Herald of the Morning
A Maritime Commission name retained.
(AP-173 : dp. 6,556 light; l. 459'2" ; b. 63'; dr. 25'9" max.; s. 16 k.; a. 1 5", 4 3")
Herald of the Morning (AP-173) was launched under Maritime' Commission contract by Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Calif., 14 August 1943; sponsored by Mrs. J. R. Moore. After service with U.S. Lines, she was converted to Navy use at United Engineering Co., Alameda, Calif.; and acquired by the Navy on a loan-charter basis 22 April 1944. 'She commissioned 22 April 1944, Comdr. H. A. Dunn in command.
After a brief shakedown cruise, the -ship loaded troops and supplies and sailed 2 May for the Hawaiian Islands. Arriving 6 days later, Herald of the Morning engaged in amphibious training exercises for the upcoming invasion of the Marianas, an important step in the historic island-hopping campaign toward Japan. The ships departed for the Marshalls 1 June. Herald of the Morning was assigned to a reserve group, and arrived Saipan 16 June, the day after Vice Admiral R. K. Turner's Marines had stormed ashore. The transport unloaded her supplies, debarked troops, and retired to Eniwetok 26 June. There she remained 1-13 July before sailing to Pearl Harbor to load more troops for the Pacific fighting.
Herald of the Morning arrived Pearl Harbor 31 July, brought troops and supplies on board, and sailed 12 August 1944 for training operations in the Guadalcanal area. Assigned to the Peleliu operation, the ship departed 8 September and arrived off the Palaus 7 days later. On 17 September she engaged in a diversionary landing on Babelthuap Island, in the group, pulling back her units just before they hit the beaches. In the meantime, a full landing had been made on Angaur Island, where Herald of the Morning discharged her troops and cargo the next day.
As events in the western Pacific picked up momentum, the transport sailed 21 September for Ulithi, debarked the remainder of her men and cargo, and arrived Seeadler harbor, Manus, 28 September. There she began preparations for the return to the Philippines—the invasion of Leyte. Assigned to the Northern Attack Force, the transport got underway from Manus 12 October and discharged her troops and cargo during the initial assault phases 20 October. Herald of the Morning then returned to Guam via the Palaus to embark more troops. As the Japanese moved to challenge the invasion of the Philippines in a giant sortie which resulted in the decisive Battle of Leyte Gulf, Herald of the Morning took on board reinforcements, and shifted to Manus for additional troops 16 November. Two days later she sailed for the Philippines, discharging troops north of Dulag 23 November. During this period the ship was forced to fight off enemy air attacks, but suffered no important damage.
Herald of the Morning departed 24 November for New Guinea, arriving 30 November, and spent the next month in training near Sansapor for the next strike in the Philippines, the Lingayen Gulf operation. She sailed 30 December and despite heavy air attacks on the convoys arrived in the gulf 9 January for the initial invasion. There the ship endured heavy air attacks before successfully disembarking her units and retiring to anchorage. With the important invasion underway, Herald of the Morning sailed 12 January 1945 for Leyte Gulf. She loaded troops there 14 January and at Biak 22 January, unloading these much-needed reinforcements on Mindoro 9 February.
Returning to Leyte 12 February, Herald of the Morning sailed 3 days later for Ulith'i and Iwo Jima, where she embarked veterans of the early fighting on that bitterly contested island 9-27 March. Departing 27 March, the ship brought her troops to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco, steaming through the Golden Gate 23 April.
With replacement troops on board and repairs made, the transport sailed 29 June for Manila, via Eniwetok and Ulithi. She arrived Manila 29 July, unloaded her troops, and began the long voyage back to the United States. As Herald of the Morning sailed for San Francisco with returnees, the surrender of Japan was announced. The ship arrived 11 September, and was assigned to Operation "Magic Carpet," the gigantic task of bringing home the thousands of American servicemen. 'She made four more voyages to the islands of the Pacific on this mission, and was released for deactivation 21 June 1946. Returning to Olympia, Washington, in July, she decommissioned 9 August and was returned to the Maritime Commission. Subsequently sold to Waterman Lines, the ship sailed as Citrus Packer until 1958 when she was sold to Gulf-South American Lines as Gulf Trader.
Herald of the Morning received five battle stars for World War II service.