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A BRIEF HISTORY OF U.S.S. LCS(L)(3) 49
Harry Meister, Engineering Officer, LCS 27
LCS 49 was commissioned on August 31, 1944 at the Albina Engine and Machine Works Inc., Portland, Oregon. She was assigned to Flotilla One, Seventh Fleet, Task Force 78.3.8, consisting of LCSs 7, 8, 26, 27, 48 and 49. Her gunnery crew trained at Little Creek, Virginia. The rest of the crew trained at the Amphibious Base at Solomons, Maryland. Her shakedown was conducted in September in San Diego, California.
On January 29, 1945, LCS 49 took part in the landings at San Antonio, Luzon,Philippine Islands. On January 31 landings were made at Subic Bay and Grande Island, Luzon, P.I. There was no enemy resistance to either landing. The Japanese were retreating.
On February 15 LCS Flotilla One provided inshore fire support for the landings at Mariveles Harbor. Only minor opposition was encountered, but one LSM struck a mine. At the end of the day, Flotilla One anchored as a screen across the mouth of Mariveles Bay.
On February 16 at approximately 0320, the flotilla came under a surprise attack by about 30 suicide boats, and by heavy shore-based gunfire that appeared to come from Cabello Island. In a matter of minutes LCSs 7, 26 and 49, after receiving multiple hits, were sunk with the loss of 73 lives and many more wounded. LCS 27 managed to sink 4 suicide boats before the fifth blew up along the port side causing extensive damage resulting in flooding. The ship was saved from sinking by beaching it in Mariveles Bay. Since LCS 8 and LCS 48 were not in the immediate area at the time, they did not come under attack.
Lieutenant(j.g.) Charles Trezona, on LCS 49, recalled his ship’s last moments:
“We had no warning of the attack. The ship was hit twice in a minute and a half and we didn’t have a chance. At 0300 something whizzed out of the darkness, holed into the after end of the ship, and our port side shot into flames. None of us had ever seen anything like it before. The low-slung pointed boat just disintegrated against the side of the ship. We had organized a party to fight the fire of the first ramming, when something struck us forward on the starboard side and the ship heaved. I was thrown in the water. Some of our rafts and gas drums floated by in the wreckage. The officers were swimming about rounding up groups and assigning the badly hurt to rafts. It was one of coolest performances I’ve ever seen and all hands deserve credit. The Skipper was seriously injured himself, but gave his life belt to one of the weaker men and held another in his arms for two hours while clinging to a drum. One of the wounded men had a life belt and couldn’t inflate it. Though part of my upper teeth had been knocked out in the explosion, somehow I managed to blow his belt up; still I don’t know where the necessary air came from.”
Concerning the tragic loss of men from this ship and the other two LCSs at Mariveles Bay, Richard Rhame, Flotilla One Historian, has written these lines: “Left behind beneath the blue-grey waters of Mariveles Bay were those 73 brave men who had given their lives in the best tradition of the Navy. Their sacrifice will live forever in the hearts and minds of their mates.”
The following men of the LCS-49 lost their lives in the action:
William O. Barlow
Robert J. Caton
John H. Clay
William P. Comer
Sam H. Deakins
Edward A. Decker
Henry O. DuPont
Arnold H. Ferguson
James E. Ganley
Elmer C. Glenn
Peter G. McGrath
Victor L. Raymond
Harold A. Scribner
Sylvester M. Sikon
George W. Spahr
William E. Travers
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