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A BRIEF HISTORY OF USS LCS(L) 48
Robert C. Heim with Robert J. Amick
Recollections and Records
The crew of LCS 48 for the most part was put together at Solomons Island Amphib base in Maryland. We boarded a troop train in July 1944 and headed across country - going through Virginia where people had signs out in their yards, "Sailors and Dogs – keep out", then went through Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio. We stopped in Chicago, Ill. to change tracks. A number of us were sick - diarrhea. I blamed it on some rum I drank. The train proceeded across the northern states, very beautiful, to Portland, Oregon. There were five or six truckloads of sailors that were taken to sick bay on arrival.
Portland, Oregon had only four Navy barracks. There were no soldiers. There were ten to one women to men. We had to get up and clean barracks till nine or ten a.m., and the rest of the day was ours until LCS(L) 48 was commissioned in August. At the ship’s commissioning everyone was in their dress uniforms standing at attention. There were a lot of Rosey the riveters working shift work to get the ships finished.
The LCS 48 was built in Portland, Oregon by Albina Engine and Machine Works. The keel was laid on 25 May 1944 and she was launched on 14 July 1944.
DECK LOG, Saturday, 26 August 1944
08–12 - 0920 Moored to starboard side of outfitting dock, Albina Shipyard, Portland, Oregon. All engines and generators secured. Lt. Com. Creim on board, representing the Commandant Thirteenth Naval District, read his orders and placed the ship in commission pursuant to orders from the Chief of Naval Operations. Lt.(jg) John A. Keefer (224777) D-V(G) USNR on board read his orders and assumed command of the ship in compliance with U.S. Naval Amphibious Training Base, Solomons, Maryland orders. Reference: (a) Bupers Ltr. Pers-312-VM dated 20 Dec. 1943. (b) Bupers Ltr. Pers-313-VM dated 10 April 1944. (c) Bupers Ltr. Pers-313-VM dated 3 May 1944. (d) ComPhibTraLant FE25/P16-3 Ser. No. 7379 of 27 April 1944. In accordance with the same orders the following officers reported aboard for duty: Ensign Robert J. Amick (332324) D-V(G), USNR, as Executive Officer; Ensign Joseph D. Reisner (204112) USN as Engineering Officer; Ensign George W. Alfs (336543) D-V(S), USNR, as Communications Officer; Ensign Robert I Stern (330756) D-V(G), USNR, as Gunnery Officer; Ensign Harold (n) Winthrop (369370) D-V(G), USNR, as First Lieutenant.
There were sixty-six plank owners, six being officers and sixty being enlisted men, one Delmar O. Martin, BM1/c being a survivor of the 7 December 1941 Jap attack on Pearl Harbor, four being USN and sixty-two USNR.
After commissioning, LCS 48 left for the San Diego Naval Base. On 10 September in San Diego, Cmdr. Rae E. Arison, USN, Commander of LCS Flotilla One, raised his pennant aboard the 48. Training was conducted in the San Diego area.
On October 20, 1944, LCS 48 departed San Diego for overseas. On 4 November in Pearl Harbor, Lt. Denzil E. Widel, USNR, read orders taking command.
LCS 48 then headed south toward Ellice Island and crossed the Equator at longitude 174 degrees 57 minutes West. There were only three shellbacks aboard, and they had a ball at our crossing ceremony. Kalwaski and I cheated the Royal barber, so we got two wallops, and feathers and grease from the guns added to our head, but it washed out from the pressure hoses. Pitslin had a chunk taken out of his hair that took six months to grow back. Palaski was the chief administrator of the wallops after everyone was washed down with the hose. He had it in for Officer Alfs and gave him six wallops - one was for handing out extra duty as if it were ice cream. Officer Alfs face was red after getting the wallops.
On 21 November LCS 48 crossed the International Dateline.
After arriving in New Guinea on December 5, 1944 we did our additional training by running through the villages on stilts and causing a wake to roll under their huts. I think the officers and men liked to look at the naked native women.
On 15 January 1945 we arrived in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands. During our pre-invasion assault on the village of San Antonio in Zambales on January 29, we discovered that there were no Japanese there, only friendly natives waving American flags. We immediately withheld our gunfire and sent medical officers, nurses, and pharmacist’s mates ashore to treat the wounded. On our next operation into Grande Island, Subic Bay, Luzon, P.I. we saw what looked like 18-inch guns pointed at us but not firing. We found out later that when the Americans left they coated the inside of the guns with heavy grease and removed the breech blocks so they couldn't be fired. We took liberty on Grande Island, where there were a lot of dud "bombs", but later we heard that some soldier had his leg blown off going near a bomb.
On February 15 our ship and the five LCSs – 7, 8, 26, 27 and 49 – in our group supported the landing in Mariveles Harbor, Bataan, P.I. At that time our ship towed and protected the damaged LSM 169 and rescued 12 of its crew.
From the Action Report, Mariveles Bay: “Performance of all officers and men was of the highest order. Special commendation should be given at this time to LOWRY, Paul J. MOMM3/c 923 33 77 for his outstanding work in rescuing four men from the LSM 169. He swam out with a line around his waist and enabled the men to be brought to the ship. Two of the men were badly wounded. Also special mention for PRIDGEN, Herman S., Phm 2/c 556 54 52 for his rapid and careful treatment of the wounded men, his work undoubtedly gave comfort to the men, and under his direction expert first aid was given.”
Denzil E. Widel, Commanding Officer
In the evening of February 15 the five LCSs in our group were assigned as a screen at the mouth of Mariveles Bay to protect the LST Hospital Ship and the damaged LSM in the bay. In the wee hours of the night, the sky lit up with explosions one after the other. We personally thought it was the Destroyers or Cruisers firing, but found out they had gone twelve miles out to sea. Suicide boats had exploded and sunk LCSs 7, 26 and 49. LCS 27, which managed to destroy four of the attacking boats, was severely damaged by a fifth one and had to beach itself to avoid sinking.
At this time our LCS 48 and the LCS 8 were the only ships to survive the suicide boat attack. Because we were the flagship, our communications center was very busy coordinating rescues and damage control operations. The 48 and the 8 searched for survivors and picked them up and carried them to the LST Hospital Ship in the bay.
Just a few hours later, on the next morning of February 16, our ship and the 8 took part in the pre-invasion assault for the landing on Corregidor.
In this operation, the Air Force dropped bombs, while large ships pounded the island for hours. Airborne troops were landed and some of them hit the cliffs and fell into the water. LCSs and LCI (R)s put rockets into the beach. The troops were landed from LCTs, and we could see gunfire coming from dug-in positions. We didn't think anyone could live with all the bombs dropped. The first LCT was wiped out, then we went in again with more rockets, and the landing took place.
After the landing our ship and LCS 8 supported our troops ashore at Corregidor and worked with a reconnaissance patrol along the coast of Bataan, and later with minesweepers in Manila Bay. After our entrance into Manila Bay on 25 February, the minesweepers began sweeping with the LCS 8 and LCS 48 acting as a disposal unit for mines brought to the surface by the YMSs and AMs. During the morning we received word from the OTC (Officer in Tactical Command) to proceed and investigate a raft. We spotted the raft at 1353 with five Japanese military on board, however they all appeared to be dead. As we approached within 50 yards a submachine gun was accidentally discharged and a booby trap or grenade exploded on the raft and as a result several of our men were injured by shrapnel. No battle damage was done to this vessel; however, several men were struck by shrapnel. The wounds were all superficial except for KLAUS, Lloyd W., who was transported to the LST 777 for hospitalization.
As of late February our ship was no longer the Flotilla One flagship since Captain Arison and his staff were transferred to a landing craft flotilla command ship LC(FF).
While at Subic Bay we went out and practiced shooting at sleeves for the invasion of Japan. I think it was on a trip from Samar to Burias Island that we were anchored and the officers went ashore. The officers went to some club for a drinking party. I was on four to eight watch. We got orders to get underway at 0200 with only the duty officer aboard. Tucker and Kraus took our little dinghy and brought them back one at a time, loaded to their ears. I helped pull a couple up over the lifelines, as they found it hard to maneuver. When all were aboard we got underway. The next day, Tucker and Kraus got three days B&W (bread and water) for being off the ship without permission.
On 3 March at Burias Island, P.I. “The performance of all the officers and men was of the highest order. My engineering officer Joseph D. Reisner (Ensign, USN) deserves special mention as he showed much resourcefulness in making repair, with few tools and no spare parts.”
Denzil E. Widel, Commanding Officer
On 1 April, for the Bicol operation, the general plan of the force was to transport, protect and establish ashore at Legaspi the 158th Regimental Combat Team, Sixth U.S. Army in order to assist in securing the San Bernardino Verde Island water route for Allied shipping. On 22 April through 1 May, at Tarakan Island, Borneo, the LCS 48, along with other U.S. Naval vessels, supported minesweeper and demolition units, and supported landing of Australian Troops, to retake Borneo from the Japanese.
At Tarakan Island we went in three days before D-Day with the frogmen. We fired over their heads until they had set demolition charges. They returned to their LCVP's and we backed off so they could blow the beach up for landings. I think it was here that while following the minesweepers a mine came up off our bow. Everyone ran aft for fear it would blow up. After it grazed the ship without going off it was shot out of the water with our 20mm and 40mm. Our ship, with all the other LCSs in the area, supported the invasion of Tarakan on May 1. After they landed their troops on Tarakan Island, before it was even secure, the Aussies got out their tea pots, and behind walls, etc, made a fire for their tea.
I had written home about the story they used to tell us about the wild Man from…………, and it got through the ship’s censor, so my folks knew I was in Borneo at that time. In an operation at Balikpapan, Borneo, LCS 8 took an armor-piercing shell through the conning tower, in one side and out the other, through only 1/4" thick steel. They also took a shell below the water line in the generator room. The electrician’s mate on duty stuffed rags in the hole, carried the unexploded shell topside and threw it overboard. What guts to do that!
In the Brunei operation in the Borneo campaign, our ships supported the minesweepers during the June 7-10 pre-invasion period. After the SALUTE (AM-294), one of the sweepers, was heavily damaged by a mine, our ship and LCS 42, using their salvage equipment, kept the sweeper afloat for four hours. However, because her damage was so severe she was sunk by friendly fire.
From 25 June through 2 July at Balikpapan, Borneo, LCS 48 supported minesweepers, underwater demolition teams and landing of Australian troops.
After Borneo we went back to Subic Bay. We began practicing for the invasion of Japan by going out to sea and shooting at sleeves towed by planes. They used radar-controlled planes for us to shoot at. Then the war ended with the dropping of the A-bomb. We left Subic Bay for two days to escape the wrath of a typhoon. On arriving in Okinawa there was a lot of destruction from the storm and the shelling and campaign of the Marines. LCS 48 left Okinawa for Jinsen, Korea. I believe that was changed to Pusan. We arrived in the dead of night at a Jap boot camp base, where we tied up to Jap ships and posted five guards with machine guns, because the war just ended and we didn't know what to expect. I had the four to eight watch and talked (arm motions) with a Jap from another ship about the insignia on his arm. He went below and came back and gave it to me. He had taken it off his shirt. I had only asked him if he had another insignia.
The LCS 48 patrolled the Sea of Japan, accepted the surrender of two Jap destroyers in company with the 42, assisted the port commander of Pusan in setting up his command, and observed the transporting of Jap munitions (having been stored at Chinhae Naval Base) to be disposed of by dumping past the 40-fathom curve in the Sea of Japan. We were also part of the naval show of force in Jinsen, Korea and Tsingtao, China.
While at this Jap base we picked up sixty-five 30-30 rifles and everyone was sanding the stocks and fixing them up. There were also very crude pieces of stock hanging from guns and every place conceivable. We got underway and tied up to a Jap destroyer in Pusan, and then went to play touch football in an open warehouse. Jack Richards was running out for a pass when a ten-ton army truck caught him in its back wheels and pulled him under. The only place they had to put him in the hospital was on a cot in a venereal disease ward. He hated that because he couldn't sleep at night, these guys were in such pain. Jack finally left for the States.
Later When we were tied up to another pier, we set up horseshoe pits to play every morning after cleaning the deck down. the Koreans and Japs looked at us as if we were crazy. The Japs were taking mines out to sea and getting rid of them. We left and went to another pier. About two days later there was a large explosion. Officer Reisner went to where it had happened. There was a big hole right where we had been. He had pictures before and after. It was real scary. 200 Japs were killed by the explosion. We were told their doctors weren't even helping the wounded. We had good liberty in that small town in Korea. It was much cleaner than Jinsen (the smell in Jinsen was terrible). Even though I made out the liberty list, I didn't go ashore there after the first time.
We left Korea and arrived in China about December 1st 1945. Our Marines were stationed on the beach there, and hated for us sailors to have liberty. They would give the rickshaw drivers a nickel for all day, and us sailors would give them $1.00 for about four hours. A shipmate and I rented bicycles to ride around Tsingtao, and it was the wrong thing to do, there were too many hills. Later We climbed up a spiral staircase at a large club and went out on the roof, and we could look over the whole city. It was very beautiful. I think it was Matala.
Klewski and I went on liberty, and we were in a night club that had a white Russian orchestra playing. We were a little late in leaving, and gave them a tip to play “Sentimental Journey” and “Saint Louis Blues” as we walked out arm in arm. We got rickshaws and started having a race to get back to the ship before being AWOL. The Marines made us run for our ships while they paid the Chinese off.
The next day, December 10, we found out we were leaving for the states, and on 11 December LT (jg.) George W. Alfs, USNR, assumed command, and we departed Tsingtao. The convoy was the largest we'd seen. As far as the eye could see there were ships. We traded movies (spare parts) on the way back. Someone had forgotten to turn the projector back in at Subic Bay. On one trip alongside LCS 34 we took off the two stanchions under her 20 millimeter tub. They had to restrict people from going on the starboard side for fear of going over the side. Then LCS 8’s engines went out, and LCS 48 was assigned to tow her, leaving the convoy. The seas were so rough, while towing LCS 8 at times we couldn't see her. We were awakened at 12 p.m., the cable had broken on our side. But soon the 8 was able to make four knots with one engine, and we steamed into San Pedro, California on 3 February 1946. Everyone was glad to be back in the states. Then they put a new crew on LCS 48. Heim, Irish and Pitslin were the last to leave for home. Hurrah!
On 28 March 1946 in Long Beach, California, LT (jg.) Saul Leonard Solling, USNR assumed command.
On 10 June in Long Beach, California, F.H. Lamartin Jr., LT USN assumed command.
On 18 October, at Bremerton Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, the LCS 48 was placed out of commission.
On 7 October 1947, Fred Markley, of 740 Westlake North, Seattle 9, Washington, Took delivery of the LCS 48, that he had purchased.
The Southwest Pacific Operations of LCS 48; or My Journeys in the Navy:
1944 July 25th- Portland, Oregon
Sept. 11th- San Diego, Calif.
Oct. 30th- Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Nov. 17th- Crossed the equator
Nov. 21st- Funa Futi, Gilbert Is.
Nov. 27th- Russell Is., Solomons Is.
Dec. 5th- Hollandia, New Guinea
1945 Jan. 15th - Leyte, Philippine Is.,
Jan. 29th - San Narcisco, Luzon (operation)
Jan. 3Oth - Subic Bay, Luzon (operation)
Feb. 15th - Mariveles Bay, Luzon (operation)
Feb. 16th - Corrigedor, Luzon (operation)
Mar. 1st - Catoblogan, Samar
Mar. 3rd - Burias, Samar (operation)
Mar. 5th – San Fernando, Samar
April 1st – Legaspi, Luzon (operation)
Apr. 9th - Tsigbauam, Panay, P. I.
Apr. 1Oth - Cebu, P. I.
Apr. 24th - Zamboango, Mindanao, P. I.
Apr. 30th - Sadau, Borneo
May 1st - Tarakan, Borneo (operation)
Jun. 2nd - Morotai, Netherlands East Indies
Jun. 24th - Balikpapan, Borneo (operation)
Aug. 1st - Liberty in Manila
Aug. 11 th - Manicani, P. I.
Aug. 12th - Calician, P.I.
Sept 20th - Okinawa
Sept 28th - Jinsen, Korea
Oct. 3rd - Pusan, Korea
Oct. 14th - Chinkai, Korea
Nov. 9th - jinsen, Korea
Dec. 2nd - Tsingtao, China
Dec. 23rd - Saipan, Marianas
1946 Jan. 1st - Eniwetok
Jan. 14th - Pearl Harbor
Feb. 3rd - U.S.A.
Ribbons and Medals Earned
Acknowledgment: Richards, John J. (2 July 1925 – 7 March 1992), EM3/c, USNR, for what he called his labor of love, securing the LCS 48’s log and action reports.
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