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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Walter X. Young

 

Walter Xavier Young was born in Chicago, 111., on 22 October 1918. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on 6 January 1941 and, following training at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Va., was commissioned a second lieutenant on 29 May 1941. After commissioning, Lt. Young received training at the Signal Corps School, Fort Monmouth, N.J., and was then assigned to the Marine Barracks, New River, N.C., into 1942.

 

Promoted to first lieutenant on 6 June 1942, he was communications officer of a Marine parachute battalion which took part in the attack upon Gavutu, Solomon Islands, on 7 August 1942. During the extremely dangerous initial landings on Gavutu, Lt. Young single-handedly assaulted a Japanese-held dugout commanding a portion of the dock on the island which was a key objective. While successfully penetrating and neutraliz ing the dugout, Young was wounded by rifle fire and died later that day. For his heroic action, Lt. Young was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.

 

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On 7 February 1944, the name Walter X. Young was approved for DE-723, a Rudderow-class destroyer escort slated to be built by the Dravo Corp., of Pittsburgh, Pa. However, before work on the ship began, the contract for her construction was cancelled on 12 March 1944 in order to free the Dravo yard for the building of landing craft.

 

I

 

(APD-131: dp. 1,650; l. 306'0"; b. 37'0"; dr. 12'7"; s. 23.6 k.; cpl. 201; tr. 162; a. 1 5", 6 40mm., 6 20mm.; cl. Crosley)

 

Walter X. Young (DE-715) was laid down on 27 May 1944 at Bay City, Mich., by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co.; reclassified a high-speed transport and re-designated APD-131 on 15 July 1944; launched on 30 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. John J. McGeeney; and commissioned on 1 May 1945, Lt. Comdr. Nicholas Biddle, USNR, in command.

 

After conducting shakedown in Guantanamo Bay, Walter X. Young interrupted her voyage to Norfolk when she transported an emergency appendectomy patient from LSM-406 to Guantanamo Bay for medical attention. Upon the completion of this mission of mercy, she arrived at Hampton Roads on 10 June. Post-shakedown availability and training exercises preceded her sailing south for Fort Pierce, Fla., for specialized training with underwater demolition teams (UDT). She departed the east coast on 30 July for San Pedro, Calif.; transited the Panama Canal on 3 August; and, while en route up the Pacific coast of Mexico, received word of the atomic bomb detonation at Hiroshima on the 6th and, three days later, of a nuclear blast at Nagasaki, and of Russia's entry into the Pacific war the same day.

 

Two days after her arrival at San Diego on 12 August, further welcome news arrived, telling that Japan had accepted the unconditional surrender terms of the Potsdam Declaration and had capitulated. As a result of this development, Walter X. Young's original orders—calling for her embarked UDT personnel to take part in the projected invasion of Japan—were cancelled. Instead, the ship received a different mission.

 

On 16 August, Walter X. Young embarked the 93 men of UDT 22 (Lt. Comdr. J. F. Chace, USNR, in command) and, after sunset on that date, sailed for the Hawaiian Islands. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on the morning of 22 August, she fueled and provisioned to capacity, loaded UDT explosives, and got underway on the afternoon of the 23d for Japan.

 

Her group steamed via the Marshall Islands, arrived in Tokyo Bay on 4 September, and reported to Vice Admiral Theodore S. "Ping" Wilkinson, Commander, 3d Amphibious Force. With the group now reconstituted as Task Group (TG) 32.2, as two further APD's and their embarked UDT's joined, they awaited their assignments. The dock areas at Yokohama—the scene for one of the major initial occupation landings—were found to be in good condition, suitable for immediate use. Thus, they did not require reconnoitering by the UDT's for possible mines or other obstructions. Midway through her stay in Tokyo Bay, Walter X. Young was buffeted about by a typhoon. With high winds and seas, she dragged her anchor and enventually shifted anchorage to the lee side of the bay. During the height of the tempest, the APD received word from Topeka (CL-67) that one of Walter X. Young's boats—an LCPR—which had been loaned to the cruiser, had broken away and been lost. When the storm cleared, however, the "missing" craft was seen riding at a painter astern of the cruiser and later was recovered intact.

 

On the 20th, the ship's waiting period ended. In company with Gantner (APD-42), Walter X. Young got underway on that date for Aomori, on the northern end of Honshu, to conduct a reconaissance and beach survey and to clear any obstacles that might impede Army landings. The two APD's escorted Catamount (LSD-17) on this short voyage. While en route on the 21st, the American warships sighted a floating mine and sank it with rifle fire. Upon arrival at Mutsu Kaiwan on the 22d, Gantner proceeded to Ominato to pick up local Japanese officials to assist in the clearance program. Meanwhile, Walter X. Young proceeded to Aomori, where, with the aid of underwater sounding devices, she located the hulks of three sunken ships. Swimmers from UDT 22 then attached buoys to them, while a fourth wreck also located during the survey was found to have been already helpfully buoyed by the Japanese.

 

On the 23d, UDT 22 surveyed the beach and its approaches, as well as the available exits to the main highway which ran parallel to the beach itself, to the eastward of Aomori. They found nothing which required dynamiting but did attach buoys to some small wrecks at one end of the beach. They reported that the beach was suitable for all types of landing craft; was capable of supporting vehicles; and possessed several exits to the main road. Placing beach markers and drawing up maps of the area, Walter X. Young's UDT conducted an additional survey the following day, thus preparing the way for the landings at Aomori which followed on the 25th and continued throughout the day. Detached on the evening of the 25th, Walter X. Young reported to Commander, TG 32.2, for orders.

 

Anchoring at Ominato on the evening of the 26th, the ship obtained information concerning Japanese minefields still extant in Tsugaru Strait and the next day got underway for Niigata, on the west coast of Honshu. Proceeding independently, the ship rendezvoused with a Japanese tug—the Japanese craft carrying two American Army officers who had travelled overland from Tokyo, several Japanese police, and a local pilot—off the port. In an ensuing conference, it was learned that although the Japanese claimed to have swept a channel into Niigata, the width of the channel was too narrow to provide a margin of safety for an occupation force of transports. However, some 15 miles north of Niigata lay Senami. Walter X, Young's embarked UDT soon surveyed the beach and found it in excellent condition. Nevertheless, any landings should be conducted in calm weather or with a prevailing offshore wind due to the beach's exposed position on the Sea of Japan. Marking and mapping the beach, UDT 22 reembarked in Walter X. Young, and the ship got underway for Tokyo Bay, stopping at Hakodate, Hokkaido, en route, to pick up an officer from UDT 22 who had served a tour of detached duty there.

 

Walter X. Young dropped anchor at Yokohama on 30 September. On 12 October, she got underway for the west coast of the United States and steamed homeward via Guam and Pearl Harbor. The ship arrived at San Diego on 2 November and immediately disembarked UDT 22. Ten days of availability at the Naval Repair Base, San Diego, preceded the ship's participation in coastwise transportation of Navy and Marine Corps dischargees within the 11th Naval District. The ship was decommissioned on 2 July 1946 and placed in reserve at Stockton, Calif.

 

Struck from the Navy list on 1 May 1962 and stripped of all militarily useful items and equipment, Walter X. Young was towed from her berth with the Stockton Reserve Group to her final duty station— the Naval Missile Center at Point Mugu, Calif. Subsequently converted to a test hulk, Walter X. Young was sunk in missile-firing tests on 11 April 1967.