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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

Left patch courtesy of Gary Taibbi, others from Mike Smolinski

USS Hissem (DE 400)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - H - V - N
Tactical Voice Radio Call: "Perth Amboy"

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: Navy Expeditionary Medal - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
Second Row: European-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal w/ 1 star - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal
Third Row: National Defense Service Medal - Antarctica Service Ribbon - Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Fourth Row: Vietnam Service Medal w/ 6 stars - Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation w/ 2 stars - Republic of Vietnam 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
Hissem (DE 400) Building and Operational Data:
  • 06 October 1943: Keel laid by the Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Tex.
  • 26 December 1943: Launched and christened, sponsored by Miss Elizabeth D. Hissem, sister of Ensign Hissem
  • 13 January 1944: Commissioned at the Tennessee Coal and Iron Co. dock by Captain DeWitt C. Redgrave, representing Com8thND; Lcdr. W. W. Low in command
  • 15 June 1946: Decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla. after 2 years and 5 months of service
  • 21 October 1955: Reclassified as DER 400 and converted at the Boston Naval Shipyard
  • 31 August 1956: Recommissioned at Boston, assigned to the Atlantic Barrier Patrols on the DEW Line
  • 16 - 21 April 1963: Served as command ship during the search for lost submarine USS Thresher (SSN 593)
  • 29 September 1963: After departing Newport, R.I. on 12 August, commenced duties as Ocean Station Ship for Operation Deep Freeze 1964, in company with HMNZS Rotoiti (F425)
  • 26 February 1964: Relieved of duty as Ocean Station Ship, Operation Deep Freeze 1964, returned to Newport via the Mediterranean Sea
  • early 1965: Homeport assignment changed to Pearl Harbor, Hi.
  • 15 May 1970: Decommissioned after 13 years and 8 months of service
  • 01 June 1975: Struck from the NVR with a total of 16 years and 1 months of service (When the ship was struck from the Navy list, the ship's bell was given to the city of Mt. Carrol, Illinois, where Ensign Hissem was born.)
  • 24 February 1982: Sunk as target off California
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    8k Joseph Metcalf Hissem was born 31 December 1917 in Mt. Carroll, Ill. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve Aviation Cadet (V-5) program as a Seaman 2/c on 09 Jan 1941 in Chicago, Ill. He reported to Naval Reserve Air Base (NRAB) Glenview, Ill. in late February to begin his Elimination Flight training. After he completed that phase of training, he reported to Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola on 19 March 1941. He was discharged the same day in order to accept appointment as an aviation cadet. He completed his aviation training and was commissioned an Ensign, USNR, A-V(N) on 30 August 1941. He received basic training as a navigator and later qualified on board the PBY "Catalina" amphibious patrol aircraft. On 01 October 1941 he was assigned to Patrol Squadron Twenty Four (VP-24) in Oahu, Hi. On 08 December 1941 Ensign A-V(N) Joseph M. Hissem reported on board USS Harris (AP 8) as a passenger enroute to duty with Patrol Squadron 24 in Pearl Harbor.

    Though he was assigned to a patrol squadron in Hawaii, on 30 May 1942 in Pearl Harbor, Ensign Hissem and his squadron mate, Ens. Jack Winton Wilke, volunteered to provide pathfinder (navigation) services for a 1200 mile open ocean transit for Torpedo Squadron Eight's (VT-8) detachment of six new TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bomber aircraft being flown to NAS Midway on 01 June 1942 to augment the island's defenses.

    In the early morning hours of 04 June, he volunteered again to provide navigational assistance and act as a Radioman/Bombardier/tunnel gunner on one the TBF-1s in the detachment of VT-8 as it flew into battle against the numerically superior Japanese forces. Without fighter CAP support they were overwhelmed by Japanese fighters. However, they pressed forward in the face of withering fire. His aircraft with Ens. Oswald Gaynier as pilot and Seaman First Class (S1c) Howard William Pitt as turret gunner was shot down. Their remains were unrecoverable. They were missing in action on 04 June 1942 and presumed dead on 05 June 1943. He is listed Missing in Action or Buried at Sea on the Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial Cemetery, Honolulu, Hawaii.

    Ens. Hissem was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one battle star, and the World War II Victory Medal.

    USS Hissem (DE 400) (1944-1970) was the first ship to be named in his honor.

    (U.S. Navy photo from Steve Hissem)
    Bill Gonyo
    Downey, Cal.


    Gerry Lawton
    Commander, USN (ret.)
    Saluda, N.C.
    Hissem 97k undated wartime image DESA Archives
    Hissem 139k from "All Hands" magazine, circa 1956 Stanley Svec
    Hissem 67k 17 January 1957 -
    Hissem 89k undated, but more than likely prior to her transfer to Pearl Harbor Carlos Manuel Estrela
    Ponta Delgada, Azores Islands
    Hissem 374k undated: USS Hissem (DER 400) at sea.

    (U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #NH 71284 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    Hissem 165k July 1964: Charlestown, Mass. - Hissem in drydock at the Boston Naval Shipyard. She's undergoing overhaul prior to departing for her homeport change to Pearl Harbor. Gary Taibbi
    SK1, USN (ret.)
    ***Camp / Kretchmer*** 50k 28 July 1965: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - USS Kretchmer (DER 329), USS Camp (DER 251), and Hissem (DER 400) mooring at Pearl Harbor Naval Station. All three ships left Newport, R.I. on Wednesday 07 July 1965 headed for Operation Market Time in South Vietnam.

    (U.S. Navy Photo by PH3 Robert L. Ziesler)
    Allan M. Wilson
    USS Kretchmer
    1964 - 1968
    Hissem 330k 19 October 1967: Pearl Harbor, Hi. - USS Hissem (DER 400) at the entrance to Pearl Harbor.

    (U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #NH 71285 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    Hissem 79k 1967: Pearl Harbor Ramon Jackson
    Hissem 75k date / location unknown Bob Hurst
    Worksop, Nottinghamshire,
    England, United Kingdom
    Hissem 244k 20 September 1981: The former radar picket destroyer escort Hissem (DER 400) at anchor as target ship. At right is the British nuclear-powered attack submarine HMS Courageous (S50) as the submarine makes assessments of the Harpoon missile damage aboard Hissem during testing.

    (U.S. Navy photo VIRIN #DN-SC-82-09014 by Lewis Mitchell, USN, from U.S. Defense Imagery)
    Hissem 156k 20 September 1981: The decommissioned radar picket destroyer escort ex-Hissem (DER 400) while in use as a target ship off California. Harpoon missile damage is being assessed aboard the ship during testing procedures. She was finally sunk on 24 February 1982.

    (U.S. Navy photo VIRIN #DN-SC-82-09015 by Lewis Mitchell, USN, from U.S. Defense Imagery)

    Hissem Memorabilia
    Courtesy of
    Gary Taibbi
    Courtesy of
    Nick Tiberio
    Viet Nam Cruise
    Courtesy of
    Gary Taibbi
    1965-66 Viet Nam
    Cruise Itinerary
    Courtesy of
    Gary Taibbi

    Hissem History
    View the USS Hissem (DE 400) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.
    View the official War History of USS Hissem as submitted by the ship at war's end.

    Hissem's Commanding Officers
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
    1.)  13 Jan. 1944 - 23 Nov. 1945Lcdr. William Whittemore Low, USNR (Comm. CO) (New Haven, Conn.)
    2.)  23 Nov. 1945 09 Apr. 1946Lt. Ralph Martin Stair (USNA '43) (Knoxville, Tenn.)
    3.)  09 Apr. 1946 01 Jun. 1946Lt. Robert Kenneth Gess (USNA '44) (Milwaukee, Wis.)
    4.)  01 Jun. 1946 05 Jun. 1946Ens. Albin Alex Mikolatis (Decomm. CO)
    5.)  31 Aug. 1958 - 17 Nov. 1958Lcdr. Jack Lions Wohler (Recomm. CO) (USNA '44) (Portsmouth, Oh.)
    6.)  17 Nov. 1958 - 04 Jun. 1960Lcdr. Delbert David Grantham (USNA '47) (Albuquerque, N.M.)
    7.)  04 Jun. 1960 - 28 Sep. 1961Lcdr. Daniel Joseph Costello (NROTC '50)
    8.)  28 Sep. 1961 - 15 Feb. 1963Lcdr. Richard John Dermody
    9.)  15 Feb. 1963 - 10 Dec. 1964Lcdr. Richard Kern Fontaine (USNA '51) (Minneapolis, Minn,) (ret. as Radm.)
    10.) 10 Dec. 1964 - 15 Dec. 1966Lt. Ronald Irwin Dean
    11.) 15 Dec. 1966 - 04 Oct. 1968Cmdr. James Alden Barber Jr. (Poplar Bluff, Mo.)
    12.) 04 Oct. 1968 - 15 May 1970Cmdr. Morton (Jim) Egner Toole (Decomm. CO) (Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.) (ret. as Radm.)

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

    Last Known Reunion:
    October 2015 at Orlando, Fla.
    Contact Name: Bob Morstadt
    Address: 24 Lido Blvd.
    City/State: Lake Grove NY 11755
    E-mail: rmorstadt 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, rosters, or deck logs available. Please see the
    Frequently Asked Questions section on NavSource's Main Page for that information.

    Additional Resources

    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 Hissem
    To The Destroyer Escort 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: 29 February 2020