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Johnson County

 

Counties in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

 

(LST-849: dp. 1,625; l. 328'; b. 50'; dr. 11'; s. 12 k.; cpl. 266; a. 8 40mm., 12 20mm.; cl. LST-542)

 

LST-849 was laid down by the American Bridge Co., Ambridge, Pa., 10 November 1944; launched 20 December; sponsored by Mrs. William B. Hetzel; and commissioned at New Orleans 25 January 1945, Lt. Emil C. Hetzel in command.

 

Following shakedown off Florida. LST-849 loaded construction material and departed New Orleans for the Pacific 2 March. After stops at the Canal Zone, Pearl Harbor, and Eniwetok, the landing ship reached Guam 6 May. There she unloaded her cargo before sailing to Saipan 17 May to prepare to support operations at Okinawa.

 

Joining a convoy of LST's, she proceeded to that strategic island which lay at the gateway to the Japanese homeland. Arriving 26 May, she engaged the enemy 3 days later when a "Nate" was sighted off starboard. As the Japanese plane went into her dive, LST-849 opened fire, splashing the raider before he found his mark. Despite other air attacks, she remained at Okinawa, discharging cargo and shuttling supplies until the island was secured.

 

For the duration of the war, LST-849 supported fleet operations between Okinawa and the Philippines. After Japan agreed to Allied peace terms, the battle-tested landing ship was assigned to transport occupation forces in the Far East. Sailing from the Philippines and Okinawa during September and October 1945, she shuttled cargo and troops to the Yokohama-Tokyo area.

 

LST-489 departed Tokyo 28 October; embarked U.S.-bound veterans at Guam; and on 7 November was en route to Pearl Harbor. After discharging her troops in Hawaii, she arrived San Diego 15 December. In mid-January 1946 she steamed to Astoria, Oreg.; decommissioned at Vancouver, Wash.,'13 June; and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet. While berthed in the Columbia River, she was named Johnson County 1 July 1955. She was transferred to Korea in January 1959, and serves the Korean navy as Wi Bong (LST-812).

 

LST-849 received one battle star for World War II service.