The USS Stack served as a Benham-class destroyer in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Named for American Revolutionary War hero Edward Stack, she was constructed at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1937 and launched the following year, sponsored by a descendent of Edward Stack, Mary Teresa Stack. When the Stack was commissioned in November of 1939, Lieutenant Commander Isaiah Olch was in command.
Action in World War II
Following a shakedown cruise to the West Indies and Brazil that lasted until spring of 1940, the Stack sailed for duty at Pearl Harbor with the Pacific Fleet through June of 1941. Following an overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard that summer, Stack began serving with the Neutrality Patrol off the shores of Bermuda in late fall. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Stack remained on patrol service in the Caribbean until called on to escort the Wasp from Bermuda to Norfolk, Virginia in late December.
Her next assignment was in Argentina in January of 1942. Among her first missions was the rescue and transport of two survivors of the torpedoed SS Bay Rose. En route to Iceland later that month, she was instrumental in disabling an enemy U-132 submarine and then operated out of Casco Bay until mid-March. A collision with the Wasp during intense fog damaged her number one fireroom, requiring repairs at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
By the first week of June, the Stack was ready to sail with six other ships for the Pacific Theatre; there she underwent preparations to join in the upcoming invasion of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. She remained on escort and patrol duty around Guadalcanal until mid-January 1943 when she was ordered back to the West Coast for repair and further sea trials. For the remainder of 1943, the Stack provided fighter cover in and around the Gilberts in the Pacific Theatre.
In early 1944, the Stack saw service in the Marshall Islands as part of the Bombardment Support Group. Entering the Leyte Gulf that fall, she provided mine sweeping and antiaircraft support for the Philippine Islands. Her patrol assignments in early 1945 included Luzon, Okinawa and Saipan. In August, she transported various U.S. military authorities to the conference with Japanese military officials regarding terms of their surrender, ultimately transporting various Japanese officers and civilians to Guam.
After the War
Having received 12 battle stars for World War II service, the Stack set sail for San Diego in December of 1945 for ultimate stripping and personnel reduction. In early 1946, her last assignment was in the Marshall Islands as a target for the atomic bomb testings known as Operations Crossroads. Decommissioned in late August, the Stack was sunk by gunfire in April 1948 and removed from the Registry of Naval Vessels the following month.
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.