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Sgt. Joseph E. Muller


Sgt. Joseph E. Muller, Company B, 305th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division, was killed in action on 16 May 1945 near Ishimmi, Okinawa. On the 15th, when his platoon had been halted by heavy enemy fire from a strongly defended ridge, he directed his men to positions from which they could cover his charge. With grenades, he drove the enemy out into the open where his squad caught them. Enemy survivors attempted to reman a machine gun, but Sgt. Muller attacked and prevented them from turning the gun on his squad. Prior to dawn on the 16th, the Japanese counterattacked in an effort to retake the position. Sgt. Muller crawled forward through heavy fire to a position from which he again successfully launched a single-man grenade and rifle-fire attack. He then returned to his three-man foxhole, into which a lone enemy, who had feigned death, threw a grenade. Seeing the danger, Sgt. Muller threw himself over the grenade; absorbed the impact of the explosion with his body; and saved the lives of his two companions. For his actions on the 15th and 16th, and for his sacrifice on the 16th, Sgt. Muller was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.


(APC-118: dp. 6,090 (f.); l. 338'9"; b. 50'4"; dr. 21'; s. 11.5 k.; cpl. 107; cl. Jonah E. Kelley; T. Cl-M-AV1)


Sgt. Joseph E. Muller was laid down under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 2485) as Check Knot on 30 December 1944 by the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corp., Savannah, Ga.; launched on 17 February 1945; sponsored by Mrs. D. R. Williams; delivered to the Maritime Commission's Shipping Administration on 9 June 1945 for operation by the Waterman SS Co.


Returned to the Maritime Commission and transferred to the War Department for operation by the Army's transportation service after the end of World War II, Check Knot was renamed Sgt. Joseph E. Mutter and was operated in support of occupation forces in Japan and Korea. In late 1949, the Navy-operated Military Sea Transportation Service (now Military Sealift Command) was established; and, in July 1950, the ship was transferred to that organization. Through the Korean conflict, she continued to shuttle passengers and cargo—primarily to Japan and Korea, but with an occasional run to Okinawa, Taiwan, and the Philippines.


In the spring of 1955, she sailed east, arriving in Hawaii for repairs in mid-May, and at New York in late June for operations out of that port. Initially slated for arctic resupply missions, she was transferred temporarily and in ready status to the Maritime Administration's National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF), Hudson River berthing area, in December 1956, and, in September 1957, was declared surplus to the needs of the Navy. The following month, she was returned to the Navy and, on 25 October, was permanently transferred to the NDRF and laid up with the Hudson River unit.


Just under five years later, in August 1962, Sgt. Joseph E, Mutter was designated for activation, conversion to a research support ship, and redelivery to the Navy. On 1 October, reactivation and conversion was begun at the Maryland Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Baltimore; on 30 October, she was reinstated on the Navy list as USNS Sgt. Joseph E. Mutter (T-AG-171). A week later, the ship was towed to New Orleans for further alterations; and, in April 1963, she arrived at Port Everglades, Fla., where she took up duties as a special project ship for oceanographic research operations.


On 16 September 1969, the ship was again declared surplus; and, on 13 November, she was transferred back to the NDRF for berthing in the James River. Her name was struck from the Navy list on the same date.