Figure 1: USS Waldron (DD-699) pitching her bow out of the water while operating in heavy Atlantic seas, 31 September 1953. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Waldron (DD-699) underway on 13 July 1944, during her shakedown period. Note dense white smoke issuing from her after stack. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Waldron (DD-699) at sea in 1964 following her "FRAM II" modernization. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Waldron (DD-699) at sea, 21 July 1964. Photographed by Photographer's Mate First Class Arthur W. Giberson. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Waldron (DD-699) photographed during the 1960s following her "FRAM II" modernization. She is carrying an odd antenna on her helicopter landing deck. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Waldron (DD-699) coming alongside USS Mispillion (AO-105) to refuel while operating in the Gulf of Tonkin, October 1967. Note Mispillion's "customer service" sign in the foreground and signal lamp at left. Photographed by Photographer's Mate First Class Don Grantham. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Waldron (DD-699) view looking forward from the pilothouse as the ship takes spray over her bow while steaming in the Atlantic, 22 March 1969. Photographed by Photographer's Mate Third Class P.C. Snyder. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Waldron (DD-699) in the Mediterranean in 1965 while coming alongside the USS Chikaskia for refueling. The aircraft carrier is USS Shangri-La (CV-38). From the collections of RADM Edward L. Feightner, BM2 Charles Peterman, and LCDR Al Gordon as compiled and edited by BM3 David Zanzinger. Photograph is courtesy of LCDR Al Gordon USN (Ret.). Click on photograph for larger image.
Figue 9: USS Waldron (DD-699) departing Genoa, Italy, May 14 1965. Photograph courtesy Carlo Martinelli. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: USS Waldron (DD-699) departing Genoa, Italy, May 14 1965. Photograph courtesy Carlo Martinelli. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron (1900-1942), who died commanding Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) during the Battle of Midway, the 2,200-ton USS Waldron was an Allen M. Sumner class destroyer that was built by the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Company at Kearny, New Jersey, and was commissioned on 7 June 1944. The ship was approximately 376 feet long and 40 feet wide, had a top speed of 34 knots, and had a crew of 336 officers and men. Waldron was armed with six 5-inch guns, 12 40-mm guns, 11 20-mm guns, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, and depth charges.
After her shakedown cruise off the coast of Bermuda in the early summer of 1944, Waldron was sent to join the Pacific Fleet. After transiting the Panama Canal on 1 October 1944, Waldron headed north and arrived at San Pedro, California, on 12 October. The ship then steamed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and remained in the Hawaiian Islands until 17 December, when the ship continued its journey to the western Pacific. Waldron arrived at the naval base at Ulithi atoll on 28 December.
For the rest of the war, Waldron escorted fast attack aircraft carriers. Waldron and these carriers were assigned to various task forces which attacked the Philippines, Southeast Asia, China, Formosa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Japanese home islands. On the night of 17-18 February 1945, the task force Waldron was attached to was attacked by several small Japanese patrol boats. One of these enemy patrol boats attacked the destroyer USS Dortch (DD-670) with her 3-inch guns, killing three of the destroyer’s crewmen. Because of the darkness and the proximity of Dortch and another American destroyer, USS Charles S. Sperry (DD-697), Waldron could not fire at the Japanese patrol boat. So Waldron increased speed to 21 knots and rammed the Japanese patrol boat directly amidships, cutting the enemy warship completely in two. Roughly four hours later, Waldron received orders detaching her from the task force so that she could go to Saipan to repair her bow.After her bow was repaired, Waldron once again began escorting aircraft carriers. On 18 March 1945, the task force Waldron was in began launching air strikes against the Japanese home islands. On that day, Japanese aircraft attacked and severely damaged the carrier USS Franklin (CV-13). Waldron was one of the ships assigned to provide antiaircraft cover for Franklin and escorted the damaged carrier from the area. Antiaircraft action continued throughout the three days Waldron escorted Franklin. On the night of 20-21 March, Waldron scored a “kill” of her own when her radar-directed main battery shot down a Japanese aircraft. She fired at another enemy plane that night, but technical problems prevented her from scoring a second kill. On 22 March, Waldron resumed her screening and escort duties while planes from her task force struck Okinawa in preparation for the invasion of that island.
During the Okinawa campaign, Waldron engaged in a number of antiaircraft actions and participated in two shore bombardments of enemy installations on Okinawa. On 14 May 1945, Waldron shot down one Japanese aircraft and assisted in shooting down four others. For the rest of the war in the Pacific, Waldron continued escorting the fast carriers during the final air strikes against the Japanese home islands. When hostilities ended on 15 August 1945, Waldron was off the Japanese coast with Task Force 38. Waldron escorted the carriers while their aircraft covered the initial occupation of Japan. This job lasted until 10 September, when Waldron entered Tokyo Bay.For several months after the war ended, Waldron remained in the western Pacific, supporting the occupation of the Japanese home islands. She returned to the United States early in 1946 and was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. She spent the rest of the decade mainly engaged in training Naval Reservists in the Caribbean area, but made one deployment to Europe before being decommissioned in May 1950. Waldron, though, did not spend much time in reserve due to the outbreak of the Korean War. The destroyer was re-commissioned in November 1950 and during the next twelve years operated in the Atlantic and in European waters. She made one deployment to the Far East from 1953 to 1954.
Waldron was extensively modernized in 1962 and then resumed her career with the Atlantic Fleet. She also completed a single tour of duty in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. While steaming off the coast of Vietnam, Waldron provided gunfire support for the III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF) during operations against communist forces on shore. In addition, she provided naval gunfire support for the Army’s 1st Air Cavalry Division and for the South Vietnamese 40th Division. Waldron also served on “Yankee Station” off the coast of Vietnam and joined the fast carriers of Task Force 77. She was used as an escort and for plane guard duties.After returning to the United States from her tour of duty in Vietnam, Waldron spent roughly two years assigned to coastal operations along America’s east coast and made two deployments to the Mediterranean. In April 1970, the ship was reassigned to Naval Reserve training and was based at Mayport, Florida. Waldron was decommissioned on 30 October 1973, but was sold to the Colombian Navy and commissioned as ARC Santander (DD-03). The Colombian Navy eventually scrapped the ship in 1984. USS Waldron received four battle stars for her service during World War II and one battle star for her service during the war in Vietnam.