A town and county in Illinois named after Rene Robert Chevalier de La Salle, one of the most celebrated explorers and builders of New France in the 17th century.
(AP-102: dp. 5,933; l. 459'2"; b. 63'; dr. 23' s. 16.5 k.; cpl. 316; trp 1,310; a. 1 5", 4 3", 12 20mm.; T. C2-C-B1)
The first La Salle (AP-102) was laid down 29 April 1942 under Maritime Commission contract as SS Hotspur by Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Calif.; launched 2 August 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Naomi S. Kehoe; acquired by the Navy 18 March 1943; and commissioned as Hotspur 31 March 1943, Comdr. Fred C. Fluegel in command.
Renamed La Salle 6 April 1943, she left Port Hueneme, Calif., 14 April with Seabees for Guadalcanal, returning to San Francisco 10 July. After another voyage to Guadalcanal in August, she steamed to Wellington, New Zealand, arriving 27 October. There and in the New Hebrides, she conducted simulated attacks and landing boat exercises with marines in preparation for the assault on Tarawa, for which she sailed 13 November with TF 53. She arrived off the invasion beaches 19 November, and was shelled by enemy shore batteries early the next morning, suffering no serious damage. She cleared Tarawa the 24th and steamed to San Diego, where she arrived 13 December to prepare for the invasion of the Marshalls.
La Salle left the west coast 13 January 1944 and arrived off Kwajalein 8 days later to land men of the 4th Marine Division. La Salle left the atoll 8 February for Pearl Harbor, then later made several reinforcement movements.
From Pearl Harbor she sailed 11 May with troops for the invasion of the Marianas, arriving on D-day, 15 June to witness the preinvasion bombardment before landing her marines. She retired from the battle zone 23 June and reached Pearl Harbor 24 July. She then proceeded to Guadalcanal in August where rehearsals for the capture of the Palaus ended 8 September. She arrived off the Palaus 15 September and made a feinting attack to keep enemy troops occupied in the northern islands during the attack on Pelelieu itself. She landed her troops on the beaches of Angaur the 17th and departed 23 September for Manus, where she embarked 1,373 troops of the Army 1st Cavalry Division for the Leyte invasion.
La Salle reached the northern transport area off Leyte 20 October, and all troops and cargo were ashore by nightfall. She retired to the Palaus and then to Guam, where she embarked reinforcements for transport to San Pedro Bay 23 November. The vessel next loaded 934 troops at Sansapor, New Guinea, and sailed 30 December for Luzon. On the morning of her departure, she assisted in splashing an enemy “Jake.” She unloaded 9 January at Lingayen Gulf, and then returned to Leyte.
On 29 January 1945 she arrived off Luzon to discharge 731 troops in order to block Japanese retirement into the Bataan Peninsula. She departed the same day and put into San Pedro Bay 1 February to prepare for the invasion of Okinawa, off which she arrived from Ulithi 11 April. She fought off heavy suicide attacks during the next 5 days, and retired unscathed 16 April, steaming for Guam and a Seattle overhaul.
Between September 1945 and June 1946, La Salle made four “Magic Carpet” voyages, and one passage in February to deliver occupation troops to Yokosuka. She decommissioned at Seattle 24 July 1946 and was returned to the Maritime Commission the following day.
La Salle received eight battle stars for World War Il service.