A Brief History of LCS(L)85
This ship's history begins with two amphibious training bases; one in Solomons, Md., and the other in Fort Pierce, Fl. The gunnery officer was given a crew of 32 men in early September 1944 at Fort Pierce to train in the use of the several different guns and small arms and weapons used on LCS(L)s. They completed their training there in three weeks and proceeded to Solomons, Md., where they were incorporated into the rest of the crew.
At Solomons the whole crew of 65 men and 6 officers, with the captain, went on training cruises in Chesapeake Bay and received additional training ashore until they were considered qualified to properly man and operate an LCS(L).
On October 27, 1944 the entire crew entrained for Portland, Oregon. While in Portland all hands had a wonderful time doing a fine job of commissioning. We were originally to have commissioned LCS(L)81 but because of a polio epidemic we were reassigned to LCS(L)85 and commissioned her on December 9, 1944 at Commercial Iron Works, her builder, in Portland.
Original crew members were Ensign Craig E. Randall, Captain; James H. Littlefield, Executive Officer; Ensign James C, Webster, Engineering Officer; Ensign Robert E. Neal, Jr., Communication Watch Officer; Ensign Richard H. Lewis, Gunnery Officer; Ensign Donald Ball, First Lieutenant; Abear, Manual D, PHM2c; Adams, David W., S2c; Anderson, Richard H., FC3c; Armstrong, Bernard E., S2c; Amette, Frank G., S2c; Barney, Tom J., S2c; Barnhard, Edward A., GM3c; Bartleson, W.E., S2c; Boles, Glenn D., S2c; Boles, Roy L. S2c; Bolin, John J.,S2c; and Bostick, George J., GM2c.
Crew members also included Bourdeau, John L. GM3c; Breuer, Harry J. S2c; Broadway, Lonnie D. S2c; Brown, John F. S2c; Campbell, Gordon L. S2c; Chandler, C. C. S2c; Conner, Thomas E. S2c; Cook, Robert B. S2c; Crabtree, Charles 0. S2c; Craver, Joseph M. S2c; Csanyi, Elmer N. S2c; Curran, William J. S2c; Denton, Lamar S2c; Dickerson, Howard C. S2c; Dix, James L. S2c; Dorsett, Harvey B. S2c; Dudzeic, John Flc; Edge, Carl N. S2c; Eklund, Ivar E. S2c; Elkin, Ralph G. SM3c; Fogarty, R.J. RM3c; Frankhouser, M.O., S2c; Frede, William D. S2c; Fuller, Donald N., RM3c; Gibson, James A., QM3c; and Gmiter, Charles T., S2c.
Also Hancock, Walter L., SC2c; Hanks, Robert J., S2c; Houley, Joseph M., Slc; Hunter, Henry Paul, Flc; Huntington, J.K. Jr., Flc; Kennedy, Clarence L., GM3c; Krause, Charles F., RT3c; Mansell, James H., Jr., F2c; Margo, Frank, Sr., F2c; Martin, W. L., Jr., S2c; Milarski, Norbert F., S1c; Miller, Junior B., S2c; Munn, P.C., RDM3c; Murphy, Sidney, Jr., StM1c; Pondage, John A., S2c; Renze, Anthony J., SIc; Ridge, Marshall H., BM2c; Staples, Simon G., S2c; Vaday, John, S2c; Vanover, Ralph, MOMM2c; West, Walter L. Jr., F2c; Whitney, Eugene P., SIc; Whyers, Roger W., F2c; Wible, James F., S2c; and Wiseman, Charles R., EM3c.
On December 20 the ship left Portland for her cruise to San Diego for further training and shakedown. The very rough seas were hard on many of the crew who suffered their first case of severe seasickness. By the time we'd reached San Diego, we'd regained our sea legs but our morale was a bit low--we arrived on Christmas Eve.
A period of intensive training and hard work began immediately. Already there was much maintenance to do and there were many alterations to be made, but first we put out to sea and smoothed off the rough edges of seamanship and ship handling. We ended our training with a mock invasion of San Clemente Island and returned to the base for more maintenance and inspections. We were now a well knit crew of experienced sailors with a good ship ready for sea and the war.
On February 11 we saw San Diego and the United States for the last time in many months as we proceeded to Pearl Harbor. After a six day trip we arrived at Pearl, but even in that short time we missed our mail greatly.
The first of March was an exciting day for us; we saw our first large convoy as we took station with three groups of LCTs (36 ships), nine LCSs, four Landing Craft Command Ships and a Patrol Craft. We were going to Guam. Since the LCTs cruised at 5 to 6 knots and had frequent engine and steering problems, our trip took 35 days with welcomed stops at Johnston Island and Majuro. From Guam we went to Saipan, where seeing the large B29s taking off to bomb Japan was inspiring.
While at Saipan we installed eight .50 caliber machine guns. That helped morale considerably since we knew we were enroute to Okinawa where we might encounter suicide boats and swimmers.
On April 17 we arrived at Okinawa and entered Chimu Bay. The war seemed strangely absent until the first few air raids at dusk. From then on for weeks the war was very present in our minds . Our first duty was anti-suicide boat patrol at the entrance to the bay. On April 18 we sighted and destroyed a suicide boat on the beach; it made a tremendous explosion, much greater than expected. When we weren't on patrol we were covering the larger ships with smoke during frequent air raids.
We were assigned our first duty on radar picket patrol on Station 1, about 50 miles north of Okinawa. Our first such patrol lasted 14 days during which time we were on 4 stations. The patrol usually consisted of 4 LCSs or other similar support ships and two or three destroyers, and its primary mission was to provide early aircraft warnings to the U S commands on and around Okinawa and to engage the incoming kamikaze enemy aircraft and shoot them down. We served on seven different stations during the course of the four assignments to picket duty, each assignment usually lasting 12 days. Between assignments we took on supplies and ammunition while standing anti-suicide patrol or smoke cover duty at night.
From May 11 to 13 this ship took part in the invasion and capture of the island of Tori Shima, an island approximately 60 miles from Okinawa.
That describes the duties which this ship undertook in the Okinawa operation; it does not touch on the rigors of that duty. It does not indicate the rough conditions of weather and sea encountered during the first several weeks of the operation; it doesn't tell of sleeping in your clothes for weeks because of the frequent calls to general quarters; it cannot impart the mingled feelings of fear and exhilaration experienced during kamikaze attacks. This is as much of the history of the ship and the crew as is operational data; these are the facts which are not so easily forgotten and which leave the most lasting effect. Despite the fact that this ship repelled several kamikaze attacks and shot down four planes, two unassisted, there has not been a single battle casualty to the ship or the crew.
Early in July this vessel, having accomplished its mission at Okinawa, proceeded to Tacloban, Leyte Island, in the Philippines, for much needed maintenance and rehabilitation. After much hard work, under difficult conditions of climate and a dysentery epidemic, the ship was in excellent condition and ready for sea again. After September 1st this vessel left Leyte and proceeded to Tokyo Bay, Japan. After surviving a typhoon there we transported liberty parties daily from larger ships to Yokosuka, Yokohama, or Tokyo-- rather dull duty compared to some we'd seen.
In early February of 1946 this ship departed Tokyo Bay arriving in San Francisco in late March. In early May LCS 85 proceeded to Astoria, Oregon where it was decomissioned on July 9, 1946, and placed in mothballs at Tongue Point, Oregon nearby.
Written by Richard Lewis and Donald Ball
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