Reuben James was born in Delaware about 1776. During the Quasi-War with France, Boatswain's Mate James participated in Constellation's victories over the French ships L'Insurpente, 9 February 1799, and La Vengeance. During the Barbary Wars, he served aboard Enterprise and accompanied Stephen Decatur into the harbor at Tripoli on 16 February 1804, as Decatur and his men burned the captured American frigate Philadelphia to prevent Tripoli from using her in battle. In the ensuing skirmish, an American seaman positioned himself between Decatur and an enemy blade. This act of bravery was attributed to Reuben James and to Daniel Frazier. For the rest of the war, James continued to serve Decatur aboard Constitution and Congress. During the War of 1812, he served in United States, under Decatur, and in President. On 15 January 1815, however, President was defeated by the British and James was taken prisoner. After the war, he resumed service with Decatur, aboard Guerriere, and participated in the capture of the 46-gun Algerian flagship Mashouda on 17 June 1815. After peace was made with the Barbary states, James continued his service in the Navy until declining health brought about his retirement in January 1836. He died on 3 December 1838 at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C.
(DE-153: dp. 1,740 (f.); l. 306'; b. 37'; dr. 13'6"; s. 23.6 k.; cpl. 213; a. 2 5", 3 3", 2 40mm., 8 20mm., 2 dct., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.), 3 21" tt.; cl. Buckley)
The second Reuben James (DE-153) was laid down on 7 September 1942 by the Navy Yard, Norfolk, Va.; launched 6 February 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Oliver Hiram Ward; and commissioned 1 April 1943, Lt. Comdr. Frank D. Giambattista in command.
First based at Miami, Fla., Reuben James conducted antisubmarine patrols and provided training in convoy escort and antisubmarine warfare. Departing Miami 14 October 1943, she escorted the torpedoed tanker Balls Bluff to Charleston, S.C. In March 1944, she shifted her base from Miami to Norfolk, Va. In June she escorted a convoy from New York to Norfolk. Between 13 July and 7 November, she escorted two convoys to the Mediterranean, returning with westbound convoys. During her first eastbound voyage, nine German bombers attacked her convoy off Algeria on 1 August. Reuben James shot down one enemy bomber.
Returning to Boston 7 November 1944, she joined an antisubmarine group operating in the North Atlantic. Operating south of Newfoundland, she was present when Buckley (DE-51) sank German submarine U-879 on 19 April 1945.
Arriving at Houston, Tex., on 4 July, she completed conversion to a radar picket ship 25 November. Subsequently, she operated in the Atlantic and the Caribbean out of Norfolk, Va. Entering the Charleston Naval Shipyard in July 1947, she decommissioned on 11 October. In 1949 she was designated DER, but was reclassified DE in 1954. She remained in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until struck from the Navy list 30 June 1968. Her hulk was sunk as a target on 1 March 1971.