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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

Ship's Patches courtesy of Mike Smolinski

USS John Willis (DE 1027)

Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign:
N - X - O - K
Tactical Voice Radio Call: "Kansas City"

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
National Defense Service Medal - Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Class: Courtney
Type: SCB No. 72 / 1954 - 55
Number in Class: 10
Displacement: 1,314 tons (light), 1,877 tons (full)
Length: 308' (wl), 314' 6" (oa)
Beam: 36' 9" (extreme)
Draft: 19' 6" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 2 Foster-Wheeler boilers; 1 De Laval geared turbine; 20,000 shp; 1 shaft
Speed: 26 kts
Range: 6,000 nm @ 12 knots
Complement: 12 / 161
Guns: 4 - 3"/50 (76mm) Mk33 Guns (2x2)
ASW Weapons: 1 Mk 108 ASW rocket launcher, 6 - 12.75" (324mm) Mk 32 torpedo tubes (2x3) / Mk 46 torpedos
Radars: AN/SPS-5 (surface), AN/SPS-6C (air)
Sonars: AN/SQS-4
Fire Control Systems: Mk63 Gun FCS, Mk105 Underwater Battery FCS
John Willis (DE 1027) Building and Operational Data:
  • 05 July 1955: Keel laid at the New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J.
  • 04 February 1956: Launched and christened, sponsored by Mrs. Winfrey M. Duke, the widow of Ph1 John Willis
  • 21 February 1957: Commissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Lcdr. H. O. Anson, Jr. in command, assigned to Escort Squadron 10 at Newport, R.I.
  • 01 July 1964: Transferred from CortRon 10 to the newly formed CortRon 8
  • 02 July 1968: Placed in "reduced operating status" at Newport, R.I. to provide trained personnel to other ships
  • 14 July 1972: Decommissioned after 15 years and 4 months of service; struck from the NVR
  • 08 May 1973: Sold for scrapping
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    Size Image Description Contributed
    By And/Or Copyright
    John Willis

    John Willis

    49k John Harlan Willis was born on 10 June 1921 in Columbia, Tenn. Following graduation from high school in November 1940 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He received recruit training at Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Va. and corpsman training at the Norfolk Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Va.. In March 1941, Willis was promoted to Seaman, Second Class and was briefly assigned to the Naval Hospital, Parris Island, S.C., transferring to Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Fla. in the late spring. In August 1941 he was promoted to Hospital Apprentice First Class and, in December, to Pharmacist's Mate Third Class. After receiving a promotion to Pharmacist's Mate Second Class in September 1942, Willis served with Naval Operating Base Units, organizing and training units for overseas service. In July 1943 he was promoted to Pharmacist's Mate First Class. That November he joined the Training Detachment, Field Medical School Battalion, Fleet Marine Force Training Center at Camp Elliot, San Diego, California, transferring in early 1944 to Headquarters Company, Third Battalion, Twenty-seventh Marines, Fifth Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. With his unit, he participated as a Platoon Corpsman in the battle of Iwo Jima. On 28 February 1945, while aiding fallen Marines during a fierce action near Japanese-held Hill 362, he was wounded and ordered back to the battle-aid station. Disregarding his injuries, Willis returned to the battle area to resume casualty assistance. He was helping a wounded Marine when the enemy attacked with hand grenades. After throwing eight grenades back at the enemy, he was killed when one exploded in his hand. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life," he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. John H. Willis is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, Columbia, Tenn..

    USS John Willis (DE 1027) (1957-1972) was the first ship named in his honor.      (U.S. Navy photo #NH76411-A from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Navsource DE/FF/LCS
    Archive Manager
    John Willis
    87k undated Gerald Meyers
    John Willis
    83k undated: Newport, R.I. - USS Grand Canyon (AD 28) moored at the Newport Naval Station with a group of DE's nested to her port side. John Willis is outboard ship in the nest which consists of five modern DE's and one World War II DER conversion.

    (Photo by Richard Miller)
    Richard Miller
    BMCS, USNR (ret.)
    John Willis
    233k 13 March 1957: Philadelphia, Pa. - John Willis lays to off the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Ed Zajkowski
    Narvon, Pa.
    John Willis
    108k 13 August 1959

    (U.S. Navy Photo)
    Marc Arsenault,
    Webmaster for the
    Newport Dealeys website
    John Willis
    160k Port quarter view of USS John Willis (DE 1027) underway during the late 1950s. Note variable depth sonar on stern.

    (U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #NH 52346 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Green
    Port Angeles, Wash.
    John Willlis
    96k circa 1959: USS John Willis (DE 1027) underway.

    (U.S. Navy Photo, from "Jane's Fighting Ships" 1960-61)
    Bob Hurst
    Worksop, Nottinghamshire,
    England, United Kingdom
    John Willis
    313k 19 October 1965: the far South Atlantic - Two views John Willis (DE 1027) maneuvering into heavy seas while operating with the Unitas VI task force off the Argentine coast.

    (U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #USN 1114319-C and #USN 1114319-B from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Navsource DE/FF/LCS
    Archive Manager
    John Willis
    Van Voorhis / John Willis
    329k 19 October 1965: the South Atlantic Ocean - Operation Unitas VI, October 1965, USS John Willis (DE 1027) and USS Van Voorhis (DE 1028) steam astern of USS Norfolk (DL 1) while operating with the Unitas VI task force off the Argentine coast.

    (U.S. Navy National Archives photo #USN 1114319-A from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    John Willis
    78k 22 June 1967: the North Atlantic - John Willis (DE 1027) underway in the the North Atlantic while enroute to the Mediterranean for a NATO cruise

    (U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #NH 107510 by PHCS(PJ) W.A. Jackman from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    John Willis
    74k An undated postcard view of John Willis.    (Postcard © Arnold Art Store, Newport, R.I.; shown at 150% of original size)

    Caption reads: A unit of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet home-ported at Newport, R.I. on Narragansett Bay. (Official U.S. Navy photograph)
    ***Courtney / Willis***
    171k undated: Antwerp, Belgium - A photo of John Willis, moored outboard of USS Courtney (DE 1021) while on a port visit to Antwerp. Gilbert Gyssels
    John Willis
    56k Scanned from the cruise book of May to September 1967 on our Northern European and Med Cruise. I think the picture was taken in the fjords of Norway, either coming or going to the city of Bergen. (Per Neil Hart, '66-'67, photo is actually departing Newport, R.I.) James T. Toms
    CWO3 (Bos'n), USCG (ret)
    John Willis
    194k undated Bill Gonyo
    Downey, Cal.
    John Willis
    317k 03 February 1971: off Newport, R.I. - Two views John Willis (DE 1027) underway in Narragansett Bay.

    (U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #USN 1147177 and #USN 1147176 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Navsource DE/FF/LCS
    Archive Manager
    John Willis

    John Willis Memorabilia
    John Willis
    Courtesy of
    Mike Smolinski
    John Willis
    Courtesy of
    Mike Smolinski
    1960 Magazine
    John Willis

    Welcome Aboard
    Pamphlet, 06/25/67
    John Willis
    Courtesy of
    Peter Canter Visscher

    John Willis History
    View the USS John Willis (DE 1027) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.

    John Willis's Commanding Officers
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
    1.)  21 Feb. 1957 - 1958Lcdr. Henry Osgood Anson Jr. (USNA '45) (Pensacola, Fla.)
    2.)  May 1958 - 1959Lcdr. David Ervin Cummins III (OCS '44) (Navy Jr.)
    3.)  1959 - 1961Lcdr. James Spray Gardner (USNA '47) (Omaha, Nebr.)
    4.)  1961 - 30 Aug. 1962Lcdr. Edgar Maxwell Cocke
    5.)  30 Aug. 1962 - 11 Mar. 1964Cdr. Edwin Elmore Woods Jr.
    6.)  11 Mar. 1964 - Jul. 1965Lcdr. Gardner S. Barrett (Mass. MA '51) (Boston, Mass.)
    7.)  Jul 1965 - 1967 Cdr. Charles Moulton Plumly (USNA '55) (Crystal City, Mo.)
    8.)  1967 - 1968Lcdr. Henry Clayton Atwood Jr. (OCS '54) (Wellfleet, Mass.)
    9.)  1968 - Jan. 1970 Lcdr. Compton Eugene Ward (USNA '56) (Crystal City, Mo.)
    10.) Jan. 1970 - Mar. 1971Lcdr. Raymond Guy Zeller (NROTC '60) (Lawrenceville, Ill.) (ret. as Radm.)
    11.) Mar. 1971 - 14 Jul. 1972 Lcdr. Robert Marlin Hydinger(Allegheny, Pa.)

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

    2022 Reunion for all Newport Based Dealeys
    Escort Squadrons 8, 10, 14

    15 - 18 September 2022 at Baltimore, Md.
    the Washington-Dulles Airport Hilton
    Chairman: Marc Arsenault
    Address: 98 Oxbow Road
    City/State: Charlton MA 01507
    Phone: (508) 248-5072
    E-mail: marc-a at
    contact through Newport Dealey link below
    Note About Contacts

    Contact information is compiled from various sources over a period of time and may, or may not, be correct. Every effort has been
    made to list the newest contact. However, our entry is only as good as the latest information that's been sent to us. We list only
    a contact for the ship if one has been sent to us. We do NOT have crew lists, rosters, or deck logs available. Please see the
    Frequently Asked Questions section on NavSource's Main Page for that information.

    Additional Resources

    Home of the Newport Dealeys
    Tin Can Sailors
    The U.S. Navy Memorial
    Destroyer Escort Sailors Association
    The Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
    The Destroyer History Foundation
    To The DE, FF, LCS Photo Index Page
    Back To The Main Photo Index

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    This Page Created And Maintained By Mike Smolinski
    All pages copyright Navsource Naval History
    by Paul R. Yarnall, All Rights Reserved.
    Page Last Updated: 22 May 2022