The USS John A. Bole was a U.S. destroyer that began its career near the end of World War II. It was commissioned on March 3rd, 1945, under the command of Commander E. B. Billingsley.
Action in World War II and Korea
On May 15th it sailed to the Pacific theater with a carrier group and took part in the air strike against Wake Island. In June the ship arrived at Okinawa for patrol duty and remained there until the end of the war. On September 28th, it went to Saishu to accept surrender and remained in the Far East for the rest of the year, carrying mail. Early in 1948, the John A. Bole rescued thirteen survivors from a sinking merchant ship, which represented the end of the destroyer’s WWII-related activities.
From 1946 through 1949, the John A. Bole ran training cruises for Naval Reservists in San Diego, but was called back into active service with the start of the Korean War. As part of Task Force 77 off the Korean coast, the ship acted as fire support for advancing ground troops, then took up screening carriers and escorting convoys. In 1952, she joined in on shore bombardment along the North Korean coasts, then moved to the Formosa Straits for patrol duty.
After being fitted with new weapons in San Diego, she left for another Korean tour, resuming patrol in the Formosa Straits until the end of the war. She spent the summer of 1954 performing carrier operations in the South China Sea, then returned to San Diego for training. She spent most of the rest of the decade patrolling the Formosa Straits and stabilizing troubles in southeast Asia.
After the War
In June of 1960, John A. Bole served as an air-sea rescue station ship for President Eisenhower’s trip across the Pacific, then was assigned to a hunter-killer group that trained with Canadian ships out of Pearl Harbor. In 1961, the ship went back to Southeast Asian waters to support naval forces there. She underwent a major modernization overhaul late in 1961. She spent 1962 in training operations, with the exception of several weeks on alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis. She patrolled Southeast Asian waters throughout the rest of the first half of the decade, and then returned to operations out of San Diego on September 24th, 1966.
The John A. Bole received one battle star for its World War II service and seven for the Korean War. She was finally decommissioned in 1970, struck from the register in 1974, and sold to Taiwan for spare parts later that same year.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.