The Waldron (DD-699) was commissioned on 7 June 1944 at the New York Navy Yard with Comdr. George E. Peckham in command. During World War II, she earned four battle stars. She earned one battle star during the Vietnam conflict.
Action in World War II
The Waldron served with the fast carriers throughout World War II, beginning with assaults on the island of Luzon, Formosa airfields, and Japan. On 10 February, she escorted TF 58 in their assault on Iwo Jima. On the night of 17 and 18 February, the Waldron’s task group encountered small Japanese patrol craft, and the destroyer rammed a Japanese picket boat, cutting her in half. Four hours later, she was ordered to Saipan for repairs to her bow.
After quick repairs, she returned to duty, supporting air strikes on Okinawa and Kyushu airfields. On the night of 20 March, the Waldron brought down a Japanese “Judy” and also fired on another intruder. She had one definite kill during the Okinawa campaign, and claimed four sure assists during the next three months.
From June 1945, she escorted the fast carriers during final strikes on Japan. The Waldron remained in the Far East to support American occupation forces until 4 November, when she departed Okinawa for San Francisco. From there she sailed for Norfolk and toured the U.S. east coast during the spring of 1946. In early May, she reported to the Boston Naval Shipyard for repairs.
Action in the Korean Conflict
Over the next several years, the Waldron operated out of Charleston, New Orleans, and the West Indies. On 6 September 1949 she deployed to European waters, transitioning to the Mediterranean Sea in December. She was ordered back to Norfolk in February.
She was decommissioned on 17 May 1950 but was brought back into service during the Korean conflict. She was re-commissioned on 20 November 1950 with Comdr. James C. Shaw in command, and toured northern European waters and the Mediterranean Sea until February 1952. Through June 1967, she alternated between the U.S. east coast and the Orient. At that time, she took up naval gunfire support duties in Vietnamese waters through December 1968.
For the next two years, the Waldron toured the Atlantic coast with two deployments to the Mediterranean. On 1 April 1970, she was reassigned to the Naval Reserve. Out of her new home port of Mayport, Florida, she trained reservists until the fall of 1973. On 30 October, she was decommissioned and sold to the Colombian Navy.
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.