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Charles E Brannon DE-446 - History

Charles E Brannon DE-446 - History

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Charles E. Brannon

Charles E. Brannon, who was born 2 August 1919 in Montgomery, Ala., enlisted in the Naval Reserve 14 April 1941 for aviation training. Ensign Brannon reported for duty in Torpedo Squadron 8 in carrier Hornet (CV-8) 3 February 1942, and was killed in action 4 June 1942 during the Battle of Midway. He was awarded a Navy Cross posthumously for his extraordinary heroism in pressing home an attack against a Japanese carrier.

(DE-446: dp. 1,350; 1. 306'; b. 36'8"; dr. 9'5"; s. 24 k.;
cpl. 186; a. 2 5", 3 21" tt., 8 dcp., 1 dcp.(hh.), 2 act;
cl. John C. Butler)

Charles E. Brannon (DE-446) was launched 23 April 1944 by Federal Shipbuilding Co., Newark, N.J.; sponsored by Second Lieutenant D. Brannon, WAC; and commissioned 1 November 1944, Commander E. W. Todd in command.

Putting out from New York 27 January 1945, Charles E. Brannon escorted cargo ships by way of the Panama Canal, and the Galapagos and Society Islands to Manus, arriving 15 March. Routed on to San Pedro Bay, P.I., she began the important task of guarding interisland convoys. Late in April, she sailed in the screen of the assault forces bound for Tarakan, Borneo, off which she lay from 1 to 8 May, covering the landings and giving call fire support. Her effective gunfire won many compliments from the troops whose advance was thereby expedited. Charles E. Brannon gave similar support during the assault on Brunei Bay which began 10 June.

From the beginning of July through mid-September 1945, Charles E. Brannon escorted convoys sailing from the Philippines to Okinawa, then participated in the occupation of China operating between Okinawa and Hong Kong. She returned to San Francisco 1 February 1946, and on 21 May 1946 was placed out of commission in reserve at San Diego.

From August 1946 into 1960, Charles E. Brannon was assigned to the reserve training program. In cruises along the west coast over weekends and in more extended periods, active reservists manned her in refresher training. From 21 November 1950 to 18 June 1960, Charles E. Brannon performed this service in commissioned status, and since the latter date has been in service under an officer in charge, with a reserve officer in command when she puts to sea with her reserve training group.

Charles E. Brannon received one battle star for World War II service.

File:USS Charles E. Brannon (DE-446), circa in the 1950s (NH 67245-KN).png

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Ensign Brannon was killed in action 4 June 1942 during the Battle of Midway. He was awarded a Navy Cross posthumously for his extraordinary heroism in pressing home an attack against a Japanese carrier. The official Navy citation:

The Navy Cross is presented to Charles E. Brannon (0-105955), Ensign, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service beyond the call of duty as a Pilot of Torpedo Squadron EIGHT (VT-8) embarked from Naval Air Station Midway during the "Air Battle of Midway", against enemy Japanese forces on 4 and 5 June 1942. In the first attack against an enemy carrier of the Japanese invasion fleet, Ensign Brannon pressed home his attack in the face of withering fire from enemy Japanese fighters and anti-aircraft forces. Because of events attendant upon the Battle of Midway, there can be no doubt that he gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country. His courage and utter disregard for his own personal safety were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Charles E Brannon DE-446 - History


The MOTTO of the USS Charles E. Brannon was exemplified in her distinguished service from 1944 through 1968 as a ship of the Fleet and in the Naval Reserve Program.
The Brannon was named after Ensign Charles E. Brannon, an Aviator and World War II hero, who lost his life in the Battle of Midway.
The ship was commissioned in Port Newark, New Jersey, 23 April 1944, and performed Escort duty in the Atlantic for a short period before reporting to the Pacific Theatre where she participated in the invasion of Borneo and Okinawa.
The Brannon was employed in the Naval Reserve Training Program from 1946 through decommissioning in 1968 except for one year of active duty in 1961 during the Berlin Crisis.
She was Tacoma's Naval Reserve Training Ship from 1947 through 1960.

B ell From USS C harles E. Brannon DE-446

L ocated inside the main entrance to the Tacoma Naval Reserve Center, Tacoma, WA.
U nder the bell is a brass plaque with the ship's moto.

A bove is a picture of my model of the Brannon that I take to our Chapter
luncheons. It is about 19" long and is what is called a "card stock"
model -- I used old file folders.

P hotos provided by D ick Willard, Plankowner
Yeoman, North Pacific Chapter DESA
Visit the website

Charles E Brannon DE-446 - History

Charles Edward Brannon was born on August 2, 1919. According to our records Alabama was his home or enlistment state and Montgomery County included within the archival record. We have Montgomery listed as the city. He had enlisted in the United States Navy. Served during World War II. Brannon had the rank of Ensign. His military occupation or specialty was Pilot. Service number assignment was O-105955. Attached to Torpedo Squadron Eight, VT-8, USS Hornet (CV-8). During his service in World War II, Navy Ensign Brannon was reported missing and ultimately declared dead on June 4, 1942 . Recorded circumstances attributed to: Missing in action, Lost at sea. Incident location: Battle of Midway, Pacific Ocean.

Charles E Brannon was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. He was the son of William T Brannon and Louisa Mae Tappan. He was a renowned athlete across many sports, including being named Alabama State tennis champion. He had married Dorothy Morton McLaurine in 1942. Charles enlisted in the US Navy on April 14, 1941.

On June 4, 1942 he was on the crew as Pilot of a Grumman TBF-1 Torpedo Plane when they took off in a group from the USS Hornet. They were on a support mission during the opening hours of the Battle of Midway.

In all, there were 59 planes launched that day to attack the Japanese carriers. Torpedo Planes of the VT-8 became separated from the rest of the Air Group. They located the enemy carriers and commenced their attack through a virtual maelstrom of anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters. One after another, the aircraft and men of VT-8 were shot down, crashing into the sea.

Only one plane made it back to the USS Midway, with two wounded survivors and one dead airman on board. All others were reported missing, lost at sea, officially declared dead on June 5, 1943.

Men on their plane that day included the pilot Charle E Brannon and gunners William Clare Lawe and Charle Edison Fair.

In 1944, the destroyer escort, USS Charles Brannon (DE-446) was posthumously named after him. His widow Dorothy Brannon attended and helped dedicate the launch.

Charles E Brannon DE-446 - History

The Seattle-based Destroyer Escort Whitehurst and the Norwegian freighter Hoyanjer collided in dense fog last night about 7 'o'clock at the entrance to Vancouver Harbor in British Columbia.

There were no reports of casualties but Whitehurst reportedly suffered extensive damage to her stern. the United Press International said.
(Damage was to starboard quarter. mc)

The Whitehurst was aground about 40 feet from shore, a spokesman for the Air-Sea Rescue Center at Vancouver said, and there was fear she might heel over as the tide ebbed.

The Hoyanjer, with a crew of 38 and a general cargo, was towed into English Bay.

A spokesman for 13th Naval District Headquarters in Seattle said the Whitehurst was presumed inbound and the freighter outbound when they collided just outside the Lion's Gate Bridge.

The spokesman said the Whitehurst, based at pier 91, left Seattle about 8 o'clock yesterday morning on a weekend training cruise with the Brannon, another Seattle-based destroyer escort.

Of the 200 men aboard the Whitehurst, all except about 40 are reservists, mostly from the Seattle area, the spokesman said. The Whitehurst is commanded by Lieut. Comdr. Richard Rising, 34 of Bellevue. He assumed command of the vessel in October. The Whitehurst had been scheduled to remain in Vancouver last night, undergo more training today and return to Seattle late in the day.

The Air-Sea Rescue Center said the Whitehurst may be refloated this morning if she did not heel over.

Witnesses described the damage to Whitehurst as "a long gash on its right side near the stern," the Associated Press said. The Ship's steel plates reportedly buckled and "stuck out five feet."

Wayne McRory, 23, a university student, was standing on the back porch of a waterfront house when the collision occurred.

"I saw the ship lights coming through the fog and not too far from shore," he said. "I heard someone shouting, apparently trying to sound a warning. The two ships were side by side and heading straight for the beach," McRory added.

The Seattle spokesman said the reservists aboard the Whitehurst would return here as scheduled, either aboard other ships or by land.

It was not known which vessel hit the other.

The Hoyanjer had just passed through the narrow entrance beneath the bridge, an area controlled by radar, and was moving into the wider area beyond.

Fog horns at Stanley Park, a 1,000 acre playground on the opposite shore , were sounding.

DEs Whitehurst and Brannon were cautiously holding back before entering the harbor. DD Brinkley Bass had already passed under the bridge when Hoyanjer came out on the wrong side of the channel. The Norwegian ship was being propelled along with the outgoing current and was probably doing about 15 knots. She collided with Whitehurst driving her almost onto the beach, damaging the starboard side aft and the propellers. Fortunately, there were no injuries. Whitehurst heeled approximately 30 degrees but not over on to her side, as some had feared might happen. The reservists were taken off and returned to Seattle aboard the Brannon and the Brinkley Bass.

A Naval inquiry completely vindicated the Commanding Officer of Whitehurst. The Norwegian ship was using no lookout and had almost collided with a ferry before hitting Whitehurst. Several months after the collision the US Government sued the Norwegian Government for repair cost and won the case.

A few quotes from the court findings are: " . the other alternative, and the one followed by the pilot of the Hoyanjer, was to ignore good navigational practices and proceed to " shoot the gap" without stopping even upon hearing a fog signal. Faced with these alternatives, it is difficult for us to criticize Commander Rising for the choices he made" " The master of the Princess of Vancouver indicated to the Navy Board that he too had difficulties in affecting passage with the Hoyanjer in the first narrows".

Our mission in the Navy was to train our crew. Since we were formed as a unit in 1958 we spent one weekend a month training, and two weeks every summer in formal underway training. Our practice was to have a liberty port each month, and one of our annual trips was a port visit to Vancouver BC. Dick Rising CAPT USNR-Ret

Commander Ron Reierson, USNR Ret and Skipper of the
North Pacific Chapter of the Destroyer Escort Sailors Assn., has
recorded his account of the collision.
The following record was first posted in YE OLD SALT'S NEWS, the news letter
of DESA NORPAC Oct. 2017, and is published here with CDR Reierson's permission.

CDR Ron Reierson

In January, 1965, I was JOOD on the bridge of USS Charles E. Brannon (DE-446),
in column with the guide and OTC, USS Whitehurst (DE-634) on a course of about 075T, 1000 yards astern of her as we proceeded toward the inner harbor of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, through English Bay, for Saturday night liberty during our drill weekend in the Naval Reserve. We were late arriving, having engaged in gunfire exercises in the North Pacific Ocean earlier in the day. A destroyer had preceded us an hour or so prior, safely into the inner harbor mooring pier. Homeported in Seattle, WA, we often were at sea in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, separating Washington State from Vancouver Island, Canada, during these drill weekends. Heavy fog shrouded the whole area. These WWII DE's were "given" to the Naval Reserve as platforms, and their crews were subject to recall to active duty quickly if necessary. Crewed during the month by an officer in charge and about 40 Active duty enlisted, our reserve crew came aboard one weekend a month and took charge of these older, but good ships. All of our shipmates were former active duty, had tons of experience and training. It was a prestigious posting, part of the then "Select Reserve".

The ships track bends to starboard around a peninsula and into the Inner Harbor under the Lion's Gate Bridge. a rather narrow transit. By now, darkness had fallen, and due to the fog, we were following International Rule of the Road requirements for slow speed and fog horn signals. There was a 4 - 5 knot ebb current coming out of the Inner Harbor. WHITEHURST was proceeding at 5 knots, making just a couple knots over the ground against this current, careful to stay on her side of the channel. The bridge tender on the harbor frequency ( which we were monitoring also on voice radio and responsible for monitoring traffic in the channel), informed WHITEHURST of the Norwegian freighter, MS HOYANGER, outbound, but no info on how far from his bridge the freighter was at that time. He engaged in only one transmission. Nothing was heard from him again on this developing issue, and his disappearance was unresolved, even after the inquiries.

Just west of the bridge, about 200 yards, here comes HOYANGER barreling westerly under the bridge, making ( it was estimated), 10 -12 knots over the ground, in heavy fog, just as WHITEHURST was turning to starboard about 30 degrees for the next leg of the track under the bridge. It was to be a starboard-to-starboard passage. Five short blasts by WHITEHURST could be heard by us and then the collision. Hoyanjer had plowed into the starboard quarter of WHITEHURST, and shortly, with an ebbing current and inertia, pushed WHITEHURST into shoal waters and onto the shore of North Vancouver. HOYANGER then nosed into the shore behind WHITEHURST, but rescue tugs pulled her off before heavy grounding. The same could not be said for WHITEHURST, whose screws and rudder were possibly damaged and she was left high and dry resting on her starboard side. as the tide went out. Little damage was incurred by HOYANGER, and she went on her merry way.

All structural damage was above the waterline, but the After Officer's Quarters (Starboard side, just forward of After Steering was a mess). No injuries sustained. My brother was Executive Officer in WHITEHURST. As he later walked the main deck aft, several of the local residents had come down to see this travesty, and since snow had accumulated earlier, were throwing snowballs at our sailors. And, a local TV news reporter walking the beach, asked my brother, in typical Canadian humor: "Did you check in with customs?" The crew stayed with the ship 'til morning when a tug pulled them free, sent them to a repair yard, and the crew was bussed back to Seattle. The Vancouver Sunday newspapers posted the headline "NAVY DESTROYER COLLIDES WITH FREIGHTER". We were already guilty in the press.

We in BRANNON, turned around, located a nearby anchorage and dropped the hook, leaving Sunday morning for home, at Pier 91, Naval Supply Depot, Seattle, WA. our home port. Whitehurst was repaired over the next few weeks, and many of the crew returned to Vancouver to bring her home.

An International Maritime Hearing was conducted gathering data from both ships. The Navy also convened a "long green table" . a Board of Inquiry . in Seattle, where all watch personnel were grilled and questioned as to the particulars. Ship's and Quartermaster Logs were key as well. After all was said and done, actions of the watch standers, (CO, XO, OOD, etc.) and crew were deemed appropriate and prudent under the circumstances.

The only comment was that WHITEHURST appeared to be close to the center of the channel had she been just a bit more to the left (away from center), she might have avoided the collision. However this in no way altered the actions of HOYANGER. WHITEHURST'S C.O. (a LCDR), the X.O. and OOD (Both LT's) were exonerated. All went on to rise to the rank of Captain, USNR prior to retirement.

The Maritime Board concluded HOYANGER was negligent in several ways. Speed under the circumstances too high should have had tug assistance, especially with such a strong ebb current in the narrow channel, and being a single screw ship lookout not adequately prepared nor posted forward and the ship was not adjusting to the curve of the track exiting the channel to keep her out of the oncoming lane traffic,, hence the collision. Could have been a lot worse.

(Note: this article was edited for accuracy by one of the bridge watchstanders on watch during this event)

Both Brannon and Whitehurst were scheduled for annual drills that weekend. Although I was Aide to Com13, I was the only officer available that weekend to oversee the engineering drills and was assigned to do just that aboard Whitehurst on Saturday and Brannon on Sunday. I arrived on board Whitehurst about 0715 Saturday and stowed my gear and dress uniforms in Starboard After Officer's Quarters. At about 0750 Captain Rising and the Chief Engineer said Whitehurst was not as ready to conduct engineering drills as they would like. He asked if I would drill Brannon on Saturday and Whitehurst on Sunday. I agreed, and immediately transferred to Brannon, leaving my gear on Whitehurst.

At the end of the day we had dinner and as there was fog slowing our progress, I decided to take a short nap in After Officers Quarters on Brannon. To this day I am convinced I would have been on the same bunk aboard Whitehurst at the time Hoyanger poked its bow through it. I lost all my gear and uniforms but not my life. The photos show that compartment completely destroyed, and had Whitehurst been ready for engineering drills that day, I would most certainly have been the only fatality of that collision. FATE.
Bill Russonello, Staten Island, NY
(Then LT. William J. Russonello, USNR)

I was a QM2 in the reserves, living in Renton in '64, doing my active reserves duty aboard the Whitehurst.

We were "center punched" by a Norwegian freighter, the Hoyanger, in a fog in Vancouver Harbor, in or about that same year.

I was below in my dress blues, dreaming of some fine "liberty" when the collision alarm sounded, then the
impact. I rushed up to the bridge where I took the helm and personally steered the ship, (at the Captain's orders)
for a tree on the bank, and beached her on the rocks. After my helm duties were completed, I stayed busy scribbling the log, for the next eight hours! So much for the liberty.

Our sailors on the fantail, traded friendly snowballs with the Canadians, while waiting for us to be removed from the rocks, by tugs.

Charles E Brannon DE-446 - History

Charles Edward Brannon was born on November 4, 1925. According to our records Ohio was his home or enlistment state and Franklin County included within the archival record. We have Columbus listed as the city. He had enlisted in the United States Army. Served during the Korean War. Brannon had the rank of First Lieutenant. His military occupation or specialty was Platoon Leader. Service number assignment was O-61207. Attached to Company B, 5th Infantry Regiment, 24th Division. During his service in the Korean War, Army First Lieutenant Brannon experienced a traumatic event which ultimately resulted in loss of life on June 15, 1951 . Recorded circumstances attributed to: Died of Wounds. Incident location: Masogu-ri, South Korea, Japan.

Charles Edward Brannon had served his country as a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division during World War II before being deployed to Korea. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism against the enemy in North Korea on April 22, 1951.

Three days later, he was seriously wounded near Chong-Pyong, South Korea in an action that earned him a second Distinguished Service Cross. He returned to duty on May 3, 1951, and was seriously wounded again on May 18, 1951 near Masogu-ri, South Korea and died of those wounds on June 15, 1951 at Johnson Army Hospital in Japan.

Charles Edward Brannon is buried or memorialized at Arlington National Cemetery. This is a National American Cemetery administered through the Department of the Army. Charles is remembered at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington. This is a National Parks Service and American Battle Monuments Commission location.


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Charles E Brannon DE-446 - History

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The North Pacific Chapter of Destroyer Escort Sailors Association is an active and growing organization, established in August 1983. Our membership covers Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Our members enjoy:

(1) Quarterly meetings that include lunch and a speaker or entertainment. (2) Special events include tours of Naval facilities in the area (especially now that our Chapter has adopted Destroyer Squadron Nine, the USS Ingraham FFG-61, USS Ford FFG-54, USS Rodney M. Davis FFG-60, USS Shoup DDG-86 and USS Momsen DDG-92 -- at Naval Station Everett, Washington -- we will become increasingly involved with them). (3) A quarterly ten-page newsletter (Ye Old Salt's News). (4) An up-to date list of members with addresses, phone#, and name/number of member's ship. (5) A full, active complement of hard working Chapter officers, including a Chaplain and a seven member Executive Board.

Our Executive Board meets quarterly to plan for our group meetings/activities. All members are encouraged to attend if possible or to send suggestions/recommendations to Board members if unable to attend.

Join us in remembering our days as DE sailors and enjoy once again the comradeship that we experienced in those days of yore. Membership is $15 per year and we have a nice etched plastic name tag with our Logo, Your name, and the name/# of your ship for $10.00.

For further information and a membership application, contact Webmaster Dick Willard (see below).

Ensign Brannon , USN was in the Battle of Midway as a Naval Aviator. Squadron VT8. Came from Montgomery, Alabama. He received the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart.

Charles E. Brannon, who was born 02 August 1919 in Montgomery, Ala., enlisted in the Naval Reserve 14 April 1941 for aviation training. Ensign Brannon reported for duty in Torpedo Squadron 8 in carrier Hornet (CV 8) 03 February 1942, and was killed in action 04 June 1942 during the Battle of Midway. He was awarded a Navy Cross and Purple Heart posthumously for his extraordinary heroism in pressing home an attack against a Japanese carrier.

Source: Togetherweserved. Access January 19, 2021. Navy Cross Citation: The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Charles E. Brannon (0-105955), Ensign, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane of Torpedo Squadron EIGHT (VT-8), embarked from Naval Air Station Midway during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4 and 5 June 1942. In the first attack against an enemy carrier of the Japanese invasion fleet, Ensign Brannon pressed home his attack in the face of withering fire from enemy Japanese fighters and anti-aircraft forces. Because of events attendant upon the Battle of Midway, there can be no doubt that he gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country. His courage and utter disregard for his own personal safety were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 310 (January 1943)

USS Charles E. Brannon (DE 446) (1944-1946, 1950-1968) was the first ship to be named in his honor.