USS Acree (DE-167)
John White Acree—born on 23 April 1918 in Lynchburg, Virginia —graduated from the University of Virginia before enlisting in the Naval Reserve on 9 August 1940. Following training which included service in battleship New York (BB-34), Acree was appointed midshipman, USNR, on 16 December 1940. Upon successfully completing the course at the Naval Reserve Midshipman's School, Northwestern University, Chicago, 111., he was commissioned ensign on 14 March 1941; assigned to the USS Enterprise (CV-6); and he served in that historic aircraft carrier through the tense final months of American neutrality and during most of the first grim year of war following the Japanese surprise raid on Pearl Harbor.
Following that attack, Enterprise and her few sister carriers were the principal force which stood between Japan and complete mastery of the Pacific. An unsuccessful search for the Japanese attacking force began the carrier's wartime saga and was quickly followed by duty protecting Allied convoys and by air strikes against Japanese islands in the Central Pacific. Next, she accompanied the USS Hornet (CV-8) as that ship carried Army B-25 bombers for Lt. Col. Doolittle's air raid against Tokyo. Although Enterprise next raced toward the Southwestern Pacific to help protect Allied shipping lanes to Australia, she was too late to join Lexington (CV-2) and Yorktown (CV-5) in the Battle of the Coral Sea. However, early in June, she played a major role in the Battle of Midway during which American forces decisively defeated a major enemy task force.
On 15 June 1942—two days after his ship returned to Pearl Harbor and more than a week after the victory at Midway— Acree was promoted to lieutenant, junior grade. Exactly one month later, Enterprise headed once more for the South Pacific and the first major Allied offensive operations of the war in the Pacific, the invasion of the Solomon Islands. Planes from the carrier supported the marines who landed on Guadalcanal and Tulagi and continued to help the leathernecks until Japanese dive bombers seriously damaged Enterprise in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons on the afternoon of 24 August. Rapid, skillful, and courageous damage control parties—one of which was led by Lt. (jg.) Acree—extinguished the fires, checked the flooding, and patched the ship sufficiently to enable her to make her way painfully back to Pearl Harbor for repairs.
Back in full fighting trim by mid-October, the veteran carrier once more headed for the Southwestern Pacific. There, in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on 26 October, she helped fight off a major Japanese effort to assist their troops on Guadalcanal. The cost of repelling this enemy thrust was great. Hornet was sunk, and Enterprise suffered three highly destructive bomb hits. Again, Acree led one of the damage control parties which saved his ship, but he perished in the effort.
Acree (DE-167) was laid down on 30 November 1942 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearney, N.J.; launched on 9 May 1943; sponsored by Mrs. John W. Acree, the widow of Lt. (jg.) Acree; and commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 19 July 1943, Lt. Comdr. William H. Siegmund in command.
After shakedown off Bermuda and training out of Norfolk, Va., the destroyer escort sailed for the South Pacific on 28 September, transited the Panama Canal on 5 October, stopped briefly at the Galapagos Islands three days later, and steamed on independently to Bora Bora in the Society Islands, where she arrived on the 18th. After refueling, Acree rendezvoused with SS Mormactern on 25 October and escorted her to Noumea, New Caledonia.
As a member of Escort Division 11, Acree carried out numerous convoy and antisubmarine patrol operations in the South Pacific during the next six months. Her stops included Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides; Laotoka, Fiji Islands; Guadalcanal; Noumea, New Caledonia; and the Russell Islands. This routine was broken on 28 April 1944 when the ship joined the antisubmarine screen of Task Group (TG) 50.17, which was formed to refuel Vice Admiral Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force, TF 58. She completed this assignment on 3 May, sailed back to Purvis Bay, and began antisubmarine patrol duty off that port.
On 9 June, Acree became a member of TG 53.19 slated to take part in the invasion of the Marianas. She arrived off the southern end of Tinian Island on 7 July and provided illuminating and harassing fire on Tinian Town. The destroyer escort opened fire at 1905 and continued firing at 40-minute intervals throughout the night. She moved to Saipan harbor the next day and later joined the antisubmarine screen off Saipan.
For the next four months, Acree carried out escort and patrol duties in the central Pacific. On 13 November, Acree departed Eniwetok bound for the United States. She stopped at Pearl Harbor on the 21st and arrived at San Francisco on 3 December 1944 and, the following day entered the United Engineering Co., Ltd., shipyard at Alameda, Calif., for overhaul.
The destroyer escort got underway for sea trials on 31 January 1945; sailed for Hawaii on 4 February: and, following her arrival at Pearl Harbor on the 10th, participated in training exercises north of the Hawaiian Islands in company with McConnell (DE-163) and Sangamon (CVE-26). Acree returned to Eniwetok on 24 March and spent the remainder of the war escorting convoys and acting as a barrier patrol off Pacific islands such as Guam, Entwetok, Ulithi, Saipan, and Kwajalein.
Following Japan's surrender, the ship got underway from Kwajalein on 15 September, bound for home. After a one-day stop at Pearl Harbor, she resumed her eastward voyage and reached San Diego, Calif., on 28 September. On 6 October, she sailed for the east coast and, after transiting the Panama Canal, arrived at New York on 20 October to begin a preinactivation availability. On 29 November, the destroyer escort arrived at Green Cove Springs, Fla., where she was decommissioned on 1 April 1946. Acree was struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1972 and sold on 19 July 1973 to the Boston Metals Co., of Baltimore, Md., for scrapping.