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Biography of Donald Douglas Skillen

Walnut Grove, Texas

Donald Skillen joined the United States Navy, and served aboard the USS Pillsbury (DD-227). The Pillsbury was assigned to the Asiatic Fleet, Commander-in-Chief Admiral Thomas Charles Hart.

On November 27, 1941 the Pillsbury was operating out of Manila, and was ordered, with other vessels, to Borneo. When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, the Pillsbury was operating in the vicinity of Borneo. 

The Pillsbury returned to the Manila area, and when General Douglas MacArthur evacuated Manila on Christmas Day, the Pillsbury was assigned to offshore patrols near Corregidor. On December 26 she was released by Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell, Commandant of the 16th Naval District, Commander Philippine Coastal Frontier, and ordered to make her way to Java, and join the command of Rear Admiral William A. Glassford, Commander of Task Force 5. 

Between March 1 and 4, 1942, a powerful Japanese force of four battleships, five cruisers, the aircraft carrier Soryu and destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 4 operated in the south of Java to prevent the escape of Allied ships from that area. The Pillsbury, USS Ashville (PG-21) and USS Edsall (DD-219) were sunk during this time. The Pillsbury and Ashville were destroyed in a night surface action by ship’s gunfire. Ship’s gunfire and Navy bombers from the Soryu destroyed the Edsall. The three were sunk approximately 200 miles east of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Japanese warships hastily retired from the area without picking up survivors leaving them to perish in the sea. 

The picture is courtesy of Perry Giles, Giles Monument Company, Waxahachie, Texas.

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