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Menifee

A county in eastern Kentucky.

(APA‑202: displacement 14,837 (trial); length 455'; beam 62' draft 24'; speed 17 knots; complement 536; troops 1,561; armament 1 5-inch, 12 40 millimeter, 10 20 millimeter; class Haskell; type VC2‑S‑AP5)

Menifee (APA‑202) was laid down on 21 July 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract (MCV Hull 670), at Vancouver, Wash., by the Kaiser Co.; launched on 15 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Lucien Garon, wife of the Superintendent of Sheet Metal at the building yard, and commissioned at Astoria, Ore., on 4 November 1944, Comdr. Paul P. Spaulding, USNR, in command.

Menifee reported to Commander Amphibious Training, Pacific, for intensive training on 8 December 1944 and within a month was underway for Hawaii with Navy and Marine personnel and cargo. Unloading her initial cargo and disembarking her passengers at Honolulu on 15 January 1945, she departed for the South Pacific on the 27th. On 5 February she arrived at Guadalcanal for further training exercises in preparation for the Okinawa campaign, and, five days later, reported to Amphibious Squadron 4. A period of logistics at Ulithi followed, in preparation for the operation that lay ahead.

On 1 April 1945, Menifee arrived in the transport area off Okinawa with cargo and men of the 6th Marine Division on board; on 3 April, a Japanese suicide plane crashed 200 yards astern of her – the nearest she came to being under attack. Remaining in the area through the 4th, she landed her troops during the first two days and discharged her cargo on the 3d and 4th. On the 5th, she got underway for the United States, arriving at San Francisco on 11 May, to embark Army troops and cargo bound for the Philippines. By 19 June, she had discharged her passengers and cargo at Leyte and was underway for a quick cargo run to Milne Bay, New Guinea. Upon her return, she headed back to California, reaching San Pedro, Calif., on 2 August.

After the cessation of hostilities in the Pacific, Menifee received temporary assignment to Transport Squadron 12 on 8 September 1945, while she lay at Saipan, in the Marianas. On 23 September, she took part in the initial occupation of the Nagasaki, Japan, area, debarking a battalion landing team from the 2nd Marine Division.  Clearing Nagasaki on 26 September, the ship proceeded to Manila to embark further troops for occupation duty in Japan. Released from Magic Carpet duty on 6 March 1946, and ordered to report to the Commander, Western Sea Frontier, for assignment to the 19th Fleet, she carried out those orders on 9 March and upon decommissioning at Stockton, Calif., on 31 July, was berthed there.

With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, however, the Navy retrieved Menifee from the “mothball fleet.” Recommissioned on 2 December 1950, Capt. John K. Wells in command, the newly activated transport was assigned to Transport Squadron 1, Transport Division 12, on 11 January 1951, and, in April 1951, took 1,500 marines to Pusan.  Over the next eleven months, she then engaged in transporting men and equipment between Japan and Korea, taking replacement troops to Korea and returning with battle-weary and wounded men. “This ship, and others like [her],” an observer on board Menifee wrote, “were able to move large forces of troops wherever they were needed most, an advantage the Reds never did have, as the Navy maintained control of the seaways throughout the whole Korean War. This mobility made possible the even distribution of UN troops, while the Reds had huge masses often in places where they could be of no use.” The ship returned to the west coast of the U.S. in March 1952 for an overhaul and the training of new men.

Menifee headed westward again in August 1953, and in January 1954 transported 1,500 marines to Okinawa to conduct a practice landing against “defending” army troops. During February and March, she took part in the largest peacetime practice landings ever held in the western Pacific, a large-scale training evolution involving some 40,000 men. During that time, she transported “defending” troops to Iwo Jima, then returned to Japan to embark the “assault” troops. These operations involved marines from the Republic of Korea (ROK) as well as the U.S. Marine Corps “so that the two forces could learn to coordinate their efforts.” During that second Western Pacific deployment, Menifee also served as flagship for Operation Big Lift, the transfer of neutral Indian troops to the peace conference in Panmunjom.

Returning to the U.S. in April 1954, Menifee wound up her active service with a stint of operations along the west coast, with periods in port at Long Beach (11 November 1954-13 January 1955), San Diego (13-14 January), and San Francisco (16-19 January), before she moved north to Bangor (21 January) and Tacoma (22 January), ultimately arriving at Seattle, Wash., where she underwent an overhaul to prepare her for inactivation (22 January-23 March).

Returning to San Francisco on 25 March 1955, Menifee was placed in reserve on 29 March 1955 and out of commission in reserve on 29 June 1955 and assigned to the San Francisco Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet. Declared “excess to the needs of the Navy” and stricken from the Naval Register on 1 October 1958, the ship was transferred to the Maritime Commission, and berthed in Suisun Bay, Calif., in the National Defense Reserve Fleet.  Ultimately, the veteran of the Okinawa landings, the occupation of Japan and the Korean War was sold on 8 May 1975 to Union Minerals and Alloys Corp., for “non-transportation use” and was removed from Maritime Administration (the successor to the wartime Maritime Commission) custody on 10 October 1975.

Menifee received one battle star for World War II service and two for her Korean War service.


Robert J. Cressman
11 December 2012