“The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to LIEUTENANT JOSEPH ORLECK, UNITED STATES NAVY for service, were the words introducing the following citation:
“For extraordinary heroism in action as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. NAUSET during the amphibious invasion of Italy on September 9, 1943. When his ship, approaching the assault area in the Gulf of Salerno, was struck by aerial bombs which caused numerous casualties and consuming fires over the entire boat deck Lieutenant Orleck calmly and expertly directed the fire. fighting activities, the control of serious flooding and the transfer of all survivors to the rescue ships. Valiant and determined in the face of imminent peril, he remained aboard the stricken NAUSET in an attempt to beach her and prevent total loss, working desperately until she struck an enemy mine and sank Lieutenant Orleck's indomitable fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
Lieutenant Joseph Orleck was officially reported missing in action 9 September 1943 and according to law was presumed to have died on 10 September 1944
In addition to the Navy Cross and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, lieutenant Orleck was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal, and was entitled to the American Defense Service Medal with Bronze ‘A'; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal”.39 He was also awarded the American Defense Service Medal (Bronze “A”) the European-African-Middle Eastern Area Campaign Medal and the Purple Heart.
On 8 January 1945 it was recommended that the name ORLECK be given in honor of the late Lieutenant Joseph Orleck, USN Ralph A. Bard, Acting Secretary of the Navy approved the request on 1 January 1945.
USS ORLECK (DD886) was launched 12 May 1945 Thus began the 37 year history of a mighty war ship named after an unlikely hero.
Where else but in America could someone from such humble and foreign beginnings have the honor of a mighty destroyer being named for him, But what a great example.
An enlisted man rising to commanding officer and 37 years of faithful service by a gallant ship. The ship and the name she carried brought a feeling of pride. The officers and crew spoke as if Lieutenant Orleck was an active member of the ORLECK wardroom and involved himself in the daily operations of the ship. Joe Orleck's example and their feeling about him and their ship inspired the men of the ORLECK to serve their country proudly, USS ORLECK (DD886) became a symbol of excellence in her performance as all who came in contact with her would testify.
- Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
- United States Navy
- Entered the Service from: Virginia
- Died: September 10, 1944
- Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
- Tablets of the Missing at Sicily-Rome American Cemetery
- Nettuno, Italy
- Awards: Navy Cross, Navy-Marine Corps Medal
- LT US NAVY
- VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 09/10/1924 – 09/10/1944
- DATE OF BIRTH: 06/22/1906
- DATE OF DEATH: 09/10/1944
- DATE OF INTERMENT: 09/10/1944
- BURIED AT: SECTION MF SITE 15-B
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard