Ernest Gregor Small, born in Waltham, Mass., on 6 November 1888, graduated from the Naval Academy and received his commission as ensign on 7 June 1912. From 1940-42 he headed the Ordnance and Gunnery Department at the Naval Academy. On 10 April 1942 he assumed command of Salt Lake City and was subsequently awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism for his conning of the cruiser against Japanese surface units off Savo Island, 11-12 October 1942. From January to August 1943 he served eminently as war plans officer on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet. He spent the next year in distinguished performance as Commander Cruiser Division 5. Rear Admiral Small died in Brooklyn 27 December 1944.
(DD-838: dp. 2,425; l. 390'6"; b. 41'1"; dr. 18'6"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 345; a. 6 5", 10 21" tt., 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Gearing)
Ernest G. Small (DD-838) was launched on 14 June 1945 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, sponsored by Mrs. E. G. Small, and commissioned on 21 August 1945 with Commander T. D. McGrath, USN, in command. She was reclassified DDR 838 on 18 July 1952.
After completing her shakedown cruise in Guantanamo Bay, she sailed in company with Power (DD-839) on 11 January 1946 en route to Gibraltar whence she proceeded to Naples. She began a series of peacetime Mediterranean patrols in company with Power and Providence (CL-82) until 7 March. She continued in this mission independently until 7 August when she returned to the States.
Following a period of yard availability she reported to Commander, Submarines Atlantic, and operated out of New London, Conn., until 14 December when she was laid up for repairs at Boston. On 3 April 1947 while anchored off Block Island she grounded in a violent wind and rain storm, but, refloated with aid from two tugs she returned to Boston where repairs were made.
Ernest G. Small sailed on 12 June for Norfolk and engaged in type exercises in the Virginia Capes Operating Area. On 6 August she stood out for the Caribbean, calling at Guantanamo and Trinidad before rendezvousing with Task Force 84 which proceeded to Rio de Janeiro where on 7 September the flagship Missouri (BB-63) embarked President Truman and his family for the trip to the States. Ernest G. Small steamed on escort station during the voyage.
From 9 February to 10 April 1948 she cruised in the Caribbean and on 7 June began a midshipman cruise to the Mediterranean, calling at Lisbon, Genoa, Casablanca and returning to Norfolk on 21 July. Her third tour in the Mediterranean was made between 30 August 1948 and 23 January 1949. For the remainder of 1949 she operated in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast.
From January to May 1950 she cruised in the Mediterranean and around northern Europe. With the outbreak of war in Korea, she was sent to join the 7th Fleet, and on 29 June she transited the Panama Canal en route to action. She sailed with carrier forces, fired shore bombardments, patrolled off Taiwan, and participated in the landings at Inchon and Wonsan in September and October. In December she helped evacuate the Tenth Army Corps from Hungnam and Inchon.
Following a brief overhaul at San Diego in the first half of 1951, she began her second Korean tour as escort for the carrier Rendova (CVE-114). She participated in the naval bombardment of Hungnam and was so occupied on 7 October when she struck a mine which seriously damaged her bow, killed 9 and wounded 18. Four days later heavy seas broke the bow off and she was fitted with a stubby replacement which enabled her to reach Long Beach, arriving on 18 December 1951. She was decommissioned on 15 January 1952 and the bow of the unfinished Seymour D. Owens (DD-767) was grafted to her hull. She also underwent conversion to a radar picket ship at this time.
Recommissioned as DDR 838 on 2 December 1952 she followed training exercises off the California coast with her first peacetime tour of the Far East which lasted from 11 July 1953 through 29 January 1954. Attached to Task Force 77, she was a unit of the blockade and escort force for the Taiwan area.
A period of overhaul ensued and on 10 August 1954 she departed with Destroyer Squadron 13 for the Taiwan Patrol and later assumed defensive position to control part of the 7th Fleet air coverage during the Tachen Islands evacuation in February 1955. Early in March she returned to Long Beach whence she operated with TG 7.3 in testing of an underwater atomic bomb off the west coast (2-20 May). She deployed with the 7th Fleet for the remainder of the year.
From 1 November 1956 through 28 April 1957 she again toured the Pacific, and included Kodiak, Singapore, and Brisbane in her itinerary. The remainder of that year was occupied with task force operations and intertype training exercises off the west coast.
Ernest G. Small began another western Pacific tour in January 1958 as a unit of Destroyer Division 132 and was deployed in various operations, highlighted by participation in the SEATO exercise "Ocean Link."
In March 1959 she was assigned while on her annual Pacific cruise to the operational control of the Air Force to aid in the "Discoverer" earth satellite program. Until July 1959 she was engaged in competitive exercises and nose cone recoveries. The second half of the year was designated for a period of overhaul and local operations.
Again, she deployed to the western Pacific on 17 May 1960 with Destroyer Division 131. Her duty was principally to screen and picket Ticonderoga (CVA-14) and Coral Sea (CVA-43). She arrived back at Long Beach on 16 November and on 29 December entered San Francisco Naval Shipyard for fleet rehabilitation and modernization.
Ernest G. Small received four battle stars for Korean war service