(DE-361: dp. 1,360; 1. 306'0"; b. 36'8"; dr. 9'5" (mean); s. 24 k. ; cpl. 186 ; a. 2 5", 4 40mm., 10 20mm., 3 21" tt., 2 dct., 8 dcp. 1 dcp. (hh.); cl. John C. Butler)
Walton (DE-361) was laid down on 21 March 1944 at Orange, Tex., by the Consolidated Steel Corp.; launched on 20 May 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Clara Olson, the mother of the late Sergeant Walton; and commissioned on 4 September 1944, Lt. Comdr. Wilbur S. Wills, Jr., in command.
After she conducted her shakedown out of Great Sound Bay, Bermuda, Walton underwent post-shakedown availability at the Boston Navy Yard. The new destroyer escort subsequently sailed for Hampton Roads, Va., and arrived at Norfolk on 15 November. While in that vicinity, she served as a school ship, training nucleus crews for the other destroyer escorts then entering the fleet.
When Escort Division (CortDiv) 85 was established, Walton was assigned to it and sailed for the Pacific. She transited the Panama Canal on 7 December and arrived at Bora Bora, in the Society Islands, on the 22d. From there, the destroyer escort pushed on for the Solomon Islands, touching at Port Purvis, Florida Island, and moved thence to Seeadler Harbor, Manus in the Admiralty Islands. While at Manus, the ship underwent repairs and alterations. During that refit, her after 40-millimeter twin Bofors mount was replaced by a quadruple-mount Bofors-a necessary augmentation of the ship's antiaircraft battery that reflected the growing concern over the destructive attacks of Japanese suicide planes "divine wind"-or kamikaze.
Walton began her first active wartime duty at Hollandia late in January of the following year. On 21 January 1945, the destroyer escort departed that port, bound for the Philippines as part of the escort for a large convoy of merchantmen, slow fleet auxiliaries, and amphibious vessels. Informed that those sea lanes had been, of late, patrolled by Japanese submarines and that enemy planes might be encountered, Walton and her fellow escorts alertly screened the important convoy bound for the Allies' westernmost outpost. After a 10-day voyage, the convoy arrived safely at its destination, San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on the last day of the month.
During February, March, and April, Walton escorted convoys between Hollandia and Lingayen Gulf Philippines. She also made runs between Leyte and Kossol Roads, in the Palaus, as well as trips to Mangarin Bay, Mindoro, Philippines. During the later part of April, the destroyer escort patrolled the waters between Homonhon Island and Dinagat, at the mouth of Leyte Gulf.
In May, Walton visited Manila, Leyte, and Hollandia, before CortDiv 85 received orders to sail for Subic Bay to relieve another division of destroyer escorts that had been conducting antisubmarine sweeps along the west coast of Luzon. Those patrols had been instituted primarily to interdict the flow of enemy submarines from bases in China, Formosa, or the Japanese home islands themselves. Secondarily, Walton and her sisters were to train British and American submarines prior to their departure for extended war patrols and to escort them to and from a release point where they were starting or finishing such patrols.
During the course of those ensuing duties, Walton escorted Brill (SS-330) to Cape Calavite, Mindoro, where the fleet submarine torpedoed a beached and abandoned Japanese tanker. Walton salvaged all equipment of worth from the erstwhile enemy vessel and then stood off while Brill completed the demolition work with three torpedoes.
On 28 July, Walton departed Subic Bay in company with Rolf (DE-362) and later rendezvoused with Munro (DE-422) to form a hunter-killer group on the eastern coast of Luzon, off Casiguran Bay. They swept northeast of Luzon and across the convoy lanes between Leyte and Okinawa, without success, before Walton was relieved by Johnnie Hutchins (DE-360) off Aparri.
Walton spent the remainder of August at Subic Bay and was there when hostilities with Japan ceased in mid-month. As the fleet moved northward to Japanese waters to commence the occupation of the former enemy's homeland, its necessary train followed. Walton escorted Chepachet (AO-78) to a point where the oiler rendezvoused with a fast carrier task group at the end of August, before the destroyer escort put into Buckner Bay, anchoring there on 2 September 1945-the day of Japan's formal surrender.
Walton later departed Okinawa to escort hospital ship Mercy (AH-6) to Jinsen (now Inchon), Korea. En route, the ships kept a vigilant lookout for stray mines; and Walton exploded 11 of them as the ships passed through the Yellow Sea. Arriving at Jinsen on 8 September, Mercy soon commenced taking care of the many Allied prisoners of war and internees from a camp near the Korean port. Walton consequently found employment as a river pilot ship, leading vessels which did not have adequate anchorage or area charts-a necessary precaution due to the many narrow and shallow passages in the waters off Jinsen. On 26 September, while engaged in that duty, Walton suffered damage when an LCT-under tow by LST-557-collided with her port bow, opening a large hole and breaking several frames above the waterline.
Repaired alongside Jason (ARH-1), Walton subsequently escorted Geneva (APA-86) to Taku, China. Once there, the attack transport embarked internees from camps in North China and sailed from that port for the Shantung peninsula and South China. Walton stood by while Geneva embarked former civilian internees at Tsingtao, and she accompanied the transport on a voyage to Hong Kong. While en route, on 10 and 11 October, the ships rode out the outer edge of a typhoon swirling its way up the China coast. Walton-although buffeted by 30- and 40-foot waves and winds clocked at over 50 knots-sustained no materiel damage.
Arriving at Hong Kong on 13 October, Walton remained at that port until 4 November when she weighed anchor for Shanghai, China-where her namesake had served in the late 1930's-and escorted the stores issue ship Iolanda (AKS-14) to that port. Walton next returned to Jinsen, hunting for and sinking stray mines while acting as an escort.
At Jinsen on 20 November, Walton received the long-awaited homeward-bound orders and, in company with Pratt (DE-363), sailed for Okinawa. There, the two destroyer escorts embarked passengers-taking part in a phase of the Operation "Magic Carpet," the return home of discharge-bound veterans. On the 25th, they set out for the Hawaiian Islands, on the first leg of their voyage to the west coast of the United States. Arriving at San Pedro, Calif., nine days before Christmas of 1946, Walton subsequently shifted to San Diego, where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve on 31 May 1946.