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BRIEF HISTORY of the USS LCS(L) 59
Keith Reid, Crew Member
On a cold, wet rainy Tuesday morning, November 14, 1944, in Portland, Oregon, at the Albina Shipyards, our crew mustered for "Commissioning" on the decks of the USS LCS(L)(3) 59. Lieutenant Commander Norman L. Claxton, USNR, was named the Captain of the 59 on that day in these ceremonies. Other officers included D. J. "Duke" Cooper, Executive Officer; Ensign Robert G. Anderson, First Lieutenant; Ensign Walter Wedig, Communications Officer; Ensign Dan L. Berrar, Gunnery Officer; Ensign Anthony Pezzulich and Horace P. Andrews, Engineering Officers. Also, Dr. Donald C. Walker, MD, was aboard as Medical Officer for our Group. Sixty five sailors, (including Chief Boatswain's Mate Robert Penn), with various rates and ranks filled the billets.
After this ceremony, the loading of supplies and ammunition began. A few days later, our ship sailed away from Portland, down the Willamette River, into the Columbia River. Then, to the open sea to meet those huge ground swells that occur near the shoreline. We learned quickly how sailing a flat bottomed ship in a rough sea can be. Many of the crew became seasick. This "shakedown cruise" hugged the shoreline and took us to San Diego, California, for further training and outfitting. At San Diego, a convoy of LCS's and Landing Craft Tanks (LCTs) was formed. Our first duty: escort this group of very slow LCTs to Hawaii. (Very similar to herding sheep.) At "general quarters" every morning at dawn, it didn't take us long to get into an early morning habit that continued throughout the entire war.
At Pearl Harbor, more gunnery training, ship handling, loading of supplies and ammunition was the order of our days. The LCS 59 left Pearl Harbor on January 3, 1945, escorting this same convoy of LCTs to the Philippine Islands. The following "ports of call" were noted in our logs: Eniwetok, Marianas Islands; Kossol Roads, Philippines; Leyte Gulf, Philippines. Finally, the LCTs arrived at their destination, freeing us.
We were assigned to Borneo for the invasions of Brunei Bay and Balikpapan. On June 7 and 8, prior to the Brunei Bay invasion, our ship, working with six other LCSs, provided protection for the minesweepers and served as a mine demolition unit in the heavily mined waters of Brunei Bay. In this important operation approximately 1,000 mines were destroyed by LCS gunners. On June 10 our ship supported the Brown Beach landing on Labuan Island in the bay, making two runs with both gunfire and rocket fire. Later in June our ship also served as a mine demolition unit destroying mines cut loose by the minesweepers along the Miri Coast in Borneo.
Back to the Panay, Cebu and Palawan, Philippines for more training for the invasion of Japan. It was here we learned Japan had surrendered. The war in the Pacific was over!
We went to Okinawa on the way to Inchon, Korea. We had participated in the tail end of one typhoon in the Philippines, now in Okinawa, we were engulfed totally in another one. By skilled handling by our Captain, we stayed afloat while underway most of this time.
The 59 invaded Inchon, Korea in full, but unneeded battle conditions. Our ship then escorted some Japanese destroyers down the coast to Pusan, Korea.
Our next station was Shanghai, China. We sailed into that harbor with some American destroyers and other ships at full ready, but were pleasantly surprised by the reception we received. We used Shanghai and Taipei, Formosa as operating bases for mine demolition detail, sailing back and forth. Back in Shanghai for Christmas, 1945, the 59 was placed in "dry dock" for painting of the hull and other repairs done by Chinese workers. Here we found we would be leaving for the United States. With the war at an end, many of the crew had received enough "points" for discharge from the U. S. Navy, including Captain Claxton. Powell J. Pierpoint, Executive Officer from the LCS 61, became our new Skipper, with orders to sail to Long Beach, California via Saipan, Wake Island, Pearl Harbor. We arrived in Long Beach on March 6, 1946. A few days later LCS 59 sailed through the Panama Canal and headed for Glen Cove Springs, Florida for final "mothballing."
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