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USS Turner Joy Museum Ship

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Charles Turner Joy was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on 17 February 1895. Commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy upon graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1916, he served in the battleship Pennsylvania for more than four years, including the period of the United States' participation in the First World War. In 1923, after receiving a graduate education in engineering, he began two years as Aide and Flag Lieutenant to Commander, Yangtse Patrol. This was followed by a tour as Executive Officer of the Asiatic Fleet destroyer Pope, an assignment with the Bureau of Ordnance, sea duty in the battleship California, and service at the Naval Mine Depot at Yorktown, Virginia. In the mid-1930s, Lieutenant Commander Joy was Commanding Officer of the destroyer Litchfield and was on the staff of Commander Destroyers, Battle Force.

Between 1937 and 1940, Commander Joy was an instructor at the Naval Academy. He then became Executive Officer of the heavy cruiser Indianapolis. In 1941 he was Operations Officer for Commander Scouting Force, Pacific Fleet and, for several months after the United States entered World War II in December of that year, helped plan and execute combat operations against Japan. Captain Joy commanded the heavy cruiser Louisville from September 1942 until June 1943, during which time she was active in the Aleutians and South Pacific war theatres. After an important war plans tour in Washington, D.C., Rear Admiral Joy became commander of a cruiser division, leading it through nearly a year and a half of intense combat service against the Japanese.

Commanding an amphibious group when Japan capitulated in August 1945, Joy was soon assigned to duty in China. He was in charge of the Naval Proving Ground at Dahlgren, Virginia, in 1946-49 and was then sent back to the Western Pacific to become Commander Naval Forces, Far East. Vice Admiral Joy held that position until mid-1952, directing much of the Navy's effort during the first two years of the Korean War. From July 1951 he was also the senior United Nations Delegate to the Korean Armistice talks. His final assignment was as Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. Retired in July 1954, Admiral Joy subsequently made his home in California, where he died on 13 June 1956.

The destroyer USS Turner Joy (DD-951), 1959-1991, was named in honor of Admiral Joy.


USS TURNER JOY was the last ship in the FORREST SHERMAN - class of destroyers and the first ship in the Navy to bear the name. Her keel was laid down on September 30, 1957 in Seattle, Washington by the Puget Sound Bridge & Dredging Company, launched on May 5, 1958, and commissioned on August 3, 1959, Comdr. Ralph S. Wentworth, Jr. in command.

Turner Joy's distinctive service included a double-duty role as flagship for Destroyer Squadron 13 and Destroyer Division 131 with several tours in the Pacific. She also stood air-sea rescue duty near the Marianas Islands for President Dwight D. Eisenhower's visit to several Asian nations. In terms of history, this vessel is most remembered for her participation in the Gulf of Tonkin incident which escalated the United States involvement in the Vietnam War.

On March 13th, 1964, Turner Joy departed Long Beach to embark upon her most celebrated tour of duty in the Far East. The third western Pacific deployment of her career began routinely enough. After calling at Pearl Harbor on her way west, the destroyer joined a task group built around Kitty Hawk (CVA 63) for operations in the Philippine Sea, followed by a cruise through the South China Sea to Japan. Further training operations and port visits ensued, as the deployment continued peacefully.

During late July, the Turner Joy, while attached to a carrier task group built around the Ticonderoga (CVA 14), began making "watch dog" patrols off the coast of Vietnam. On the afternoon of August 2nd, Maddox (DD 731) engaged in a similar patrol, called for assistance when three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats attacked her. As Maddox evaded the torpedo boats, aircraft from Ticonderoga joined her in knocking out two of the hostile craft. Meanwhile, Turner Joy raced to Maddox to provide additional surface strength. By the time she reached Maddox, the remaining boat had fled; but Turner Joy remained with Maddox, and the two destroyers continued their patrols of the gulf.

Less than 48 hours later, Turner Joy's radar screens picked up a number of what appeared to be small, high-speed surface craft approaching, but at extreme range. As a precaution, the two destroyers called upon Ticonderoga to furnish air support. By nightfall, the unidentified radar echoes suggested that North Vietnamese small craft were converging upon the two American warships from the west and south. Turner Joy reported that she sighted one or two torpedo wakes, then rang up full speed, maneuvered radically to evade expected torpedoes, and began firing in the direction of the unidentified blips. Over the next two and one-half hours, Turner Joy and planes from Ticonderoga fired at the supposed hostile craft.

Reports claimed that at least two of those were sunk by direct hits and another pair severely damaged, and that the remaining assailants retired rapidly to the north. Whether or not the North Vietnamese attacked the two ships on the 4th remains a mystery. Only they know for sure. It could well have been that bad weather and the freakish radar conditions for which the Gulf of Tonkin is famous caused radar echoes to appear on Turner Joy's screen and prompted her captain and crew to take defensive action in consideration of the events two days earlier.

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