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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

USS Willmarth (DE 638)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - T - K - S
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive) - American Campaign Medal
Second Row: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 4 stars - World War II Victory Medal - Philippine Liberation Ribbon

Class: Buckley
Type: TE (turbine-electric drive, 3" guns)
Displacement: 1400 tons (light), 1740 tons (full)
Length: 300' (wl), 306' (oa)
Beam: 36' 9" (extreme)
Draft: 10' 6" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 2 "D" Express boilers, G.E. turbines with electric drive, 12000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 24 kts
Range: 6,000 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 / 198
Willmarth (DE 638) Building and Operational Data:
  • 25 June 1943: Keel laid by the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard Corp., San Francisco, Cal.
  • 21 November 1943: Launched and christened, by Mrs. Eva Willmarth, the mother of Ens. Willmarth
  • 13 March 1944: Commissioned, Lcdr James G. Thorburn, Jr., USNR, in command
  • 26 April 1946: Decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla.
  • 1 December 1966: Stricken from the NVR
  • 1 July 1968: Sold for scrapping to the North American Smelting Co., Wilmington, Del.
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    Size Image Description Contributed
    By And/Or Copyright
    Willmarth 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.

    Bill Gonyo
    Willmarth 21k undated wartime image (shown in Camouflage Measure 32, pattern 10D) Jerry Church

    View the USS Willmarth (DE 638) DANFS history entry
    located on the US Naval Historical Center web site.

    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 or rosters available. Please see the Frequently Asked
    Questions section on NavSource's Main Page for that information.

    Additional Resources

    Destroyer Escort Sailors Association
    Tin Can Sailors Shipmate Registry - USS Willmarth
    The Destroyer History Foundation
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    Page Last Updated 14 March 2008