Richard B. Hillyer served on the USS
George (DE-697) during its successful anti-submarine operations during May 1944 in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Hillyer was an enlisted sailor with the rank SC3/c (Ship’s Cook 3rd Class). After the war he wrote an account of the ship’s actions during that operation and from this produced a self-published book in 1946 entitled The Greatest Anti-Submarine Action of All Wars: USS
Hillyer noted at the end of his book that he wanted “to give credit to the crews of all these ships” and to allow all of the destroyers in the anti-submarine operation to receive credit as they had received a joint commendation for their efforts.
George (DE-697) was built on 22 May 1943 by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, Michigan and was launched 14 August 1943. The ship was named in honor of Seaman Second Class Eugene Frank George and sponsored by his mother, Mrs. Harlow F. George. The ship was commissioned at New Orleans, Louisiana, 20 November 1943, with Lieutenant Commander J. B. Page in command.
After a shakedown cruise off Bermuda, the USS
George sailed from Boston 11 January 1944 to escort a merchantman from Norfolk to Noumea, New Caledonia, arriving on 19 February. Until the spring of 1944, the ship escorted transports to the Admiralties, the New Hebrides, and the Solomons during consolidation operations carried out there. On 16 May, the ship sailed from Florida Island, Solomons, in a hunter-killer group with the USS
England (DE-635) and USS
Raby (DE-698) on what would become one of the most successful antisubmarine actions in the in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
During this patrol from 19 to 31 May 1944 the three-ship team sank six Japanese submarines (I-16, RO-106, RO-104, RO-116, RO-10S, and RO-105) in waters north of the Bismarck Archipelago—a truly remarkable achievement. The USS
George arrived at Manus 4 June after this feat, and during the next 3 months conducted antisubmarine patrols and escorted merchantmen to the New Hebrides, the Solomons, and the Marshalls. After serving briefly as a station-ship at Funafuti, Ellice Islands, the ship traveled to Australia, arriving in Sydney on 12 October.