Hinsdale (APA-120) was launched by the California Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, Calif., 22 July 1944; and commissioned 15 October 1944, Cmdr. Edward Flood Beyer, USNR, in command.
The war in the Pacific was steadily advancing across the ocean toward the Japanese home islands, and on 27 December 1944 Hinsdale embarked some 1,200 marines for the Iwo Jima invasion. Acting a flagship for Transport Division 44, she spent nearly a month of intensive practice landings in preparation for the assault. Hinsdale's leatherneck passengers swarmed ashore with the first wave of the invasion forces, and she remained in the Iwo Jima area over a week embarking and disembarking troops and valuable cargo. Some of her most important work was as an auxiliary hospital ship, caring for the seriously wounded. On the morning of 25 February 1945 a projectile burst close aboard the transport, killing a Marine captain standing on deck and wounding several others. On 27 February, Hinsdale sailed from Iwo Jima, stopping at Saipan for fuel, and reached Guam 3 March to disembark 166 casualties.
The Pacific war neared its climax. On 27 March 1945, Hinsdale left Saipan to take her place in the Joint Expeditionary Force--1,213 ships loaded with over a half million troops, headed for Okinawa. Sunday 1 April 1945, D-day for Okinawa, was very nearly Hinsdale's last day in the Pacific. With only a few seconds' warning, Hinsdale could not evade the kamikaze; at 0600 the suicide plane crashed into her port side just above the water line and ripped into the engine room. Three explosion rocked the troop-laden transport as the kamikaze's bombs exploded deep insider her and tore the engine room apart--only one member of the watch survived death by scalding steam from the exploding boilers.
Hinsdale came to a dead stop in the water, with three gaping holes in her port side. Below decks Hinsdale's crew were groping through the smoke-filled darkness to fight fires started by the kamikaze and to jury-rig patches. Fifteen men were dead; 40 missing or wounded. Despite the injury Hinsdale carried out her job to put the marines ashore. The dangerous list to port of 13 degrees corrected; the ship taken in tow by ATR-80 at an agonizing 5 knots, for Kerama Retto, some 20 miles away. Emergency repair work began immediately amidst continued kamikaze attacks; Hinsdale exacted some revenge by assisting in the kill of at least two of the suicide craft. Her cargo, mainly equipment and stores needed by the Marines was shifted to PittHinsdale was pressed into service as a receiving ship for survivors of other kamikaze victims.
On 14 April she departed Kerama Retto, towed by Leo (AKA-6) in a convoy of LSTs. Sailing slowly the convoy reached Ulithi 23 April; there Hinsdale, after a month of intensive work by repair ship Vulcan, was ready for sea, and on 20 May sailed for the States. Hinsdale put into the Brooklyn Navy Yard 2 July 1945 for a complete overhaul. While she was there undergoing repairs, the Japanese surrendered, but Hinsdale was destined to make one last Pacific voyage.
Departing 21 November, to participate in operation "Magic Carpet," the return of Pacific veterans, she sailed via Pearl Harbor to Sasebo and Nagasaki, embarked over a thousand troops and reached San Francisco 25 January 1946. Thence she sailed to Norfolk Navy Yard, arriving 20 February; was decommissioned 8 April 1946, returned to the Maritime Commission for disposal 12 April and her name was stricken from the Navy Register 1 May 1946. Hinsdale was placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Norfolk and later struck from the Navy Register
Hinsdale received two battle stars for World War II service.