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Casa Grande

 

Casa Grande, a dwelling near Phoenix, Ariz., was built by the Salado Indians about 1350. It is now a national monument.

 

(LSD-13: dp. 4,490; l. 457'9"; b. 72'2"; dr. 18'; s. 15 k.; cpl. 326; a. 1 5"; cl. Casa Grande)

 

Casa Grande (LSD-13) was launched 11 April 1944 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Va.; sponsored by Mrs. G. Delapalme; and commissioned 5 June 1944, Lieutenant Commander F. E. Strumm, USNR, in command.

 

Sailing from Hampton Roads 19 July 1944, Casa Grande was delayed at Balboa, C.Z. for repairs en route to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived 21 August. Here she offloaded landing craft brought from the east coast, and loaded men and equipment for the invasion of Yap. However, upon her arrival at Eniwetok 25 September, she was ordered to Manus to prepare for the Leyte operation. Assigned to the Southern Attack Force, she entered Leyte Gulf uneventfully, and took part in the initial assault on 20 October. Her men worked at fever pace under enemy air attack as they launched their landing craft and serviced other small craft engaged in this triumphant return to the Philippines, and on 22 October, she withdrew for Hollandia. During the next month, she made two voyages from New Guinea to Leyte, ferrying reinforcements, and evacuating casualties.

 

December 1944 found Casa Grande preparing for the second of the massive operations in the Philippines, and on 31 December she sailed in TF 79's Attack Group "Baker" for Lingayen Gulf. First enemy contact came at sunset on 8 January 1945, as a small but determined group of kamikazes attacked. One of these broke through to damage Kitkun Bay (CVE-71) severely, but Casa Grande came through unscathed, and joined in driving away the scattered individual enemy aircraft which pushed the attack onward.

 

Although sporadic attacks by Japanese aircraft and small ships tried to disrupt the landings, the long months of detailed planning bore fruit as Casa Grande and the others of her group carried out their landing assignments smoothly on 9 January 1945. She continued to operate in support of the invasion, plying between Lingayen, Leyte, and Morotai until 30 January. Casa Grande next cruised among the Solomons to load Marines, landing craft, and tanks for the invasion of Okinawa. She took departure from Ulithi 26 March, and arrived off Okinawa at dawn of 1 April. Landing equipment and troops under the first of the kamikaze attacks which were to bathe the Okinawa operation in blood, she moved to Kerama Retto 4 April to operate a small boat repair shop there until 3 June, when she sailed for a minor overhaul at Leyte.

 

Through July 1945, Casa Grande sailed between ports of the South Pacific and Philippines transporting men and landing craft, and on 23 July she sailed for dry-docking at San Francisco.

 

Between 12 September 1945, when she returned to Honolulu, and 20 April 1946, when she docked at San Francisco, Casa Grande_ supported occupation and redeployment operations in' the western Pacific. She ferried landing craft and motor torpedo" boat squadrons, calling at ports in the South Pacific, China, Japan, Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Alaska. On 14 May 1946, she left San Francisco for Norfolk, Va., where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve 23 October 1946.

 

Casa Grande was recommissioned 1 November 1950 and based at Norfolk. Exercises off the east coast, and supply missions to Newfoundland and Greenland, as well as amphibious training in the Caribbean, formed the pattern of her operations through 1960. She has voyaged to the Mediterranean for service in the 6th Fleet on three occasions. She sailed for the first such deployment 20 April 1953, and on 13 August, was dispatched to the Ionian Islands to aid victims of earthquakes. At Cephalonia she established a beach center for medical supplies and provisions, and sent parties in to the mountains to deliver supplies and bury the dead. When Casa Grande sailed from Cephalonia a week later, she left behind a hospital corpsman, as well as details of Marines who began rebuilding homes and roads. Thus she played an outstanding role in the humanitarian services for which the United States Navy has become known in the most remote corners of the earth.. She returned to Norfolk from this cruise 28 October 1953. Her next deployment to the Mediterranean took place between 29 July 1959 and 9 February 1960. On her return to the States she cruised off the east coast in amphibious exercises and participated briefly in "Project Mercury" (man in space) operations. Casa Grande sailed for 6th Fleet duty in November and finished 1960 in the Mediterranean. She continues to serve the Atlantic Fleet.

 

Casa Grande received three battle stars for World War II service.