U.S.S. Walker

History In Detail


Jim Powell
United States Navy

 

Former Commanding Officers
" Captain to the bridge ! "

    CDR C. Gregor
    3 April 1943 to 27 July 1943
    LCDR F.S Townsent
    27 July 1943 to 5 December 1944
    CDR P. D. Quirk 5 December
    1944 to 31 May 1946
    CDR W. M. Shifflette
    15 September 1950 to 14 March 1952
    CDR M. C. Walley
    14 March 1952 to 22 July 1953
    CDR R. L. Kalen
    22 July 1953 to 9 September 1955
    CDR C. H. Smith
    09 September 1955 to 19 July 1957
    CDR F. E. McKenzie
    19 Jully 1957 to 29 November 1958
    CDR J. P. Gutting
    29 November 1958 to 11 August 1960
    CDR B.W. Drew
    11 August 1960 to 12 May 1961
    CDR G. W. Prada
    12 May 1961 to 29 June 1963
    CDR L.W. Kelley
    29 June 1963 to 17 February 1965
    CDR B. R. Thompson
    17 February 1965 to 8 January 1966
    CDR J. J. McGrath
    08 January 1966 to 6 December 1966
    CDR S. W. McClaran
    ------------- to April 3 1968
    CDR Robert A. Mesler
    3 April 1968 to 2 July 1969

 


DETAILED HISTORY OF
U.S.S. WALKER (DD 517)

Information provided by Dick Purvis

Second U S. Destroyer named in honor of Rear Admiral John Grimes Walker USN was built by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in Maine, commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 3 April 1943, and during World War II became a veteran of seven Pacific Campaigns as well as participating in the final occupation of Japan.

Rear Admiral John Grimes WALKER was born March 20, 1835 in Hillsboro, N. H., died 1907 at Oqunquit, Maine. Appointed acting Midshipman, October 5, 1850, commissioned Rear Admiral 23 January 1894.

During the Civil War he served with distinction in the Connecticut, Winona, Baron de Kalb, and Saco. These vessels engaged in operations on the Mississippi River and along the Atlantic Coast. During the summer of 1862 he present at engagements with Forts Jackson and St. Philip and Chalmette Batteria at the capture of New Orleans. He took part in the operations against Vicksberg including the passage of the batteries both ways. During the winter of 1862-63 he participated in operations against Haines Bluff, Arkansas Post; took part in the Yazoo Pass Expedition and attack on Fort Pemberton and the capture of Yazoo City. During the siege of Vicksburg Mississippi, he was in command of a naval battery with the 15th Army Corps.

Rear Admiral WALKER was a tireless worker for the Navy and for the United States As Chief of the Bureau of Navigation he urged and backed Congressional legislation which eventually permitted retirement benefits for United States Sailormen. His ability to grasp national problems was observed by- President Theodore Roosevelt and after his retirement the President appointed him chairman of the famed WALKER Commission, to investigate and recommend a suitable route for an Isthmus Canal in Central America. By his guidance, the WALKER Commission recommended the present route of the Panama Canal and the foresight of Admiral WALKER increased the naval preparedness of the United States a hundred fold.

U.S.S. WALKER is named in memory of Rear Admiral WALKER, U. S. Navy

During WALKER's thirty months of war operations, the destruction of four Japanese aircraft and participation in six bombardments of enemy positions including the first bombardment of the Japanese home island are high points her career. This destroyer participated in the campaigns which won U.S. control of the Gilbert Island, Marshall Island, Dutch New Guineas Marianas Island, Leyte Island, Okinawa and the July August THIRD Fleet Operations which contributed to the capitulation of Japan. Throughout this period no damage to the ship or injury to any of its personnel was suffered.

Undoubtedly the most memorable part of Walkers tour of duty began in mid-May of 1945 when, fresh from Navy Yard overhaul she joined Admiral March Mitschs famed Task Force 53 at Ulithi, Caroline Islands This force preceded to Kysshu and Honshu for air strikes designed to neutralize and weaken Japanese air power. Following these strikes Task Force 58 proceeded to Okinawa to support the amphibious assault launched 1 April. Although there was considerable shooting while with the task group, the most exciting events occurred while alone on picket duty twelve miles from the main group. Evidently finding the concentrated AA gunfire off the group too deadly the Kamikaze Flying Club" began to concentrate on single ships. One suicide crashed dangerously close its wing parting a lifeline of the forward portion of the ship. Another dropped a torpedo just after dark which passed close astern and during the night WALKERS guns and maneuvers beat off three more such attacks. Not until it had been at sea about eighty days did the task group, of which WALKER was a part return to port. She had this period broken by a few hours stay in Kerema Retto near Okinawa after she had towed U.S.S. HAGGARD into that port. Haggard had been hit by Jap suiciders. During the mentioned period, Walker's gunnery accounted for three planes as well as assisting in shooting down numerous others.

The July-August operations with the Third Fleet saw no Jap air opposition. Walker was among the ships which made the 18 July bombardment of Kamaishi, following by a similar destructive visit to Hemmanatsu and a second trip to Kamaishi. The coming of peace resulted in entering Tokyo after a period of air-sea rescue duty during the airborne phase of the occupation.

The first seven months of WALKER'S history took place in the Atlantic when she was engaged in Caribbean Escort Duty and considerable training exercises to prepare her for Pacific combat duty. The events highlighting this period: the capture of forty three survivors of a Nazi U-Boat which had been damaged by Navy Air Forces and eventually scuttled their sub off Cuba, and the escorting of the Secretary of state, Cerdell Hull, from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Casablanca to participate in the Moscow Conference of October 1943. Trinidad, Aruba and Cristobal were her other Atlantic ports of call.

WALKER entered the Panama Canal and Pacific Ocean on 1 November 1943 and proceeded to join the forces engaged in the conquest of Tarawa. After a month of operations in that area, she joined forces preparing at Funafuti for the invasion of Kwajalein. As part of a heavy cruiser bombardment unit, she participated in numerous neutralization bombardments at Wotje and Taroa. The only Japanese resistance encountered was from shore batteries which failed to find their mark. Four independent bombardments were fired by WALKER'S five inch battery at night. During the day, destroyers protected the heavy cruisers from submarine attack during their bombardments.

Upon completion of this duty WALKER headed for the South Pacific where she was employed in escorting troops and transports from Gudal canal to Bougainvi and from various points in New Guinea. Other ports visited during this period were Purvis Bay, Empress Augusta Bay, Milne Bay and Buna.

For the Dutch New Guinea campaign of 1944, WALKER joined a SEVENTH Fleet support force composed of escort carriers, Australian cruisers and destroyer which provided air support for the landings of General Douglas MacArthur's forces at Hollandia and Aitaipe. Again no op position was encountered and after a short stay at Manus, Admiralty Island. WALKER proceeded to Espiritu Santo for repairs, upkeep and rep1enishment.

For the Marianas operation which involved the invasion of Saipan, Tinian and Guam by forces under Admiral Spruance, WALKER was assigned to another escort carrier unit providing air support for the amphibious forces heading for Guam. This group departed from Kwajalein in June, but due to the bitter of the campaign for Saipan and the advance of the Jap naval forces, the guam landings were postponed and the group returned to Eniwetok until time to return. After the need for naval air support had passed, WALKER proceeded to Pearl Harbor for rehearsals of scheduled landings on Yap Island.

Leaving Pearl in September the force in which WALKER was assigned as a fire support ship, was transferred to the SEVENTH Fleet for the invasion of the Philippines as a result of Admiral Halsey's. conference with General MacArthur. This group of transports and destroyers sailed from Manus and arrived at Leyte Gulf on 20 October. Here WALKER had her first taste of air action and downed one enemy Zero type fighter as well as providing gunfire support in the Dulag area. The transports were rapidly unloaded and departed with WALKER among their escorts prior to the arrival of the Jap naval forces and the naval actions of October 24-23, known as the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

The group proceeded to Hollandia and thence to Morotai to reload support troops for Leyte. At Morotai, the japs sent over nightly harassing air attacks which caused little damage. The group then returned to Leyte and unloaded its troops. Air attacks of the suicide variety as well as torpedo bombers were encountered during this trip but no damage was suffered. After a short trip to Palau, WALKER received the operation orders to head for home and reached San Francisco and Mare Island Navy Yard on Christmas Eve.

U.S.S. WALKER earned six campaign or engagement stars on her Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon for participation in the following operations:

One Star - A Marshall Islands Campaign - 1944:
Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls -- 29 January - 8 February 19

One Star - Marshall Islands Campaign - 1944:
Assault and Occupation of Saipan--27 July 1944
Assault and Occupation of Guam--12 July - 1 August 1944

One Star - Class "B" Assessment in Submarine Action on 1 February 2944.

One Star - Leyte Campaign - 1944:
Leyte Landings--2O October and 14 November l944.

One Star - Okinawa Gunto Campaign - 1945:
THIRD and FIFTH Fleet Raids in support of Okinawa Gunto Campaign--l7 March to 30 May 1945.

One Star - THIRD Fleet Operations against Japan....lO July to 10 August 1945.

WALKER also rated the Navy Occupation Service Medal for activities in the Asiatic - Pacific Area from 2 September to 17 October 1945.

U.S.S. WALKER (DDE-517) arrived from the forward area at San Pedro, California on 1 November 1945 and on 31 May 1946 was placed out of commission in reserve at San Diego and at this time (8 January 1948) is in the San Diego Reserve Group.

She did not long remain idle, for early in 1950 she was taken from mothballs and sent to Mare Island Naval Shipyard for reconversion into an Escort Destroyer vessel. On 15 September 1950 at the San Diego Naval Base the ship was recommissioned U.S.S. WALKER (DDE 517). From that time until 27 February 1951 WALKER was in yard overhaul while the finishing touches were put on this new type ship. After the yard period, and shakedown cruise, once again WALKER was a ship of the ready to join the fighting fleet.

Leaving San Diego, WALKER met Task Group 3.3 and with them went to Eniwetok to participate in the Atomic Exercise Operation "GREENHOUSE" until June 1951.

In July 1951 WALKER joined the newly formed Escort Destroyer Squadron ONE based at Pearl Harbor, T. H., and there became the fourth member of Escort Destroyer Division ELEVEN.

In November 1951, WALKER departed for the Western Pacific area and there joined the United Nations Blockading Force assisting our ground troops in the Korean War. She escorted the fast carrier task forces that were steaming up and down the hostile shores supporting our Army with strategic air strikes. The fourfold dangers from enemy mines, submarines, air attacks and the bitter cold were never too great for WALKER. More than once the ground forces found enemy fire threatening their advances and called WALKER in for call fire shore bombardment. She chalked up several artillery emplacements and railroad installations. March 1952 found CORTDESDIV 11 back in Pearl Harbor.

During the following months, WALKER type training and routine exercises preparing for her next deployment to WESTPAC.

In April 1952 WALKER was transferred to Escort Destroyer Division THIRTEEN. The transfer cut short her time in the Islands, and on 2 June 1952 she sailed for her second WESTPAC cruise. Returning in November 1952 WALKER underwent a three yard overhaul at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.

From February 1953 to November 1953 WALKER exercised just off Pearl Harbor. She then made her third tour to the Far East. The highlight of this cruise was the transit of Japan's beautiful Inland Sea. WALKER returned to Pearl Harbour on 15 July 1954.

After a four week availability she conducted type training until 11 February 1955 when she sailed once again for WESTPAC. The fourth cruise ended on 20 August 1955 and WAlKER returned to Pearl Harbor to enter the shipyard for a 3 month overhaul.

Major modernization and overhaul took place in WALKER from September to December 1955. She was beautified for habitability and modernized for the latest ASW weapon system. After another period of refresher training, she departed for her fifth WESTPAC Cruise on 28 May 1956, under the command of CDR Coleman H. SMITH, USN, and as a part of Escort Destroyer Division 13.

The highlights of her Hawaiian tour of duty was an operational visit by Vice Admiral M. E. CURTIS, USN, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet. During a sparkling ASW weapon demonstration for Deputy CINCPACFLT, WALKER engaged the USS TIRU, an ace submarine, in a day long duel off Diamond Head, employing all her new weapons.

On 1 July 1956, Escort Destroyer Division ONE became Destroyer Squadron 25, and CORTDESDIV 13 became Destroyer Division 253. The christening of the new title took place in Hong Kong, where by coincidence CDR M. C. WALLEY, USN, one of the former commanding officers, was the U. S. Naval Attache.

For the year July 1955 to June 1956, WALKER made an impressive record in the Battle Efficiency Competition with other units of Destroyer Squadron 25. When the year's results were tabulated, WALKER had earned excellence in Gunnery, Operations, and Engineering. The White E's for Gunnery appear on the sides of the two Gunnery directors and the two three-inch mounts; the Green E's for Operations excellency appear on the wings of the bridge; the Red E's for Engineering Excellence appear on the sides of the after stack. WALKER was the only destroyer in the Pacific Fleet to win excellence in Engineering and Operations.

WALKER's fifth WESTPAC Cruise consisted of extensive operations with the Hunter--Killer Group of the SEVENTH Fleet. She conducted operations in all phases of ASW Warfare and presented an outstanding readiness to undertake all operations to carry out the National Policy of the United States. The results of her operations were the comment of many senior commands. Comm Carrier Division 15 commended WAlKER upon her outstanding efficiency as an ASW as being the "sharpest" destroyer in the Western Pacific. In November WALKER returned to Pearl Harbor and continued operations and training in the Hawaiian area.

Training in the Hawaiian area brought WALKER to a peak of readiness. Her crew was the finest in the Fleet; her Gunnery excellent; her ASW operations were unexcelled; and her ability to complete any task assigned was never equaled. In June 1957 WALKER had again earned excellence in Gunnery, Operations, and Engineering, and in addition had earned the unusual award for Supply Efficiency unexcelled in the Destroyer force. WALKER now had hash marks under the Red Engineering E~s, the Green Operations E's, and the White Gunnery E's on the main battery director. There were also two White E's of the five-inch mounts.

On 16 August 1957 WALKER commenced her sixth cruise to the Western Pacific. As a part of the SEVENTH Fleet she participated in Fleet Operations and exercises extending from the Japanese waters of the North Pacific to the warm tropical areas of the South China Sea. Readiness was the watchword, and as one of the foremost units of the SEVENTH Fleet, WALKER maintained her section in one of the United States first lines of defense.

After her return from WESTPAC on 8 January l958 the WALKER had a few weeks of upkeep and R & R,

The following three weeks were taken up with operating out of Pearl Harbor and some time in port preparing to enter our three month shipyard period. The third of March the WALKER went into the shipyard. On the third of June the WALKER left the shipyard in the best condition it had been in quite some time. The following day the WALKER was called upon to do something that would have been quite difficult for a comparatively new ship. Due to breakdowns and limited ships available in the Pearl Harbor area it was necessary for the WALKER to participate in a week of plane guarding. The WALKER performed this job in her usual remarkable manner with no trouble whatsoever. This is indeed a tribute to the wonderful and complete job done during the shipyard period.

The nineteenth of June the WALKER changed operational control to COMFLETRAGRU for a period of five weeks of intensive refresher training. This period was quite hectic but of immense benefit for all concerned. When the WALKER finished her refresher training she was declared to be in all respects ready to perform any duty assigned.

A two week period of upkeep followed refresher training which was devoted to touching up the ship and preparing for WESTPAC deployment.

The month of August and the first part of September was spent putting the finishing touches on the ship and bringing the crew up to maximum operating efficiency prior to WESTPAC deployment.

The ship received a very high mark of excellent in her pre-deployment inspection and was declared to be, in all respects, ready for WESTPAC.

On the sixth of September the ship departed on her 7th WESTPAC cruise. With only a short stop in Midway to refuel, the ship continued on to Guam Marianas Islands, and one short week of voyage repairs. The work done by the Ship Repair Facility at Guam was truly amazing. If three more weeks had been spent there a complete shipyard overhaul would have been accomplished.

On the twenty-fourth of September the WALKER left Guam to join her sister ships in the SEVENTH Fleet for operations

The WALKER experienced a delay of two days before leaving Guam as Typhoon Ida formed only 30 miles away on the day of scheduled departure and took the same course that DESDIV 253 was scheduled to take for rendezvous. Three days out of Guam DESDIV 253 rendezvoused with Task Group 70.4 and relieved DESDIV 251 on station.

The following two months were filled with heavy ASW Operations broken only by a two week restricted availability in Sasebo, Japan.

Operations through the end of the year continued to be quite heavy during the week days with short week-end stays in many Japanese ports including Kobe, Yokosuka, Tokyo and Sasebo.

The WALKER and JENKINS were fortunate enough to be chosen for a trial week-end stay in Tokyo, Japan during this period. These were the first two American Warships to completely enter Tokyo Bay and tie-up since the end of World War I. The crews of both ships found Tokyo much to their liking despite the comparatively high prices which prevailed.

Christmas was spent in Sasebo, Japan, at the end of a two week rest and recreation period. Following this stay in Sasebo Task Group 70.4 left for more ASW operations and a Hunter-Killer operation to Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippine Islands.

Just two days out of Sasebo, normal operations were interrupted by a plea for assistance from the town of Keniya on the island of Amami Oshima. A raging fire had destroyed the majority of the town's residential area. Just twelve hours after receiving notice of this plight, Task Group 70.4 anchored off the island of Ainami Oshima and a shuttle composed of helicopters and boats began immediately to transfer food and clothing ashore. Late the evening of the same day the Task Group left for scheduled operations having left the population of Koniya supplied with food and clothing to last until a satisfactory restoration program could be set up and put into effect.

After a two week availability period in Subic Bay, the Task Group conducted further operations en route to Hong Kong, British Crown Colony, for a large buying spree for everyone. From Hong Kong the Task Group left on the twenty - seventh of January for the last HUK Exercise for DESDIV 253 on the WESTPAC tour. This final exercise was quite successful and showed full well the results of our five months of intensive operations with a special ASW force. Kobe, Japan was visited once more at the end of this last operation for four days of rest and recreation.

From Kobe, Japan, DESDIV 253 again went to sea en route to Yokosuka, Japan for voyage repairs before heading back to Pearl Harbor. On the way to Yokosuka the time was utilized to the fullest to finish off the remaining formal exercises required for the competitive year of 1959 in Engineering and Gunnery.

The first month after our seventh successful Far East Cruise was spent alongside the Bravo Docks in Pearl Harbor. During this period the ship effected many minor repairs and in general prepared for the underway training which was to follow. In the month of April we were again underway carrying on the never ending job of training and operational readiness. During this period we operated a week off the coast of Lahania, Mauai, providing services for prospective Commanding Officers of Submarine Instructor School. April blended into May and the WALKER was again providing Submarine Services and conducting exercises of her own. During the middle of the month the WALKER was called upon to provide Plane Guard services for the Carriers on their way to the Far East. The last week of May and the first of June were taken up with PACSUBEX 59 ROMEO. The rest of the month of June was occupied with normal daily operations out of Pearl.

During the month of July, the WALKER engaged in type training and spent many hours conducting ASW Training, during which mutual services were gained with Reserve Helo Squadrons from the West Coast. WALKER received another "Well Done" from COMCRUDESPAC for these services.

The month of August was filled with a wide variety of unusual and interesting assignments for the WALKER.

During the first three weeks we were called upon to provide Submarine services during the day and Plane Guarding at night. On the 26th the WALKER escorted guests of the Secretary of the Navy on a one day cruise during which we witnessed the firing of a Regulus I Missile by the USS GRAYBACK (SS 574). On the 27th of the month we participated in PACSUBEX 1-60. The month then came to a rapid finish as the WALKER, along with other units of DESFLOT 5, participated in a Boy Scout Cruise. WALKER made a depth charge demonstration drop. This trip was followed by a weekend for sightseeing and recreation on the Island of Kauai.

The better part of early to mid-September was spent in port making minor repairs and "tuning-up" our main batteries for their peak performance to come on shore bombardment exercises off the coast of Kahoolawe on 21, 22, and 23 September.

The last week of September and first in October were spent completing the majority of our annual gunnery and operational competitive exercises.

A few days "breather" and we were ready for participation in Operation SLAMEX 2-60 on 6,7,8, and 9 October. We made our mark, and gave our submarine playmates something to think about. On 9 October we let the fires die and we tied up at BRAVO 15.5 for a three week pre-deployment yard availability. While the necessary repairs were the order of the day, inspections of every size and shape ran a close second.

With the exception of the week 16-23, and the 27th, the month of November saw the WALKER engaged in local operations, competing in a few more annual competitive exercises, and standing our pre-deployment inspection in good order. The week of 16 November was largely devoted to last minute schooling prior to our departure for WESTPAC. On November 27th we had a chance to "strut our stuff" as we got underway for dependent's cruise. Some 100 dependents "manned the rails" as the WALKER demonstrated her Weapon "A" hedge hogs, and main battery proficiency.

The days between 29 November and 8 December were pretty well spoken for, what with last minute pre-deployment preparations and everyone taking what leave they could before 1000, 9 December - our underway time for 59'-60' WESPAC Cruise.

Arriving Yokosuka. Japan thirteen days later, DESDIV 253 ties-up en masse alongside the USS PRARIE (ADÄ15) and prepares for the coming holiday season. Bringing with us toys donated from the Pearl Harbor area to be distributed among the many Japanese orphans entertained at Christmas parties aboard the ships of Destroyer Division 253, we came to be known as the "Santa Clause Fleet".

The days between 2 & 5 January allowed time for Division tactics as we steamed in company to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, where we remained for the next three days. On the thirteenth DESDIV 253 joined forces with TG-70.4 in the U.S.S. KEARSARGF (CVS-33), our first of several HUK operations to follow.

On 16 February, having been detached from TG 70.4, WALKER made her way north to the inland sea-port of Takamatsu, on the island of Kyushu, Japan. On the 18th, the men of the WALKER went ashore and carried with them the President's People-to-People Program- - one that won the friendship of the thousands of citizens in this fair city that had not seen an American vessel of war since the World War II invasion of Japan. During The next four days we were to experience a long-remembered mutual exchange of culture and good fellowship.

Ten March marked the commencement of the cruises second and largest HUK Operation - - - again a unit of TG- 70.4 in company with CANCORTRON TWO and the USS YORKTOWN (CVS-lO). WALKER acquired a wealth of information in this, the first combined allied HUK operation. On the twenty-first DESDIV 253 steamed into Hong Kong, B.C.C. for an eagerly awaited six days shopping spree.

Early April saw us once again in Buckner Bay after having completed more extensive joint operations with CANCORTRON TWO and the USS YORKTOWN. On eleven April we arrived Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippine Islands, in company with DESDIV 253, and DESDIV 232, there remaining until the twenty-third.

Twenty-six April was a day of mixed emotions as the WALKER crossed the Equator with a 2/3 pollywog crew aboard - - including the Executive Officer.

On 2 May, after eight days steaming, the many pre-deployment rumors became a reality. WALKER, amidst the warm welcome of several civic leaders was tied up at the township of Freemantle, twin-city of Perth, Australia. The occasion of our visit was the annual commemorations of the Battle of Coral Sea. There then followed five days, formal and informal, of ceremonies, tours, and all-out good times that unquestionably share top honors as the highlight of our cruise. This is in no way to minimize the five day visit to Hobart, Tasmania, which was to follow on 13 May. In addition to our participation in the Coral Sea Celebration the officers and men of the WALKER were afforded the unexpected opportunity of carrying on the People-to-People Program in helping to fight the flooded Tasmanian Lowlands. Once again WALKER exemplified the fine spirit which has come to be known as "the WALKER -way", On the twenty-eighth of May, WALKER returned to Pearl Harbor having completed a highly successful and not soon forgotten cruise.

Little can be said for the weeks which followed. Local operations consisting primarily of individual ship's exercises and periods of leave and upkeep were interspersed.

On 11 August, Commander Brand W. DREW, USN, relieved Commander J. P. GUTTING, USN, as Commanding Officer of WALKER.

September and October were again months of local operations - - this time providing services for prospective Commanding Officers at the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor.

On 16 December, WALKER began tearing down her much-in--need of repair engineering plant in preparation for her first overhaul since 1958 which was to follow on 16 January.

While little is here recorded as to the happenings during our overhaul, let the casual reader rest assured these were not idle hours for the men of the WALKER. Many stand and look with awe at what improvements we boast in spite of critical limited funds. As her overhaul nears completion, the WALKER stands ready to meet her commitments and "carry on" in the highest traditions of her sister ship.

On 12 May 1961, Commander G. W. Prada, USN, relieved Commander Brand W. Drew, USN as Commanding Officer of the WALKER.

The new year, 1961, found USS WALKER in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, undergoing her regular overhaul. On 5 May the overhaul was completed and WALKER moved along side USS FRONTIER (ADÄ25) for a month of tender availability. From 9 June to 19 June, WALKER was engaged in general upkeep and then began her scheduled month of refresher training. Upon completion of refresher training on 21 July, WALKER received her pre-deployment inspection and returned to the shipyard for a few last minute repairs before deployment.

WaLKER deployed for WESTPAC on the morning of 26 August as a part of a group sail composed of COMFIRSTFLEET in USS HELENA, COMCARDIV ONE in USS RANGER DESDIVS 231, 232, and 253. COMCRUDIV ONE was OTC.

Nine days later WALKER arrived at Yokosuka, Japan and prepared for ASW and Hunter-Killer operations with Task Group 70.4 of the SEVENTH Fleet.

After evading Typhoon Nancy and exercising for six days in the Sea of Japan, WALKER, along with USS O'BANNON (DDE-450), visited the northern seaport of Muvoran, Hokkaido, to participate in the SEVENTH Fleet People-to-People Program. During WALKER's four day stay, she hosted some 8,000 Japanese visitors.

The month of October found WALKER heading south with TG- 70.4. She participated in Exercise "Warmup" off the coast of Okinawa, spent four days in Buckner Bay, Okinawa, and then proceeded to Subic Bay, and included a visit and material inspection by COMDESRON 25.

From Subic Bay, WALKER traveled to Hong Kong, B .C .C. After seven enjoyable days in Hong Kong, WALKER sailed north participating in Exercise "Basehit" on the way and arrived at Sasebo, Japan on 6 December. WAlKER departed Sasebo on 15 December and after six more days of HUK operations with TG 70.4, entered Japan for the Christmas holidays

The end of the year found WALKER at sea once more riding out rough seas and looking forward to her next stop, Buckner Bay, Okinawa.

Information below provided by Mike Christensen
Walkers History Continues

On 2 June, the escort destroyer sailed for her second western Pacific deployment. From that time until 29 December 1963, Walker completed nine such deployments. These very active years were spent, for the most part, conducting antisubmarine warfare exercises and various operations with her task group and elements of the Republic of Korea Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. Walker's many "People to People" visits during this period helped to spread American good will abroad. Highlights of these years included assistance to the town of Konlya, Amami Oshima, which had suffered major damage from a raging fire in September 1958 and as a recovery ship for the space flight project "Mercury" on 28 September 1962.

On 4 January 1964, Walker commenced a two-week tender availability at Pearl Harbor with Bryce Canyon (AD-36). On 31 January, the ship officially entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for overhaul. The completion of yard overhaul on 30 April marked the commencement of local exercises in preparation for refresher training. On 19 May, Walker took part in the filming of the movie "None But The Brave" at the island of Kauai. After a month of refresher training and an administrative inspection, the escort destroyer underwent upkeep which took her through June.

The summer months found Walker engaged in local operations. On 17 August 1964, the ship continued her movie career with a supporting role in Otto Preminger's production of "In Harm's Way." During October and November, the escort destroyer underwent a preemployment inspection and an operational readiness inspection which was concluded on 20 November, three days prior to departure for a western Pacific deployment.

On 3 December 1964, Walker arrived at Yokosuka, Japan, where she joined in Exercise "Tall Back" with the carrier Yorktown. (CVS-10), followed by duties on the junk patrol which combatted the infiltration of arms into South Vietnam from North Vietnam and communist China. During this period, the escort destroyer performed a month of uneventful duty on the Taiwan patrol.

Walker departed Vietnam waters on 27 April and, after a brief stop at Yokosuka, Japan, arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 13th of May. The remainder of May and June was spent in leave and upkeep. The escort destroyer spent the rest of the year in local operations. On 8 December, Walker was drydocked and spent the holiday season in leave and upkeep.

January 1966 saw the ship taking part in local operations and making preparations for an upcoming deployment. On 7 February, she commenced a six month cruise, arriving at Yokosuka via Midway Island 10 days later. Duty in the South China Sea began on 28 February with assignments as a planeguard and as a naval gunfire support ship. Walker's first offensive actions of the Vietnam War occurred on 5 March in support of United States and Allied forces. This assignment was interrupted by patrol duty in the Taiwan Strait and rest and rehabilitation at Keelung, Taiwan; and Hong Kong.

Walker returned to Qui Nhon, South Vietnam, on 22 April and began support missions, shooting direct fire at the Vietcong coastal supply areas and troop concentrations. The second ship on station, Walker received sporadic machine gunfire from the enemy ashore while a gig was returning with spotters and advisors to the ship for a briefing. This was the first time since World War II that Walker had been subjected to hostile fire.

On 26 April 1966, the escort destroyer supplied direct, indirect, harassment, and interdiction support for Operation "Osage," a combined amphibious assault at Chu Lai. These duties were interrupted to escort a Marine Corps motor convoy from Danang to Phu Bai on 28 April. On the 1st of May, the ship detached and proceeded independently for repairs at Sasebo, Japan, via Buckner Bay, Okinawa.

Walker set course on 17 May for Manila Bay, Philippines, where she joined in SEATO antisubmarine warfare Exercise "Sea Imp" which lasted until 6 June. The ship next joined Taylor (DDE-458) for a month of patrol duty in the Taiwan Strait during which time she rescued a Nationalist Chinese fishing boat adrift for 48 hours. The escort destroyer returned to Yokosuka, Japan, on 8 July.

Instead of departing for home, Walker received orders to replace Walke (DD 723) in antisubmarine exercises in the Sea of Japan. These exercises included the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and naval units of the Republic of Korea. On 24 July, a Soviet Kotlin - class destroyer was sighted as it commenced shadowing the Allied group. Walker was designated to shoulder the Russian destroyer, and she was successful in preventing the attempted penetration of the screen by the Russian ship and her replacement. Walker also assumed duty on 29 July as a shadow against the Soviet Elint (electronics intelligence) trawler Izmeritel.

On 1 August 1966, Walker detached and proceeded to Yokosuka from whence she began the transit to Hawaii. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 10 August and made preparations for a yard overhaul. Walker entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on 19 September and remained in overhaul status for the rest of calendar year 1966.

Regular overhaul was completed on 3 February 1967, and type training exercises, refresher training, and an operational readiness evaluation followed. On 18 April, Walker departed Pearl Harbor en route to Japan. From 4 to 17 May, the task group embarked on a transit of the Sea of Japan to demonstrate antisubmarine and antiair capabilities with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.

On 10 May 1967, Walker relieved Taylor (DDE-468) of screening duty for Hornet (CVS-12) from the Soviet Kotlin-class destroyer (DD-022) which was attempting to close Hornet and harass the task group. A collision occurred between the two ships with minor damage sustained by both ships. The next day, Walker was again involved in screening duties with a Soviet ship. Late in the afternoon, a Soviet Krupnyy-class destroyer (DDGS-025) began to maneuver in an attempt to close Hornet, Walker effectively maneuvered the ship away. The Soviet destroyer than signaled a left turn. Walker signaled "do not cross ahead of me." The Soviet ship came left and collided with Walker causing minor damage to both ships. Following exercises with the Republic of Korea Navy, Walker returned to Sasebo, Japan, and held a news conference and interviews on board concerning the Sea of Japan incidents.

The escort destroyer arrived at the Gulf of Tonkin on 25 May 1967. Walker served in several capacities: providing call fire, harassment, and interdiction fire for airborne spotters; acting as a rescue destroyer for Hornet ( CVS-12), Bon Homme Richard ( CVA-31), and Constellation (CVA-64); and firing around-the clock missions for numerous Army and Marine units.

On the evening of 15 July, while providing gunfire support south of Cape Batangan, Walker received notification that a North Vietnamese trawler (459) carrying arms was expected to attempt a landing in the vicinity. Walker provided gunfire support for the attack on the trawler and suppressed enemy fire from the beach. The trawler was beached by the crew and abandoned with large quantities of arms, ammunition, and demolition equipment recovered by American forces.

Walker joined Operation "Beacon Guide" as a naval gunfire support ship on 20 July and provided preparation fire for the amphibious and helicopter assault south of Hue. After a brief tender availability at Taiwan, Walker returned to the Tonkin Gulf on 9 August and operated with Intrepid (CVS-11) for a week prior to departure for Hong Kong.

The escort destroyer rejoined Hornet, and the task group arrived at Hong Kong on 16 August, then transited to Sasebo, Japan, for repairs. Walker returned to the Gulf of Tonkin on 7 September and was detached three days later to proceed to the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea and conduct surveillance and gather intelligence data about the Chinese communist-held islands.

Upon her return to the waters off Vietnam, Walker reported to Coral Sea (CVA 43) for duty as her escort and spent the majority of September in various antisubmarine warfare exercises. On 27 September, Walker rejoined Hornet and rescued four survivors of an aircraft which had plunged into the water after losing an engine during launch.

On 1 October 1967, the escort destroyer returned to antisubmarine warfare exercises, then headed for upkeep at Yokosuka prior to preceding to the eastern Pacific. Walker arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 23d of October and spent a month in post-deployment leave, type training, and a reserve cruise. Holiday leave commenced on 15 December.

Walker spent the first seven months of 1968 in her home port conducting type training and preparing for a final western Pacific deployment. On 5 August, the escort destroyer got underway on the fourth western Pacific deployment since the beginning of the Vietnam conflict. She arrived at Subic Bay, Philippines, via Midway Island and Guam on 18 August, then proceeded to Vietnam.

Planeguard duty with America (CVA-66) was Walker's first assignment. During her first night on station, she rescued a man overboard from America. On 13 November, Walker was relieved and proceeded to Subic Bay for upkeep. On 1 December, the escort destroyer arrived at the area north of Vung Tau for gunline duty which ended on 15 December.

After a fuel stop at Subic Bay, Walker continued to Cebu, Philippines, arriving on 18 December as part of Operation "Handclasp." The ship returned to Subic Bay on 22 December for a five-day tender availability alongside Samuel Gompers (AD-37). On 29 December, Walker returned to Vietnam for a week of planeguard duty with Constellation (CVA-64).

On 5 January 1969, the escort destroyer departed for visits to Hong Kong and Subic Bay. The ship joined three other destroyers and sailed for Australia and New Zealand. Walker and Taylor visited Wollongong and Melbourne, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand before arriving back at Pearl Harbor on the 28th of February. March was spent in leave; and, at the end of the month, Walker received word that she would be decommissioned.

May was spent in port at Pearl Harbor, but, on 2 June, Walker got underway for San Diego, the designated decommissioning site. On 2 July 1969, Walker was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list. She was sold to the Italian Navy as Fante (D-516). Fante was retired from service in 1977.

Walker earned six battle stars for World War II engagements, two for service in Korea, and three for Vietnam service.