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Kretchmer (DE-329)

(DE-329: dp. 1,200; l. 306'; b. 36'7" ; dr. 8'7"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; -a. 3 3", 6 40mm., 10 20mm., 9 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Edsall)

Raymond Joseph Kretchmer, born 30 January 1917, in Chicago, Ill., enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve 29 August 1940. He was appointed Midshipman, Naval Reserve, at Northwestern University and commissioned Ensign 12 September 1941.

Ens. Kretchmer was assigned to active duty 12 September and served on board Astoria. He was killed in action 9 August 1942 when Astoria was sunk by Japanese naval forces during the Battle of Savo Island.

Kretchmer (DE-329) was laid down 28 June 1943, by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; launched 31 August 1943; sponsored by Miss Betty Kretchmer, sister of Ens. Kretchmer; and commissioned 13 December 1943, Lt. R. C. Wing, in command.

After a Bermuda shakedown Kretchmer departed Charleston, S.C., 15 February 1944, for operations in the Caribbean. Based at Port-au-Spain, Trinidad, she escorted convoys to Cuba and Bermuda until sailing for Key West 2 May. Assigned to an air wing training detachment, Kretchmer operated with torpedo bombers for 3 weeks, before departing Charleston 8 June escorting a convoy to Europe. Sailing via Curacao, D.W.I., Kretchmer screened shipping bound for Naples in preparation for the assaults on southern France. After returning to the United States 16 July, the escort ship made one more cruise to Naples during the summer.

Between 20 September 1944 and 27 April 1945, Kretchmer sailed as escort to five convoys from New York to United Kingdom ports. After victory in Europe, she prepared for Pacific Fleet duty arriving Pearl Harbor 5 July. Clearing Pearl Harbor 1 August, Kretchmer was en route to the Philippines when hostilities stopped, 14 August.

Serving in the Far East until 1 April 1946, the destroyer escort engaged in occupation and repatriation operations, including the evacuation of Allied prisoners of war from Formosa during September 1945. Kretchmer also served on escort duty, mine patrol, and mail runs between Chinese ports. Departing Hong Kong 1 April 1946, she returned home by way of the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, arriving Charleston, S.C., 29 May. Kretchmer decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla., 20 September 1946.

After extensive conversion, Kretchmer recommissioned as DER-329 on 22 September 1956, Lt. Comdr. C. F. Fadeley in command. After shakedown in the Caribbean, the radar picket arrived at Boston 18 December to commence operations in the Northern Radar Barrier. Based at Newport, R.I., from 1957 to 1962, she remained on picket duty, making regular patrols to provide early warning to the continental air defense systems. Kretchmer also made cruises to northern Europe in 1958, 1961, and 1962, and in August 1961 rescued six men from foundered Icelandic fishing vessel Sleipnir.

In the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis, Kretchmer departed Newport 23 November 1962 for picket duty off the southern coast of the United States. While operating as plane guard and screen for Essex (CVS-9) in Key West waters, Kretchmer rescued two shrimp fishermen from disabled fishing vessel Ala, after they had been fired upon by Cuban "Mig" aircraft. On 21 February 1963, while Kretchmer was guarding Ala, a Mig-17 made four passes at the disabled fishing craft before turning tail ahead of U.S. Marine aircraft.

Kretchmer continued picket and training operations in the Atlantic until 21 May 1965, when she entered Boston Naval Shipyard for overhaul prior to deployment in the western Pacific. The ship departed Newport, R.I., for Guam, arriving 2 August after a stopover at Pearl Harbor.

One month later, Kretchmer joined other vessels off the South Vietnam coast in Operation "Market Time," keeping coastal traffic under surveillance to prevent the shipment of Communist arms and supply to South Vietnam by sea. Her motor whaleboat came under heavy small arms fire during a roundup operation in November. No American casualties resulted and Kretchmer's search party seized a large number of suspected guerrilla infiltrators.

By the end of a year of patrol, the ship had investigated some 17,000 contacts, and boarded over 1,000 small craft. On 10 December Kretchmer steamed into Apra Harbor, Guam, where she remained until her departure 22 February 1966 for a 7%-month deployment with the 7th Fleet. She continued "Market Time" patrol off the northwest coast of Vietnam and provided gunfire support for the Marines and Army on shore. She left Subic Bay 29 September for her homeport, Guam, where she remained through part of October. Kretchmer then departed for further radar picket escort duties off Vietnam through 1966 into 1967. Her continued presence on the South China seacoasts delineates the commitment of the United States to the preservation of the independence of South Vietnam.

Published: Mon Apr 18 20:07:26 EDT 2016