All necessary alterations effected, provisions and fuel aboard, our next destination was St. Andrew's Bay, Panama City, Florida and shakedown -- a period of 14 days when all hands made mistakes. During these hectic days, we learned how little we actually knew about the wartime operation of a ship. The intensive training given the crew at the Amphibious Training Base, Camp Bradford, Norfolk Virginia, now began to function. It became an endless series of fire drills, general quarters, abandon ship and various other drills, in addition to beachings, moorings, refueling at sea and other necessary operations. Yes, we endured it and finally sailed back to New Orleans for our final check-up period.
The next few weeks were spent at New Orleans, Louisiana; Gulfport, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama respectively; making preparations for departure to the Pacific theater.
On 19 March 1945, we set sail from Mobile, Alabama with a capacity load of ammunition and pontoon barges enroute to Eniwetok, where we hoped we would find a ready market for our cargo.
Colon, Panama Canal Zone, served as our last source of supplies before our long journey across.
Most of the crew of officers and enlisted men gazed upon the Pacific Ocean for their first time at daybreak, March 1945. Following a few hours of anti-aircraft practice, we set sail for Eniwetok Atoll, alone, without sight of land for 30 days.
Nobody seemed interested in our cargo at Eniwetok, so a load of personnel was placed aboard -- destination Guam. Additional personnel were assigned to us to transport to Ulithi, West Caroline Islands, where we were sure we would unload our precious cargo.
Naval authorities at Ulithi informed us that our destination was Okinawa, a campaign launched since our departure from the Panama Canal Zone. We soon became a part of a large convoy headed for Okinawa.
An inexperienced crew with only few exceptions, spent their first sleepless night as we approached Kerama Retto Channel early the next morning; we saw the results of a few unfriendly visitors on the previous night.
During the following six weeks we became an integral part of the logistics support forces, supplying battleships, cruisers, carriers, and destroyers with ammunition so necessary in this phase of the campaign. At any hour of the night or day we might expect a ship of the line alongside for a supply of ammo. With this schedule, in addition to the weather, the many air raids and alerts, most all hands experienced a new type of life.
On 1 July 1945, we were ordered to Leyte, Philippine Islands, with ammunition consigned to the army air corps. For the remainder of July and August, we discharged our cargo and made all necessary repairs, which included a new paint job. Days began to get quite long as we were placed on a four hour alert. It was during these long days, while peace terms were being discussed, that rumors of the next mission were being exchanged. Our loading was delayed for several days until the announcement of the premature peace offer.
On 27 August 1945, we were ordered to Batangas, Southern Luzon, Philippine Islands, to load army personnel and equipment. Having received our load, we spent a short period of watchful waiting during the signing of the peace terms.
On 6 September 1945, we set sail for Japan with army occupation forces, arriving in Tokyo Bay, Japan, on 15 September 1945. Between this date and 6 November 1945, we were engaged in shuttle runs between various parts of Okinawa and Japan with occupation forces to Sendai in Northern Honshu and the Tokyo Bay area.
Two typhoons interrupted our regular scheduled operations - the first occurring on September 29 and 30 and the latter on October 9 and 10. On both occasions we put to sea, barely escaping the fury of the first; but not so lucky on the latter. We endured two most unusual days in the history of our lives, returning to Nago Wan, Western Okinawa, with most of our ship intact.
We were ordered to Guam, from Tokyo Bay, on 6 November 1945. Arriving there on 12 November, we were assigned a load of army personnel, destination San Pedro, California.
Our first "Magic Carpet" run began at Guam on 15 November when we set sail for Pearl Harbor with 492 army personnel, and ended with a change of orders at Pearl Harbor.
On 1 December 1945, the U.S.S. LST-1097 ended her duty as a part of the Third Amphibious Fleet, buy being assigned to the Service Force, Pacific Fleet, for supply duty.
Thus, the war history of the U.S.S. LST-1097 ends in Pearl Harbor, awaiting entry into Navy Yard for conversion, with thirty-three percent of the original crew aboard. The remainder of the crew of officers and men having been transferred -- low point men remaining in the forward areas and the high point men being discharged. As to the future, we are yet waiting further assignment to duty.
|Wanderings Abroad of the U.S.S. LST-1097|
|Kerama Retto||July||1||Leyte (Samar)||July||6||960|
|Leyte (Samar)||August||26||Batangas Bay||August||29||600|
|Btangas Bay||September||6||Tokyo Bay||September||15||2640|
|Pearl Harbor||April||1||San Diego||April||10||2400|