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NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive

USS William B. Preston (AVD-7)
USS William B. Preston (AVP-20) (1939 - 1940)
USS William B. Preston (DD-344) (1920 - 1934)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - Uniform - Mike - Quebec
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive, 8 December 1941, 12 February 1942) - Yangtze Service Medal
Second Row - American Defense Service Medal - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1)
Third Row - World War II Victory Medal - Philippines Presidential Unit Citation - Philippines Defense Medal
Personnel Awards

Purple Hearts (12 February 1942, 11-KIA, 2-MIA, 3-WIA)

Clemson Class Destroyer:
  • Laid down, 18 November 1918, as William B. Preston (Destroyer # 344) at Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, VA.
  • Launched, 9 August 1919
  • Reclassified DD-344 in the Navy's fleet-wide assignment of alphanumeric hull numbers, 17 July 1920
  • Commissioned USS William B. Preston (DD-344), 23 August 1920, at Norfolk, VA., LT. James B. Ryan in temporary command, e
  • Decommissioned, 15 October 1934, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, laid up in reserve
  • Reclassified Seaplane Tender, Small AVP-20, 18 November 1939, converted at New York Navy Yard, circa 1939-40
  • Recommissioned USS William B. Preston (AVP-20), 14 June 1940, at New York Navy Yard, LCDR. Francis J. Bridget in command
  • Reclassified Seaplane Tender, Destroyer AVD-7, 2 August 1940
  • During World War II USS William B. Preston was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and participated in the following campaign:
    Campaign and Dates
    Philippine Island Operations, 8 December 1941 to 3 March 1942
  • Decommissioned, 6 December 1945, at Navy Yard Philadelphia, PA.
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 3 January 1946
  • USS William B. Preston earned one battle star for World War II service
  • Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 6 November 1946, to Northern Metals Co., Philadelphia, PA.
    Displacement 1,095t.(lt) 1,730t.(fl)
    Length 314' 5"
    Beam 31' 8"
    Draft 14' 1"
    Speed 30.9 kts. (trial)
    Officers 11
    Enlisted 127
    4 LCP(L) landing craft
    two single 3"/50 cal dual purpose gun mounts
    five single 20mm AA gun mounts
    Fuel Capacities
    NSFO 1,675 Bbls
    Diesel 711 Bbls
    two Westinghouse geared turbines
    two White Forester boilers, 265psi Sat°
    single Westinghouse Main Reduction Gears
    2 turbo-drive 60Kw 120V D.C. Ships Service Generators
    two propellers, 26,000shp

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    Preston 122kBorn on 25 November 1805 at Smithfield, Va., William Ballard Preston entered Hampton-Sydney College in 1821, where he was active in literary and forensic activities. Graduating in 1824, Preston studied law at the University of Virginia and was admitted to the bar in 1826. The young attorney soon entered politics as a Whig and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1830. During the 1831-1832 session, he took an active part in the campaign to abolish slavery. Then there followed an eight-year hiatus in his political activities during which he returned to the practice of law. In 1840, he was elected to the State Senate, where he served from 1840 to 1844, before returning to the House of Delegates. In 1846, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. In March of 1849, President Zachary Taylor appointed the Virginia lawyer and congressman Secretary of the Navy. During Preston's tenure in that office, the United States Navy acquired new duties in the course of America's westward expansion and acquisition of California. Trade and commerce in the Pacific beckoned, and the Stars and Stripes flew from the masts of Navy ships in Chinese waters, while the shores of Japan, then unopened to the west, presented a tantalizing possibility for commercial intercourse. The Navy also was progressing through a technological transition, especially in the area of moving from sails to steam propulsion, and with the improvements in gunnery and naval ordnance. Upon the death of President Taylor, new President Millard Fillmore reorganized the cabinet and appointed another Secretary of the Navy. Preston retired from office and withdrew from politics and public life. Resuming his private law practice, Preston acquired a reputation for being a fine defense lawyer before being sent to France in 1858 to negotiate for the establishment of a line of commercial steamers to operate between Le Havre and Norfolk. The mission to France progressed well, and the project appeared promising until it was brought to naught by the American Civil War. As states in the lower South seceded from the Union, the pressure mounted upon Virginia to do likewise. Moderate sentiment still held sway through 1860; but, early in 1861, increasing tensions forced Virginians to consider secession. On 13 February 1861, the secession convention met in Richmond and numbered William B. Preston amongst the delegates. As the Confederacy was established and the United States divided into two hostile camps, both sides moved steadily toward open conflict. A special delegation, composed of William B. Preston, H. H. Stuart, and George W. Randolph, traveled to Washington where they met President Lincoln on 12 April. Finding the President firm in his resolve to hold the Federal forts then in the South, the three men returned to Richmond on the 15th. With the news of the firing on Fort Sumter in South Carolina on 12 April 1861, conservative and moderate strength in the secessionist convention melted away. On the 16th, convinced that secession was inevitable, William B. Preston submitted, in secret session, an ordinance of secession. Supported 88 to 55, the Preston Resolution passed, and Virginia left the Union. Elected senator from Virginia in the Confederate States Congress, he served in that legislative body until his death at Smithfield on 16 November 1862.
    Digital ID: cph 3c10164, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
    Bill Gonyo
    193k USS Langley (AV-3) drydocked in USS Dewey (YFD-1) at Naval Station Subic Bay, Philippines, 26 May 1941. Note the PBY's on the ramp and Destroyer Seaplane Tender USS William, B. Preston (AVD-7) moored bottom right of the photo.
    US National Archives Photo # 80-G-1041082, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives.
    Rick Davis
    Belknap 45k William B. Preston (AVD-7) under way in 1942 after being reclassified AVD-7. After being recommissioned AVP-20 14 June 1940, her seaplane tender conversion is particularly evident by her two missing stacks. Also removed during the conversion and noticeable in this photo are her missing torpedo tubes and amidships deckhouse guns.
    Australian War Museum, Photo No. 302774
    Mike Green
    Belknap 122k USS William B. Preston (AVD-7) under way during the Japanese carrier air raid on Darwin, Australia, 19 February 1942. Despite one hit and several near misses by enemy bombs, she was able to reach the open sea and escaped. Image cropped from Photo # NH 43658.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 43658A cropped from NH 43658 courtesy of Arthur W. Thomas.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command

    USS William B. Preston (DD-344 / AVP-20 / AVD-7)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    AVD-7 Commanding Officers
    01LCDR Bridget, Francis Joseph, USN (USNA 1921b)14 June 1940 - 1941
    02LCDR. Grant, Etheridge :RADM? - 1941 - 18 February 1942
    03LT. Wood, Lester Orin :RADM (XO temp comd)19 February 1942 - 23 February 1942
    04LCDR. Grant, Etheridge :RADM23 February 1942 - 1 May 1943
    05LCDR. Rider, Eugene Carter1 May 1943 - 14 November 1943
    06LT. Holcombe Jr., William Harvey14 November 1943 - 18 April 1945
    07LCDR. Dyer Jr., William Henry18 April 1945 - 6 December 1945
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

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    Last Updated 5 March 2021