John White Acree was a Lieutenant (j.g.) from Virginia who served aboard the USS Enterprise. He died on October 26, 1942 during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands while leading a damage-control party on 26 October 1942.

During World War II, the United States Navy named a line of ships for officers and sailors who had died serving their country. It was unlike the scenario today where ships are named for Senators who got the largest appropriations for the Navy via their chairmanships on a Senate committee. These were true heroes and deserving of the high respect reflected in the ship-naming.

DE 167, USS Acree

DE 167, USS Acree

This line of ships was the destroyer escort, or DE. DE-167 was named for Lt. Acree, the U.S.S. Acree. It was on board that ship that my father, who died in 1971 (people say I look exactly like him), served as an officer in 1944 and 1945. He was a “ninety-day wonder.” After graduation from Holy Cross in 1944, he attended a relatively brief course of studies, I know not where, and was commissioned an officer and assigned ultimately as a communications officer on the Acree.

The photo above was taken as the ship headed into San Diego after the War. By the time she reached New York via the Panama Canal, the photo was ready for distribution to the officers and crew. I have a copy on my office wall.

The Acree was sold for scrap many years later. Three destroyer escorts, however, are still afloat. One, the USS Slater, DE-766, has been restored and is moored in the Port of Albany. My brother and I visited on September 8, 2001, for a ship’s reunion. It was surreal to see this small ship and be told that “here’s where your father would have been on duty for most of the day,” in a small room outfitted with communications gear.

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