U.S.S. Little Rock
Commanding Officer Biography

Page last updated: 15 March, 2020
Captain Oscar F. Dreyer
27 Sep 65 - 11 Apr 67

Dreyer Photo


Oscar Frank Dreyer was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 22, 1917, son of Louis J. and Mary (Roth) Dreyer. He attended McKinley High School in St. Louis prior to enlisting on October 1, 1935 in the U.S. Navy. After recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois, he had consecutive duty afloat from October 1935 to November 1936 in the USS NEW YORK and the USS NITRO. He next attended the Naval Academy Preparatory Class at Norfolk, Virginia, and in July 1937 entered the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on February 1, 1941 (accelerated course due to the National Emergency) he subsequently advanced to the Rank of Captain July 1, 1959.

Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1941, he joined the USS McCALL (DD-400), which was attached to the Hawaiian Detachment. He was on board that destroyer when the United States entered World War II on December 8, 1941 and continued duty in her in various capacities, including Executive Officer, until August 1944. Aboard the USS McCALL he participated in Pacific actions from the first attack on the Marshall Islands to the Battle of the Philippine Islands. “For meritorious service as Executive Officer and Navigator on board the USS McCall, in action against Japanese forces in the Pacific Ocean Area, from June 7 to August 6, 1944...” he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, with Combat “V”. The citation continues in part:

“Undaunted by intense fire from hostile shore batteries (he) performed his essential duties with skill and efficiency, rendering invaluable assistance to his commanding officer in conducting screening operations for heavy craft and damaging another and in carrying out bombardment and antiaircraft defense missions...”

In August 1944 he returned to Annapolis, where he attended the Postgraduate School, and from August 1945 to June 1946 had instruction at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, from which he received the degree of Master of Science in Chemical Engineering in June 1946. For the next several months, he had field trips to various ordnance facilities and in November 1946 reported as Executive Officer of the USS O’BRIEN (DD-725). In April 1947 he assumed command of that destroyer and in June of that year transferred to command of the USS GENDREAU (DE-639), which he commanded until December 1947.

Following a period of hospitalization, he reported in April 1948 as a member of the Limited Duty Officers Selection Board, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department, Washington, DC.  From July 1948 until December 1950 he served as Technical Supervisor/Executive Office of Naval Special Weapons Unit 1233, at Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, Sandia Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico, after which he had duty as Office in Charge of Special Weapons Unit on Board the USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (CVA-42). In July 1951 he assumed command of the USS OWEN (DD-536), which, under his command, operated in the Korean area of hostilities and also made a round-the-world-cruise. He was awarded a Gold Star in Lieu of the Second Bronze Star Medal, with Combat “V”, for meritorious service in Korea from February 12, to July 1, 1953. (See Note 2.)

From September 1953 to August 1956, he was Ordnance Officer at the Naval Ammunition Depot, McAlester, Oklahoma, after which he served as Fleet Ammunition Officer on the Staff of Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet. In July 1958 he reported for instruction at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, D.C., and in June 1959 became head of the Management Branch for Ordnance Shore Establishments, in the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department. In December 1959 he assumed duties as Assistant Manager for all of the Bureau of Naval Weapons Government owner and operated plants, which included Overhaul and Repair Departments at the Naval Air Stations.

In May 1961 he reported as Commander Destroyer Division SIXTY-TWO and in March 1962 transferred to command USS SHENANDOAH (AD-26). Detached from that destroyer tender in July 1963, he became Commanding Officer of the Naval Propellant Plant, Indian Head, Maryland (31 Jul 63 - 30 Aug 65). In September 1965, he assumed command of the USS Little Rock CLG 4. In March 1967 he was designated Commanding Officer of the Naval Ship Missile Systems Engineering Station, Port Hueneme, California (30 Jun 67 - 31 Jul 69).

In addition to the Bronze Star Medal with Gold Star (see Note 1) and Combat “V”, Captain Dreyer has the American Defense Service Medal, with star; Asiatic -Pacific Campaign Medal, with silver star (five operations); World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, European Clasp; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Korean Service Medal, with two stars; and the United Nations Service Medal. He also has the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Badge.

He married the former Colette Kulla of St. Louis, Missouri, and had five children.

Captain Dreyer passed away 02 August 2000.

Note 1. Captain Dreyer was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for action under fire at Guam and in the Marianas Campaign. He was awarded the Gold Star in Lieu of the Second Bronze Star with Combat “V” for action in Wonson Harbor, Korea.

Note 2. The above information was extracted from USS Little Rock Cruise Book 1967-1968, and from information supplied by the Navy Office of Information, Internal Relations Division (OI-430) dated 07 June 1967.

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O.F. Dreyer USNA Photo

Boat Club  4, 3, 2, 1; Newman Club  4, 3, 2, 1, Secretary ‘40; Sailing  2, 1; Make-up Gang  2.


A big, robust ex-seaman with fiery red hair and face, fleecy white eyebrows, and an increasing waistline, is “Ossy” Dreyer of St. Louis, Miss- ouri. When in a good humor he is particularly congenial; when in a temper he is particularly violent.

Red’s great store of energy and his natural bent for the water focused his athletic activities on sailing. Again, in characteristic style, he does not always hold the windward side, but is conscien- tious, feeling that surely the wind will some day blow his way. He is truthful and sincere, but those are inherent elements of his character. Ostensibly he is perhaps a doubter. However, taking into account his steady going way, it is safe to con- clude that he believes more than he would make known.

Although his temper is quick, Red has deservingly made multitudes of friends, who have come to realize that his small faults are easily overlooked beside his friendly, cheerful congeniality.

Note: The above U.S.N.A. Yearbook photo and information were graciously supplied by Michele Dreyer.

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Oscar Frank Dreyer, 83, died Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2000, at Las Villas de Carlsbad.

Born June 22, 1917, in Missouri, he lived in Carlsbad (CA) for 14 years.

He worked for Lockheed before retiring in 1980. He served as a captain in the U.S. Navy and was a member of the Knights of Columbus and St. Patrick's Catholic Church.

Mr. Dreyer was preceded in death by his wife, Colette Dreyer, on Dec. 24, 1988. He is survived by his sons, Gregory Dreyer of San Diego, James Dreyer of Gravois Mills, Mo., and Christopher Dreyer of Indialantic, Fla.; daughters Kathleen Cook of San Diego and Deborah Doneen of Gilbert, Ariz.; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A private cremation is planned with internment to take place at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma.

Eternal Hills Mortuary is handling arrangements.

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DATE OF BIRTH: 06 / 22 / 1917
DATE OF DEATH: 08 / 02 / 2000
P.O. BOX 6237 SAN DIEGO, CA 92166

Capt. Dreyer on the Bridge
Captain Dreyer on USS Little Rock bridge 1966
Captain Dreyer is the one in the baseball cap.
Next to him on the right is Commander  Bailey, XO.

(Photo by Mark Lehmann LT 66-68)

Captain Dreyer at the 1980 USS Little Rock Reunion
Captain Dreyer (with video camera) photographs
Captain Charles Little CO 69-71 (left) and
Marvin Curry CWO-2 66-70 (right).

(Photo by Mark Lehmann LT 66-68)

Capt. Dreyer at Reunion

Captain Dreyer on the Bridge

Captain Dreyer on the bridge of USS Little Rock

(Photo copied from Little Rock Association
periodical "LitComs". Source unknown.)

Captain Dreyer with USS Little Rock Crew
Captain Dreyer shares a cigar and a "Bud" with
YN3 Frank Krajc of Welch, WV at the Enlisted Club in
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Crew was "relaxing" after a
 strenuous period on the missile test range.

(Photo taken 1966. Source unknown.)

Capt. Dreyer with Crew

Capt. Dreyer with Miss America

Captain Dreyer Greets Miss America
Miss America 1966 Deborah Bryant is welcomed
aboard the USS Little Rock while the ship was in
Portsmouth, VA in 1966. Seated next to Ms. Bryant
is Kirk Miller XO and an unidentified escort.

(Photo donated by Gene Hudson)

Crew Remembrances & Anecdotes

"Fred", "Frank" or "Red"?
There is a question of what name the "Captain" went by in an informal setting. It appears that he did not go by "Oscar". Here's some input from the crew:

•   From Mark Lehmann LT 66-68: "Capt. Dreyer (he always went by Fred, his middle name) was my first CO when I came aboard in 1966. He was a very low key but able CO and Paul Anderson's interview, also on the website, has quite a bit of info about him.

•   From Michele Dreyer (the Captain's biographer): "I noticed that one of the items that you sent states the Captain Dreyer "went by Fred - his middle name". His middle name was Frank. I don't know if it's a mistaken memory or maybe he did go by Fred; but, it wasn't his middle name.

•  From Paul Anderson CDR (XO) 66-68: "I have only heard him referred to as Oscar Fred Dreyer.  His last command in the USN was CO  NSMSES, Port Hueneme, CA.  You may want to consult with them for further confirmation."

•   From Michele Dreyer: I just ran across something that might help with the Fred vs Frank thing. Did Captain Dreyer go by "Red"?  I believe he had red hair.

•  The USS O’BRIEN (DD-725) website, in a list of that ship's Commanding Officers lists Captain Dreyer as:
LCDR Oscar Frank ("Big Red") Dreyer, May 1947 - Oct 4, 1947

•  Finally, as we used to say, "This is the real skinny"....   Captain Dreyer was in fact called "Red" by his friends. Click HERE for a link to the Message Board to see how we found this out.

(Add your thoughts about Captain Dreyer..... Contact Art Tilley)

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