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John L. Williamson (DE-370)

(DE-370: dp. 1,350; l. 306'; b. 36'8"; dr. 9'5"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 2 5", 4 40mm., 10 20mm., 2 dct, 8 dcp., 1 dcp., (h.h.),321"tt; cl. John C. Butler)

John Leon Williamson was born 5 November 1921 in Ash, N.C., and enlisted in the Navy at Raleigh 11 July 1940. After recruit training, he was assigned to cruiser San Francisco. Williamson was on board the fighting cruiser during the attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941 and the initial American amphibious assault of the war on Guadalcanal. He also took part in the American victory at the night Battle of Cape Esperance in October. On 12 November 1942 one of the many Japanese attempts to bombard American positions in the Solomons and to reinforce their own garrisons there resulted another great battle, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Before the main engagement, San Francisco (CA-38) and other ships were attacked by torpedo bombers off Guadalcanal. Williamson, an antiaircraft gunner fired at an approaching torpedo plane, remaining at his station with cool determination as the enemy aircraft crashed directly at his gun mount. For his great courage in the face of this attack, Seaman First Class Williamson was awarded the Navy cross posthumously.

John L. Williamson (DE-370) was laid down 22 May 1944 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; launched 29 August 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Sherman Register, sister of Seaman First Class Williamson; and commissioned 31 October 1944, Lt. Comdr. J. E. Allen in command.

Following shakedown training in waters off Bermuda, the new escort vessel arrived Boston 21 December 1945. Early in 1945 she received orders to join the Pacific Fleet, and got underway 3 January to steam via the Panama Canal to San Diego. There she arrived 19 January, and moved on to Pearl Harbor 28 January for training exercises. As Allied amphibious assaults struck ever-closer to Japan, John L. Williamson sailed 2 March with a convoy for Iwo Jima, arriving 20 March after a stop at Eniwetok. She took up antisubmarine patrol around the island for 4 days and anchored again at Eniwetok 28 March 1945.

After serving on a brief antisubmarine patrol off Eniwetok, the ship steamed to Majuro 5 April and for the next 3 weeks operated in the Marshall Islands. Air strikes and shore bombardments combined with surrender demands over loudspeakers were used to induce Japanese holdouts to give themselves up. John L. Williamson fired at shore batteries and emplacements at Mill, Alu, and other islands, taking off scores of prisoners and natives from these bypassed islands. She sailed from Majuro 24 April, and arrived Ulithi 5 days later for picket duty.

John L. Williamson remained on patrol duty around Ulithi with an occasional escort voyage to Eniwetok with troop transports until departing 15 July with a large convoy for Okinawa. She arrived Okinawa 21 July during the final stages of this, the last great island fight of the war, and after 2 days patrolling off the transport area returned to Ulithi 27 July. The ship made one more escort voyage to Okinawa in August, and was at anchor at Ulithi when the Japanese accepted surrender terms 15 August.

The destroyer escort sailed 22 August for Okinawa and Japan, arriving Wakayama 14 September to escort ships through the swept channel and aid in occupation operations. After screening flight operations off Japan, she carried out courier duties between Wakayama and Yokosuka until she sailed for the United States 2 January 1946. John L. Williamson arrived San Francisco 22 January 1946 and decommissioned 14 June 1946 at San Diego. She entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet there and in January 1947 was transferred to Stockton, Calif., where she remains.

Published: Thu Jul 23 10:00:25 EDT 2015