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|49k||John Harlan Willis was born on 10 June 1921 in Columbia, Tenn. Following graduation from high school in November 1940 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He received recruit
training at Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Va. and corpsman training at the Norfolk Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Va.. In March 1941, Willis was promoted to Seaman, Second Class and was
briefly assigned to the Naval Hospital, Parris Island, S.C., transferring to Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Fla. in the late spring. In August 1941 he was promoted to Hospital Apprentice
First Class and, in December, to Pharmacist's Mate Third Class. After receiving a promotion to Pharmacist's Mate Second Class in September 1942, Willis served with Naval Operating Base Units,
organizing and training units for overseas service. In July 1943 he was promoted to Pharmacist's Mate First Class. That November he joined the Training Detachment, Field Medical School Battalion,
Fleet Marine Force Training Center at Camp Elliot, San Diego, California, transferring in early 1944 to Headquarters Company, Third Battalion, Twenty-seventh Marines, Fifth Marine Division at
Camp Pendleton, California.
With his unit, he participated as a Platoon Corpsman in the battle of Iwo Jima. On 28 February 1945, while aiding fallen Marines during a fierce action near Japanese-held Hill 362, he was
wounded and ordered back to the battle-aid station. Disregarding his injuries, Willis returned to the battle area to resume casualty assistance. He was helping a wounded Marine when the enemy
attacked with hand grenades. After throwing eight grenades back at the enemy, he was killed when one exploded in his hand. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life,"
he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. John H. Willis is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, Columbia, Tenn..
USS John Willis (DE 1027) (1957-1972) was the first ship named in his honor. (U.S. Navy photo #NH76411-A from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
|83k||undated: Newport, R.I. - USS Grand Canyon (AD 28) moored at the Newport Naval Station with a group of DE's nested to her port side.
John Willis is outboard ship in the nest which consists of five modern DE's and one World War II DER conversion.
(Photo by Richard Miller)
BMCS, USNR (ret.)
|233k||13 March 1957: Philadelphia, Pa. - John Willis lays to off the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.E||Ed Zajkowski|
|108k||13 August 1959
(U.S. Navy Photo)
Webmaster for the
Newport Dealeys website
|160k||Port quarter view of USS John Willis (DE 1027) underway during the late 1950s. Note variable depth sonar on stern.
(U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #NH 52346 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
Port Angeles, Wash.
|96k||circa 1959: USS John Willis (DE 1027) underway.
(U.S. Navy Photo, from "Jane's Fighting Ships" 1960-61)
England, United Kingdom
|313k||19 October 1965: the far South Atlantic - Two views John Willis (DE 1027) maneuvering into heavy seas while operating with the Unitas VI task force off the Argentine coast.
(U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #USN 1114319-C and #USN 1114319-B from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
|329k||19 October 1965: the South Atlantic Ocean - Operation Unitas VI, October 1965, USS John Willis (DE 1027) and USS
Van Voorhis (DE 1028) steam astern of USS Norfolk (DL 1)
while operating with the Unitas VI task force off the Argentine coast.|
(U.S. Navy National Archives photo #USN 1114319-A from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
|78k||22 June 1967: the North Atlantic - John Willis (DE 1027) underway in the the North Atlantic while enroute to the Mediterranean for a NATO cruise|
(U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #NH 107510 by PHCS(PJ) W.A. Jackman from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
|74k||An undated postcard view of John Willis. (Postcard © Arnold Art Store, Newport, R.I.; shown at 150%
of original size) |
Caption reads: A unit of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet home-ported at Newport, R.I. on Narragansett Bay. (Official U.S. Navy photograph)
|171k||undated: Antwerp, Belgium - A photo of John Willis, moored outboard of USS Courtney (DE 1021) while on a port visit to Antwerp.||Gilbert Gyssels|
|56k||Scanned from the cruise book of May to September 1967 on our Northern European and Med Cruise. I think the picture was taken in the fjords of Norway, either coming or going to the city of Bergen. (Per Neil Hart, '66-'67, photo is actually departing Newport, R.I.)||James T. Toms |
CWO3 (Bos'n), USCG (ret)
|317k||03 February 1971: off Newport, R.I. - Two views John Willis (DE 1027) underway in Narragansett Bay.
(U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #USN 1147177 and #USN 1147176 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
|John Willis Memorabilia
Peter Canter Visscher
|John Willis History|
|View the USS John Willis (DE 1027) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.|
|John Willis's Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
|Dates of Command||Commanding Officers|
|1.) 21 Feb. 1957 - 1958||Lcdr. Henry Osgood Anson Jr. (USNA '45) (Pensacola, Fla.)|
|2.) May 1958 - 1959||Lcdr. David Ervin Cummins III (OCS '44) (Navy Jr.)|
|3.) 1959 - 1961||Lcdr. James Spray Gardner (USNA '47) (Omaha, Nebr.)|
|4.) 1961 - 30 Aug. 1962||Lcdr. Edgar Maxwell Cocke|
|5.) 30 Aug. 1962 - 11 Mar. 1964||Cdr. Edwin Elmore Woods Jr.|
|6.) 11 Mar. 1964 - Jul. 1965||Lcdr. Gardner S. Barrett (Mass. MA '51) (Boston, Mass.)|
|7.) Jul 1965 - 1967||Cdr. Charles Moulton Plumly (USNA '55) (Crystal City, Mo.)|
|8.) 1967 - 1968||Lcdr. Henry Clayton Atwood Jr. (OCS '54) (Wellfleet, Mass.)|
|9.) 1968 - Jan. 1970||Lcdr. Compton Eugene Ward (USNA '56) (Crystal City, Mo.)|
|10.) Jan. 1970 - Mar. 1971||Lcdr. Raymond Guy Zeller (NROTC '60) (Lawrenceville, Ill.) (ret. as Radm.)|
|11.) Mar. 1971 - 14 Jul. 1972||Lcdr. Robert Marlin Hydinger(Allegheny, Pa.)|
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.
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Page Last Updated: 11 July 2021