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Gwin IV (DM-33)

(DM-33: dp. 2.200: l. 376'6"; b. 40'10": dr. IS'10"; s. 34.2 k.: cpl. 343; a. 6 5" 12 40mm., 8 20mm., 2 dct, 4 dcp. Robert H. Smith)

William Gwin was born 6 December 1832 in Columbus, Ind., and appointed a Midshipman 7 April 1847. One of the most promising officers in the nation, he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant Commander by the time of his death. During the Civil War he commanded several ships of the Mississippi Squadron. He was one of Flag Officer Foote's "can do" officers, displaying outstanding initiative, energy and dash. After the fall of Fort Henry he swept with his wooden gunboats up the Tennessee River all the way to regions of Alabama, spreading destruction and terror. This action was a major factor in the collapse of the Confederate lines far behind him in Kentucky. Fire support from two of his gunboats, Tyler and Lexington, helped save Union troops from disaster in the Battle of Shiloh, bringing high praise from General Grant. He was wounded in action 27 December 1862 while commanding gunboat Benton in the battle of Haines Bluff on the Yazoo River. He died from these injuries 3 January 1863 on board a hospital ship in the Mississippi River.


Gwin (DM-33), ex-DD-772, was launched by the Bethlehem Steel Co., San Pedro, Calif., 9 April 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Jesse W. Tarbill, second counsin and sponsor of the previous Gwin (DD-433); and commissioned 30 September 1944 at Los Angeles, Comdr. F. S. Steinke in command.

After shakedown along the California coast, Gwin sailed for the Pacific theatre as flagship of Mine Squadron 3, reaching Pearl Harbor 3 January 1945. A week later the squadron left for the fighting front. At Saipan, 20 January, Gwin and her sister sweepers joined Battleship Division 7. For 7 days, 21 to 26 January, she participated in the preliminary bombardment of Iwo Jima, next to the last step in America's long island-hopping campaign across the Pacific. Returning to Pearl Harbor, Gwin underwent overhaul before sailing for Eniwetok 23 February.

From Eniwetok Gwin steamed to Nansei Shoto 17 March to sweep the area around Okinawa, the scene of one of the war's bloodiest and most heroic invasions. Acting in a variety of roles-antisubmarine screen, radar picket ship, minesweeper, fire support-Gwin was to remain off Okinawa the following 5 months, almost to the very end of the war. During this period she accounted for some 16 enemy aircraft as the Japanese launched their desperate kamikaze attacks. Nine of these Japanese planes fell victim to Gwin's guns on only 2 days, 16 April and 4 May. An air raid 16 April saw Gwin down two "Betties," Japanese dive bombers, coming in only to have another come sweeping in and crash in the sea some 25 yards as the agile DM evaded her. And then the alert gun crew swung their battery to catch another Japanese plane and shoot it down less than 50 yards from the ship.

At dusk on 4 May, Gwin was on radar picket station off Okinawa. Combat Air Patrol reported 8 to 10 enemy planes to port, and Gwin swung her batteries to face the enemy. Suddenly a second contingent of planes swept in out of the setting sun to starboard! Gwin swung her guns around just in time, and two of the attackers splashed into the sea. Whirling to port, the gun crews fired into the original attack group, and accounted for three more kamikazes. The seas had not yet closed over these three planes when a sixth, another kamikaze, crashed Gwin. Two men were killed, 2 missing, and 11 injured as the suicide plane embedded itself into Gram's aft 40U111). platform. Then, as damage control parties rushed to quell the fires raging around the kamikaze, the Japanese attack ended as suddenly as it had begun. In less than six hectic, heroic minutes, Gwin, although under attack from all quarters, had downed five Japanese planes and been herself damaged by a sixth.

After a brief stay at Nansei Shoto for battle damage repairs, Gwin returned to patrol and sweeping duties around Okinawa. She rendezvoused 20 August with Task Force 3S and with such illustrious fighting ships as Missouri, Lexington, Yorktown, and Shangri-La, headed for Tokyo Bay. Putting into Sagami Bay 27 August 1945, Gwin began to sweep the area, front door to Tokyo Bay, and destroyed some 41 mines in 2 days' duty. At last on 29 August 1945 she steamed into Tokyo Bay, and anchored under the towering snowcap of Mount Fujiyama. Departing for Okinawa 1 September, Gwin, remained on minesweeping duty there and in the East China Sea for the rest of the year.

With her share of the Pacific "mopping-up" complete, Gwin at last headed home, reaching San Pedro, Calif., 23 February 1946. The battle-tested ship then sailed for Charleston, S.C., arriving 14 March. Gwin decommissioned there 3 September 1946 and was placed in reserve.

As the Korean War necessitated the strengthening of America's fleet, Gwin recommissioned at Charleston 8 July 1052, Comdr. R. E. Oliver in command. For the next few years she divided her time between Caribbean and local exercises, European cruises, and NATO maneuvers, with time out for overhaul. In 1953 Gwin crossed the Atlantic for a 4-month tour of duty with the 6th Fleet, visiting 10 Mediterranean ports before returning to Charleston 3 February 1954. Midshipman Able Cruises June to August 1954 and 1955 took her to Lisbon, Portugal, Le Havre, Valencia, Spain, and Terquay, England. Gwin returned to the Mediterranean a final time in 1957 for NATO maneuvers with ships of the Portugese, French, and British navies, visiting both Brest and Gibraltar.

In between Caribbean and Mediterranean cruises and training, Gwin engaged in a variety of minesweeping and hunter-killer antisubmarine exercises along the East Coast and participated in several other NATO maneuvers in American waters. Gwin sailed to the Philadelphia Navy Yard 12 January 1958 where she decommissioned 3 April 1958 and remains in reserve through 1967.

Gwin received a Navy Unit Commendation and four battle stars for service in World War II.

Published: Tue Jul 14 07:41:09 EDT 2015