RAYMOND J. TONER
Captain | United States Navy
Prior to his World War II service, Raymond J. Toner had already authored two novels about life at sea during the colonial era. Over the course of his career, he would only add to the pages of Naval history. Toner first commanded sub-chasers along the Atlantic coast. "There's a strange excitement and eagerness that instantly prevails either in broad daylight or in the dead of night when the screeching howl of the general alarm sounds. There's a hurry of orderly confusion, the quick sounding of buzzers, and the sound in the dark of disembodied voices as all stations report their readiness....when the charges are dropped, everyone listens intently for the detonation of the first charge. It feels as if a huge fist suddenly smashes against the bottom of the ship. The morale of the men goes zooming up and the trigger fingers begin to itch." In July 1943 he sailed to the Pacific where he served on a few Destroyer Escorts, including the U.S.S. Keller which he commanded for one year. His crew credits him to saving the ship during a typhoon that struck the Third Fleet with deadly force. Toner re-ballasted the ships near empty fuel tanks with salt water and managed to keep the vessel from crashing into others within the fleet.
When the Korean War broke out, the Captain left behind the notoriously small DEs to command the destroyer U.S.S. English from Inchon to Wonsan where the guns fired over 10,000 rounds for fifteen days straight. Bombardment and counter-battery fire was not as thrilling as chasing subs in the Atlantic or closing in on Japanese held islands, but in the early months of the Korean War it was a vital asset to those on the ground.
His career on shore is just as interesting – following the Korean War, he was head of the Foreign Naval Training Branch and received recognition from Chile and Ecuador for his services. Before leaving life at sea, he was commanding officer for the U.S.S. Mississenewa during the Lebanon Crisis as well as the Naval Station in Puerto Rico during both the Cuban and Dominican Crisis.