Destroyer School staff and students at Newport (1–2 November 1969). She then stood out to sea in company with Hugh Purvis (DD-709) and Leary (DD-879) for training off Narragansett Bay, R.I. On 5 November Liberian bulk petrol carrier Keowas, en route from Ghent to New York with a cargo of fuel oil, broke in two during a fierce storm about 120 miles southeast of Nantucket Island, Mass. The 36 crewmen apparently mustered on the aft section of the ship, but that section sank before any rescuers reached the area. Douglas H. Fox’s historian summarized the tragedy as a reminder “of perils facing all sailors when they are at the mercy of the sea.”
The destroyer nonetheless joined a force that eventually comprised 11 ships and 13 aircraft, including guided missile frigate Fox (DLG-33), Forrest Sherman (DD-931), Fiske (DD-842), Hugh Purvis and Leary, Coast Guard cutters Campbell (WHEC-32), Decisive (WMEC-629), Rockaway (WHEC-377), and Vigorous (WMEC-627), and two Lockheed C-130 Hercules, in the unsuccessful search for survivors. The searchers located and recovered the bodies of nine crewmen from the sea, and Douglas H. Fox’s crewmen pulled the first of the three bodies the ship recovered at 2229 on 6 November. The Medical Department had only a single body bag on board, however, so they constructed temporary body bags for the other two men by using bed sheets and canvas, and stored the victims in the ship’s reefers. The destroyer moored at Newport (9–11 November), where she transferred the three cadavers ashore, carried out additional training off the Virginia capes, and returned to Norfolk on 15 November.
Douglas H. Fox became a naval reserve training ship on 30 November 1969, subsequently joining the other destroyers of DesRon 30: Charles S. Sperry (DD-697), Hank (DD-702), and Lowry. Eight-five men were detached from the ship in order to adjust to her revised manning compliment of 14 officers and 128 enlisted men, and the ship’s two QH-50D DASH experimental drones were removed. In addition, she shifted operationally from DesRon 14 to DesRon 18, and administratively from DesRon 36 to DesRon 18 on 30 June until it was disestablished on 1 November, and then temporarily to DesRon 26 until the end of the month, when she began serving with DesRon 30. The ship’s operations during 1969 illustrate a microcosm of her naval service. Douglas H. Fox steamed over 75,000 miles and consumed nearly four million gallons of fuel. She fired 3,810 rounds of 5-inch shells in action and training, including 27.6 days on the “gunline” off the Vietnamese coast, destroying or damaging an estimated 85 enemy bunkers and 78 other structures. She refueled 38 times underway, rearmed eight times underway, and replenished at sea seven times, two of which comprised vertical replenishments with helicopters. The ship accomplished upkeep alongside repair ship Ajax (AR-6) and destroyer tenders Samuel Gompers (AD-37) and Shenandoah. The Communications Department summarized the entire ship’s operational value well by reporting that “Too few people were responsible to carry a comm load that had become burdened by equipment deteriorated by hard use in WESTPAC [the Western Pacific] and simple old age.”
The ship completed one of the tender availabilities and then shifted to Philadelphia, reaching her new homeport on 15 January 1970. The first selected reservists reported on board in late March, while the warship accomplished her first weekend of training the men at sea. She then (25 April–2 July) completed an overhaul in Drydock 5 at Philadelphia including: removing and testing the 5-inch gun mount hydraulic systems; removing, testing, and reworking the radar antennae; fitting new transmitting staves while refitting the sonar dome; sandblasting the hull up to the main deck; removing both anchor chains and replacing 14 shots; replacing one screw and reworking the other; and concentrating on the boilers within the engineering spaces. Douglas H. Fox carried out RefTra at Guantánamo Bay (23 July–15 September), which included brief stops at the Reynolds Wharf at Ocho Rios (28–30 August) and loading ammunition at Yorktown during her return voyage. Her historian noted that “a crowd of joyous dependents” greeted their loved ones as the ship returned to Philadelphia. The years had not been kind to the ship and her underwater hull then required repainting in Drydock 1 at Philadelphia (21 September–9 October). While there she also received a new pathfinder radar, which proved useful as an aid to navigating in fog and restricted waters. Following the removal of DASH from the fleet, the ship remodeled the drone’s hangar as a crew’s lounge, inserting a prefabricated compartment and old furniture.
The destroyer trained more than 350 reservists on cruises during January, March, April, May, June, and September 1971. These voyages normally comprised instruction in basic seamanship, communication and ship handling drills, and practical factors advancement in their ratings and rates. Additional training included air and surface gunnery exercises with a visit to Fort Lauderdale early in the New Year, and in March naval gunfire shooting off Bloodsworth Island. From there she took part in FixWex Bravo 71, in which the ship was to tow a source projector from her variable depth sonar apparatus, about 75 miles east of Savannah, Ga. Three Lockheed P-3C Orions were to monitor and collect data from the projector but Ltjg. Richard W. Petzold, a 1969 graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, died of natural causes while Douglas H. Fox steamed near 32°9ˈ5̎N, 71°33ˈ5̎W, at 0650 on 19 March. His body was flown from Norfolk to his hometown of Elizabeth, N.J. Petzold’s death, in combination with foul weather that caused a malfunction in the towed device, prevented the ship from completing the exercise. The destroyer hunted Finback (SSN-670) while training in the first week of June. The last cruise of the year began when the ship loaded ammunition at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Va. She completed gunnery firing off Bloodsworth Island, and in September stood out for a two week cruise off Mayport. Heavy seas compelled the warship to come about for Mayport, where she received a report (from a previous tender availability) that “serious erosion” of her hull required immediate work, which she accomplished in drydock at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard (9 October 1971–7 January 1972).
The ship spent most of the year alternating between brief training cruises along the east coast, training and upkeep at Norfolk, Charleston, and Mayport, and tender availabilities alongside Sierra (AD-18) and Yellowstone. In addition, Douglas H. Fox carried out dual ship operations with Charles S. Sperry on 15 and 16 July, and hunted fleet ballistic missile submarine Benjamin Franklin (SSBN-640) off the Virginia capes on 7 August. On 27 August 1972 Douglas H. Fox hosted the Navy Mothers Club of America’s annual wreath laying ceremony to honor those veterans who had paid the ultimate price for freedom. She continued to train reservists into the New Year, venturing into the waters off Mayport for gunnery and antisubmarine exercises (29 January–11 February 1973), and visiting Freeport in the Bahamas. Douglas H. Fox carried out gunnery training off Bloodsworth Island (17–20 May), anchoring off the Naval Research Laboratory at Solomons Island, Md., while en route on 18 May. The ship embarked reservists detached from Harold J. Ellison (DD-864) and steered for northerly waters (12–21 June) to train with the Canadians, also visiting Halifax. She intermittently trained reservists and completed upkeep through the succeeding months.
Douglas H. Fox was stricken and decommissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 15 December 1973. On 1 January 1974, the ship was sold via the Security Assistance Program to the Chilean Navy, which renamed her Ministro Portales (DD.17).
Cmdr. Ray M. Pitts 26 December 1944
Cmdr. Charles W. Travis December 1945
Lt. Cmdr. Ray E. Oliver March 1948
Cmdr. James H. Brown May 1948
Lt. Cmdr. Francis A. Lewis January 1950
Cmdr. Harry A. Adams Jr. 15 November 1950
Cmdr. James A. Dare December 1951
Cmdr. John A. Sharpe Jr. July 1953
Cmdr. Herbert I. Mandel 9 April 1955
Cmdr. Douglas H. Jennings 2 October 1956
Cmdr. Robert A. Rowe 20 August 1958
Cmdr. Louis E. McConnell 9 December 1959
Cmdr. James J. Doak Jr. 24 October 1960
Cmdr. Frederick J. Heiler Jr. 7 April 1962
Cmdr. James R. Vallely 21 September 1963
Cmdr. Francis R. Horn 18 May 1965
Cmdr. William J. Aston 22 November 1966
Cmdr. Jack L. Wilson 22 November 1968
Cmdr. Paul Deaton 9 February 1970
Cmdr. George E. Pillow Jr. 24 August 1972
Lt. Cmdr. Joseph F. Kelley 23 August 1973
Douglas H. Fox received one battle star for World War II service and one for her Korean War service.
Mark L. Evans
10 May 2016