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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

Ship's patch courtesy of
Don McGrogan,
BMCS, USN (Ret.)

Ship's Name Tab Courtesy of Al Grazevich

USS Robert F. Keller (DE 419)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - K - L - R
Tactical Voice Radio Call: "Salt Lake"

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive)
Second Row: Navy Expeditionary Medal - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 5 stars
Third Row: World War II Victory Medal - National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 star - Philippine Liberation Ribbon w/ 1 star

"Multum In Parvo"
(Much In Little)
Class: John C. Butler
Type: WGT (geared-turbine drive, 5" guns)
Displacement: 1350 tons (light), 1745 tons (full)
Length: 300' (wl), 306' (oa)
Beam: 36' 10" (extreme)
Draft: 11' 0" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 2 "D" Express boilers, 2 geared turbine engines, 12,000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 24 kts
Range: 6,000 nm @ 12 knots
Armament: 2 - 5"/38 cal. DP guns (2x1), 4 - 40mm AA (2x2), 10 - 20mm AA, 3 - 21" TT, 1 Mk10 Hedgehog, 8 Mk6 Depth Charge Projectors, 2 Mk9 Depth Charge Stern Racks
Complement: 14 / 201
Robert F. Keller (DE 419) Building and Operational Data:
  • 12 January 1944: Keel laid by the Brown Ship Building Co., Houston, Tex.
  • 19 February 1944: Launched and christened, sponsored by Mrs. Peter S. Keller, mother of Ens. Keller
  • 17 June 1944: Commissioned, Lcdr. R. J. Toner, USNR, in command
  • 24 April 1946: Decommissioned at San Diego, Cal. after 1 year and 10 months of service
  • September 1946: Status changed to "In Service", assigned to NRT, 13th Naval District at Puget Sound, Wash.
  • 31 March 1950: Status changed to "in Commission, in Reserve", assigned to NRT, Potomac River Naval Command at Washington, D.C.
  • 18 November 1950: Recommissioned (NRT)
  • 21 September 1959: Decommissioned and placed "in service" as NRT ship, assigned to NRT, Potomac River Naval Command at Washington, D.C.
  • 02 October 1961: Recommissioned for the Berlin Crisis at the Washington Naval Weapons Plant, Washington, D. C., Lcdr. C. W. Jones, USNR, in command
  • 08 October 1961: Arrived at Newport, R. I., assumed duties as flagship, Escort Squadron 12
  • 01 August 1962: Decommissioned at the Navy Yard Annex, Washington, D.C. and placed back "in service" as NRT ship
  • 14 January 1965: Placed "out of service" at the U.S. Reserve Fleet Basin, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard after a total of 20 years and 3 months of service
  • 01 July 1972: Struck from the NVR
  • 05 February 1974: Sold for scrapping
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    Size Image Description Contributed
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    Rob't F. Keller

    Rob't F. Keller

    Rob't F. Keller

    30k Robert Franklin Keller was born to Mr. and Mrs. Peter S. Keller, in Denver, Colo., on 16 January 1918. After graduating from Colorado Springs High School, he attended Wichita University in Kansas, where he was prominent in campus activities. A member of the varsity tennis team, he was editor-in-chief of the college yearbook Parnassus, served on the staff of The Sunflower, the college newpaper, and during his senior year was president of the Pi Alpha Pi fraternity. After college he worked for the The Wichita Eagle as state editor and assistant telegraph editor of The Morning Eagle. His interest in flying pre-dated the war years and he took lessons at Fairfax Field in Kansas City.

    He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve as seaman second class at Kansas City, Kans. on 14 February 1941, and was appointed Aviation Cadet on 15 May 1941. He was commissioned ensign, USNR, on 10 October 1941. Following training in Kansas, Florida, Texas, and California, he reported to Patrol Squadron 43 on 15 February 1942. He earned the Air Medal as second pilot of a patrol plane in action against enemy Japanese forces during the Aleutian Islands Campaign on 10 June to 20 June 1942. "Braving severe Alaskan weather and with a low ceiling forcing his plane to fly through clouds to carry out its attack mission against Japanese ships in Kiska Harbor, Ensign Keller skillfully assisted in determined dive-bombing and strafing attacks. Pulling out in the clear at a very low altitude, his plane was subjected to withering antiaircraft fire from enemy ship and shore batteries and pierced by shrapnel and lighter caliber projectiles" on 14 June 1942, and failed to return from the mission.

    In 2001, a wild-life biologist came upon plane crash wreckage on the remote Aleutian island of Kiska. After the discovery of the crash site, military recovery teams began efforts to bring back the crew of seven. Identified by a medal with his initials engraved on it, Ens. Robert F. Keller was laid to rest in the Fort Logan National Cemetery, at Denver, Colo. on 21 June 2006.

    USS Robert F. Keller (DE 419) (1944-1965) was the first ship to be named in his honor.

    (Photo from The Wichita Eagle, Wichita, Kansas (Sunday, 20 Februarry 1944)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Navsource DE/FF/LCS
    Archive Manager
    Rob't F. Keller 1.) 53k     Rob't F. Keller 2.) 49k     Rob't F. Keller 3.) 124k     Rob't F. Keller 4.) 117k     Rob't F. Keller 5.) 133k

    03 January 1945: A five view series of USS Robert F. Keller (DE 419), seen wearing camouflage measure 32/22D, making her approach and
    then colliding with USS Sargent Bay (CVE 83). In photos 1 and 2 she's making her approach. Photos 3 and 4 show her up against Sargent Bay's
    starboard quarter, and in scene 5 she's pulling away. Fortunately she doesn't look too much worse for the wear after the collision.

    (U.S. Navy Photos: 1.) #80-G-263931, 2.) #80-G-263931, 3.) #80-G-338828, 4.) #80-G-338819, and 5.) #80-G-338823, from the United States National Archives)
    (All photos courtesy of  C. Lee Johnson, from his web site, Ships of the U.S. Navy in WWII “Dazzle” Camouflage.)

    1.) 0641903      2.) 0641904      3.) 0641913      4.) 0641914      5.) 0641914

    Bob Donlon
    SOG3, 4/54 - 8/55

    Mike Green
    Port Angeles, Wash.
    R.F. Keller
    427k 30 May 1948: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - USS Robert F. Keller (DE 419) passing under Lions Gate Bridge.

    (Photograph by Walter E. Frost) (Photo #AM1506-S3-3-: CVA 447-8708 from the City of Vancouver Archives)
    Mike Green
    Port Angeles, Wash.
    R.F. Keller
    235k undated postwar image

    (improved copy of photo submitted by Mike Smolinski, Clifton, N.J.; Manager, Navsource DE / FF / LCS Archive)
    Bob Donlon
    SOG3, 4/54 - 8/55
    R.F. Keller
    245k circa early 1950's: at Portsmouth, England

    (improved copy of photo submitted by David Wright, Geneva, N.Y.; Manager, Navsource Destroyer Archive Yard / District Craft Archive)
    R.F. Keller
    84k March 1954: aboard USS Robert F. Keller - HMC Robert S.V. Hull compounds medicine in the sick bay of the ship.

    (U.S. Navy Photo #80-G-636581 from the National Archives)
    Bill Gonyo
    Downey, Cal.
    R.F. Keller
    71k circa 1954-55: at sea Bob Donlon
    SOG3, 4/54 - 8/55
    R.F. Keller
    46k circa 1954-55: at sea
    R.F. Keller
    129k circa 1954-55: underway off the U.S. Naval Gun Factory, Washington, D.C.
    R.F. Keller
    272k 1962: location unknown - Robert F. Keller at sea.

    (U.S. Navy Photo)
    Bob Hurst
    Worksop, Nottinghamshire,
    England, United Kingdom
    R.F. Keller
    310k 12 May 1962: The Atlantic Ocean - Robert F. Keller (DE 419) cruising in a line abreast formation with USS Thaddeus Parker (DE 369) and USS Albert T. Harris (DE 447).

    (U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #NH 95914 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Navsource DE/FF/LCS
    Archive Manager
    R.F. Keller
    368k undated: Philadelphia, Pa. - ex-Robert F. Keller (DE 419) laid up in the Inactive Ship Basin of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard awaiting disposal. Nick Tiberio
    Shelton, Conn.


    Ship's Plaque
    R.F. Keller
    Courtesy of
    Mike Smolinski
    Ship's Portrait
    R.F. Keller
    Courtesy of
    Mike Smolinski

    Robert F. Keller History
    View the USS Robert F. Keller (DE 419) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.
    View the official War History, (Version 1), of USS Robert F. Keller as submitted by the ship at war's end.
    View the official War History, (Version 2), of USS Robert F. Keller as submitted by the ship at war's end.
    View the Robert F. Keller Supplemental History from Bob Donlon.

    Robert F. Keller's Commanding Officers
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
    1.)  17 Jun. 1944 – 08 May 1945Lcdr. Raymond John Toner, USNR (Comm. CO) (Chicago, Ill.)
    2.)  08 May 1945 – .. Jan. 1946Lcdr. George Q. Thorndike, USNR
    3.)  .. Jan. 1946 – 24 Apr. 1946Lcdr. Benjamin Hill Stough Jr., USN (Decomm. CO)
    4.)  31 Mar. 1950 – .. Apr. 1950Cmdr. Hugh Howard Lewis, USN (Recomm. CO) (USNA ‘35)
    5.)  .. Apr. 1950 – 21 Jul. 1952Lcdr. Charles Edward Napier, USN (Indianapolis, Ind.)
    6.)  21 Jul. 1952 – 04 Jan. 1954Lcdr. Adrian Vincent Lorentson, USN (Thief River Falls, Minn.)
    7.)  04 Jan. 1954 – 28 Mar. 1956Lcdr. Louis Eugene Voorhees, USN (Merced, Cal.)
    8.)  28 Mar. 1956 – 28 Oct. 1957Lcdr. Allen Wayne Slifer, USN (Mt. Carroll,Ill.)
    9.)  28 Oct. 1957 – 21 Sep. 1959Lcdr. Edward Junior Steffen, USN (Milwaukee, Wis.)
    10.) 21 Sep. 1959 – 20 Jun. 1960Lt. William Harold Bartlett, USN (OinC) (enl. '41) (Cumberland, Md.)
    11.) 20 Jun. 1960 – 02 Oct. 1961Lt. Frederick Harold Elliott, USN (OinC)
    12.) 02 Oct. 1961 – 01 Aug. 1962Lcdr. Charles William Jones, USNR
    13.) 01 Aug. 1962 – 20 Sep. 1962Lt. John Henry Hausmann, USNR (OinC) (Pottstown, Pa.)
    14.) 20 Sep. 1962 – 05 May 1964Lt. Richard Harold Smith, USN (OinC)
    15.) 05 May 1964 – 14 Jan. 1965Lt. Griffith Joel Winthrop, USN (OinC) (Decomm. CO)

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

    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

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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: 11 February 2023