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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

USS Eldridge (DE 173)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - Y - X - A
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: American Campaign Medal
Second Row: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal - European-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal w/ 1 star - World War II Victory Medal

Class: Cannon
Type: DET (diesel-electric tandem motor drive, long hull, 3" guns)
Displacement: 1240 tons (light), 1620 tons (full)
Length: 300' (wl), 306' (oa)
Beam: 36' 10" (extreme)
Draft: 10' 6" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 4 GM Mod. 16-278A diesel engines with electric drive, 6000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 21 kts
Range: 10,800 nm @ 12 knots
Armament: 3 x 3"/50 Mk22 (1x3), 1 twin 40mm Mk1 AA, 8 x 20mm Mk 4 AA, 3 x 21" Mk15 TT (3x1), 1 Hedgehog Projector Mk10 (144 rounds), 8 Mk6 depth charge projectors, 2 Mk9 depth charge tracks
Complement: 15 / 201
Eldridge (DE 173) Building and Operational Data:
  • 22 February 1943: Keel laid by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp., Port Newark, N.J.
  • 25 July 1943: Launched and christened, sponsored by Mrs. John Eldridge, Jr., widow of Lieutenant Commander Eldridge
  • 27 August 1943: Commissioned by Radm. Monroe Kelly, Commandant, at the New York Navy Yard, Lt. C. R. Hamilton, USNR, in command
  • 17 June 1946: Decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla. after 2 years and 9⅔ months of service
  • 15 January 1951: Transferred (MDAP) to Greece, renamed Leon (D-54)
  • 26 March 1951: Struck from the NVR
  • 1991: Struck from the Greek Navy, reported to be laid up in Souda Bay Crete in Terminal Reserve as of Jan. 1998
  • NOTE: Eldridge was the subject of the much publicized book and movie "The Philadelphia Experiment"
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    8k John Eldridge, Jr. was born on 10 October 1903 in Buckingham, Virginia. Graduating from the U. S. Naval Academy in June 1927, Ensign Eldridge was assigned to the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB 38). In April of 1929 Eldridge was accepted for flight training at the U. S. Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. Completing flight training in January 1930, he was assigned to Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 2B on board USS Saratoga (CV 3) and promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) in October 1930. From October 1931 to October of 1932 he was at NAS Pensacola and for an unknown reason was treated at the Norfolk Naval Hospital until January 1933. Upon his release from the hospital he remained at the Air Station, Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia until April 1934 when he was ordered to aviation duty in USS Mississippi (BB 41). In July 1936, he was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to Utility Squadron (VJ) 2F at Norfolk, until April 1937 when he transferred to Patrol Plane Squadron (VP) 3F, stationed at Coco Solo in the Panama Canal Zone.

    Following duty in the Canal Zone he transferred to Scouting Squadron 71, attached to USS Wasp (CV 7), and on 11 September 1941 he assumed command of that squadron. On 15 September 1942, off Guadalcanal, Wasp was hit by three torpedoes from the Japanese submarine I-19. Scuttled and sunk that evening, Wasp's air group began operating out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. On 02 November 1942, U. S. Army Air Force B-17s reported a large Japanese naval force of 17 destroyers approaching Guadalcanal. Despite heavy rain, Eldridge with two other dive bomber crews volunteered to attack the convoy. None of three crews survived the attack. At approximately 2300 that night, friendly inhabitants on the southeastern end of Santa Isabel Island, saw Eldridge's aircraft crash just outside the reef. The next day pearl divers were able to free the body of Eldridge's rear gunner, Aviation Radioman Third Class George Yanick. They were unable to retrieve Eldridge from the mangled aircraft.

    Lieutenant Commander John Eldridge was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as pilot of a carrier-based Navy Scouting Plane and Commanding Officer of Scouting Squadron Seventy-one (VS-71), attached to the USS Wasp (CV-7), during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 07 to 08 August 1942. He was posthumously awarded his second Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane and Commanding Officer of Fighting Squadron Seventy-one (VF-71), attached to the USS Wasp (CV-7), during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Area during the period 05 through 14 October 1942. He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    USS Eldridge (DE 173) (1943-1946) was the first ship named in his honor.

    (Photo from the Home of Heroes)
    Bill Gonyo
    Downey, Cal.

    Assoc. Researcher
    31k 25 July 1943: Newark, N.J. - After being christened, the future USS Eldridge (DE 173) slides down the Federal Shipyard building way into Newark Bay. Bob Canchola

    Contacts Research
    Associate, Navsource
    97k Eldridge, of the Bostwick class doing her full speed. These ships retained the long-hull form of the Buckley class, but are distinguished by their funnel form, taller than that of the Evarts type.

    [U.S. Navy photo, from the book "Allied Escort Ships of World War II (A Complete Survey)", by Peter Elliott]
    Edib Krlicbegovic
    Bosnia - Hercegovina
    21k Two undated wartime views of USS Eldridge at sea. Bob Canchola

    Contacts Research
    Associate, Navsource
    31k undated wartime images Rick McMillian
    31k 15 January 1951: Boston, Mass. - Ceremony at the Boston Naval Shipyard, transferring the following ships to the Royal Hellenic Navy. USS Eldridge DE-173 along with the USS Garfield Thomas DE-193, USS Slater DE-766, and USS Ebert DE-768. The transfer, which was made under the provisions of the U.S. Mutual Defense Assistance Program, took place on 15 January 1951. The USS Eldridge DE-173 and the USS Garfield Thomas DE-193 served in the Greek Navy respectively as the HNS Leon (D-54) and HNS Panthir (D-67).

    Photograph source: U.S. Department of State Photo #306-PSG-51-686 (Box 45)- O'Donnell. U.S. Information Agency Photograph in the U.S. National Archives)
    Bob Canchola

    Contacts Research
    Associate, Navsource
    82k Shortly after being transferred to the Greek Navy, the HNS Leon D-54 (formerly the USS Eldridge DE-173) is seen underway with the HNS Panthir D-67 (formerly the USS Garfield Thomas DE-193).
    46k circa 1952: as HNS Leon (D-54) Bob Hurst
    Worksop, Nottinghamshire,
    England, United Kingdom
    86k 1960's: as HNS Leon (D-54) Tony Vrailas

    Eldridge History
    View the USS Eldridge (DE 173) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.

    Eldridge's Commanding Officers
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
    1.) 27 Aug. 1943 - 21 Apr. 1944Lcdr. Charles R. Hamilton, USNR 
    2.) 21 Apr. 1944 - 30 Nov. 1945Lcdr. William Kent Van Allen, USNR (Albion, N.Y.)
    3.) 30 Nov. 1945 - 05 Dec. 1945Lcdr. James M. Manire, USNR (Lubbock, Tex.)
    4.) 03 Jan. 1946 - 02 Apr. 1946Lt.(jg) Rufus K. Guthrie, USNR
    5.) 01 May 1946 - 17 Jun. 1946unsigned muster    Muster Ends

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

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    Page Last Updated: 16 June 2022