(APD-127: displacement 2,130 tons; length 306'0"; beam 37'0"; draft 12'7" (limiting); speed 23.6 knots (trial); complement 204; troops 162; armament 1 5-inch gun, 6 40mm.; class Crosley)
Fay Broughton Begor, born on 15 October 1916 in Moriah, N.Y.earned a bachelor’s degree from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., in June 1937. During Begor’s medical studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where he participated in intercollegiate wrestling, he worked as an examiner and first aid man for the Aluminum Company of America, Massina, N.Y. during July and August 1940. Earning his MD in May 1941, he began an internship at Montreal General Hospital on 1 July 1941; he served there as a resident intern in gynecology.
Joining the Navy “in hopes of obtaining sea duty,” Begor received an appointment as assistant surgeon, with the rank of lieutenant (j.g.) on 22 July 1942, completed his internship in Montreal on 1 August 1942, and executed his oath of office on 4 September 1942. Three days later he reported to the Third Naval District for active duty at the New York Navy Yard. A little less than a month later, on 3 October 1942, he was detached from the yard and transferred to the Landing Craft Group, Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Va., for duty in Tank Landing Craft Flotilla 18, reporting for duty three days later.
With each change of station, Begor had asked for sea duty. On 11 February 1943, he again sought it. “I would like to see some action,” he wrote, to “use some of my professional knowledge.” The duty to which he had been assigned training with the U.S. Army, seemed likely to continue, and he reasoned that he would “obtain no professional duties or see any action as long as I am here…” If the Bureau of Naval Personnel could not send him to sea, he asked for duty with the Fleet Marine Force. Inside of two months, Begor received his desired orders. Detached on 6 April from his duty with Flotilla “A,” he soon found himself en route to the receiving ship at San Francisco, thence, in succession, to Tank Landing Craft Group 22 in the Pacific, and Infantry Landing Craft (LCI) Flotilla 7.
Ultimately, Lieutenant (j.g.) Begor was serving as the group’s medical officer on board infantry landing craft LCI(L)-339 as it neared the beach in Operation “Postern,” the landing of then 9th Australian Division on the beaches of the Huon Peninsula near Lae, New Guinea, on 4 September 1943. Japanese Mitsubishi G4M Type 1 land attack planes (BETTY) and Aichi D3A Type 99 carrier [dive] bombers (VAL), escorted by Mitsubishi A6M Type 0 carrier fighters (ZERO), attacked the Seventh Amphibious Force’s shipping off the beachhead. About 150 yards from the beach, LCI(L)-339 dropped anchor; thus unmaneuverable as she prepared to beach to disembark her troops, she came in for the unwelcome attention of three bombers and three fighters seen approaching on the port side. Lieutenant (j.g.) James M. Tidball, USNR, her commanding officer, ordered fire opened as soon as the enemy aircraft came within range, but the fighters began strafing LCI(L)-339 almost simultaneously, riddling her with holes from stem to stern and causing “considerable” casualties amongst the troops.
Apparently, Begor immediately turned to treat the wounded among the Australian soldiers, and was courageously persisting in that urgent mission until the three bombers released their bombs at about 1,500 feet, bracketing the ship with near misses to port and to starboard, but scoring a direct hit just forward of the pilot house, blasting a large hole in the deck, tearing it from the bulkheads and damaging equipment. LCI(L)-339 nonetheless gained the beach to carry out her mission, though in a sinking condition and listing.
Begor, severely wounded in both thighs, was transferred to LCI(L)-338, thence ashore, whence he was transported to the U.S. Army 87th Station Hospital at Buna, and thence, on 7 September, to the tank landing ship LST-464 that had been specifically configured to serve as a hospital ship. Sadly, while on board LST-464, Begor’s condition worsened, and he died of his wounds during the morning watch on 9 September 1943. The doctor who had wanted to “see some action,” was awarded the Navy Cross, posthumously.
Robert J. Cressman
Begor (DE-711) was laid down on 6 March 1943 at Bay City, Mich., by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 25 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Katherine A. Begor, widow of the late Lieutenant (j.g.) Begor; reclassified as a high speed transport and redesignated APD-127 on 17 July 1944; and commissioned at New Orleans, La., on 14 March 1945, Lt. Comdr. Ben T. Brooks, USNR, in command.
Following shakedown training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the first half of April, the high speed transport reported at Norfolk for amphibious training and shore bombardment exercises in Chesapeake Bay during the latter part of the month. On 28 April, she commenced an availability in the Norfolk Navy Yard that lasted a week. Begor got underway on 7 May for the Panama Canal as an escort for a convoy bound for the west coast. She transited the canal on the 14th and arrived at San Diego on the 22th. There, the warship received orders to continue on to Pearl Harbor where she arrived on 30 May. Begor remained in Hawaii from 30 May to 16 June undergoing voyage repairs and training with divers from Navy underwater demolition teams (UDT's).
She departed Pearl Harbor on 18 June screening a convoy bound for Ulithi, the forward base that served as the hub of her activities during the few remaining weeks of the war. Begor and her convoy stopped at Eniwetok from 25 to 27 June and reached her ultimate destination on 3 July. The next day, the warship left the lagoon as part of the escort for another convoy, this one headed for Leyte. She reached her destination on the 8th, carried out a brief availability, and then got underway to return to the Western Carolines on 10 July. Begor made repairs at Ulithi between 12 and 19 July before putting to sea in the screen of an Okinawa-bound convoy on the 20th. She shepherded one convoy to Okinawa on the 24th and departed again the next day. She reached Ulithi on 31 July. Subsequently, during a stint of local patrols on 4 August, she suffered damage to her port shaft that required her to enter the floating dry dock ARD-23 the next day for repairs.
The high speed transport resumed duty on 6 August patrolling the Ulithi anchorage. On 8 August, she stood out of Ulithi with another Okinawa-bound convoy and screened it safely into the anchorage at Naha on the 12th. She started out on the return voyage on the 13th but received orders that same day to rendezvous with William J. Pattison (APD-104) back at Okinawa and then to steam to Guam. During the voyage to Guam, Begor received news of Japan's capitulation on 15 August. She reached Guam on 17 August and began embarking UDT No. 21 on the 19th. She put to sea again on the 20th in company with William J. Pattison as escort for a group of LST's bound for a rendezvous with the 3d Fleet preparatory to the occupation of Japan.
On 27 August, Begor anchored in Miyata Wan, Japan, for two days and then got underway for beach reconnaissance at Futtsu Saki. The Marines landed on that beach the next day, and Begor stood by to provide gunfire support if necessary. At 0631, the transport steamed into Yokosuka Naval Base, where her UDT cleared the docks for San Diego (CL-53) and also demilitarized the Japanese ships there. Begor moved offshore at Tateyama Wan on 31 August for more beach reconnaissance but later anchored in Tokyo Bay where she remained through the formal surrender ceremony on 2 September. Begor demilitarized submarines and destroyed suicide and midget submarines in various Japanese ports from 8 to 27 September before returning to Tokyo Bay where she received orders on 30 September to return to the United States.
After stops in Guam and Pearl Harbor, Begor reached San Diego on 21 October, then moved on to San Francisco on 30 November. The high speed transport remained active with the Pacific Fleet along the west coast until ordered to Bikini Atoll late in the spring of 1946. Begor anchored at Bikini Island on 5 June and remained until 3 August providing support services as a drone boat control vessel during Operation "Crossroads," the two atomic bomb tests carried out in July. The warship returned to Pearl Harbor for several weeks following the tests and then returned to the west coast in October. At that point, she resumed normal training duty with the Pacific Fleet.
That employment lasted until the following summer. Begor departed for the Far East on 7 July 1947, anchoring at Tsingtao, China, on 4 August for a six-month tour of duty. She returned to the United States in February 1948, but went back to China early in 1949. Her resumption of service in Chinese waters, however, proved very brief because of the communists' successful conquest of the country. By August of 1949, she had moved south to the Philippines where she carried out operations until late in the year.
For most of 1950, the warship conducted training missions out of San Diego. Late in the year, she embarked upon the first of her two tours of duty in the Korean conflict. Serving as flagship for Transport Division (TransDiv) 111, Begor arrived in the combat zone in December 1950 and spent the next eight months patrolling the Korean coast in support of the United Nations (UN) troops ashore. Once again, she served with UDT divers, carrying them to their areas of operations, inserting them, and then retracting them. One of her first missions came on the afternoon of the day before Christmas. Begor's embarked UDT No. 3, joined by 11 volunteers from her crew, was the last UN unit to leave Hungnam Harbor after blowing up selected targets in the dock areas during the evacuation of UN forces prompted by the massive Chinese communist intervention in late November. In addition to working with American UDT divers, she also occasionally transported British commandos on similar raids and reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines.
Begor returned to San Diego on 8 September 1951 and, after some post-deployment rest and relaxation, took up training duty along the west coast. In February 1952, she participated in the largest Pacific Fleet training exercise held since the end of World War II. The exercise, dubbed "Lex Baker One," took place off the coast of southern California with over 70 ships and more than 15,000 Sailors and Marines taking part. Later in the spring of 1952 she began an extended overhaul at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. That fall, Begor returned to the western Pacific for her second tour of duty in the Korean conflict, reentering the war zone in mid-November 1952. Her duties consisted of more patrol and UDT landing operations, as well as visits to Hong Kong and open ports in Japan and Korea. After the armistice in July 1953, Begor aided in the exchange of prisoners of war before returning to the United States. Another overhaul, this one carried out at Long Beach, occupied her during the latter part of 1953 and the first weeks of 1954. The repairs ended in February, and she resumed normal operations out of San Diego until the summer.
In mid-July 1954, Begor received orders to a four-month assignment in Japan before being deactivated. Events in southeast Asia, however, forestalled her decommissioning; and, almost immediately after her arrival in Japan, the high speed transport received orders to proceed with a UDT embarked to French Indochina. There, Begor served as flagship for the embarkation phase of Operation "Passage to Freedom," evacuating anticommunist Vietnamese from Haiphong to Saigon on several trips, and later saw duty as flagship again during the disembarkation at Saigon. After performing these duties for almost four months, Begor steamed to Singapore for a port visit before returning to Japan. The warship arrived in San Diego on 23 March 1955, steaming in a convoy of Amphibious Squadron (PhibRon) 3 ships which were bringing troops of the 1st Marine Division home from Korea.
Begor got underway again for the Far East on 29 August 1955 having been stateside for only five months. She arrived in Yokosuka on 15 September and served as primary control vessel in three Marine Corps landing exercises held on Okinawa in October and November. The high speed transport then returned to the United States and spent the next three years in operations along the west coast.
On 20 April 1959, Begor was decommissioned and placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet at San Diego, where she remained until the summer of 1961, when she was towed to San Pedro, Calif., for reactivation overhaul by the Bethlehem Steel Co. Shipyard.
Begor was placed in commission on 20 November 1961 in a dual commissioning ceremony with Weiss (APD-135). In mid-December, she returned to her home port of San Diego where she operated locally with Transport Squadron (TransRon) 5 until she was finally decommissioned on 13 July 1962. In a general reclassification, Begor became LPR-127 on 1 January 1969 but never saw active duty again. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 15 May 1975, and she was sold in December 1976 to the National Metal & Steel Corp., Terminal Island, Calif., for scrapping.
Begor earned six battle stars for her Korean service.
Raymond A. Mann
23 February 2006