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Rupertus (DD-851)

William Henry Rupertus, born in Washington, D.C., on 14 November 1889, graduated from the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service School in 1913. Commissioned a Lieutenant of Marines on 14 November, he then attended the Marine Corps Officer’s School and graduated in the class of 1915. During World War I he saw service as a lieutenant on board Florida (BB-30) then attached to the British Grand Fleet. Following a tour of duty in Haiti, where he earned that country's Distinguished Service Medal, he attended both the Field Officer's and the Army Command and General Staff Schools, then served in China as a major with the Legation Guard in Peiping. A tour at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington followed, and in 1936 he was appointed Chief of Staff, Fleet Marine Force. Another tour in China as Executive Officer of the 4th Marines in Shanghi [sic; Shanghai ?] preceeded [sic; preceded] his appointment as Commandant of the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. The outbreak of World War II found General Rupertus second in command of the 1st Marine Division, which, under Major General Vandergrift opened the U.S. offensive in the Pacific by landing in the Solomons on 7 August 1942. General Rupertus organized and led the successful attacks on Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo for which he was awarded the Navy Cross. On 10 July 1943 Major General Rupertus succeeded to the command of the 1st Marine Division, which he led to further victories on New Britain and in the Palaus. For the former he was personally thanked by General MacArthur and awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal; for the latter he received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. After the victory at Peleliu, General Rupertus returned to the United States to serve as Commandant, Marine Corps School (Quantico). He died on 25 March 1945, while serving in that capacity.

(DD-851: displacement 3,540 (full load); length 391’; beam 41’; draft 19’; speed 35 knots; complement 376; armament 6 5”, 16 40mm., 14 20mm., 2 depth charge tracks, 6 depth charge projectors, 5 21” torpedo tubes; cl. Gearing)

Rupertus (DD-851) was laid down 2 May 1945 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.; launched 21 September 1945; sponsored by Mrs. William H. Rupertus; and commissioned 8 March 1946, Comdr. William C. F. Robards in command.

Following shakedown off Guantanamo Bay and visits to various east coast ports, Rupertus transited the Panama Canal and steamed to San Francisco. Since 1946 she has alternated deployments to the western Pacific with operations off the west coast of the United States.

On her first deployment in 1947 she operated throughout the Far East, but particularly at Tsingtao, China. In the eastern Pacific throughout 1948, she returned to Tsingtao in 1949 only to be one of the last three American ships to leave that port before it fell to the Communists.

Returning to San Diego in December for operations in the eastern Pacific and overhaul, she departed San Diego 13 November 1950 to operate with U.N. forces off Korea. She escorted carrier Sicily (CVE-118) from Sasebo to Hungnam, Korea; then, from 14 May 1951, operated with blockade and escort TF 95 off the west coast of Korea and in the Yellow Sea. Leaving TF 95 and steaming to Wonsan, Rupertus spent 10 days off the coast near Songju and fired thousands of rounds of ammunition at shore targets. Rupertus saw continuous combat service until 4 July 1951, when she returned to Inchon during the armistice talks.

Returning to San Diego 8 August 1951, Rupertus steamed out again to rejoin the 7th Fleet 23 February 1952. Operating first with carrier TF 77, she then departed to bombard the Hungnam-Hannum area with Manchester (CL-83) and rescued a pilot from Boxer (CV-21) while under heavy Communist shore battery fire. Rupertus put in to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for overhaul on 6 October.

Departing San Diego for the western Pacific again 16 May 1953, Rupertus screened Bremerton (CA-130) in TF 77, participated in shore bombardment missions off Korea, conducted hunter-killer exercises, trained Chinese Nationalist naval students in Formosan waters, and participated in the centennial celebration of Commodore M. C. Perry's first visit to Japan, before returning to San Diego.

After the Korean truce, Rupertus continued her annual deployments to WestPac until 1960 when she was assigned Yokosuka as a homeport. In WestPac for almost 3 consecutive years, she operated off Vietnam during the Communist advance there in April 1961.

Rupertus returned to San Francisco 13 December 1962, and following a FRAM I overhaul, which replaced her World War II armament with a modern integrated ASW weapons system including ASROC and DASH, she entered her temporary homeport of Long Beach, Calif. On 26 May 1964 she again steamed for Yokosuka, Taiwan Patrol and after the August Tonkin Gulf incident, the South China Sea. Remaining in the Far East, in June 1965 she participated in operations supporting the Gemini IV space flight; then returned to Vietnamese waters for "Market Time" operations, boarding and inspecting many boats and ships off South Vietnam in search of Communist contraband; and provided naval gunfire support to U.S. forces in Vietnam. Operations on Taiwan Patrol and in the South China Sea continued throughout 1966, interrupted by participation in GT-9A recovery operations in May and June.

Rupertus, again homeported at Long Beach, arrived there 3 August 1966. A year later she sailed for the Far East again arriving on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin in July. With Forrestal (CVA-59) when a series of explosions temporarily disabled the giant carrier on 29 July, Rupertus maneuvered to within 20 feet of the crippled ship and remained alongside for a period of 3 hours assisting in fighting fires, cooling magazines, and rescuing personnel thrown into the sea. Rupertusthen participated in "Sea Dragon" operations involving the interdiction of waterborne logistics craft staging from North Vietnamese ports, and drew enemy fire off Dong Hoi, North Vietnam, which resulted in minor shrapnel hits. Assigned to gunfire support off South Vietnam in October, she returned to Long Beach on 4 December.

Following overhaul and exercises off the California coast, Rupertus again got underway for WestPac on 3 July 1968. She arrived in her new homeport, Yokosuka, 22 July, and assumed naval gunfire support responsibilities off South Vietnam on 14 August. Taking up "Sea Dragon" duties on 29 August, she again came under fire from enemy coastal defense sites. After serving as part of the Apollo 7 recovery team, she returned to duties off Vietnam and then plane guard duty off Korea, winding up 1968 in Yokosuka.

Continuing to operate throughout the Far East during 1969, part of that time off Vietnam, Rupertus returned to San Diego 15 August 1970. She remained in San Diego for the rest of 1970, spending much of the time in drydock.

Both 1971 and 1972 brought Rupertus a WestPac cruise, each of about six months duration and alternated with operations in the San Diego area. Soon after her return from the second of these latest deployments, in the spring of 1973, she underwent an INSURV inspection which resulted in her being declared unfit for further service. Rupertus was offered to the Hellenic Navy on a loan basis and she was decommissioned 10 July 1973. Concurrent with her decommissioning, she was transferred to the Hellenic Navy and recommissioned as Kountouriotis (D-213). She remained in the Greek Navy until retired in 1994.

Rupertus earned seven battle stars for service in the Korean Conflict.

21 October 2005

Published: Thu Apr 28 00:01:52 EDT 2016