USS WALKER (DD-517)
The second Walker (DD-517) was laid down on 31 August 1942 by the Bath Iron Works Corp.
Maine; launched on 31 January 1943
sponsored by Miss Sarah C. Walker
and commissioned on 3 April 1943
Comdr. O. F. Gregor in command
The first seven months of Walker's service took place in the Atlantic where she was engaged in
Caribbean escort duty and training exercises in preparation for Pacific combat duty. The highlights of this
period included the capture of 43 survivors of a Nazi U-boat which had been damaged by Navy air units off
Cuba and the responsibility of escorting the Secretary of State
from San Juan
Casablanca to participate in the Moscow Conference of October 1943.
Walker transited the Panama Canal on 1 November 1943 and proceeded to join the forces engaged in
the conquest of Tarawa. After a month of operations in that area
the destroyer took Dart in the Marshall Islands
campaign from 29 January through 8 February 1944. She joined forces 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 came from shore batteries which failed to hit
From March through June 1944
Walker operated in the South Pacific escorting troops and transports
from Guadalcanal to Bougainville and from various points in New Guinea. Other ports visited during this period
were Purvis Bay
Tulagi; Empress Augusta Bay
Bougainville; Milne Bay and Buna
The Marianas operation involved the invasion of Saipan
and Guam by forces under Admiral
Raymond A. Spruance. Walker began service assigned to an escort carrier unit providing air support for the
amphibious forces headed for Guam. The group departed from Kwajalein in June
due to the bitterness of
the campaign for Saipan
the Guam landings were postponed
and the ships returned to Eniwetok. After the
need for further naval support had passed Walker proceeded to Pearl Harbor for rehearsals of scheduled
landings on Yap Island.
Leaving Pearl Harbor in September
Walker was transferred to the 7th Fleet as a fire support ship for
the invasion of the Philippines. This group of transports and destroyers sailed from Manus and arrived at Leyte
Gulf on 20 October. During this operation Walker experienced her first air action and downed one enemy fighter
plane as well as provided gunfire support in the Dulag area. The transports were rapidly unloaded and
departed with Walker and other escorts prior to the arrival of the Japanese naval forces and the ensuing Battle
of Leyte Gulf from 24 to 25 October 1944.
The group proceeded to Morotai to reload support troops for Leyte. At Morotai
nightly Japanese air
attacks harassed the ships but caused little damage. The group then returned to Leyte and unloaded its
troops. Suicide air attacks and torpedo bombers were encountered during this trip
but no damage was
suffered. After a brief stop at Palau
Walker received orders to return home
and she reached the Mare Island
on Christmas Eve 1944.
The most memorable part of Walker's combat service began in mid-March 1945 when
fresh from navy
she joined Admiral Marc Mitcher's famed Task Force (TF) 58 at Ulithi
Caroline Islands. This
force proceeded to Kyushu and Honshu
for air strikes designed to neutralize and weaken Japanese air
Following these strikes
TF 58 proceeded to Okinawa to support the amphibious assault launched
there on 1 April 1945. While alone on picket duty 12 miles from the main group
Walker was subjected to
persistent Japanese kamikaze attacks. One suicider crashed dangerously close
its wing parting a lifeline on
the forward portion of the shin. Another plane dropped a torpedo just after dark which passed close astern.
During that night
Walker's agile maneuvers and accurate guns beat off three more such attacks.
After 80 days at sea
the task group returned to port. During this period
Walker towed Haggard
(DD-555) to Kerama Retto near Okinawa after she had been damaged by kamikaze hits.
The destroyer continued operations through July and August with the 3d Fleet and encountered no
Japanese air opposition. Walker was among the ships which bombarded Kamaishi
on 18 July
and made a similar attack at Hammahatsu and a return trip to Kamaishi. The coming of peace resulted in
Walker entering Tokyo after a period of air-rescue duty during the airborne phase of the occupation.
On 1 November 1945
Walker arrived from the forward area at San Pedro
on 31 May 1946
she was placed out of commission
in reserve at San Diego. The ship remained in "mothballs" until 15
September 1950 when she was recommissioned and converted to an escort destroyer. From the time of her
recommissioning until 27 February 1951
Walker remained in yard overhaul.
Following a shakedown cruise
the escort destroyer departed San Diego and participated in the atomic
Exercise "Greenhouse" at Eniwetok until June 1951. The next month
the ship joined the newly formed Escort
Destroyer Squadron 1 based at Pearl Harbor
Hawaii. She remained in Hawaii until November 1951 when she
sailed for the western Pacific and joined the United Nations Blockading Force assisting UN ground troops in
the Korean War. She escorted the fast carrier task forces which were supporting ground units with strategic air
strikes. Thus ended Walker's Korean War service.
Walker returned to Pearl Harbor during March 1952 and conducted type training and routine exercises
for the next several months. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
on 22 April and began support missions
fire at the Vietcong coastal supply areas and troop concentrations. The second ship on station
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
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
via Buckner Bay
Walker set course on 17 May for Manila Bay
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
transited to Sasebo
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
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
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
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
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
May was spent in port at Pearl Harbor
on 2 June
Walker got underway for San Diego
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.
[Note: The above USS WALKER (DD-517) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS WALKER (DD-517) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]