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|77k||Earl Roe Donnell, Jr. was born on 03 September 1918 in Temple, Tex., the son of E. R. and Callie Donnell. An Eagle Scout in high school, he graduated from the University of
Texas with a batchelor of science degree and went on to Cal Tech where he obtained a masters degree in aeronautical engineering. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on 24 August 1940 and
was appointed an aviation cadet at NAS Pensacola, Fla. on 06 December. Upon completion of flight training Ensign Donnell was transferred to Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) on board USS
Enterprise (CV 6) at Pearl Harbor, H.I. On arrival, he was assigned as Scouting Six's assistant engineering officer.
From the book Never Call Me a Hero: Dusty Kleiss and the Battle of Midway: Donnell was shot down during his first battle, the raid against the Marshall Islands, 01 February 1942. At 7 AM, Scouting Six attacked the Japanese base on Roi Island. Just after Donnell pulled up from his dive, a Japanese fighter plane--an A5M "Claude"--caught sight of Donnell's aircraft--6-S-18-- and opened fire on it. A Scouting Six gunner, RM 3/c Jack Leaming, saw what happened. He remembered: "I turned, looked over my starboard shoulder, and saw an SBD opposite us receive a direct hit. The starboard wing was blown off. The wing spiraled upward through the air as the rest of the plane dropped straight down. This happened very quickly and was directly in front of us but too far away for me to identify."
Leaming saw the final moments of Donnell and his gunner, AMM 2/c Alton J. Travis. Their damaged SBD caught fire and plummeted into the water northeast of Roi. Both men were killed. For his courage in pressing home his attack in the face of enemy fighter opposition and heavy antiaircraft fire, Ensign Donnell was posthumously awarded the Air Medal.
USS Donnell (DE 56) (1943-1945) was the first ship to be named in his honor.
(Photo courtesy of Chris McDougal from the National Museum of the Pacific War at Fredericksburg, Texas)
DE / FF / LCS Archive
|348k||20 November 1943: off Brooklyn, N.Y. - A port beam view of Donnell taken in misty waters near the New York Navy Yard.
(U.S. Navy photo #CP-DE-56 19-N-55732 from the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.; courtesy of Chris Wright) (N.Y. Navy Yard #F644C5199)
|316k||08 April 1944: off Brooklyn, N.Y. - A starboard quarter view of Donnell taken near the New York Navy Yard. She entered the yard shortly after the photo was
taken, and spent the next 10 days undergoing repairs and overhaul.|
(U.S. Navy photo #CP-DE-56 19-N-70852 from the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.; courtesy of Chris Wright) (N.Y. Navy Yard #F644C7195)
|38k||04 May 1944: USS Donnell being taken in tow after a U-boat attack.
(contributed by shipmates of the USS Reeves (DE 156 / APD 52)
|295k||From the September 1945 "All Hands" magazine, the photo shows Donnell at Cherbourg being used as a power plant after her fantail was blown off by a German torpedo. The transformer on deck was captured from the Germans.||Darryl Baker|
PNCM, USNR (ret.)
Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum
|View the USS Donnell (DE 56) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.|
|Donell's Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
|Dates of Command||Commanding Officers|
|1.) 26 Jun. 1943 - 17 Nov. 1943||Lcdr. Fred Chester Billing, USN (Comm. CO) (USNA '25) (Brooklyn, N.Y.)|
|2.) 17 Nov. 1943 - 13 Jun. 1944||Lcdr. Gordon Marvin Street, USNR (San Diego, Cal.)|
|3.) 13 Jun. 1944 - 20 Jun. 1944||Capít. Harold Romeyn Holcomb (Oconomowoc, Wis.) (ret. as Radm.)|
|4.) 20 Jun. 1944 - 31 Jul. 1944||Lt. Kenneth Iverson Boone USNR|
|5.) 31 Jul. 1944 - 23 Oct. 1946||Lcdr. Robert S. Hetzel, USNR (Decomm. CO)|
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
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Page Last Updated: 28 July 2021