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Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships O'Bannon DD-450
The second O'Bannon (DD-450) was laid down by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, 
Me., 3 March 1941 Launched 19 February 1942; sponsored by Mrs. E. F. Kennedy, 
descendent of Lieutenant O'Bannon; and commissioned at Boston 26 June 1942, 
Comdr. E. R. Wilkinson in command.

O'Bannon briefly trained for war in the Caribbean and sailed from Boston 29 
August 1942 for the Southwest Pacific where the long and arduous battle for 
Guadalcanal had just begun. For over a year the Navy, stretched thin to cover 
its world-wide commitments at a period when new ships were just beginning to 
join the fleet in any number, was to fight and fight again in the Solomons in 
one of the most bitterly contested campaigns of history, wresting air and sea 
control from the Japanese, and providing the Marine Corps and the Army with 
every possible support as they gained ground inch by inch on the myriad 
islands. O'Bannon played a valiant part in these endeavors, it was to win her 
a Presidential Unit Citation.

Based at Noumea, New Caledonia O'Bannon first escorted Copahee (CVE-12) on a 
run to Guadalcanal where on 9 October, twenty Marines flew their Wildcats off 
Copahee's decks, desperately needed as reinforcements at beleaguered 
Henderson Field. Through the remainder of the month O'Bannon sailed the New 
Hebrides and southern Solomons on escort duty. On 7 November at Noumea, she 
joined Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan's Support Group, ready to sail with a 
convoy carrying critical reinforcements, replacements food, ammunition, and 
aviation material.

On the approach to Guadalcanal, O'Bannon sighted and fired on a surfaced 
enemy submarine holding it down while the convoy passed safely. On the 
evening of 12 November, the partially un-laden transports were attacked by 
fifteen enemy torpedo bombers, all but one were shot down. O'Bannon fired on 
four of the downed enemy planes. Now came word that the Japanese were moving 
south in force. Two battleships a light cruiser and 14 destroyers were bound 
to destroy Henderson Field by bombardment, to break up the American 
reinforcement mission, and to cover reinforcement movements of their own. 
O'Bannon and the other ships of the Support Force, two heavy and three light 
cruisers, and eight destroyers, confronted the greatly superior enemy early 
13 November in Ironbottom Sound, so named for the number of ships on both 
sides sunk there during the Guadalcanal campaign. O'Bannon boldly attacked 
the Japanese battleship Hiei, closing so near that the battleship could not 
depress her guns far enough to fire on the gallant destroyer. O'Bannon's 
gunfire, in combination with the attacks of the rest of the force, damaged 
Hiei so badly that she was a sitting duck for the air attack which sank her 
next day. This Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was long and desperate, two 
American light cruisers, in one of which Admiral Callaghan lost his life, and 
four destroyers were lost, while two Japanese destroyers were sunk and Hiei 
prepared for her doom. Above all, the Japanese were turned back, and 
Henderson Field saved from destruction. The importance of this success is 
illustrated by the fact that next day Henderson aviators sank eleven enemy 
troop transports attempting to reinforce the island.

Through October 1943, O'Bannon protected landings, carried out escort duties 
from Noumea and Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal and Tulagi, joined in 
bombardments at Guadalcanal, Munda, Kolombangara, and shouldered her share of 
the nightly patrols up the "Slot" between the Solomons, guarding against 
Japanese reinforcements. Retiring from such a run early 5 April, O'Bannon 
sighted on the surface and fired on Japanese submarine RO-34. During this 
period she also splashed at least two enemy aircraft in various attacks.

This duty was tense and demanded the best of men and their ships. In-port 
time was minimal a few hours to fuel and reprovision, and the ships were off 
again. O'Bannon fought in many surface actions. The Battle of Kula Gulf (6 
July) in which O'Bannon fought with three cruisers and three otter destroyers 
against ten Japanese destroyers, swept the enemy from the area, though an 
American cruiser was lost. But a week later, a second battle had to be fought 
in the same waters against a Japanese cruiser, five destroyers and four 
destroyer escorts. The same American force sank the Japanese cruiser and 
turned the smaller ships away, losing none themselves.

For the next two months, O'Bannon spent most of her time in Vella Gulf, 
guarding landings, intercepting Japanese troop convoys and their covering 
escorts, and fighting off air attacks. With the aid of sister destroyers, she 
sank a number of barges, two submarine chasers, an armed boat, and a gun boat 
on various patrols. The climax of operations in the area was the Battle of 
Vella Lavella, 6 October, brought on by Japanese attempts to evacuate their 
troops from that island. With Selfridge (DD-357) and Chevalier (DD-451), 
O'Bannon made the first attack on the evacuation force, a group of nine or 
ten destroyers and smaller armed craft. The three American ships contacted 
six enemy destroyers, shrugged at the odds, and raced at 33 knots to launch 
torpedoes and open gunfire. Japanese destroyer Yugumo was turned into a 
blazing hulk but both Selfridge and Chevalier took torpedo hits. O'Bannon was 
close on Chevalier's stern when the latter was struck, and the most radical 
maneuvers could not keep her from swinging into her sister's side. The enemy 
retired with three newly arrived American destroyers in pursuit, while 
O'Bannon guarded her stricken sisters, rescuing the survivors of Chevalier.

O'Bannon made battle repairs at Tulagi, then sailed to the west coast for 
overhaul. By 18 March 1944 she was back in the Solomons, ready for her part 
in the series of westward-moving amphibious assaults which won New Guinea. 
Again, it was escort and bombardment repeatedly until 18 October, when 
O'Bannon cleared Hollandia to escort reinforcements for the invasion of 
Leyte. The convoy was brought in safely 24 October, the eve of the Battle for 
Leyte Gulf. O'Bannon guarded the Northern Transport area and patrolled the 
entrances to Leyte Gulf during the battle, coming under air attack. Thus she 
played her part in the definitive destruction of the Japanese Navy.

Through June 1945 O'Bannon operated primarily in the Philippines, serving in 
the escort or assault force for the long roll call of invasions: Ormoc, 
Mindoro, Lingayen, Bataan, Corregidor, Palawan, Zamboanga, Cebu, Caraboa. Air 
attacks were frequent in the early period, and O'Bannon splashed several 
raiders. During the Lingayen offensive, 31 January 1945, O'Bannon, with three 
other destroyers, attacked and sank an enemy submarine, Japanese records 
studied after the war indicate it was most likely RO-115. At the end of April 
and early in May, O'Bannon interrupted her Philippine operations to give fire 
support at Tarakan, Borneo and cover minesweeping operations there.

O'Bannon rendezvoused with a group of escort carriers off Okinawa 17 June, 
and guarded them as they struck against Sakashima Gunto. In July it was the 
large carriers that she protected as they flew strikes on northern Honshu and 
Hokkaido. With the close of the war, O'Bannon patrolled the coast of Honshu 
until 27 August, when she joined two other destroyers to escort Missouri (BB-
63) into Tokyo Bay There she patrolled until 1 September. She then sailed to 
San Francisco and San Diego, where she decommissioned after overhaul 21 May 

Between 17 January 1949 and 10 February 1950, O'Bannon was converted to an 
escort destroyer at Long Beach Naval Shipyard. She was re-designated DDE 450, 
26 March 1949.

O'Bannon re-commissioned 19 February 1951 to serve out of Pearl Harbor. She 
sailed for her first tour of duty with the United Nations forces repelling 
Communist aggression in Korea 19 November, and during the next seven months 
she guarded carriers at sea as their air groups struck targets in Korea; 
served as flagship for the Wonsan Element, East Coast Blockade and Escort 
Group; fired on enemy gun emplacements, road and rail supply routes, 
ammunition depots, and troop concentrations, and protected convoys moving 
between Korea and Japan.

A training period out of Pearl Harbor began upon her return home 20 June 
1952, and she took part in AEC operations off Eniwetok. O'Bannon cleared 
Pearl Harbor late in April 1953 for the Far East where her primary mission 
was screening carriers. Thereafter she served on the Taiwan Patrol and in 
exercises off Japan and Okinawa.

Between the Korean War and the Vietnam War, O'Bannon took her part in the 
intricately planned schedule which assures the United States that its 7th 
Fleet is always composed of ships and men whose readiness for any emergency 
is at its keenest. For O'Bannon this has meant an alternation of roughly six-
month deployments to the Far East and periods spent in training operations 
and necessary overhauls at Pearl Harbor. While in the Far East, she visited 
ports in Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, with 
brief, welcome recreation calls at Hong Kong. She was often in either New 
Zealand or Australia for the annual commemoration of the Battle of the Coral 
Sea, a time of national rejoicing in those countries at which Americans are 
particularly welcome. She conducted combined operations training with the 
SEATO allies as well as exercising with Marines at Okinawa and taking part in 
exercises preparing for any conceivable demand that might be made on the 7th 
Fleet. While at Pearl Harbor she often aided in training reservists in 
addition to her own training, and at various times sailed down-range for 
space orbits and missile shots. In the summer and fall of 1962, she took part 
in atomic tests at Johnston Island.

O'Bannon first closed the coast of Vietnam during her 1964-5 deployment, when 
on 26 December she left Hong Kong to patrol and conduct hydrographic surveys. 
Much of her 1966 tour was spent as plane guard for Kitty Hawk (CVA-63). While 
the carrier's jets struck targets in South and North Vietnam to lessen 
Communist ability to wage war in the South. For a week each in May and June 
O'Bannon fired shore bombardments, destroying Vietcong base camps, troop 
concentrations, and small craft.

The veteran destroyer returned via Yokosuka to Pearl Harbor 30 July. During 
operations out of homeport, she trained for Apollo space craft recovery 
operations in August and was a member of the contingency recovery force for 
the Gemini 11 space flight early in September. She visited Guam in the spring 
of 1967 and returned home early in July to prepare for another Far Eastern 

O'Bannon got under way for Japan 28 September, reached Yokosuka 7 October and 
Subic Bay on the 15th. She returned to the war zone with Constellation (CVA-
64) and operated as plane guard on Yankee Station through 4 November. After a 
fortnight's respite at Subic Bay and Hong Kong O'Bannon sailed to Da Nang for 
shore bombardment. She visited Taiwan early in December but returned to the 
fighting on the 15th to provide gunfire support just south of the DMZ. Two 
days later she helped to rescue the crew of an American plane which had been 
hit over the DMZ and had managed to crash just off shore. An enemy battery 
shelled the destroyer during the operation but failed to score. As 1967 ended 
O'Bannon was still on the gun line supporting allied ground forces

O'Bannon received the Presidential Unit Citation and 11 battle stars for 
World War II service, and 3 battle stars for Korean War Service.


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