Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Naval History Division • Washington

USS Garfield Thomas (DE-193)

William Garfield Thomas, Jr. was born in Watsontown Pa. 13 September 1916. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve at Philadelphia 14 June. He was appointed midshipman 10 August 1940, commissioned ensign 14 November 1940, and promoted to lieutenant (j.g.) 15 June 1942. He was serving in light cruiser Boise (CL-47) during the Battle of Cape Esperance 11-12 October 1942. When his "turret was hit by enemy fire and danger of explosions grew increasingly imminent, Lt. (j.g.) Thomas with utter disregard of his own personal safety remained behind to ensure abandonment of the perilous area . . . Despite the fact that eight of his men succeeded in getting out and that he too might easily have escaped . . . Thomas when last seen was telephoning the handling room to order the crew out." He was awarded the Navy Cross for giving up his life in the defense of his country.

(DE-193: dp. 1,240; l. 306'; b. 36'8"; dr. 8'9" (mean); s. 21k.; cpl. 186; a.33", 4 40mm., 8 20mm., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.), 2 dct.; cl. Cannon)

Garfield Thomas (DE-193) was laid down 23 September 1943 by the Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newark, N.J.; launched 12 December 1943; sponsored by Lt. Betty K Thomas, Nurse Corps, United States Army, sister of Lt. (j.g.) W. G. Thomas; and commissioned 24 January 1914, Lt. Comdr. Richard G. Werner in command.

After shakedown out of Bermuda, Garfield Thomas returned to New York 11 March 1944. She stood out of New York 19 March to join Task Group 27.4 as part of the screen for a convoy bound for Bizerte, North Africa, where she arrived 31 March, and returned New York 13 April. She made two subsequent runs to Bizerte, arriving New York from her third voyage 7 September.

After training out of Casco Bay, Maine, Garfield Thomas departed New York 14 October in the screen for a convoy bound for the United Kingdom, arriving Plymouth, England, 25 October. After returning to New York 9 November, the destroyer escort made four subsequent convoy-escort voyages to the United Kingdom, the last bringing her back to New York from Cardiff, Wales, 19 May 1945. After repairs she departed New York 9 June 1945 for refresher training in the Culebra-Guantanamo Bay areas, and then proceeded to Pearl Harbor, arriving 20 July 1945. Training out of Pearl Harbor kept her busy until 8 August when she got under way with a convoy bound for the Marshalls. She arrived Eniwetok, 16 August 1945 and operated between the Marshalls and the Carolines. screening convoys and taking her turn as patrol ship until she departed Eniwetok 8 December for Pearl Harbor, arriving 8 days later.

After a month's duty as weather station ship Garfield Thomas departed Pearl Harbor 9 February 1946, transited the Panama Canal and arrived New York 1 March 1946. After a brief overhaul, Garfield Thomas departed New York 24 March for Green Cove Springs, Fla. She remained moored there until decommissioned 27 March 1947. She entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet there where she remained until transferred to Greece under the Military Assistance Program 15 January 1951. Garfield Thomas now serves as Panther (D-67).

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation