USS WALDRON (DD-699)
USS Waldron(DD-699) was laid down on 16 November 1943 at Kearny
by the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; launched on 26 March 1944; sponsored by Miss Nancy Waldron; and commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 7 June 1944
Comdr. George E. Peckham in command.
Waldron conducted shakedown in the vicinity of Bermuda during the early summer of 1944. She conducted post-shakedown availability at New York from 22 July until 6 August and then headed back to the Bermuda area for further training. The destroyer returned to New York in mid-September but got underway again on the 26th. Steaming via the Delaware capes
the warship arrived at the Panama Canal on 1 October. She transited the canal that same day and reported for duty with the Pacific Fleet. She departed Balboa on 4 October
stopped at San Pedro
from 12 to 14 October
and arrived in Pearl Harbor on 20 October. She remained in the Hawaiian Islands until 17 December
at which time she got underway for the western Pacific. She arrived in Ulithi lagoon on 28 December and reported for duty in the screen of the Fast Carrier Task Force (TF-38/58).
Waldron spent her entire World War II service with the fast carriers. She departed Ulithi with TF 38 on 30 December and protected the carriers while they launched their planes against enemy installations on 3 and 4 January 1945. On the 6th and 7th
her charges' aircraft pummeled targets on the island of Luzon. Both raids were part of the preparations for the amphibious assault on Luzon carried out at Lingayen Gulf on 9 January. While the troops stormed ashore there
Waldron and the carriers had returned north to suppress enemy air power on Formosa during the actual assault. That same day
she steamed through Bashi Channel into the South China Sea with TF 38 to begin a series of raids on Japan's inner defenses. First on the agenda came Camranh Bay in Indochina
where Admiral Halsey hoped to find battleships Ise and Hyuga. Unknown to the American Fleet
was the fact that the two Japanese warships had moved south to safer waters at Singapore. The raids went forward anyhow on 12 January
and the naval aviators still managed to rack up a stupendous score: 44 ships sunk
15 of which were Japanese combatants and the remainder being merchant ships. After fueling on the 13th
with Waldron still in the screen
carried out air attacks on Hainan Island and on Hong Kong. The following day
the planes of TF 38 returned to Formosa for antishipping sweeps and attacks on the Formosa airfields.
On 16 January
the carriers launched their planes against Hainan and Hong Kong once more. Late on the 20th
Waldron on the anti mine and antisubmarine patrolled TF 38 out of the South China Sea through Balintang Channel and into the Philippine Sea. The destroyer and her charges returned to their base at Ulithi on the 26th after conducting strikes on Formosa and on Okinawa.
Waldron remained at Ulithi until 10 February at which time she got underway again with TF 58
this time to support the assault on Iwo Jima scheduled for the 19th. As a part of that support
the carriers planned to carry out the first carrier based air strikes on Japan since the Halsey-Doolittle Raid of 1942. On 16 and 17 February
the carriers of TF 58 sent their aircraft aloft for raids on the Tokyo area of Honshu. The task force then began its retirement to Iwo Jima
there to provide air support for the following day's invasion.
On the night of 17 and 18 February
Waldron's task group encountered several small Japanese patrol craft. One of the craft attacked Dortch (DD-670) with her 3 inch guns
killing three of the destroyer's crewmen. Due to darkness and the proximity of Dortch and Charles S. Sperry (DD-697)
Waldron could not bring her battery to bear. Instead
she laid on a course for the enemy craft and charged her at 21 knots. At about 0509 on the 18th
Waldron rammed the Japanese picket boat amidships and cut her neatly in two. About four hours later
the destroyer received orders detaching her from TF 58 to head for Saipan and repairs to her bow.
The warship arrived at Saipan on 20 February
completed repairs quickly
and departed Saipan in the afternoon of the 23d. Upon arrival off Iwo Jima on the 25th
Waldron reported to TF 51 for temporary duty with the transport screen. During that assignment
she also provided naval gunfire support for the troops operating ashore on the 26th and 27th. On 27 February
the destroyer rejoined the screen of TG 58.3. After an air strike on Okinawa on 1 March she headed back to Ulithi with the carriers
arriving there on 4 March.
Ten days later
Waldron exited the lagoon once again on her way back to the Japanese home islands with the fast carriers. She arrived in Japanese home waters on 18 March and the carriers began launching strikes on Kyushu airfields that same day. Later that day the enemy counterattacked with kamikazes and succeeded in crashing Franklin (CV-13). Waldron was one of the ships assigned to cover the severely damaged carrier during the initial stage of her retirement from action. Antiaircraft action continued throughout the three days Waldron provided escort for Franklin; and
on the night of 20 and 21 March
the destroyer scored a kill of her own when her radar-directed main battery brought down a Japanese "Judy." She took another intruder under fire briefly that night
but technical problems prevented a second kill. On 22 March
she rejoined the main carrier force and resumed her screening duties while the planes struck at Okinawa and Kyushu in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa.
For the next three months
Waldron continued to screen the carriers during their support missions for the Okinawa campaign. During that time
she was engaged in a number of antiaircraft actions and participated in two shore bombardments of air installations on Minami Daito Shima. The one antiaircraft action which resulted in a definite kill for the destroyer occurred on 14 May
although she claimed four sure assists in addition during that period. On 26 May
she cleared the Ryukyus with her task group and
on 1 June
arrived at San Pedro Bay
for a much needed availability. The destroyer remained at San Pedro Bay until 1 July at which time she returned to sea with TF 38.
For the remainder of World War II
she steamed with the fast carriers during the final strikes on the Japanese home islands. The 15 August cessation of hostilities found her still off the Japanese coast in company with TF 38. She screened the carriers while their aircraft covered the initial occupation of Japan. That duty lasted until 10 September
at which time she finally entered Tokyo Bay.
During the immediate postwar period
Waldron remained in the Far East in support of American occupation forces. In addition to Japan
she visited Saipan
and Okinawa during the repatriation of Japanese both military and civilian back to Japan. On 4 November
she departed Okinawa
bound for home. After stops at Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor
the warship arrived at San Francisco on 20 January 1946. From there
she moved to Portland
whence she departed on 4 February. The destroyer transited the Panama Canal on 14 February and arrived in Norfolk on the 19th.
Waldron operated along the east coast of the United States fur about three months. Early in May
she began an extended repair period at the Boston Naval Shipyard and did not return to active service until the end of the year. During the first few months of 1947
the destroyer operated out of Charleston
she had been reassigned to New Orleans. For the next two years
she cruised the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies as a training platform for reservists of the 8th Naval District. In August of 1949
she made a visit to Norfolk
before getting underway for a deployment to European waters on 6 September. During the first part of that deployment
Waldron cruised northern European waters visiting British and western European ports. Midway through November
she transited the Straits of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean Sea. She cruised the length and breadth of the Mediterranean
making a number of port visits
until 28 January 1950 when she retransited the Straits of Gibraltar. She arrived back in Norfolk on 7 February but remained only until the 16th on which day she made the brief voyage to Charleston
S.C. Following preinactivation overhaul
Waldron was decommissioned on 17 May 1950 and was berthed with the Charleston Group
Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
Less than six weeks later
events in the Far East transpired which brought her back into active service before the end of the year. On 25 June
the forces of communist North Korea invaded the Republic of Korea to the south. The compelling need to send most available active combat ships to the Far East to support the United States' and United Nations' commitment to help the South Koreans meant that many others in reserve had to be reactivated to take their places. Accordingly
the decision to reactivate Waldron came on 17 August
just three months after her decommissioning.
On 20 November 1950
Waldron was recommissioned at Charleston
Comdr. James C. Shaw in command. She conducted shakedown training out of Guantanamo Bay
from December 1950 to March 1951. After post-shakedown availability at Charleston
she moved to her new home port
in August. In September
she departed Norfolk for a 10-week cruise to northern European waters before entering the Mediterranean for duty with the 6th Fleet. Early in February 1952
the destroyer returned to Norfolk and resumed 2d Fleet operations from that base.
During the summer of 1952
Waldron voyaged to Europe once more with Naval Academy midshipmen embarked for their summer training cruise. She completed that voyage in September and returned to Atlantic Fleet duty out of Norfolk. In March 1953
the warship began an overhaul at the Charleston Naval Shipyard. She completed repairs in June and conducted refresher training in the Guantanamo Bay operating area before resuming normal operations out of Norfolk at the end of the month.
On 2 November
the destroyer departed Norfolk for a tour of duty in the Far East. She transited the Panama Canal on the 9th and continued her voyage west. She stopped at Pearl Harbor along the way and arrived in Yokosuka
on 9 December. Her duty in the Orient took her to Japanese and Korean ports and she served as a unit of the United Nations security forces on patrol in the wake of the cessation of hostilities in Korea the previous summer. That assignment lasted until 7 April 1954
at which time she departed Sasebo for home. Steaming via Hong Kong
the Suez Canal
the Mediterranean Sea
and the Atlantic Ocean
Waldron completed a circumnavigation of the globe at Norfolk on 4 June.
the ship resumed normal operations along the east coast and in the West Indies. That duty continued until the spring of 1956. On 1 April
she stood out of Chesapeake Bay on her way to the Mediterranean for her second tour of duty with the 6th Fleet.
Over the next decade
Waldron alternated operations out of Norfolk with a series of deployments to the 6th Fleet in the "middle sea." In June of 1962
the destroyer began a fleet rehabilitation and modernization (FRAM) overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to update her antisubmarine capabilities. At the conclusion of those alterations
the warship returned to normal operations and completed her decade of deployments and duty in home waters.
The summer of 1967
brought a different
though by no means new type of assignment duty in the Far East. On 5 July 1967
she stood out of Norfolk bound for the Panama Canal. The destroyer transited the canal on 10 July. After stops at San Diego and Pearl Harbor
she arrived in Yokosuka on 10 August. She departed Yokosuka on 13 August and
after stops at Okinawa and Subic Bay
arrived in Vietnamese waters on the 24th. Patrolling near the 17th parallel she provided gunfire support for the III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF) during operations ashore against communist forces. That first line period lasted until 17 September when she got underway for a port visit to Kaohsiung
Taiwan. She stopped at Kaohsiung from 20 September to 1 October and then moved on to Hong Kong
which port she visited between 2 and 6 October.
On the 9th
she resumed naval gunfire support duties in Vietnamese waters
this time off the coast of the II Corps tactical zone. During her second tour on the gunline
Waldron's main battery supported troops of the Army's 1st Air Cavalry Division and of the South Vietnamese 40th Division. On 20 October
she concluded her assignments on the gunline and headed for Yankee Station to join the fast carriers of TF 77. Two days later
she rendezvoused with Task Group (TG) 77.8 for two weeks of planeguard duty with the carriers. She departed the war zone again on 3 November and
after a stop at Okinawa
arrived in Yokosuka on the 8th.
A week later
she headed back to Yankee Station with TG 77.8 but parted company with the group on the 18th for a stop at Subic Bay. Waldron returned to Vietnamese waters on 24 November and took up naval gunfire support duties once again off the coast of the II Corps zone. That assignment endured until 10 December when she cleared the war zone for the last time. She made a stop at Subic Bay and then arrived in Yokosuka on 22 December.
Four days later
the destroyer set out for the United States. After stops at Midway and Pearl Harbor
she arrived in San Francisco on 9 January 1968. From there
she headed via San Diego to the Panama Canal which she transited on the 25th. Waldron reentered Norfolk on 30 January.
Over the next two years
the destroyer resumed her schedule of Atlantic coast operations alternated with two more deployments to the Mediterranean. On 1 April 1970
Waldron was reassigned to Naval Reserve training under the control of the Commandant
6th Naval District. Her new home port was Mayport
Fla. She arrived there on 7 May 1970 and began cruises along the Florida coast and in the West Indies training reservists. That duty lasted until the fall of 1973. On 30 October 1973
Waldron was decommissioned at Mayport. She was simultaneously transferred
to the Colombian Navy in which she was commissioned as ARC Santander (DD-03). Her name was struck from the Navy list on 31 October 1973. As of the beginning of 1980
Santander was still active with the Colombian Navy.
Waldron earned four battle stars during World War II and one battle star for service during the Vietnam conflict.
[Note: The above USS WALDRON (DD-699) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS WALDRON (DD-699) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]