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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

Ship's patches courtesy of Mike Smolinski

USS Vance (DE 387)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - T - H - E
Tactical Voice Radio Call: "Eagle Rock"

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: Combat Action Ribbon
Second Row: American Campaign Medal - European-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal
Third Row: National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 star - Antarctica Service Ribbon - Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Fourth Row: Vietnam Service Medal w/ 7 stars - Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation w/ 3 stars - Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Class: Edsall
Type: FMR (geared diesel, Fairbanks-Morse reverse gear drive, 3" guns)
Displacement: 1200 tons (light), 1590 tons (full)
Length: 300' (wl), 306' (oa)
Beam: 36' 10" (extreme)
Draft: 20' 6" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 4 Fairbanks-Morse Mod. 38d81/8 geared diesel engines, 4 diesel-generators, 6000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 21 kts
Range: 9,100 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: 8 / 201
Vance (DE 387) Building and Operational Data:
  • 30 April 1943: Keel laid at the Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Tex.
  • 16 July 1943: Launched and christened, sponsored by Mrs. John W. Vance, mother of the late Lt. (jg.) Vance
  • 01 November 1943: Commissioned at Houston, Tex., Lcdr. E. A. Anderson, USCG, in command
  • 27 February 1946: Decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla. after 2 years and 4 months of service
  • 09 May 1952: Loaned to U.S. Coast Guard, recommissioned as WDE 487 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Cmdr. James C. Waters, USCG, in command, assigned to Honolulu, Hi.
  • 16 June 1954: Returned to Navy custody and decommissioned after 2 years and 1 month of service
  • 21 October 1955: Reclassified DER 387 and conversion scheduled
  • .. November 1955: Towed to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, Cal. for conversion to DER
  • 05 October 1956: Recommissioned at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Lcdr. Albert M. Brouner in command, assigned to Escort Division 5 at Seattle, Wash.
  • 01 June 1958: Reassigned to Escort Squadron 7 at Pearl Harbor, Hi.
  • 10 October 1969: Decommissioned at San Francisco, Cal. after 13 years of service
  • 01 June 1975: Struck from the NVR with a total of 17 years and 5 months of service
  • 1985: Sunk as target
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    8k Joseph Williams Vance Jr. was born on 04 December 1918 in Memphis, Tenn. He attended Southwestern University (The College of the Mississippi Valley) in Memphis from 1936 to 1938 and later the University of Florida at Gainesville before he enlisted in the Naval Reserve on 26 July 1940 as an apprentice seaman. After serving at sea in Arkansas (BB 33) during the late summer and early fall, he was appointed midshipman on 22 November and reported to Prairie State (IX 15) for further training. Commissioned ensign on 28 February 1941, Vance joined USS Parrott (DD 218) in the Philippine Islands on 16 April. His ship conducted exercises in the Philippine Archipelago through the summer of 1941; and, as the international situation worsened, was dispatched on 24 November with Destroyer Division 58 to Tarakan, Borneo. Soon after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 (08 December west of the date line), Parrott and her sisters joined the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) effort to stem the Japanese tide sweeping down from the north. She operated in the Netherlands East Indies archipelago until the fall of Java, participating in the Battle of Makassar Strait (24 January 1942) and the Battle of Badoeng Strait (20 February 1942). For his gallantry during the first action, Ens. Vance was awarded the Bronze Star. As the ship's torpedo officer, Vance had charge of the destroyer's 12-tube battery of 21-inch torpedo tubes—in effect the ship's "main battery." On 23 January, DesDiv 58 began a final approach to the town of Balikpapan, Borneo, captured only that day by the Japanese. Dutch "scorched earth" policies and a Dutch air raid had set fire to most of the vital petroleum storage areas, starting blazes which clearly silhouetted the Japanese transports lying to offshore. On 24 January, in the initial phase of the Battle of Makassar Strait, Vance and his torpedo crews had bad luck. All eight torpedoes missed on the first run-in. The division turned and tried again, this time with success, sinking 3,500-ton transport Sumanoura Maru. Within minutes, Parrott teamed up with Pope (DD 225) and Paul Jones (DD 230) in delivering a torpedo attack on Tatsukami Marut, holing her and sending her to the bottom shortly thereafter. Soon the American force retired in the confusion of the melee while the Japanese area commander sent his escorts on a wild goose chase after American submarines!

    Parrott then continued her operations in defense of the Malay barrier, taking part in the Battle of Badoeng Strait on 20 February, in which she was damaged. She ended up in Fremantle with the remnants of the Asiatic Fleet. Vance remained in Parrott through the spring, when he was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) on 15 June 1942. As Allied forces gathered for the assault on Japanese-held Guadalcanal, Vance received orders to HMAS Canberra, as liaison officer with the Australian Navy. Canberra departed Wellington, New Zealand, on 22 July, bound for Guadalcanal and what was to be her final action. On 08 August, the Australian cruiser helped to screen American transports off the landing beaches and then in the evening retired, in company with Chicago (CA 29), to a night screening position south of Savo Island. Unbeknownst to the Allied force, a Japanese cruiser formation steamed undetected down "the Slot" between Guadalcanal and Savo Islands. They soon opened fire with guns (8- and 5.5-inch) and the dreaded "long lance" torpedoes. Chicago took a torpedo forward, but Canberra took the worst punishment in the form of a veritable hail of shells which soon reduced her to a blazing wreck. During the engagement, Lt. (jg.) Vance was killed in action.

    USS Vance (DE 387) (1943-1969) was the first ship to be named in his honor.      (Photo from the USS Vance Web Site thanks to Joe Betters)
    Bill Gonyo
    Downey, Cal.

    Assoc. Researcher
    93k 1944: at Palermo, Sicily - USS Vance (DE 387) in her second camouflage paint scheme. Joseph Betters
    (supplied photo caption)
    93k From Destroyer Escorts In The Atlantic: "This trim craft is a Coast Guard-manned DE (Destroyer Escort) USS Vance (DE 387) on convoy duty in the Atlantic Ocean during WW2. The guns of the DEs have given protection to the streams of merchant ships and transports carrying troops and supplies for the Allied lines in Europe."

    (no date; Photo No. 4450; photographer unknown.)
    Mike Green
    Port Angeles, Wash.
    37k Vance's re-commissioning ceremony as a Coast Guard Cutter in the Philadelphia Navy Yard spring/early summer 1952. Note that Vance is still sporting a "gray" hull but is showing her new Coast Guard hull number - (W-487). In the background the stack and bridge of another WDE is visible -- I believe it's the Coast Guard Cutter Durant (WDE-489) which was also in the Philadelphia Navy Yard for overhaul and recommissioning as a Coast Guard Cutter. James R. Kelly
    Capt., USCG (ret.)
    95k USCGC Vance (WDE-487) underway date and location uknown. Note the hanger aft of the funnel. This, and the deck space nearby, were too small for helicopters, and the hanger is thought to have been used for meterological balloons.

    (Photos and text taken from "American Destroyer Escorts of World War 2" by Peter Elliott)
    Bob Hurst
    Worksop, Nottinghamshire,
    England, United Kingdom
    95k 01 November 1956: San Francisco Bay off Vallejo, Cal. - Broadside view of Vance off Mare Island. She was converted to DER configuration at the yard from 01 November 1955 to 30 November 1956.

    (U.S. Navy photo #DER-387-31989-11-56)
    Darryl Baker
    PNCM, USNR (ret.)

    Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum
    597k 01 November 1956: Vallejo, Cal. - A photo of USS Vance (DER 387) departing Mare Island Naval Shipyard on sea trials.

    (U.S. Navy photo #NY9-31988-11-56)
    451k 1964: Pearl Harbor, Hi. - USS Haverfield (DER 393) moored outboard of Vance at the Pearl Harbor Naval Station.

    (Photo by Tom Jaras)
    Nick Tiberio
    Shelton, Conn.
    365k This photo of USS Vance (DER 387) is dated November 1967 but it is likely a PAO stock photo.

    (U.S. Navy photo #DER-387-809X1-11-67)
    Darryl Baker
    PNCM, USNR (ret.)

    Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum
    95k March 1966: Manila Bay Larry Backus
    Baltimore, Md.
    141k December 1968: Pearl Harbor Hawaii - Vance tied up outboard of Charles Berry (DE 1035) and Forster (DER 334).

    (Photo ©Richard Leonhardt)
    Richard Leonhardt
    Bethlehem, Pa.
    ***Forster / Vance***
    87k January 1969: Pearl Harbor - USS Forster (DER 334) makes her approach to moor alongside USS Charles Berry (DE 1035) and Vance.

    (Photo ©Richard Leonhardt)

    Vance Memorabilia
    Courtesy of
    Mike Smolinski
    Courtesy of
    Mike Smolinski
    Courtesy of
    Mike Smolinski
    Courtesy of
    Mike Smolinski
    Courtesy of
    Robert M. Cieri

    Vance History
    View the USS Vance (DE 387) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.
    View the official War History of USS Vance as submitted by the ship at war's end.

    Vance's Commanding Officers
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
          U.S. Navy as DE-387  (Coast Guard Manned)
    1.)  01 Nov. 1943 - 30 May 1944Lcdr. Eric Alvin Anderson, USCG (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
    2.)  30 May 1944 - 15 Jun. 1945Lcdr. Frank Vincent Helmer, USCG (USCGA '35) (South Plainfield, N.J.) (ret. as Radm.)
    3.)  15 Jun. 1945 - 27 Feb. 1946Cmdr. Joseph James McClealand, USCG (USCGA '40) (Seattle, Wash.) (ret. as Vadm.)
          U.S. Coast Guard as WDE-487 / W-487
    4.)  09 May 1952 - 18 Aug. 1952Cmdr. James C. Waters, USCG
    5.)  18 Aug. 1952 – 18 Sep. 1952Lt. Norman Lee Scherer, USCG (USCGA ‘46) (W. Roxbury, Mass.)
    6.)  18 Sep. 1952 – 31 Aug. 1953Cmdr. Gerald T. Applegate, USCG (USCGA ‘36) (Dinuba, Cal.)
    7.)  31 Aug. 1953 – 03 Apr. 1954Lt. Norman L. Scherer, USCG (USCGA ‘46) (W. Roxbury, Mass.)
          U.S. Navy as DER-387
    8.)  05 Oct. 1956 - 08 Jan. 1958Cmdr. Albert Martin Brouner (USNA ‘44) (Milwaukee, Wis)
    9.)  08 Jan. 1958 - .. Feb. 1959Cmdr. Royal Thomas Daniel Jr. (USNA ‘45) (Near Oxford, N.C.)
    10.) .. Feb. 1959 - 16 Apr. 1960Cmdr. Philip Devereux Johnston Jr. (USNA ‘45)
    11.) 16 Apr. 1960 - 18 Dec. 1961Cmdr. Harmon Charles Penny (USNA ‘46) (Ashtabula, Oh.)
    12.) 18 Dec. 1961 - 07 Aug. 1963Lcdr. Henry Joseph Beyer (enl. '42 / V12 '46) (Portland, Ore.)
    13.) 07 Aug. 1963 - 22 Dec. 1965Lcdr. Ross Wallace Wright (Ava, Mo.)
    14.) 22 Dec. 1965 - 31 Mar. 1966Lcdr. Marcus Aurelius Arnheiter* (USNA ‘52) (New York City, N.Y.)
    15.) 31 Mar. 1966 - 11 Apr. 1966Cmdr. Donald Fleming Milligan (Detroit, Mich.)
    16.) 11 Apr. 1966 - 11 Jan. 1968Cmdr. Robert Sheridan Swan (Hanover, N.H.)
    17.) 11 Jan. 1968 - 03 Jul. 1969Cmdr. Melvin Edward Seiler (Madison, Nebr.)
    18.) 03 Jul. 1969 - 10 Oct. 1969Lt. William James Fulton (USNA '62) (Ansonia, Conn.)

    * Relieved for cause: loss of confidence to command due to "exercise of bad judgement and lack of integrity"
    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

    Next Reunion:
    18 - 23 September 2022 in Kissimmee, Fla.

    USS Vance Reunion Information Page

    Contact Name: Jim Ensey
    Phone: (410) 442-9839
    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

    USS Vance Web Site
    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 Vance
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    This Page Created And Maintained By Mike Smolinski
    All pages copyright Navsource Naval History
    by Paul R. Yarnall, All Rights Reserved.
    Page Last Updated: 28 June 2023