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Lovelace (DE-198)

(DE‑198: dp. 1,400; l. 306'; b. 37'; dr. 9'5"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 1 1.10", 8 20mm., 3 21" tt., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.), 2 dct.; cl. Buckley)

Donald Alexander Lovelace, born in Scottsburg, Va., 20 June 1906, entered the Naval Academy 7 July 1924 and was commissioned ensign upon graduation in 1928. After duty in Wyoming, he learned to fly at Pensacola, Fla., during 1930 and subsequently was active in developing naval aviation. At the outbreak of the war in the Pacific, Lovelace was assigned to Yorktown (CV‑10). He soon won the Distinguished Flying Cross "for heroic conduct in aerial combat, as division leader and pilot, when on 20 February 1942, in enemy waters, he led his division in a vigorous and determined attack, in the face of combined machinegun and cannon fire, against a formation of enemy bombers, and he, with the assistance of his teammate, caused the destruction of one enemy bomber."

Lieutenant Commander Lovelace was killed in a plane crash northeast of Midway Island 2 June 1942 while searching for the Japanese naval force which was defeated in the Battle of Midway 2 days later.

Lovelace (DE‑198) was laid down 22 May 1943; launched 4 July 1943 by Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va.; sponsored by Mrs. Donald A. Lovelace, widow; and commissioned 7 November 1943, Lt. Comdr. R. D. de Kay, Jr., in command.

After shakedown, Lovelace departed Norfolk 2 January 1944 never to return to the cast coast. This flagship of Destroyer Escort Division 37 picked up convoys at Guantanamo, the Canal Zone, and the Society Islands as she steamed across the southern Pacific to Noumea, New Caldonla, arriving 8 February.

Escort and screening duties in the Solomon Islands preceded her departure 19 April for the New Guinea battle zone. Arriving off Hollandia without incident on the 24th, she screened the debarking of the second wave of relief troops. Later Lovelace interrupted her New Guinea coastal patrol and escort missions on 8 July to bombard beach targets at Toem and on the 22d entered a floating drydock at Milne Bay. A more important cessation from an almost continuous sailing schedule occurred a month later at New Caldonia, where new 20mm. guns were installed.

Lovelace left the Melanesian groups 15 October sailing northwest to the Kossol Straits, Palau Islands, and then westward to Leyte Gulf. She arrived 25 October just as a major naval battle was shaping up some 60 miles away. While protecting 7th Fleet replenishment units, she splashed her first enemy plane on the 26th. Six days later en route to Kossol Straits the screen was heavily attacked by suicide planes, but the convoy fought through. On 21 November Lovelace was credited with an assist in downing an enemy bomber attacking its Hollandia‑bound convoy.

After a period of refresher antisubmarine training off Sansapoor, New Guinea, the destroyer escort joined TF 78 en route to the Philippines. Lovelace continued to operate primarily as an intra‑Philippine escort vessel from 8 January 1945 until mid‑July. However, during this period her antiaircraft capabilities were increased by the installation of air‑search radar at Manus in the Admiralties. In July her zone of operations expanded to include Ulithi; and on 9 August, in the lull between air attacks, she first closed Okinawa. When she returned in September, it was the weather rather than the Japanese that posed the threat. Only slightly damaged herself on 19 September, she went to the assistance of Coulter, an attack transport loaded with liberated U.S. war prisoners, after the ship had hit a drifting mine. After seeing the troopship safely back to Buckner Bay, Lovelace returned to the Philippines; and on 1 October the ship departed Subic Bay for the United States in company with the ships of Escort Division 37.

Arriving San Diego, Calif., 23 October, Lovelace reached the end of 21 active months of naval service. Decommissioned 22 May 1946, she was berthed at Bremerton, Wash. Struck 1 July 1967, Lovelace performed her last duty for the Navy by acting as a target for destruction.

Lovelace was awarded three battle stars for World War II service.

Published: Wed Apr 13 11:54:55 EDT 2016