The USS O’Bannon (DD-450) was named for Presley Neville O’Bannon who served with the Marine Corp in War with Tripoli. The ship was commissioned on June 26, 1942.
Action in World War II
After training in the Caribbean, the O’Bannon cruised to the southwest Pacific and joined in the Battle of Guadalcanal which had just started. From that fight she joined another in the Solomons providing cover for U. S. Marine forces on the ground. Her heroic effort in this battle won her the Presidential Unit Citation.
The O’Bannon took up escort duty for the USS Copahee as she launched Army aircraft for battle at Henderson Field. In November she joined Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan’s Support Group and aided in the convoy of reinforcements and supplies to troops in need. While en route to Guadalcanal she intercepted and engaged an enemy submarine long enough for the rest of her convoy to pass unharmed. When the convoy was returning they were attacked by enemy bombers. The escorts were able to shot down all but one of the planes. The O’Bannon had a hand in taking down four of them.
On November 13 the O’Bannon joined with several other U. S. vessels and confronted a huge Japanese fleet bound for Henderson Field. The O’Bannon engaged the flagship, the Hiei, and was able to inflict enough damage for the air forces to sink her shortly thereafter.
In October of 1943 she was sent to protect landings, provide escort, and assist in the attacks at Guadalcanal, Munda, and Kolombangara. In July of the following year she fought in the Battle of Kula Gulf. Several Allied ships were lost in this battle, but the Japanese were successfully pushed back from the area. After spending a few months in the Vella Gulf, fighting off air attacks and sinking several enemy vessels, she participated in the Battle of Vella Lavella. During this battle the Japanese were attempting to evacuate their troops. The O’Bannon was an integral part in sinking several ships and protecting the wounded and damaged ships of her allies until reinforcements could arrive.
After a distinguished career in World War II, the O’Bannon went on to serve in the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. She received 17 battle stars for her service in World War II and 3 battle stars for her service in Korea.
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.