Fifty‑six years ago, 320 men in the Naval service of the United States took the USS Stephen Potter, DD 538, to sea in World War II. For two years, we fought the Japanese enemy across the Pacific War Theater. After logging 200,000 miles, taking part in some of the battles that were vital to winning the Pacific war, we brought the Potter safely back home at war's end, intensely proud of the ship's combat record. The Potter was put into mothballs, and decommissioned, supposedly never to see active service again.
Within five years, however, the Korean Conflict broke out and the Steaming P was called back to duty on the sea lanes, this time with new officers and crew. When peace came again by the mid‑1950s, the tough little destroyer was still operating, now virtually around the globe. Again decommissioned in 1958, the Potter finally ended its Navy years.
It was aboard the Stephen Potter, living together in close quarters of a small vessel for days and weeks on end, where a bond, a kinship, would be born and would grow that would endure for the rest of our years. All of us in the Potter family owe a deep debt of gratitude to Don Huston, with help from his wife, Ella, and some old shipmates in the Washington state area, persevered to locate and contact former crew and officers from World War II and bring us together in Seattle in 1983 for the first time since the war. The warmth of renewing wartime friendships in that first reunion spontaneously blossomed into a biennial event, soon to bring into the fold those who sailed in the Potter's "second cruise."
Since our beginning in Seattle, we've come together in St. Louis, New Orleans, Norfolk, Orange Beach, Fla., Hawaii, San Diego, Boston, a river cruise out of Cincinnati, and now, in 1999, in San Antonio.
The Story of the Stephen Potter is along-awaited effort to put on paper some perspective of how our 2100‑ton destroyer contributed to the nation's war effort in World War II, then again in the Korean Conflict, but, more importantly, to compile some poignant recollections, goof-ups, and funny anecdotes told by shipmates from the times they happened, when the Potter was our sea‑going home. To do that, I have had marvelous contributions of memoirs, diaries and notes from a number of our Potter people. Further, I would be derelict if I failed to express my thanks to a great friend and talented helper, Ed Inman here in my home town, for helping make completion of this book possible.
‑‑Bill Minor Jackson, Miss. 1999