The Korean War

1951 To 1954

Calendar Year Index

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1951 1952  1953 1954

1951

Upon her return to Norfolk, Soley proceeded to the Naval Shipyard for an overhaul period. On May 4, while undergoing overhaul at the Portsmouth Shipyard, CDR Clinton A. Neyman, Jr. assumed command of the ship.

With overhaul completed in June, Soley headed for Guantanamo Bay for refresher training that included a welcomed visit to Santiago, Cuba for liberty. After 4 days of gunnery practice at Culebra Island, Soley returned to Norfolk where she remained until mid-September. Later in the month, Soley was assigned duties as training ship at the Fleet Sonar School in Key West with weekend visits to Miami, Florida and Havana, Cuba prior to Fidel Castro's assumption of power there.

During October and November Soley participated in LANTFLEX 52, which terminated with an amphibious landing on Onslow Beach, North Carolina. The ship then returned to the Convoy Escort piers in Norfolk for the 1951 Christmas holiday period.

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1952

January and early February found Soley involved in a cold weather operation MICOWEX 52 designed to test equipment and clothing under adverse weather conditions. The exercise involved a return to operations in the Greenland-Iceland area near the entrance to the Davis Strait. During the exercise Bernie J. Liskey recalled an intense storm that caused severe icing of all decks and gun mounts and it seemed like all hands were seasick.

On February 18, CDR T. E. McCormick, Jr. assumed command of Soley. CDR McCormick was born in Boston, Mass. and graduated from Harvard University in 1940. His career included destroyer duty during World War II and a variety of assignments in the intelligence field.

During the breezy month of March, Soley went south for operations off Jacksonville, Florida with USS Leyte. Late April found the ship in New York City before returning to Norfolk for shipyard repairs in preparation for her return to the Pacific and a "World Cruise."

May 15 marked the beginning of Soley's deployment for duty in the Korean "War" and her first World Cruise. The ship departed Norfolk in company with Destroyer Divisions 21 and 262 bound for the Panama Canal. She transited the Canal on May 20-21 and proceeded to San Diego. Upon departure from San Diego four more destroyers joined the group for the trip to Pearl Harbor. John Morrissey described the trip as a "Tincan Sailors Delight" to see 12 destroyers steaming in formation at high speeds with their sterns deep in the calm Pacific Ocean. After brief stops at Pearl Harbor, Midway Island, and Yokosuka, Japan, Soley joined Task Force 77 off Korea on June 21st.

Soley, along with other ships of DESRON 2, steamed North to the Korean war zone and from June 22 to July 1, operated in the antisubmarine screen with the carriers of Task Force 77 conducting raids against North Korean hydroelectric power stations on the Yalu River. Attack planes from the carriers Boxer, Bon Homme Richard, Princeton, and Philippine Sea took part in these massive raids along with aircraft of the Air Force. The raids were considered the largest combined raids of the Korean War and raised fears in some quarters that destruction of the power plants could precipitate involvement of Communist China into the war. Concern was also expressed for the timing of the raids as they coincided with truce talks being conducted at Panmunjom. Burt Purmell's Sister & Brother-in-law of NYC were thoughtful enough to save a lot of the Navy Press Releases and articles from the New York Times describing Soley's participation in these operations.

On July 1 Soley, the Destroyer Perkins, Heavy Cruiser Helena (CA-74), and USS Iowa (BB-61), were detached from the Task Force to provide shore bombardment in the Wonsan, Kojo, and Kosong area of North Korea in support of U.S. ground troops. At 2033 Item Time on the night of July 2, 1952, Soley fired her first round against the Chinese Communist supply area at Kosong. Shore batteries from Korea returned fire but none of the ships suffered damage. A welcomed visit to Sasebo, Japan from July 10 to 20th followed these operations.

During the period of July 21 to August 22, Soley operated with the United Nations Blockade and Escort Forces (Task Force 95) in the Wonsan-Hungriam area and north to Ch'aho bombarding railroad and highway bridges and tunnels. She captured and took on board more than 60 prisoners and refugees from sampans in the bombardment area. While in this area about August 12th, Soley was operating with other ships of DESDIV 21 (Barton, Pierce, Van Valkenburg) and HMS Mounts Bay when gunfire from North Korean shore batteries killed one crewmember on the British ship and one aboard Barton. A total of 14 crewmembers were wounded on board Mounts Bay, Barton, and Pierce. Other ships, including Soley, received return fire from shore but no hits were reported.

Port visits to Yokosuka in late August and Hokadate on September 11-13 preceded Soley's assignment once again to operations with Task Force 77 until October 9, when the ship was detached to proceed to Sasebo, Japan for 10 days of rest, recreation, and repairs.

October 19 saw the end of Soley's Far East duty as she departed Sasebo and, with other ships of her squadron, began their return to Norfolk via Singapore, Malaya; Colombo, Ceylon; Aden; the Red Sea; Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea. Jay M. Moser remembers that on October 28th the ship crossed the Equator where many lowly Pollywogs were properly initiated before becoming full-fledged Shellbacks. As the Squadron made itís way through the "Med" in November, port visits included Naples, Genoa, Villefranche, and Gibraltar before returning home to arrive in Norfolk on December 11. Soley had traveled 54,000 miles in seven months.

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1953

Stay at her homeport was brief as Soley once again sailed for SPRINGBOARD operations in the Caribbean Sea on January 25. She returned to Norfolk for overhaul from April 30 to August 21, and from September to November, Soley underwent refresher training at Guantanamo Bay in preparation for her second world cruise.

On December 15 CDR John G. Messer assumed duties as Commanding Officer. CDR Messer was born in Boston, Mass and was a 1941 graduate of the Naval Academy. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific area on numerous ships during World War II and reported to Soley from duty on the staff of Commander in Chief, North Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (CINCNELM).

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1954

On January 4 Soley, Strong (DD-758), and Barton (DD-722) with ComDesRon Two, Captain W. E. Ferral embarked, departed Norfolk headed once again for the Pacific Ocean. They transited the Panama Canal on January 9th and proceeded to San Diego, California where USS Stickell (DDR-888) joined them. The group then sailed to Pearl Harbor and Midway Island before arriving at Yokosuka, Japan on February 7.

On February 15th Soley departed Yokosuka joining the fast carrier striking force, Task Force 77 under command of RADM R. E. Blick in the East China Sea. Three days later the ship headed for Buckner Bay, Okinawa arriving on February 20. Soley then took part in ASW operations in the North Philippine Sea with Task Group 96.7 under RADM H.D. Felt embarked in the escort carrier USS Rendova. She returned to Yokosuka on March 3rd for a one-day visit before proceeding south for operations and port visits to Sasebo, Japan.

On March 29 Soley, in company with Strong, Barton, and Stickell, departed Sasebo for Kaohsiung, Formosa and operations on the Formosa Patrol with Task Force 72 under RADM T. J. Hedding. During breaks in the Patrol operations Soley visited Hong Kong, BCC, and Kaohsiung before returning to Yokosuka, Japan on April 29th.

From May 3 through 14 Soley was involved in ASW exercises off the coast of Japan with Task Group 96.7 under RADM.R. Goldwaite embarked in USS Rendova and included a weekend visit to Kobe, Japan for liberty and recreation. The ship then returned to the Sasebo area for more operations with Task Force 77 under RADM S.C. Ring, followed by a five-day upkeep period in Sasebo in preparation for her return home.

While homeward bound, Soley made stops in Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Ceylon, and Mombassa, Kenya. She crossed the Equator for the second time while enroute to Mombassa before proceeding to Durban, Capetown, and Simonstown, South Africa. After crossing the Atlantic, visits were made to Rio de Janeiro and Recife, Brazil then north to Trinidad and finally arriving in Norfolk on August 10.

After several weeks in port and two weeks of type training, Soley participated in LANTFLEX exercises in the Virginia Capes area as part of Task Group 81.1 under RADM W.M. Beakley, Commander, Hunter Killer Forces Atlantic. These operations terminated on November 4 when Soley returned to port in Norfolk. She later conducted three weeks of ASW exercises in the Virginia Capes area before returning again to Norfolk for the holiday period.

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