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|6k||Kenneth Willmarth was born on 13 February 1914 in Cleveland Township, Chippewa, Wis. He graduated from the State Teacher's College at Eau Claire, Wis., with a BS before he enlisted in the Naval Reserve at Minneapolis, Minn., on 17 June 1941. After receiving instruction as an apprentice seaman in Prairie State, the former battleship Illinois (BB 7)-from 18 September to 9 October, Willmarth received an honorable discharge on 10 October to accept an appointment as midshipman in the Naval Reserve the following day. After training again in Prairie State (IX -15) and receiving a commission as ensign on 17 January 1942, Willmarth joined Vincennes (CA 44) while that cruiser lay alongside the east jetty, Navy Yard annex, South Boston, Mass., on 28 February 1942. Initially a junior watch and division officer in the ship's "M" division, Ens. Willmarth served in Vincennes until the predawn darkness of 9 August 1942 in the Solomon Islands when an avalanche of steel unleased by Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa's cruiser force smothered Vincennes, Astoria (CA 34), and Quincy (CA 39) of the northern screening group in some 20 minutes' time. Ens. Willmarth was among those killed in Vincennes as his ship took at least 57 known shell hits and possibly absorbed two torpedoes; the battered heavy cruiser sank within an hour of the start of the engagement.
USS Willmarth (DE 638) (1944-1946) was the first ship named in his honor.
|21k||undated wartime image (shown in Camouflage Measure 32, pattern 10D)||Jerry Church|
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