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Fletcher Class Destroyer
Displacement: 2050 Tons
Length: 376'6" Beam: 39'4" Draft: 17'9"
Speed: 35 Knots
Armament: 5 5"/38 Guns, 10x4 21" torpedo tubes
Complement: 329 High-pressure super-heated boilers, geared turbines with
twin screws, 60,000 h.p.
Framed Armament: 2 5"/38 and 2 3"/50 Guns, Weapon Alpha, 2 Hedge
Hog Mounts, Mk 51 and Mk 38 Torpedoes
The USS Eaton DD - 510
The USS Eaton was a converted Fletcher Class Destroyer commissioned December
4, 1942. She was named for General William Eaton, who came to prominence
at the turn of the century as "The Hero of Derne" in the war with
the Tripolitan Pirates. Until June 1994, she operated with carrier forces
based at Efate, New Hebrides Islands.
In August 1943, the Eaton shot down two Japanese planes and was credited
with assisting with three others. She spent the next year off Bougainville
Beachhead, and Saipan where she provided gunfire support for the Marines
and Navy units in their amphibious landings.
The Eaton returned to the United States in August 1944 for overhaul. In
December 1944 she returned to the Langayen Gulf, where she saw action against
Japanese suicide bombers. At the conclusion of the war, she had earned ten
stars for her Asiatic Pacific Ribbon, and accounting for 6 more enemy planes,
a Japanese submarine, and a Japanese I-boat. The Eaton then joined the Yangize
River patrol where she disarmed the Japanese ships. In January 1947 she
was place out of commission.
In 1951 the Eaton was recommissioned and for the next six years participated
in various operations with Destroyer Squadron 22.
Oddly, one of the Eatons claims to fame came on May 6, 1956 when the
Battleship Wisconsin collided with her in heavy fog 50 miles off Cape Henry.
The Wisconsin suffered a 30 square foot hole in the bow, but the Eaton almost
lost her entire bow. She was towed to Norfolk flooded to her forward engine
The Eatons three trips to the Mediterranean included the Red Sea Patrol
during the Sues Crises of 1957. When the canal was opened the Eaton was
the first warship to make the northbound passage.
As a member of the elite Anti Submarine Warfare, Task Group Alpha, she participated
in the quarantine of Cuba in October 1962.
In November 1966 the Eaton represented the United States at the Independence
Celebration of Barbados where she fired a twenty one gun salute to honor
the new nation.
On June 20, 1967 the Eaton embarked on her last wartime tour, Vietnam. During
this tour of duty she fired 4,420 rounds of ammunition, destroyed 12 structures
and damaged 9. Her primary duties were to provide screening for the Aircraft
Carriers, river patrol, and gunfire support.
After the Eaton returned from Viet Nam, I was stationed on the USS Lawrence
DDG-4. The Eaton then became a reserve ship. I lost contact with her and
my enlistment ended in September 1969. Last year I was told that the Eaton
was decommissioned and sunk off the coast of Jacksonville Florida. I have
tried to find the exact location, but my efforts so far have failed.
When I heard of her sinking a feeling of remorse set over me. I felt
as if I had lost a close friend. However, I guess that a final resting place,
off the country she served, is a fitting end for such a gallant lady.
By Leon Freeman (STG2 Aboard the Eaton 1966 - 1968)