USS Melvin R. Nawman (DE-416)
USS Melvin R. Nawman (DE-416) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The primary purpose of the destroyer escort was to escort and protect ships in convoy, in addition to other tasks as assigned, such as patrol or radar picket. Post-war, her crew returned home proudly with four battle stars to their credit.
She was named in honor of Melvin Rollie Nawman who died attempting to stop the “Tokyo Express” from landing additional reinforcements on Guadalcanal. The gallantry of this volunteer mission was recognized through a posthumously awarded Air Medal.
Melvin R. Nawman was laid down 3 January 1944 by Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Texas; launched 16 February 1944; sponsored by Mrs. R. B. Nawman, mother of the late 2d Lt. Melvin R. Nawman; and commissioned 16 May 1944, Lt. Comdr. F. W. Kinsley in command.
World War II
Following completion of shakedown exercises off Bermuda the DE-416 steamed forth from Boston Navy Yard 22 July 1944 for the Pacific theater. A two month training period with an antisubmarine hunter killer group interrupted her westward progress at Pearl Harbor. In October convoy missions commenced to Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, and Ulithi, western Caroline group highlighted by a submarine contact on 18 November and an encounter with a severe tropical storm a month later.
The year 1945 brought action off the invasion beaches with the U.S. 5th Fleet. Melvin R. Nawman screened USS Anzio (CVE-57) as its planes bombed Japanese positions on Iwo Jima 16 February (D day minus 3) until 3 March. With victory imminent the group retired to Leyte for redeployment off the beaches of Okinawa. In the intense action that followed its guns shot down their first two planes near Kerama Retto 2 April earning the Bronze Star Medal for two members of the crew. After a month on station the ship returned to escort duty centered around Guam. In the final stages of the war in the Pacific 47 consecutive days were spent at sea screening carrier task forces operating off the east coast of Japan before retiring to Guam.
In the next 4 months Melvin R. Nawman steamed first to Korea and then made three escort trips to the China coast as the United States and Nationalist China tried to redistribute their forces to stabilize the postwar Far East. On 22 December, pressed into “Operation Magic Carpet” duty, this doughty destroyer escort happily pointed its bow toward home. She arrived San Francisco, California, 15 January 1946 and 23 April decommissioned at San Diego, California, and joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
The expansion of the U.S. Armed Forces during the Korean War restored DE-416 to a commissioned status 28 March 1951, Lt. Comdr. P. H. Teeter in command. Following shakedown she departed San Diego 22 June to assume new duties with Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, arriving Melville, Rhode Island, 11 July.
Beside local operations Melvin R. Nawman made voyages each year to Key West, Florida, and commencing in 1954 annual visits to Caribbean island ports. These areas provided the most intensive antisubmarine warfare training and at times permitted this destroyer escort to assist in the training of students from the Fleet Sonar School, Key West. Three midshipmen cruises also brought visits to Norway, Denmark, and Quebec, Canada. Her busiest sailing year 1957, climaxed in October with a 49 day voyage which traversed the length of the Mediterranean Sea.
The next year assigned to a Reserve Escort Squadron she undertook her first Naval Reserve cruise 16 June. Emerging from overhaul in February 1959 she was designated a Selected Reserve Training Ship berthed first at Davisville, Rhode Island, and after 12 December at Providence, Rhode Island. Her Reserve crew completed one cruise to Puerto Rico in the spring of 1960 but on her last voyage DE-416 was towed into the New York Navy Yard 1 June for inactivation.
She decommissioned 30 August 1960 and struck 1 July 1972 from the Navy List. She was sold for scrapping 3 October 1973.
Melvin R. Nawman received four battle stars for service in the Pacific theater during World War II.
- Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
- NavSource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive - USS Melvin R. Nawman (DE-416)