USS John C. Butler (DE-339)

USS "John C. Butler" (DD-339) was the lead ship of World War II-era "John C. Butler"-class destroyer escorts in the service of the United States Navy, named after Ensign John C. Butler (1921–1942), who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in the Battle of Midway.

"John C. Butler" was laid down by Consolidated Steel Corporation, Ltd., in Orange, Texas, on 5 October 1943; launched on 12 November 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Walter C. Butler, mother of Ensign Butler; and commissioned on 31 March 1944, with Lieutenant Commander J. E. Pace in command.


The new destroyer escort conducted shakedown training off Bermuda before departing Hampton Roads 5 June 1944 for the Pacific. Sailing via the Panama Canal, she arrived Pearl Harbor 26 June and engaged in convoy and training operations during July. "John C. Butler" then departed Pearl Harbor on 9 August screening transports bound for the invasion of the Palau Islands. After seeing them safely to Tulagi, the ship operated with escort carriers out of Manus Island on preinvasion strikes. Two islands wanted as advance bases for the long-awaited move into the Philippines, Morotai and Peleliu, were stormed on 15 September; and "John C. Butler" provided anti-submarine and anti-aircraft protection for the supporting carriers. Returning to Manus 30 September, she replenished in preparation for the Leyte operation in October.

Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 1944

The escort vessel sailed with Rear Admiral Ralph A. Ofstie's escort carrier group 12 October to provide air cover for the massive movement of transports into Leyte Gulf. After the initial landings, the three carrier groups, soon to become famous by their radio code names, "Taffy 1", "Taffy 2", and "Taffy 3", took station east of the Philippines to lend close air support.

The Japanese fleet was closing the Philippines in a last attempt to annihilate the invasion force, with heavy ships designated to break into Leyte Gulf from north and south, and a diversionary fleet of carriers to draw Admiral William F. Halsey's 3rd Fleet off to the North. In the first two actions of the massive Battle of Leyte Gulf which ensued, the Battle of Sibuyan Sea and the Battle of Surigao Strait, the Japanese were badly mauled. But Admiral Takeo Kurita's Center Force still transited San Bernardino Strait the night of 24–25 October, and just after sunrise bore down on the relatively unprotected "Taffy 3", including "John C. Butler".

The 2-hour Battle off Samar which followed has taken a rightful place among the most memorable actions in naval history. The slow escort carriers launched all planes to attack the Japanese cruisers and battleships, and "John C. Butler" and her sisters laid heavy smoke to confuse enemy batteries. A rain squall provided cover for a turn to the south, and just after 07:30 the destroyers began their gallant torpedo attacks against great odds. "Johnston" (DD-557), "Hoel" (DD-533), "Heermann" (DD-532), and escort "Samuel B. Roberts" (DE-413) made close-in attacks on cruisers and battleships, forcing them to zig-zag, while aircraft made continuous attacks. Soon after this first attack, "John C. Butler" turned from the carriers to launch her remaining torpedoes, then exchanged gunfire with a heavy cruiser. The destroyer escort continued to fire and dodge heavy-caliber fire until dangerously low on ammunition, then returned to the carrier formation to provide smoke coverage.

Rear Admiral Clifton A. F. Sprague, commander of Taffy 3, later described the next surprising development: "At 0925 my mind was occupied with dodging torpedoes when near the bridge I heard one of the signalmen yell, '... dammit, boys, they're getting away!' I could not believe my eyes, but it looked as if the whole Japanese fleet was indeed retiring.... At best, I had expected to be swimming by this time." The Japanese, damaged and fearing heavier air attack, had indeed reversed course. Though the escort carriers lost two of their number and three escorts, their valiant fight had stopped the Japanese from attacking the transports in Leyte Gulf.

After rescuing survivors from "St. Lo" (CVE-63), "John C. Butler" escorted the surviving carriers of "Taffy 3" via Manus to Pearl Harbor, then returned to Manus 17 December. Departing with escort carriers 31 December, she protected amphibious transports steaming to the invasion of Luzon. During the voyage through the South China Sea, the ships encountered and drove off determined kamikaze attacks. On the evening of 8 January 1945, "John C. Butler" and other escorts splashed several kamikazes. She operated off Lingayen Gulf from 9 through 17 January and screened carriers during massive strikes in support of ground operations. Departing the Luzon coast, she arrived at Ulithi on 23 January to prepare for the next important amphibious landing—Iwo Jima.

Iwo Jima and Okinawa

The veteran destroyer escort took part in rehearsals in the Marianas, and arrived off Iwo Jima 19 February with an escort carrier group. She again fought off a severe air attack 21 February. She remained on duty off Iwo Jima until 9 March 1945, when she sailed for Ulithi, having helped to win another important island air base for the eventual attack on Japan.

Okinawa was to be the site of the last and largest of the Pacific amphibious assaults. "John C. Butler" sailed on 26 March with transports; and, as the troops stormed ashore on 1 April, she resumed her now-familiar screening duties with carrier groups. As the Japanese launched fruitless suicide attacks, the ship escorted carriers into Kerama Retto, rescued downed pilots, and ferried men and material. Transferred to dangerous outer picket duty north of Ie Shima 20 May, she was attacked by six kamikazes just before sunset. Skillful gunnery accounted for five of the attackers, and "John C. Butler" sustained damage only to her mast and antennas. She sailed on 27 May for repairs in the Philippines.

The ship returned to Okinawa with a convoy on 4 July, and spent the last month of the long war on convoy duty between that island and the Pacific advance bases. She returned to San Pedro, California, on 23 November and decommissioned on 26 June 1946, joining the Pacific Reserve Fleet at San Diego, California.

With the outbreak of the Korean conflict in June 1950, "John C. Butler" recommissioned on 27 December 1950. Following shakedown, she was assigned to 11th Naval District for the important job of training naval reservists on short sea cruises. Thus, she helped maintain highly trained officers and men to meet the Navy's cold war commitments. In addition to reserve cruises, she took part in the training program of Fleet Sonar School, San Diego. She decommissioned on 18 December 1957 and re-entered the Reserve Fleet, San Diego. She was eventually sunk as a target in 1971.


"John C. Butler" received five battle stars for World War II service, and was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for her part in the Battle off Samar.

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons



External links

* [ USS "John C. Butler"]
* [ USS "John C. Butler"]
* [ USS "John C. Butler"]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • John-C.-Butler-Klasse — Übersicht Typ: Geleitzerstörer Name: John C. Butler Einheiten: 87 gebaut …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John Clarence Butler — Infobox Military Person name= John Clarence Butler born= birth date|1921|2|2 died= death date and age|1942|6|4|1921|2|2 placeofbirth= Liberty, Arizona placeofdeath= KIA near Midway Island caption= John Clarence Butler nickname= allegiance= United …   Wikipedia

  • John C. Butler class destroyer escort — The John C. Butler class destroyer escort originated during World War II. The lead ship was the USS John C. Butler , commissioned on March 31, 1944.The standard armament for the class was two 5 inch, four 40mm and ten 20mm guns, three 21 inch… …   Wikipedia

  • USS Hoel (DD-533) — was a World War II era Fletcher class destroyer in the service of the United States Navy, named after Lieutenant Commander William R. Hoel. Hoel was launched 19 December 1942 by the Bethlehem Steel Co., San Francisco, California, sponsored by Mrs …   Wikipedia

  • USS St. Lo (CVE-63) — USS St. Lo (CVE–63) was a sclass|Casablanca|escort carrier of the United States Navy during World War II. On October 25, 1944 St. Lo became the first major warship to sink as the result of a kamikaze attack. The attack occurred during the Battle… …   Wikipedia

  • Liste der Geleitzerstörer der United States Navy — Schiffe der United States Navy A B C D E F …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • List of World War II topics (U) — # U 571 (film) # U A # U boat Front Clasp # U boat War Badge # U Boote westwärts # U Man # U.S. British Staff Conference (ABC 1) # U.S. 20th Air Base Group # U.S. 5th Interceptor Command # U.S. Army Forces Far East # U.S. Army Forces in the… …   Wikipedia

  • Список эскадренных миноносцев США по типам — …   Википедия

  • List of shipwrecks — Contents 1 Africa 1.1 East Africa 1.2 North Africa 1.2.1 Algeria …   Wikipedia

  • Destroyer escort — A destroyer escort (DE) is the classification for a smaller, lightly armed warship designed to be used to escort convoys of merchant marine ships, primarily of the United States Merchant Marine in World War II. It is employed primarily for anti… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.