Donald Arthur Gary was born on 23 July 1903 in Findlay, Ohio. He enlisted in the U. S. Navy on 12 December 1919 and served as an enlisted sailor until November 1943, when he was commissioned a Lieutenant (junior grade). He progressed to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in March 1946 and, when he retired on 1 June 1950, he was advanced to the rank of Commander on the basis of combat awards. Commander Gary died on 9 April 1977.
His onshore duties during his naval career included assignments in the Third Naval District, New York City; the Office of Assistant Inspector of Machinery, B&W Company, Ohio; the staff of Commander Submarine Group ONE, New York; and the Naval Disciplinary Barracks, Terminal Island, California. His sea duty tours included ELCANO (PG 38), HANNIBAL (AG 1), SWAN (AM 34), IDAHO (BB 42), INDIANAPOLIS (CA 35) for two tours, ENTERPRISE (CV 6), and FRANKLIN (CV 13), that (then) Lieutenant Gary joined as an Engineering Officer in December 1944.
On 19 March 1945, FRANKLIN was operating with a fast carrier task force against remnants of the Japanese fleet when it was severely damaged by fires caused by two Japanese bombs in an attack. Only outstanding efforts on the part of the crew, and Lieutenant Gary in particular, saved the ship from destruction and the lives of many sailors.
On 23 January 1946 Lieutenant Gary was presented the Medal of Honor at the White House by President Harry S. Truman, with a citation that stated:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty as the Engineering Officer attached to the USS FRANKLIN when that vessel was fiercely attacked by enemy aircraft during operations against the Japanese home islands near Kobe, Japan, March 19, 1945. Stationed on the third deck when the ship was rocked by a series of violent explosions set off in her own ready bombs, rockets and ammunition by the hostile attack, Lieutenant Gary unhesitatingly risked his life to assist several hundred men trapped in a messing compartment filled with smoke and with no apparent egress. As the imperiled men below decks beacon increasingly panic-stricken under the raging fury of incessant explosions, he confidently assured them he would find a means of effecting their release and, groping through the dark, debris-filled corridors, ultimately discovered an escape. Staunchly, he struggled back to the messing compartment three times despite menacing flames, flooding water and the ominous threat of sudden additional explosions, on each occasion calmly leading his men through the blanketing pall of smoke until the last one had been saved. Selfless in his concern for his ship and his fellows, he constantly rallied others about him, repeatedly organized and led fire-fighting parties into the blazing inferno on the flight deck and, when fire rooms 1 and 2 were found to be inoperable, entered the number 3 fire room and directed the raising of steam in one boiler in the face of extreme difficulty and hazard. An inspiring and courageous leader, (he) rendered self-sacrificing service the most perilous conditions and, by his heroic initiative, fortitude and valor, was responsible for saving of several hundred lives..."
The damaged FRANKLIN returned to New York harbor, and Commander Gary remained aboard the ship until it was decommissioned in 1947.
Current USS Gary
USS Gary (FFG 51) is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate in the United States Navy. Gary was laid down on 18 December 1982 at San Pedro, California, by the Todd Pacific Shipyards Co., Los Angeles Division; launched on 19 November 1983, and commissioned on 17 November 1984 at Naval Station Long Beach with Commander Harlan R. Bankert Jr. as the commanding officer.
In November 2002 USS Gary participated in ANNUALEX 14G and Exercise Keen Sword.
In 2003 USS Gary deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In March FFG 51 rescued eight fishermen from a motorboat south of the Iranian coast. In June the Gary pulled into Chocin, India, for a three-day port visit. Gary’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Tito P. Dua, was born in India.
In August 2004 USS Gary participated in maritime readiness demonstration Summer Pulse ’04, a test of the Navy’s new Fleet Response Plan, and Joint Air and Sea Exercise (JASEX) ‘04. In October she participated in Exercise Malabae 2004.
In February 2005 USS Gary departed for a scheduled underway period. In March she participated in the Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration/Foal Eagle exercise. In October The guided-missile frigate participated in the Hong Kong Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) 2006.
In January 2007 FFG 51 went on deployment in the western Pacific and on 9 February Gary docked at the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville for a historic port visit. It was the first time since the Vietnam War that an American warship had docked in Cambodia. In September USS Gary arrived in its new homeport of San Diego after a hull swap with USS McCampbell (DDG 85).
In March 2008 USS Gary participated, as part of opposition forces, in the Ronald Reagan CSG Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).
In April 2009 USS Gary departed San Diego for a deployment in support of counter-illicit trafficking in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
In December 2010 USS Gary participated, as part of simulated opposition forces, in the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) CSG COMPTUEX.
In February 2011 USS Gary deployed in support of counter-illicit trafficking in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The ship interdicted more than 4 metric tons of cocaine during her deployment.
In June 2012 USS Gary participated in exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. In October USS Gary deployed in support of Counter Transnational Organized Crime (C-TOC) operations in the U.S. 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AoR). In the deployment USS Gary participated in Operation Martillo (Spanish for "hammer") a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus
In January 2013 USS Gary continued participation in Operation Martillo.
1st USS Gary
The first USS Gary (DE-61) was laid down 16 January 1943 by Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard, Inc., Hingham, Mass.; launched 1 May 1943; transferred to Great Britain under lend-lease 4 August 1943; and renamed HMS Duckworth. During the remainder of World War II, she served as a British frigate in the Atlantic, at Normandy, and along the English coast. On 24 February 1945 the HMS Duckworth sunk the German U boat 1208. She was returned to the United States 17 December 1945 and sold for scrapping 29 May 1946 to Northern Metals Co., Philadelphia, Pa.
Though it has the same name as the current USS Gary, DE 61 was named for Thomas Jones Gary—born on 16 September 1922 in Texas City, Tex.—enlisted in the Navy on 30 September 1940. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Seaman 2d Class Gary was on board California (BB-44). During the raid, the battleship suffered torpedo and bomb hits which caused extensive fires and flooding. After he had rescued three or four wounded men from closed and burning compartments in the ship, Seaman Gary continued his efforts to save others until he lost his own life. He was posthumously commended by the Secretary of the Navy for his courageous action and disregard for personal safety in assisting his endangered crewmates.
2nd USS Gary
The second USS Gary (DE-326) was laid down on 15 June 1943 at Orange, Tex., by the Consolidated Steel Corporation; launched on 21 August 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Willie Mae Gary, mother of Seaman 2d Class Gary; and commissioned on 27 November 1943, Lt. Comdr. William H. Harrison, USNR, in command. DE 326 was also named for Thomas Jones Gary and was renamed USS Thomas J Gary in 1945.
Following shakedown exercises out of Bermuda and post-shakedown overhaul at Charleston, Gary set course in March 1944 for the Straits of Gibraltar, escorting the first of many transatlantic convoys. In December 1944, she detached from a homebound convoy to aid Huron (PF-19) which had collided with a merchantman and took on board more than 100 Coast Guardsmen from the badly damaged vessel.
While the ship was moored at Boston on 1 January 1945, her name was expanded to Thomas J. Gary. She completed her last Atlantic convoy upon her arrival at New York on 7 May and spent the remainder of the month preparing for service in the Pacific. Following refresher training in the Caribbean, she departed waters off the coast of Haiti on 22 June; steamed, via the Panama Canal, to the west coast; and departed San Diego on 12 July with a convoy bound for Hawaii.
In August 1945 she departed Oahu with Escort Division 57 and steamed for Saipan but en route was rerouted to Guam. After joining Carrier Division 27 she steamed toward the Philippines. Later that month she departed to screen the aircraft carriers of Task Group (TG) 77.1 which was scheduled to go to Korea but ended up going to Taiwan. In September Thomas J. Gary embarked with Commander Escort Division 57 to liberate Allied prisoners of war. USS Thomas J. Gary was detached from the escort carrier task group to sweep for mines in the waters surrounding the island. She entered Kiirun Harbor, where a Japanese harbor pilot pointed out the dock for her to tie up to and receive the freed POW's.
Later in the month USS Thomas J. Gary steamed to the Ryukyus islands with Commander Escort Division 57 and operated out of Okinawa into October. On 19 October, while at sea with the escort carrier group, she struck a submerged log which caused considerable damage to her starboard propeller. She was forced to leave the formation and put in at Saipan on 23 November for repairs. She departed Singapore on 8 April 1946 and went to the Mediterranean. On 29 May, she arrived at Charleston to commence drydocking and preservation procedures. On 25 September USS Thomas J. Gary was towed to Green Cove Springs, Fla where she was decommissioned on 7 March 1947 and placed in reserve.
On 24 July 1956, she was delivered to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for conversion to a radar picket escort ship; and, on 1 November 1956, she was redesignated DER-326. She was recommissioned on 2 August 1957. On 30 December, she began duties on the Atlantic Barrier, a part of the North American Defense Command. Early in 1961, she varied radar picket duties with participation in Operation "Springboard;" and, in May, she steamed off Bermuda participating in Operation "Lantbex."
In October 1962 she was called upon to conduct patrols in support of the Cuban Quarantine.
In 1963 Thomas J. Gary was called upon to take part in the unproductive search for the submarine Thresher (SSN-593) lost off the Atlantic coast.
After participating in the annual exercise Operation "Springboard" again in 1965, she resumed picket duties and phased out the Southern Tip Picket Station where she had spent so much of her post-World War II career. On 13 September 1965 she departed Newport for a nine-month deployment in the Pacific which included support for Operation "Deepfreeze," a scientific expedition to the Antarctic.
In March 1966, she steamed to the Mediterranean. In August Thomas J. Gary set her course for New Zealand.
In July 1967 Thomas J. Gary’s home port was officially changed to Key West. While there she helped to test experimental equipment during Operation "Combat Keel".
In August 1968 Thomas J. Gary participated in support operations for the practice firing of Polaris missiles by nuclear submarine Daniel Webster (SSBN-626). Later in the year, she conducted special operations in the Bahamas and acted as school ship for the Fleet Sonar School at Key West.
She continued operations in the Caribbean and off Florida into 1969. In July, she began a special four-month deployment during' which she conducted intelligence support activities for antisubmarine forces in the Atlantic and earned a Navy Unit Commendation. She visited the Canary Islands and Malta before returning to Key West late in October.
After participating in Operation "Springboard" early in 1970, Thomas J. Gary operated in the Atlantic. On one deployment, she helped to develop new techniques and tactics in antisubmarine warfare in such an exemplary manner that she was awarded a Navy Unit Commendation.
In October 1973 Thomas J. Gary was decommissioned in Bizerte and transferred to the Tunisian Navy. Her name was struck from the Navy list that same day.
For more detailed history on the second USS Gary visit the Navy Archive page at http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/t4/thomas_j_gary.htm