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Hull Number: DD-334

Launch Date: 03/28/1921

Commissioned Date: 05/25/1921

Decommissioned Date: 04/24/1930

Call Sign: NVQZ





Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, July 2015

William Merrill Corry was born on 5 October 1889, to William M. and Sarah E. (neé Wiggins) Corry in Quincy, Fla. The young officer attended and graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. (June 1906–3 June 1910), and on 7 July began five years of service in Kansas (Battleship No. 21).

Kansas deployed with the Second Battleship Division to European waters on 15 November 1910, and visited Cherbourg, France, and Portland, England, before returning via Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to Hampton Roads, Va. Corry’s sea experience continued as Kansas set a course for Europe again the following year (8 May–13 July 1911) and visited Copenhagen, Denmark, Stockholm, Sweden, Kronstadt, Russia, and Kiel, Germany, where Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German High Seas Fleet welcomed the Americans. The increasingly seasoned officer gained more tactical expertise while Kansas took part in fleet exercises stretching from Provincetown, Mass., southward to the Virginia capes before she entered the Norfolk Navy Yard, Va., for an overhaul on 3 November 1911.

Early in 1912, Corry began several months of maneuvers on board Kansas from Guantánamo Bay and then gained more diplomatic and leadership skills when his ship returned to Hampton Roads. There she served as one of the vessels of two divisions of battleships that, together with President William H. Taft on board his yacht Mayflower, welcomed the German squadron commanded by Vizeadmiral Hubert von Rebuer-Pachswitz which comprised battlecruiser Moltke and light cruisers Bremen and Stettin, and the Germans visited there before moving on to New York City (28 May–8 June and 8–13 June, respectively).

Following those diplomatic overtures, Kansas embarked Naval Academy midshipmen at Annapolis for a practice cruise which carried her along the Atlantic coast to Baltimore, Md. (21 June–30 August). The ship then (15 November–21 December 1912) wrapped-up the year training in the Gulf of Mexico, and accomplished an overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pa.

Corry took another voyage to European waters when Kansas completed her yard work on 5 May 1913, trained along the east coast, and then (25 October 1913–14 March 1914) stood out of Hampton Roads bound for Genoa, Italy. From there she proceeded to Guantánamo Bay en route to the Mexican coast off Tampico and Veracruz to protect Americans trapped in Mexico while revolution tore that country apart. Following the ship’s return to Norfolk she accomplished voyage repairs and upkeep at Philadelphia (11 April–1 July). Kansas then transported the body of Pedro E. Rojas, Venezuelan Minister to the United States, back to his homeland at La Guaira, Venezuela (1–14 July).

As the Mexican Revolution raged, Gen. Victoriano Huerta, one of the strongmen, ruthlessly eliminated rivals and ambitiously amassed power among the Federales (government troops). The chaos continued to endanger U.S. citizens caught in the midst of the war and pushed President Woodrow Wilson beyond forbearance, and he called on U.S. warships to protect, and, if necessary, evacuate Americans. Dispatch boat Dolphin (Lt. Cmdr. Ralph Earle in command) anchored at Tampico, Mexico, on 6 April 1914. Earle sent his paymaster and a boat ashore, but Mexican soldiers arrested the nine men because they landed in a “forbidden area” and paraded them through the streets. Mexicans incarcerated an orderly from Minnesota (Battleship No. 22) when he went ashore for the mail at Veracruz a few days later.

Rear Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander, Fourth Division, demanded a 21-gun salute in apology over the “Tampico Incident,” and on 14 April 1914 President Wilson ordered the Atlantic Fleet to send an expedition. The following day, Wilson wired an ultimatum as the lead ships of the Atlantic Fleet arrived in Mexican waters. The Mexicans could salute the flag prior to 6:00 p.m. the following day or suffer the consequences—they apologized and rendered the salute. Rumors circulated, however, that German interests attempted to smuggle 250 machine guns, 20,000 rifles, and 15 million rounds of ammunition on board 8,142 ton German-flagged cargo steamer Ypiranga of the Hamburg-Amerika Linie [Hamburg America Line] into Veracruz.

Wilson therefore directed Rear Adm. Charles J. Badger, Commander, Atlantic Fleet, to seize the custom house at Veracruz. On the morning of 19 April 1914, U.S. Consul William W. Canada notified Gen. Gustavo Maass, who led the port’s garrison, of the planned landings to avoid bloodshed. Huerta disregarded the warning and ordered Maass to make a show of force to influence foreign opinion. The ships put ashore their detachments of sailors and marines on the 22nd, and the fighting raged across the port. Tensions simmered following the battle, and Corry gained crucial experience in handling such crises when Kansas reinforced the vessels in Mexican waters and patrolled until 29 October.

The battleship swung around and steamed to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to investigate reports of “unstable conditions,” largely as a result of bandit bands called cacos from the mountainous north. Kansas reached Haitian waters on 3 November and on 1 December stood out of the port, and returned to Philadelphia a week later. Corry continued on board as the ship maneuvered off the east coast and out of Guantánamo Bay until he decided to learn how to fly.

Lt. (j.g.) Corry began training in naval aviation at Naval Aeronautical Station Pensacola, Fla., on 7 July 1915, and on 6 March 1916, he was designated Naval Aviator No. 23. He returned to sea (9 November 1916–May 1917) to gain additional flying experience while embarked on board Seattle (Armored Cruiser No. 11), flagship, Destroyer Force, following which he served in North Carolina (Armored Cruiser No. 12).

Lt. Corry deployed to France for World War I, where he served with distinction in command of Naval Air Station (NAS) Le Croisic, establishing the station on 27 November 1917. The site became one of eight U.S. flying boat and seaplane patrol stations developed in that country during the war until the Navy disestablished it on 28 January 1919. Corry subsequently received the Navy Cross for “his daring flights over the enemy’s lines, also for untiring and efficient efforts toward the organization of U.S. Naval Aviation, Foreign Service, and the building up of the Northern Bombing [Group] project.” The group carried out a number of missions including bombing raids against German U-boats (submarines) and their support facilities in the Dunkirk-Bruges-Ostend-Zeebrugge region. The French furthermore awarded Corry their Chevalier de la légion d’honneur.

Following his assignment there in the meanwhile, he took command of NAS Brest, France, on 7 June 1918. Corry continued to serve in Europe following the war, a time of great turmoil during the Great Worldwide Influenza Pandemic, but tirelessly worked on the aviation aspects of demobilization into the first half of 1920. Corry set out for his return voyage home on board International Mercantile Marine-flagged ocean liner Finland (ex-Id. No. 4543) from Antwerp, Belgium, to New York on 2 June. Corry then served as an aviation aide on the staff of Adm. Henry B. Wilson Jr., Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, in flagship Pennsylvania (Battleship No. 38—reclassified to BB-38 on 17 July 1920).

Lt. Cmdr. Corry joined Lt. (j.g.) Arthur C. Wagner, USNRF, as a passenger in a Curtiss JN-4 on a flight from Mitchel Field at Mineola on Long Island, N.Y., to Hartford, Conn., on Saturday, 2 October 1920. Born to William and Elizabeth G. Wagner on 18 August 1888, Wagner served with the Atlantic Fleet Ship Plane Division. As they reached the Hartford area they could not discern an available military airfield and landed instead on the grounds of the Hartford Golf Club. Col. Hamilton R. Horsey, USA, who had served as the chief-of-staff of the Army’s 26th Infantry Division during the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives in 1918, and Lt. Col. James S. Howard, USA, kindly let the stranded aviators stay overnight as their guests.

The following afternoon at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, 3 October 1920, Wagner and Corry clambered back into their Jenny and took off for the return flight to Mineola. They lifted off to the northward and climbed to an altitude of 50 feet as they turned toward the southwest. The two men passed over the golf course’s club house and Corry, who sat in the aft seat, waved to Col. Horsey. The Jenny approached a large copse of trees that rose nearby and turned to starboard (north) at an altitude of about 75 feet, but the engine suddenly cut out and the aircraft plunged into the trees. The plane slammed into the ground and turned over end foremost, the propeller caught in the soil, and the Jenny burst into flames.

The crash threw Corry clear nearly 30 feet and broke several of his ribs, but he saw that Wagner was still strapped in as the flames horrifically blazed over him. Corry valiantly rushed back to help Wagner and pull the pilot from the wreckage, but the blazing gasoline ignited Corry’s coat and burned his hands and face. Witnesses including Martin Keane, an attaché of the club, and Walter E. Patterson, an employee of Travelers Insurance Company, rushed over and helped Corry drag Wagner from the inferno. The fire burned away most of Wagner’s nose and ears to where he was all but beyond recognition, as well as the pilot’s coat and shoes, but in spite of the pain he bravely directed the rescuers.

Benjamin Allen, a porter at the club, acted decisively and wrapped his coat around Corry’s head, thus protecting him from further burns across the face. Allen then helped the injured naval aviator out of his burning coat and smothered the other clothes to douse the flames. Despite the help Corry’s hands and face emerged so badly burned that scarcely a trace of exposed skin remained unscarred.

Additional staffers from the kitchen meanwhile brought several gallons of olive and sweet oil and aided the rescuers as they removed Wagner’s burning clothing. They then prepared and carefully wrapped Wagner in oil-soaked linen strips and cotton sheeting, to attempt to allay his pain. As the ambulance arrived and willing hands lifted Wagner into the vehicle, he gamely thanked the men who responded and helped the two aviators. Wagner’s continued fortitude in the face of his unimaginable pain inspired the doctors and nurses who attended him, but he died from his injuries at about 10:00 p.m. that night. Wagner was interred at the Old Cathedral Cemetery in Philadelphia on 8 October 1920.

Corry lingered on in pain but died from his injuries four days later on the 7th. Corry received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his “heroic service” in attempting to rescue Wagner, and was laid to rest in Eastern Cemetery in his beloved home town of Quincy, Fla. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” is inscribed on his grave. He was survived by his wife, parents, three siblings, James W., Alice Wilhoit, and Edwin G. Corry, and one half-brother, Albert D. Corry.

Three U.S. Navy destroyers, Corry (DD-334), Corry (DD-463), and Corry (DD-817); two air stations at Pensacola, Corry Field (later Old Corry Field) and the Naval Air Auxiliary Station (NAAS) Corry Field; and subsequent commands also at Pensacola including the Naval Communications Training Center (later Naval Technical Training Center) Corry Station, and the Center for Information Dominance Corry Station (under NAS Pensacola Corry Station), have been named in his honor.


Sold and scrapped at Vallejo, Calif. Remains reported to be visible a couple of miles North of Mare Island.

USS CORRY DD-334 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, July 2015

The first Corry (DD-334) was launched 28 March 1921 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., San Francisco, Calif.; sponsored by Mrs. S. W. Corry; commissioned 25 May 1921, Lieutenant Commander K. E. Hintze in command; and reported to the Pacific Fleet.

Corry cruised on the west coast on a varied operating schedule. She joined in fleet maneuvers, cruises from Alaska to the Caribbean, development and tests of sonic depth finders, antiaircraft gunnery, aircraft rescue and plane guard rehearsals. In July 1923 she joined Hull (DD-330) to serve as escort for President W. G. Harding embarked in Henderson (AP-1) for a cruise to Alaskan and Canadian waters. She rejoined her division to participate in the American Legion convention at San Francisco in October 1923. On 8-9 September 1924, she embarked Secretary of the Navy C. D. Wilbur for a visit to Mare Island Navy Yard. From 28 August to 9 September 1925 she served as station ship during nonstop airplane flight from Hawaii to San Francisco.

In December 1929 Corry entered the San Diego Destroyer Base to prepare for decommissioning. She was towed to Mare Island Navy Yard and decommissioned 24 April 1930. She was stripped and sold for salvage 18 October 1930 in accordance with the terms of the London Treaty for the limitation of naval armament.