Please Report Any Broken Links Or Trouble You Might Come Across To The Webmaster
Please Take A Moment To Let Us Know So That We Can Correct Any Problems And Make Your Visit As Enjoyable And As Informative As Possible.

Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

Ship's Patches Courtesy of Mike Smolinski

USS Wilhoite (DE 397)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - T - H - U
Tactical Voice Radio Call: "Smoky Hill"

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive) - Presidential Unit Citation
Second Row: Navy Unit Commendation - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
Third Row: Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal w/ 1 star - World War II Victory Medal - National Defense Service Medal
Fourth Row: Antarctic Service Ribbon - Viet Nam Service Medal w/ 6 stars - Republic of Viet Nam Campaign Medal

Class: Edsall
Type: FMR (geared diesel, Fairbanks-Morse reverse gear drive, 3" guns)
Displacement: 1200 tons (light), 1590 tons (full)
Length: 300' (wl), 306' (oa)
Beam: 36' 10" (extreme)
Draft: 20' 6" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 4 Fairbanks-Morse Mod. 38d81/8 geared diesel engines, 4 diesel-generators, 6000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 21 kts
Range: 9,100 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: 8 / 201
Wilhoite (DE 397) Building and Operational Data:
  • 04 August 1943: Keel laid by the Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Tex.
  • 05 October 1943: Launched and christened, sponsored by Mrs. Corinne M. Wilhoite, the mother of Ensign Wilhoite
  • 16 December 1943: Commissioned at the Tennessee Coal and Iron Co. Dock, Houston, Tex.; Lt. Eli B. Roth in command
  • 19 June 1946: Decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla. after 2 years and 6 months of service
  • 02 September 1954: Reclassified as DER 397 while undergoing conversion at the Charleston Naval Shipyard
  • 29 January 1955: Recommissioned at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, Lcdr. Lambert V. Forde in command, assigned to Seattle, Wash. as a unit of Escort Squadron 5
  • 04 March 1959: Homeport assignment changed to Pearl Harbor, Hi.
  • 08 February 1961: Crossed the Antarctic Circle while operating as a unit of "Deep Freeze '61"
  • 02 July 1969: Decommissioned at Bremerton, Wash. after 14 years and 5 months of service
  • 02 July 1969: Struck from the NVR with a total of 16 years and 11 months of service
  • 19 July 1972: Sold for scrapping to the General Metals Co, Inc. of Tacoma, Wash.

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Contributed
    By And/Or Copyright
    Wilhoite 493k undated wartime image ("In memory of Robert J. Smith, SK2, USNR" ). Joe Smith
    Wilhoite 123k 07 November 1959: Pearl Harbor Naval Station - Lcdr R.D. McCrary (left) is relieved as CO by Lcdr C.H. Willis aboard Wilhoite. Ron Reeves
    Wilhoite 35k undated postwar photo (Official U.S. Navy Photo; from "Jane's Fighting Ships, 1958-59") Bob Hurst
    Worksop, Nottinghamshire,
    England, United Kingdom
    Wilhoite 243k pre-1961: San Diego, Cal. - Wilhoite heads out to sea from San Diego Harbor. Note, mount 31 forward is still uncovered. Nick Tiberio
    Shelton, Conn.
    Wilhoite 169k January 1961: Sydney, Australia Pete Schonenberg,
    Commander, USN (ret.)
    XO - Navigator 1960 - 1961

    via Bob Hall
    Wilhoite 123k -- July 1961: Pearl Harbor Naval Station - Lcdr Charles H. Willis (seated) is relieved as CO by Lcdr Robert L. Thorsen aboard Wilhoite. Ron Reeves
    Wilhoite 76k 12 February 1966: Pearl Harbor, Hi. (Photo © Richard Leonhardt) Richard Leonhardt
    Bethlehem, Pa.
    Wilhoite 38k date / location unknown Bob Hurst
    Worksop, Nottinghamshire,
    England, United Kingdom
    Wilhoite 490k date / location unknown (Official U.S. Navy Photo; from the "1969 Wilhoite WestPac Cruise Book") Navsource

    View Paul M. LaFave's
    Wilhoite Scrapbook
    Wilhoite Memorabilia
    Courtesy of
    Mike Smolinski
    Courtesy of
    Richard Scheeder
    Change of Command
    Courtesy of
    Ron Reeves
    Courtesy of
    Nick Tiberio

    Wilhoite History
    View the USS Wilhoite (DE 397) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.
    View the official War History of USS Wilhoite as submitted by the ship at war's end.

    Wilhoite's Commanding Officers
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
    1.)   16 Dec. 1943 - 17 Dec. 1944Lt. Eli Baer Roth, USN (Comm. CO)
    2.)   17 Dec. 1944 - 07 Mar. 1945Lcdr. Robert W. Whalen, USNR
    3.)   07 Mar. 1945 - 06 Dec. 1945Lcdr. Robertson C. Moore, USNR
    4.)   06 Dec. 1945 - 25 Jan. 1946Lt. Charles Horch, USNR
    5.)   25 Jan. 1946 - 19 Jun. 1946Lcdr. Jack Edward Kennedy, USNR (Decomm. CO) (Water Valley, Miss.)
    6.)   29 Jan. 1955 - .. .... 1956Cmdr Lambert (Larry) Vernon Forde (Recomm. CO) (USNA '41) (Hillsboro, N.D.)
    7.)   .. .... 1956 - .. Jan 1958Lcdr. Daniel I. Rienstra, Jr. (USNA 44) (Nederland, Tex.)
    8.)   .. Jan.1958 - 07 Nov. 1959Lcdr. Robert Davison McCrary (Lakewood, N.J.)
    9.)   07 Nov. 1959 - Jul. 1961Lcdr. Charles H. Willis
    10.) .. Jul. 1961 - .. Apr. 1962Lcdr. Robert Leroy Thorsen
    11.) .. Apr. 1962 - .. .... 1964Lcdr. Frank Comstock Mead
    12.) .. .... 1965 - 02 Dec. 1966Cmdr. James Edwin Fernandes (prior enl.) (Tiverton, R.I.)
    13.) 02 Dec.1966 - 31 Dec. 1967Lcdr. Estel Will Hayes (USNA '53) (Giltner, Nebr.)
    14.) 31 Dec. 1967 - 02 Jul. 1969Lcdr. David Hamlin Griffin (Decomm. CO) (New York, N.Y.)

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

    2018 Reunion
    08 - 11 October 2018 in Albuquerque, N.M.
    Reunion Contact: Bob Gray
    Phone: (601) 595-2415 (c)
    E-mail: davdisabled at
    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 or rosters available. Please see the Frequently Asked
    Questions section on Navsource's Main Page for that information.

    Additional Resources

    USS Wilhoite Association Web Site
    Tin Can Sailors
    The U.S. Navy Memorial
    Destroyer Escort Sailors Association
    The Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
    The Destroyer History Foundation
    Tin Can Sailors Shipmate Registry - USS Wilhoite

    To The DE, FF, LCS Photo Index Page
    Back To The Main Photo Index

    Comments, Suggestions, E-mail: Webmaster.

    This Page Created And Maintained By Mike Smolinski
    All pages copyright Navsource Naval History
    by Paul R. Yarnall, All Rights Reserved.
    Page Last Updated: 10 January 2019