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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

USS William C. Cole (DE 641)

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

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: Combat Action Ribbon - China Service Medal - American Campaign Medal
Second Row: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 1 star - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal

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
William C. Cole (DE 641) Building and Operational Data:
  • 5 September 1943: Keel laid by the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard Corp., San Francisco, Cal.
  • 29 December 1943: Launched and christened, sponsored by Mrs. William C. Cole, the widow of Admiral Cole
  • 12 May 1944: Commissioned, Lt. Clay Harrold in command
  • 24 May 1945: The Japanese attack U.S. positions and ships at Okinawa, kamikazes strike William C. Cole, Sims (APD 50), and LCS (L) 121
  • 28 April 1948: Decommissioned at San Diego, Cal. after 3 years and 11 months of service
  • 1 March 1972: Struck from the NVR
  • 20 November 1972: Sold for scrapping to Zidell Exploration Inc., Portland, Ore.
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    William C. Cole

    William C. Cole

    59k William Carey Cole was born in Chicago, III., on 23 August 1868. He was appointed a naval cadet on 05 September 1885 and graduated from the Naval Academy on 07 June 1889. At the end of the two years of service at sea then required by law, in Iroquois and Charleston, Cole received his commission as an ensign on 01 July 1891. After further sea service in Nipsic, Cole headed the branch hydrographic office in Cleveland, Ohio, from 23 October 1894 to 10 September 1896 before he went first to the cruiser Raleigh and later to dispatch boat Dolphin. After a stint in the hydrographic office in Washington, D.C., and a brief tour at the Washington Navy Yard, Cole reported once more to Dolphin and, while in that ship, took part in the Spanish-American War off Santiago, Cuba.

    Subsequently serving at the Washington Navy Yard and commanding, in succession, tug Tecumseh and yacht Sylph, Cole went to the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in the summer of 1905 to familiarize himself with the work of a naval inspector of equipment before assuming that office in the General Electric Co., of Schenectady, N.Y., and later in the New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J. On 18 April 1907, Cole, by then a lieutenant commander, became the navigator of the new battleship Kansas when she was first commissioned. He subsequently became her executive officer before reporting to the Naval Academy. Promoted to commander on 20 October 1910, Cole subsequently assumed simultaneous command of all of the ships at the Naval Academy, including the steam sloop Hartford and the cruiser Olympia.

    Cole next went to the Asiatic Station and reported for duty at Olongapo, Philippine Islands, on 10 March. There, he assumed command of the monitors Monadnock and Monterey (in first reserve) but was detached from that duty on 04 December. He took command of the gunboat Helena two days after Christmas of 1913 and assumed the concurrent duties of Senior Officer, Yangtze Valley. Detached in the spring of 1915, Cole attended the long course at the Naval War College, Newport, R.I., and then became Inspector of Engineering Material in the Boston District. On 10 April 1917, shortly after the United States entered World War I, Cole took command of the armored cruiser Frederick (Armored Cruiser No. 8) and remained in that warship until 23 September when he was given command of Nevada (Battleship No. 36). For "exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility" commanding Nevada during World War I, Cole received the Navy Cross.

    After leaving Nevada on 07 May 1919, Cole served in London as assistant attache before he went to Washington, D.C., where he became, in time, the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, remaining in that duty into 1922. Attaining flag rank on 28 January 1922, he was detached from his Assistant CNO duties on 10 March and went to the Panama Canal Zone where he became Commander, Special Service Squadron, a naval force colloquially known as the "Banana Fleet," on 29 April 1922, hoisting his two-starred flag in the cruiser Birmingham. In the spring of 1923, Cole fleeted up to duty as chief of staff to the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and remained in that billet for two years before he became Commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard in the autumn of 1926. Subsequently serving as Commander, Battleship Division 4 from 11 July 1928 to 21 May 1929 and as Commander, Scouting Fleet, with the rank of vice admiral, from 21 June 1929 to 14 June 1930, Cole became Commandant of the 12th Naval District in the summer of 1930. Relieved on 01 June 1932, he briefly served as Inspector of Petroleum Reserves from 28 June to 06 August 1932, before he was retired on 01 September 1932. Cole died at the Naval Hospital, Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., on 28 May 1935.

    USS William C. Cole (DE 641) (1944-1948) was the first ship to be named in his honor.

    (U.S. Navy photo #NH 51680 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    William C. Cole 19k undated wartime image Jerry Church
    William C. Cole 124 18 May 1944: San Francisco Bay - port beam view of William C. Cole.

    (Photo by Bethlehem Steel Co., Shipbuilding Div.)
    Robert M. Cieri
    William C. Cole 410k 18 May 1944: San Francisco Bay.

    (These two photos courtesy of  Chris Wright)
    Ed Zajkowski
    Narvon, Pa.
    William C. Cole 422k
    William C. Cole 275k 23 May 1944: San Francisco Bay - USS William C. Cole, showing her in a aerial starboard bow view, while on a speed run.

    (Official U.S. Navy Photograph by NAS Alameda)
    Robert M. Cieri
    William C. Cole 235k 23 May 1944: San Francisco Bay - USS William C. Cole, showing her in a aerial port bow view.

    (Official U.S. Navy Photograph by NAS Alameda)


    William C. Cole
    Courtesy of
    Robert M. Cieri

    William C. Cole History
    View the USS William C. Cole (DE 641) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.
    View the official War History of USS William C. Cole as submitted by the ship at war's end.

    William C. Cole's Commanding Officers
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
    1.) 12 May 1944 14 Jul. 1945Lt./Lcdr. Clay Harrold, USNR (Comm. CO)
    2.) 14 Jul. 1945 - .. Nov. 1945Lt./Lcdr. T. B. M. Porter Jr., USNR
    3.) .. Nov. 1945 - .. Jun. 1946Lcdr. W. F. V. Bennett, USNR
    4.) .. Jun. 1946 - .. Jun. 1947Lcdr. Jacob Vincent Heimark, USN (USNA 40) (Clarkfield, Minn.)
    5.) .. Jun. 1947 - 28 Apr. 1948Lcdr. John Graham Drew II, USN (USNA 42) (Webster Groves, Mo.)

    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
    Tin Can Sailors Shipmate Registry - USS William C. Cole
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    This Page Created And Maintained By Mike Smolinski
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    by Paul R. Yarnall, All Rights Reserved.
    Page Last Updated: 15 August 2021