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Luzerne County

 

A county in eastern Pennsylvania.

 

(LST‑902; dp. 1,625; l. 328'; b. 50'; dr. 14'1"; s. 12 k.; cpl. 119; a. 8 40mm., 12 20mm.; cl. LST‑511)

 

LST‑902 was laid down by Dravo Corp., Pittsburgh, Pa., 5 November 1944; launched 16 December 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Michael Grom; and commissioned at Algiers, La., 15 January 1945, Lt. Everett J. Bondesen in command.

 

After shakedown off the Florida coast, LST‑902 departed New Orleans 16 February for the Pacific. She reached San Pedro, Calif., 13 March; thence, steaming via San Francisco, she arrived Maui, Hawaiian Islands, 31 March. She participated in amphibious training during the next 2 months. After embarking troops and loading cargo, she cleared Pearl Harbor 18 June for the western Pacific.

 

LST‑902 touched at Eniwetok and Saipan before arriving Okinawa 28 July as part of a 70‑ship convoy. She discharged troops and cargo and on 5 August departed for Saipan where she remained until following the Japanese surrender. She sailed to the Philippines early in September and during the rest of the month operated in Leyte Gulf and along the western coast of Luzon. Departing Subic Bay 4 October, she carried occupation troops to Japan where she arrived Yokohama 17 October.

 

Between 28 October and 4 November LST‑902 steamed to Guam where she embarked 603 war veterans before sailing for the United States. She touched Pearl Harbor 27 November and arrived San Diego 14 December. After sailing to San Francisco the 19th, she underwent a 3‑month overhaul before sailing for the Columbia River 25 April 1946. During the next 3 months she based at Astoria and Portland, Oreg., and at Vancouver, Wash. She decommissioned at Portland 3 August 1946 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

 

LST‑902 recommissioned at Astoria, Oreg., 18 January 1952, Lt. William J. Martin in command. After completing shakedown and training operations along the Pacific coast, she departed San Diego for the Far East 31 July. Steaming via Pearl Harbor and Midway, she reached Yokosuka, Japan, 15 September and began supply runs in support of American naval and military operations in Korea. She operated along the Japanese coast and between Japanese and South Korean ports to bolster the movement of men and supplies to the war‑torn peninsula.

 

Departing Yokosuka 27 April 1953, LST‑902 steamed via Pearl Harbor to the west coast where she arrived San Diego 23 May. Between 31 July and 25 August she carried elements of the 3d Marine Division to Japan; and, after returning to San Diego 2 October, underwent overhaul at Alameda the remainder of the year.

 

LST‑902 departed San Diego 27 March 1954 to resume duty in the Far East. She arrived Yokosuka 26 April and over the next 5 months operated on supply and training runs out of Yokosuka to Okinawa, South Korea, and Japanese coastal ports. On 8 October she sailed for French Indochina where she arrived Haiphong 17 October to support the French withdrawal and “Passage‑to‑Freedom” operations from North Vietnam. Between 21 October and 11 November she completed four runs out of Haiphong, carrying French troops and equipment to Da Nang and Saigon. After steaming to the Philippines in mid‑November, she departed Subic Bay for Japan 5 December and reached Yokosuka via Hong Kong the 22d.

 

The veteran LST cleared Tokyo Bay 17 January 1955. After arriving San Diego 13 February, she operated along the Pacific coast during the next 4 months, and from 24 to 30 June she steamed to Seattle, Wash. Named Luzerne County 1 July, she underwent deactivation overhaul; and, after sailing to Astoria, Oreg., 29 August, she decommissioned there 30 November to rejoin the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

 

Luzerne County recommissioned in reserve at Stockton, Calif., 29 March 1963 for activation prior to service with the Atlantic Fleet. She joined the active list 15 April, Lt. D. W. Moore in command; and, following shakedown and type training out of San Diego, she departed for the east coast 24 May and reached Little Creek, Va., 19 June.

 

Assigned to ResLSTRon 2, Luzerne County trained Naval Reserve units out of Little Creek during the rest of 1963 and throughout 1964. This important duty sent the LST on training and readiness cruises along the Atlantle coast from Long Island Sound to the Straits of Florida. After completing a run to Florida waters and back early in 1965, she joined naval forces operating to stabilize a crisis in the Dominican Republic. In response to civil strife and political unrest which was generated by Communist elements in that Caribbean nation, U.S. naval and military peacekeeping forces moved swiftly to protect hemispheric security from Communist subversion.

 

On 10 May Luzerne County steamed to Norfolk where she embarked troops and loaded equipment for shipment to the Dominican Republic. Departing 12 May, she reached Puerto de Andres 19 May and debarked units of peacekeeping force. She returned to Little Creek, 26 May. During the remainder of the year she made numerous runs between the United States and the Dominican RePublic, shuttling troops, support equipment, and military cargo from Southport, N.C., to Santo Domingo and to San Juan, P.R. She completed her final run from Santo Domingo to Southport 14 December and reached Little Creek 2 days later.

 

Late in December Luzerne County was assigned to duty in the Pacific in support of naval operations in Southeast Asia. Departing Norfolk 19 January 1966, she loaded an ICU at Charleston; transited the Panama Canal 1 February; touched at Pearl Harbor and Subic Bay; and arrived Saigon 21 April. There she offloaded the LCU before steaming to Da Nang the next day. During the next 2 weeks she operated In the South China Sea and took part in freeing 88 Exoellency, an American merchant freighter, from a reef on Triton Island in the Paracels. Although damaged during salvage operations, Luzerne County carried the merchantman’s cargo of ammunition to Bangkok, Thailand, where she arrived 16 May; thence, she steamed to Sasebo, Japan, for repairs and overhaul.

 

Departing Sasebo 2 July, Luzerne County resumed supply runs to South Vietnamese ports in support of the American war effort. During July, August, and September she carried military stores from Okinawa to Nha Be, Yung Tau, and Nha Trang, and during the next 2 months she hauled cement from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to Phan Rang. After departing Camranh Bay 26 November, she returned to Sasebo via Okinawa 13 December. She returned to South Vietnam early in 1967, and during February, March, and April she shuttled cargo to South Vietnamese ports. She operated out of Sasebo during much of May, but on 4 June she returned to Da Nang. While at Da Nang, she was ordered to Triton Island to aid an American merchantman that had grounded on the islands surrounding reef. Working alongside, Luzerne Cty. was damaged when a sudden swell caused the ships to roll together. As soon as possible, she sailed for Sasebo to undergo repairs. Upon completion of repairs, she spent the remainder of the year hauling supplies to Vietnam from Taiwan and Okinawa. Excluding periods of upkeep and refresher training, Luzerne Cty. remained in this capacity until 1969.

 

LST‑902 received two battle stars for service during the Korean conflict.