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Swearer (DE-186)

(DE-186: dp. 1,240; 1. 306'0"; b. 36'7"; dr. 11'8"; s. 20.9 k. (tl.) ; cpl. 216; a. 3 3", 5 40mm.; cl. Cannon)

Walter John Swearer was born on 13 July 1909 in New York City. He was appointed lieutenant (jg.) in the Naval Reserve on 16 September 1941 and, six days later, reported to the Naval Training School at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study aircraft engines. On 17 December, he was ordered to the Indoctrination School at Fort Schuyler in the Bronx. After a little over a month, Lt. (jg.) Swearer moved to the Bureau of Aeronautics at Washington, D.C. He was detached from that duty on 27 February 1942 and ordered to report to the Commandant, 12th Naval District, at San Francisco, Calif., preparatory to being assigned to Enterprise (CV-6). On 15 June, Swearer was temporarily promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Lt. Swearer was killed in action while serving in Enterprise during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on 26 October 1942.

Swearer (DE-186) was laid down on 12 August 1943 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., at Newark, N.J.; launched on 31 October 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Walter F. Swearer; and commissioned on 24 November 1943, Lt. K. N. Hannan, USNR, in command.

From commissioning until mid-January 1944, Swearer was attached to the Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, for shakedown training and post-shakedown availability. On 19 January 1944, she put to sea from New York City in the screen of a convoy of troop transports bound for the Panama Canal. She transited the canal at the end of January and continued on to Hawaii. Swearer arrived in Pearl Harbor on 15 February and remained until the 29th, conducting training and undergoing repairs. On the 29th, she set sail for Eniwetok Atoll in the screen of a convoy and, after a stop at Kwajalein, reached her destination on 8 March.

For a little more than 10 months, Swearer contributed to America's war effort in the Pacific by shepherding the logistics groups which supported the fighting. During the bulk of the time, she operated from Eniwetok and Ulithi atolls, screening the fueling group of the 3d/5th fleet to and from fueling rendezvous. In being so engaged, the destroyer escort participated in the raids on Palau, Yap, Woleai, Truk, Satawan, and Ponape in March and April of 1944. In early April, she also screened escort carriers from Manus to resupply rendezvous with the larger carriers then engaged in operations in western New Guinea. After a month at Pearl Harbor in repairs, she returned to the central Pacific and to screening duty with the fueling group. She participated in the capture and occupation of the Mariana Islands between June and August, then moved south to Manus to screen escort carriers during the western Carolines and Leyte operations. In November, Swearer resumed duty with the fueling group. During this last three months with the fueling groups, she supported the fast carriers as they struck Luzon in the Philippines and as they made their sweep of Formosa, the China coast, and of the Nansei Shoto.

After repairs and upkeep at Ulithi in the western Carolines, from 21 January to 6 February 1945, Swearer joined a convoy of cargo and troopships bound for the invasion of Iwo Jima. The convoy stopped at Guam for a week, then headed for Iwo Jima on 16 February. Swearer and her convoy arrived off Iwo Jima on 19 February, the date of the assault. For five days, she patrolled the transport area and helped fight off Japanese air attacks, before departing on the 23d for Leyte Gulf in the Philippines. The destroyer escort remained in San Pedro Bay until 19 March, preparing for the invasion of Okinawa. Between 19 and 26 March, she screened a convoy of cargo, troop, and amphibious warfare ships to the Okinawa staging area at Kerama Retto. Swearer remained in the vicinity of Okinawa for three months, patrolling, screening, escorting, and fighting off kamikaze attacks. She was attacked by a "Zeke" on the day of the invasion, but her gunners brought him down before he could crash her. On 16 April, a "Val" tried to crash-dive Swearer, but again her gunners brought him down. The destroyer escort continued to patrol Kerama Retto until 5 July. She suffered two more air attacks during that time, one by a bomber on 13 May and another by a torpedo bomber on 27 June. In both cases, however, neither plane nor ship inflicted damage upon the other.

Swearer returned to Eniwetok on 12 July and headed for the United States on the following day. After a stop at Pearl Harbor, she entered San Diego on 27 July and commenced overhaul. Three months later, she headed south to the Panama Canal, transited it on 4 November, and headed north to Norfolk, where she arrived on 10 November. On 25 February 1946, Swearer was placed out of commission and berthed at Green Cove Springs, Fla. She remained there until the spring of 1950, when she was moved to Philadelphia to repare for turnover to the Republic of France. On 16 eptember 1950, she joined the French Navy as Bambara (F-719), and her name was struck from the Navy list on 20 October 1950.

Swearer earned nine battle stars during World War II.

Published: Mon Apr 11 09:10:35 EDT 2016