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Owen (DD-536)

(DD-536: dp. 2,940 (f.); l. 376-6-; b. 39-8-; dr. 17-9-; s. 37 k.; cpl. 329; a. 5 5-, 10 40mm., 7 20mm., 10 21- tt., 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Fletcher)

Elias K. Owen, born in Chicago, 21 November 1834, entered the Navy in 1848. During the Civil War he served in the Mississippi Squadron, commanding Louisville and a division of Adm. Porter's squadron. He died 8 April 1877 at Kaskaskia, Ill.

Owen (DD-536) was laid down 17 September 1942 by the Bethlehem Steel Corp., San Francisco, Calif.; launched 21 March 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Hope Owen; and commissioned 20 September 1943, Comdr. R. W. Wood in command.

Owen, assigned to DesRon 52, completed shakedown off California and training in Hawaii in time to join fast carrier task force 58 for operation "Flintlock." Operating with the carriers throughout most of World War II, she escorted them to their objectives; screened them as they launched dive bombing, straffing, and torpedo attacks; and covered them as they retired.

On 16 January 1944 Owen departed Pearl Harbor for the Marshalls. Between the 29th and the 3rd of February she screened the carriers of TG 58.2 off Kwajalein, then retired to Majuro. From Majuro her group raided Truk 16 February and then retired briefly to Pearl Harbor, returning to Majuro in mid-March.

On the 22nd, the carriers, supported by battleships and cruisers and screened by a ring of destroyers, departed the atoll with Owen in the outer ring of steel. Completing strikes at Palau, Yap, Ulithi, and Woleai, 29 March-1 April, they returned to Majuro, whence they headed for New Guinea. There they supported Army assault forces with raids on Hollandia, Wakde, Sewar and Sarmi, 21-22 April and then struck at Truk, Satawan and Ponape 29 April-1 May. Next the force hit Marcus and Wake Islands, 19-23 May and then prepared for the Marianas campaign.

On 6 June, the carrier force again sortied from Majuro. From the 11th through the 17th, its ships and planes ranged from the Volcanoes and Bonins to the southern most Marianas in support of the assault on Saipan. On the 17th, after screening the carriers during strikes against Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam, Owen received word of a Japanese fleet enroute from the Philippines. On the 18th, screening continued as she waited. On the 19th, enemy dive bombers opened the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Throughout the two day battle, which permanently crippled the Japanese seaborne aerial arm, she carried out her protective mission in the screen of Bunker Hill.

Strikes on Pagan Island preceded a brief upkeep at Eniwetok. In July, the force struck Iwo and Chichi Jima, Palau, Ulithi, and Yap. During August there were further operations in the Marianas and against the Bonins. September raids against Palau, Mindanao, Leyte, Luzon and Samar in support of the Palau campaign were followed in October by a foray into the East and South China Seas. On the 20th, the force supported amphibious operations on Leyte and Samar.

Owen, forced by boiler trouble to miss the China Seas operations, rejoined the force for the Leyte landings. On the 25th, Owen, temporarily with TG 34.5, sailed to assist TF 77 units which had engaged enemy forces attempting to enter Leyte Gulf. Shortly after midnight, off the eastern end of San Bernadino Strait, an enemy destroyer was taken under fire. After several exchanges, Owen and Miller closed to deliver the final blows. They accomplished their mission in under 20 minutes.

Raids against enemy installations in the Philippines continued into November. On the 25th the force retired to Ulithi, whence it sortied, 11 December, to support amphibious operations on Mindoro. Strikes on Formosa preceded another return to the Philippines in support of amphibious landings, this time in Lingayen Gulf.

Following the Luzon assault, the carrier force's sorties into the South and East China Seas were stepped up. The ships and planes repeatedly blasted installations from Saigon to the Ryukyus and frequently sailed north to raid Japan's industrial heart. On 19-21 February 1945, the force supported the assault in Iwo Jima, then steamed west again to pound the Tokyo plain. By mid-March, an intensified raiding campaign against the Ryukyus and Japan was well underway, preparing the way for an invasion force.

On the 19th, an enemy dive bomber penetrated the screen to score a direct hit on Franklin. Following rescue operations, Owen was detached, with others, to escort the damaged carrier back to Ulithi.

Owen departed Ulithi 5 April for her last operation. For the next 53 days she screened TG 58.2 as it provided air cover for forces fighting on Okinawa and raided Kyushu. On 28 May, she departed the intensely disputed Okinawan combat area. Sailing south, she anchored in Leyte Gulf until 20 June when she set a homeward course. She arrived at San Francisco 9 July and was there when the war ended.

Assigned to the 19th (Pacific Reserve) Fleet, Owen decommissioned 10 December 1946 and was berthed at San Diego. She remained there until reactivated during the Korean Conflict. She recommissioned 17 August 1951, becoming flagship of DesDiv 282, and reported for duty with the Atlantic Fleet in November. Cold weather operations in the North Atlantic in early 1952 were followed by overhaul at Charleston and training operations in the Caribbean. On 7 January 1953, she sailed, with her division, for the Far East. Steaming via the Panama Canal, she arrived at Sasebo, Japan, 12 February; joined the 7th Fleet; and immediately commenced operations off the embattled Korean peninsula. Owen divided her five months tour with the United Nations Force between the fast carriers (TG 77) and the Blockade and Escort Force (TF 95). With the former, her operations were similar to her World War II missions, screening and plane guard. With the latter, she patrolled from Wonsan to Chongjin and acted as flag for the Yong Do and Wonsan Defense and Blockade Units. Defense of friendly islands, coastal patrol, shore bombardment to silence enemy batteries and impede their transport and communications activities, and mine destruction were included in these assignments.

On 26 June, Owen departed Sasebo to return to Norfolk via the Suez Canal. Completing her round the world voyage 22 August, she remained on the east coast until January 1954. A 3-month Mediterranean deployment followed, after which she returned to spend the remainder of the year in the western Atlantic.

In January 1955, she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet, arriving at Long Beach on the 26th. On reporting, her division was redesignated DesDiv 192. From 1955 to 1958, the destroyer alternated EastPac training operations and shipyard overhauls with WestPac tours. In December 1957, she returned from her last 7th Fleet deployment and reported for inactivation at Mare Island. She decommissioned 27 May 1958 and was again berthed in California as a unit of the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Into 1970 she remains a unit of that fleet, berthed at Stockton.

Owen earned 9 battlestars during World War II, and 2 during the Korean Conflict.

Published: Tue Aug 18 09:07:39 EDT 2015