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|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 09 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 09 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.
|21k||undated wartime image (shown in Camouflage Measure 32, pattern 10D)||Jerry Church|
|74k||Undated port quarter view of the USS Willmarth (DE 638). The ship is camouflaged in MS32/10d camouflage scheme. (U.S. Navy Photo)||Mike Green|
Port Angeles, Wash.
|401k||May - June 1945: Guam - This photograph was taken in Guam between 30 May and 07 June 1945 [though, probably June 3-7, and the ship on the starboard side would be the
Samuel S. Miles (DE 183)]. Gunnery Officer Lt. Donald Morris left temporarily for school on May 30, and Radar Officer Lt. (jg) Frank Newman attended CIC school from 18 April to 07 June 1945.
Standing left to right: Supply Officer Lt. Bob Penn , Assist. 1st Lt. Lt. Brad Lukens, XO Lt. John Burditt, CO Comdr. James Thorburn, ASW Officer Lt. George Connor, and 1st Lt., Lt. William Briggs.
Sitting left to right : Ass't. Engineer Ensign John Clayton, Communications Officer Lt. Len Olsen, Ass't. Communication Officer Ensign Bob Whetsel, Recognition Officer Ensign Jerry Schaefers, Engineer Lt. Kenneth Cook, and Ass't. Gunnery Officer Ensign David Hardy.
St. Paul, Minn.
|432k||early April 1946: Green Cove Springs, Fla. - Unidentified destroyer escorts lie moored in the St. John's River awaiting their turn for decommissioning and mothballing. Photo taken by someone aboard Willmarth.|
early April 1946: Green Cove Springs, Fla. - Three views of Willmarth being prepared for "mothballing". Note the empty 20 and 40mm gun tubs.
|228k||26 April 1946: Green Cove Springs, Fla. - The crew stands at attention while the officers and chiefs of USS Willmarth salute as the ensign is lowered for the last time during her decommissioning ceremony.|
|View the USS Willmarth (DE 638) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.|
|View the official War History of USS Willmarth as submitted by the ship at war's end.|
|Willmarth's Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
|Dates of Command||Commanding Officers|
|1.) 13 Mar. 1944 - 01 Jun. 1945||Lcdr. James Grieve Thorburn, Jr., USNR (Comm. CO) (Rye, N.Y.)|
|2.) 01 Jun. 1945 – 22 Nov. 1945||Lt. John F. Burditt, USNR (Newton, Mass.)|
|3.) 22 Nov. 1945 – 08 Jan. 1946||Lcdr. William T. Clark, USNR (East Cleveland, Oh.)|
|4.) 08 Jan. 1946 – 01 Apr. 1946||Lt.(jg) George Xavier Connor, USNR (Decomm. CO) (New York City, N.Y.)|
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.
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