World War II

Wimmer, Orman R.

Rank: Fireman, 2nd Class
Serial Number: 6361119
Military Branch: USS Walke DD 416
Origin: Florida
Date of Death: 1942-11-15
Manila American Cemetery
Featured: No

F2c Orman Rudolph Wimmer was born April 21, 1918, and enlisted in the Naval Reserve October 27, 1941. He reported to the USS Walke on December 15, 1941 where he remained until the sinking of the Walke. Wimmer started as Able Seaman and rapidly advanced to F2c by September, 1942. Wimmer is memorilized by the American Battle Monuments Commission in the Manila American Cemetery, but also has a memorial headstone in the High Springs Cemetery in High Springs, Florida.

F2c Wimmer's group includes his officially engraved sterling Type 1 Purple Heart with its small Purple coffin box as issued by the US Mint. A huge amount of internet research including after action reports is part of the group.

USS Walke was a Sims Class Destroyer in the service of the US Navy during World War Two, operating as part of the US Atlantic Fleet on Neutrality Patrols before US involvement in the war and as part of the US Pacific Fleet after December 7th, 1941. Operating initially with the USS Yorktown for the first year of the War, the Walke earned two Battle Stars for her part in the early Solmons Islands operations and in support of air strikes on Japanese forces in Papua New Guinea.

After a refit at Mare Island Navy Yard in August 1942, USS Walke found herself escorting the US Battleships USS South Dakota & USS Washington into the waters around Guadalcanal in the morning of November 14th, 1942, where the night before the US Navy had suffered a terrible defeat in the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and the US Airfield had been shelled by Japanese ships. Steaming with the two Battleships and the three Destroyers USS Gwin, USS Benham & USS Preston, the Walke took the position of lead ship and used her newly-installed Radar system to track the sea and air ahead of the group. As night fell, the Destroyer force formed into a 'Van' or a column well ahead of the two Battleships and began conducting looping patrols of 'Ironbottom Sound' on an East-West route. As midnight on November 14th approached, the group was nearing the Western end of its patrol when Japanese radio traffic began to increase and the Destroyers went to battle stations, unsure of what was lurking in the dark behind Savo Island.

At 23:00hrs (11:00pm) the long range Radar aboard USS South Dakota picked up three Japanese ships rounding the North Side of Savo Island, roughly the same time the Japanese force spotted the US Destroyer Van and moved to intercept them. Aboard USS Walke, the crew had no sooner decoded the message from Washington about enemy ships then her own radar began to pick them up. Accelerating to attack speed, the Walke and her escorting Destroyers closed on the Japanese force which they assumed consisted of only three Destroyers, when in fact it was three Destroyers followed by two Light Cruisers. USS South Dakota opened the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal at 23:17hrs (11:17pm) with a salvo directed at the lead ship of the Japanese group rounding Savo and at 23:22hrs (11:22pm) the Walke opened fire, followed in short order by the Gwin, Benham and Preston.

Walke first fired upon the distant Japanese Light Cruiser Nagara, only to find a Destroyer in closer range to which she shifted her attention. By this time, the Nagara or the other Japanese Light Cruiser Sendai, had targeted the Walke and began to pummel her with their 6-inch guns. The Japanese Destroyers Ayanami and Uranami also began to fire onto the Walke, demolishing much of her after superstructure and starting large fires which only aided the Japanese gunners. Roughly seven minutes into the battle, the Walke was struck in the bow by a single "Long Lance" torpedo which blew her bow clean off the ship and was followed shortly thereafter by the detonation of the ships forward 20-millimeter ammunition magazine. The Walke, with a massive hole in her bow and riddled by shellfire quickly began to sink and was ordered abandoned.

A mere ten minutes after the fighting started, the Walke sank bow-first into Ironbottom Sound, taking 75 members of her crew with her, including her Captain. 151 of her crew were rescued the following day, though another six died from their injuries. USS Walke earned her third and final Battle Star for her part in the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.

SOLD to a collector 04-2021 

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