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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Lafayette County

 

Counties in Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, and Wisconsin; a parish in Louisiana.

 

(LST-859: dp. 1,625; l. 328' b. 50'; dr. 14'1"; s. 12 k.; cpl. 119; a. 8 40mm., 12 20mm. cl. LST-511)

 

LST-859 was laid down by Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., Seneca, Ill., 26 September 1944; launched 15 December 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Elsie M. Marcum; and commissioned at Algiers, La., 6 January 1945, Lt. Daniel D. Kipnis in command.

 

After shakedown in the Gulf of Mexico, LST-859 departed New Orleans 17 February for the Pacific. Steaming via San Diego and San Francisco, she reached Pearl Harbor 31 March and during the next 6 weeks took part in amphibious training. Between 12 and 24 May she steamed to Seattle, Wash., where she embarked Army troops, thence returned to Pearl Harbor 20 June. Three days later she sailed in convoy for the western Pacific.

 

LST-859 touched at American bases in the Marshalls and Marianas before arriving Okinawa 28 July. After discharging troops and cargo, she sailed for Saipan 5 August and remained in the Marianas during the closing days of the war in the Pacific. She departed for the Philippines 3 September; and, after embarking Army troops at Batangas Bay, Luzon, she sailed 20 September for Japan.

 

LST-859 arrived Tokyo Bay 29 September, and during the next 2 months she supported occupation operations along the Honshu coast from Yokohama to Shiogama. Between 24 October and 19 November she sailed to Subic Bay and back with additional troops. Departing Tokyo Bay 29 November, she steamed via the Marianas and Pearl Harbor to Seattle where she arrived 12 January 1946.

 

Following an extended overhaul, LST-895 departed 15 May for training along the California coast. On 31 July she departed San Diego for Pearl Harbor; and after arriving 11 August, she sailed the 18th on a cargo run to American bases in the Hawaiian Islands. During the next 4 years she carried men and supplies to far-flung American bases in the Pacific. Cargo and passenger runs sent her to the Marshalls, the Solomons, American Samoa, the Aleutians, and Midway, as well as to the nearby islands of the Hawaiian chain.

 

After the outbreak of Communist aggression against the Republic of South Korea in June 1950, LST-859 departed Pearl Harbor 18 August for the Far East. She arrived Kobe, Japan, 5 September and there embarked elements of the 1st Marine Division for the scheduled invasion at Inchon, South Korea, which was designed to spearhead the American counteroffensive against Communist troops from North Korea.

 

Assigned to Task Element 90.32, LST-859 sortied in convoy 10 September and arrived off Inchon 15 September while a combined air-sea bombardment blasted enemy defenses. Late that afternoon, the LST closed Red Beach; and, as lead ship, she came under heavy mortar and machinegun fire. Despite the concentrated fire, she debarked assault troops and unloaded vital support equipment. In addition her guns wiped out enemy batteries on the right flank of Red Beach. She completed unloading and cleared the beach at high tide early 16 September. For daring bravery and heroic performance of duty on Red Beach, the gallant and aggressive landing ship tanks of Task Element 90.32, including LST-859, received the Navy Unit Commendation.

 

LST-859 departed for Japan the 17th; and, after reaching Sasebo 20 September, she sailed 6 days later for Pearl Harbor, where she arrived 13 October. After undergoing overhaul, she resumed cargo runs in the Pacific. Between 20 January and 21 June 1951 she shuttled cargo among bases in the Marshalls, the Gilberts, and the Carolines. During December she carried supplies to Guam and Iwo Jima; thence, she sailed via the Philippines to Sasebo where she arrived 22 January 1952.

 

For almost 212 years LST-859 served in the western Pacific in support of American peacekeeping efforts in the troubled Far East. Operating primarily out of Sasebo, she bolstered the seaborne supply line to U.S. forces in South Korea and carried vital military supplies to ports on both coasts, including Chuminjin, Ulsan Man, and Inchon. In addition, she shuttled cargo along the Japanese coast; and, following the end of conflict on the Korean peninsula, she continued her important supply runs until departing Yokosuka 18 May 1954 for Pearl Harbor where she arrived 3 June.

 

LST-859 resumed her pattern of cargo runs to Pacific bases 20 June, and during the remainder of the year steamed primarily between Pearl Harbor and Midway. On 24 March 1955 she again deployed to the Far East, arriving Yokosuka 11 April. During the next 4 months supply runs out of Yokosuka and Sasebo sent her to ports in South Korea, Formosa, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. Named Lafayette County 1July, she returned to Pearl Harbor 31 August to resume cargo shuttle runs among the Hawaiian Islands.

 

Lafayette County served principally in the Hawaiian chain during the next 3 years, although from 3 March to 13 April 1957 she carried out cargo runs to bases in the Marshalls. She decommissioned 15 August 1958 at Pearl Harbor and was transferred to the custody of the Republic of China under the Military Assistance Program. She now serves the Chinese Nationalist Navy as Chung Cheng (LST-224).

 

LST-859 received one battle star for World War II service and six battle stars for Korean service.