USS Hoel, a 2050-ton Fletcher class destroyer built at San Francisco, California, was commissioned in late July 1943. After shakedown operations along the west coast, she departed for the Pacific combat zone in October 1943. A month later, she took part in the Gilbert Islands invasion as part of the screen for U.S. escort aircraft carriers. She performed a similar mission during the Marshalls operation during January and February 1944, also providing gunfire support during landings on Eniwetok. .Hoel was based in the south Pacific from March 1944, escorting convoys, performing anti-submarine patrols and serving with the escort carriers of the Third and Seventh Fleets. She also participated in the Peleliu invasion during September 1944.
Hoel continued to operate with escort carriers during the invasion of Leyte in October 1944. When the Japanese Navy counter-attacked to produce the decisive Battle of Leyte Gulf, she was operating north of Leyte. A powerful enemy surface force encountered her task group east of Samar on the morning of 25 October, and Hoel and other destroyers valiantly attacked them with guns and torpedoes in order to cover the escort carriers' retreat. Though Hoel was sunk in this Battle off Samar, with the loss of nearly three-quarters of her crew, her sacrifice helped to save all but one of the escort carriers and to deflect the Japanese from their mission of attacking the Leyte invasion force.