During World War II, LST-980 was assigned to the European theater and and participated in the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Following the war, LST-980 saw extensive service with the Amphibious Fleet, Atlantic. Named Meeker County (LST-980) on 1 July 1955 after a county in Minnesota, she was decommissioned on 16 December 1955 and assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Modernized and recommissioned on 23 September 1966, the tank landing ship operated in the VIetnam theater commencing in 1967 and ending in 1970.
LST-980 earned one battle star for World War II service and nine battle stars, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, and the Navy Unit Commendation for Vietnam service.
A county in Minnesota.
(LST-980: dp. 1,625; l. 328'; b. 50'; dr. 11'; s. 12 k.' cpl. 226; a. 8 40mm., 12 20mm.; cl. LST-511)
LST-980 was laid down at the Boston Naval Shipyard, Boston, Mass., 9 December 1943; launched 27 January 1944; sponsored by Miss Imelda M. Munzing; and commissioned 28 February 1944, Lt. W.F. Westfall in command.
In April 1944 after completing shakedown exercises in Chesabeake Bay, LST-980 loaded equipment and got underway for England, where plans for the invasion of France had been stalled in debate over the need for shipping, a need and resultant disagreement so acute that Prime Minister Chruchill had quipped, "The destinies of two great empires . . . seem to be tied up in some _____ things called LSTs."
Upon afrriving in England, LST-980 underwent further amphibious triaing and by early June stood ready for D-Day. On 5 June the ships of operation "Overlord" sortied from the English coast and on 6 June the Allies landed on the Normandy beaches. Participating in the invasion, LST-980 was bracketed by bombs, one of which, a 125-pound dud, penetrated the hull and two bulkheads, killing one man and causing minor damage. After the establishment of th beachhead, the landing ship remained in the area providing shuttle service between the United Kingdom abnd France. Carrying men and euqipment to France, she returned to England with prisoners of war, transporting upwards of 900 at one time.
[Came under fire from German shore batteries while transporting ammunition to St. Michel during this period. -- MoMM3c Art Hamilton]
LST-980 returned to the United States in Febgruary 1945, and was assigned to training activities along the east coast for the remainder of thewar. Following the war she remained at Little Creek, Va., and continued her training operations, extending them to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Those included participation in CAMID I, II, and III, joint Army-Navy operations to acquaint Academy cadets and midshipmen with amphibious warfare.
On 30 April 1949, LST-980 departed Little Creek for the Mediterranea and 5 months' duty with the 6th Fleet. Returning to her base 4 October, she resumed east coast operations. With only three interruptions, two resupply missions to the Baffin Bay area in the sumers of 1951 and 1952, and a 2-month tour as support LST for marines on Vieques Island in 1954, she continued to provide amphibious traiing to Naval and Marine Corps personnel until July 1955. Renamed Meeker County 1 July 1955, she steamed to New York in mid-Julyc to b eign inactivation. On 23 September she arrived at Freen Cove Springs to complete the process. Decommissioning 16 December4 1955, she remained inthe Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, until transferred to Philadelphia in October 1961.
In 1965 an urgent need for amphibious types caused Meeker County to be reactivated. Modernized at Baltimore, she recommissioned 23 September 1966, underwent intensive traiing at Little Creek, and 20 January 1967 departed for her new home port, Guam. She arrived at Apra 7 April and then sailed for Vietnam for a tour of duty as a unit fo Landing Ship Squadron 3. Operating from Da Nang, she has provided almost continuous support to combat operations in Vietnam into 1969.
LST-980 received one battle star for World War II service.