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General H. W. Butner (AP-113)

(AP-113: dp. 11,828 (lt.); l. 622'7"; b. 75'6"; dr. 25'; s. 19 k.; cpl. 477; trp. 5,289; a. 4 5", 16 1.1", 18 20mm.; cl. General John Pope; T. P2-S2-R2)

Henry W. Butner, born in Pinnacle, N.C., 6 April 1875, graduated from the Military Academy in 1898. He served in various capacities at posts at home and abroad until 1918 when he sailed for France with the A.E.F. During his service on the Western front, Butner took part in operations at St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne. Returning to the United States, he commanded Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Okla., 1920 to 1923; commanded a detachment of the Philippine Scouts; and served in various capacities until appointed Commanding General, Panama Canal Department, in 1936. Major General Butner died 13 March 1937 in Washington, D.C.,

General H. W. Butner (AP-113) was launched by the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Kearny, N.J., 19 September 1943 under Maritime Commission contract for the Army; sponsored by Mrs. John J. McCloy; acquired by the Navy 5 December 1943; placed in ferry commission the same day for transfer to Maryland Drydock Co., Baltimore, for conversion to a transport; and placed in full commission 11 January 1944, Captain A. P. Lawton in command.

After shakedown in Chesapeake Bay, General H. W. Butner sailed 23 February 1944 from Norfolk carrying troops to Morocco. Arriving Casablanca 3 March, the ship returned to Norfolk for another load of troops, and sailed again for Casablanca, arriving back at Norfolk 20 April.

After only 3 days in port General H. W. Butner sailed again, this time eastward to the West Coast. Her ports of call on this long voyage were Durban, South Africa; Bombay; Melbourne, Australia; and San Pedro, Calif., where she arrived 1 July. The transport then retraced her steps to Melbourne and Bombay, arriving off the Indian coast 26 August. From there she returned to Melbourne with troops and sailed for California via Noumea and Efate, New Hebrides. She arrived in San Pedro 6 October 1944.

Continuing the vital work of ferrying troops to and from the Pacific theater, General H. W. Butner departed San Pedro 21 October 1944, called at Melbourne, Bombay, Sidney, and Noumea, and returned to San Pedro 7 January 1945. Departing San Francisco 17 February, she brought troops to Finschafen, Hollandia, Leyte, Manus Island, Guadalcanal, and many other islands, as the amphibious advance through the Pacific reached its final phase.

She returned to San Francisco 12 May, departed 20 May for the Panama Canal, and from there steamed to Le Havre, France. The far-ranging transport departed France with troops 12 June, and arrived back in Norfolk 20 June. Thus she completed a circuit of the earth, though, in the meantime, she had steamed a distance equal to six times its diameter while supporting wartime operations.

General H. W. Butner made one more voyage before the end of the Pacific war, redeploying troops from the European Theater. She sailed from Marseilles 7 July, via the Panama Canal, for Ulithi and Eniwetok, finally.arriving Okinawa 1 September. She then returned to the United States, arriving Seattle 24 September.

The ship also served as a troop transport during the occupation of Japan, leaving San Francisco 5 January 1946 she made four voyages carrying troops to the Pacific, stopping at Yokohama, Shanghai, Tsingtao, and other ports in support of American efforts to stabilize the China situation and to occupy Japan.

She sailed for Boston from California early in 1947 for conversion to a combination dependent and troop transport, emerging 28 June and returning to San Francisco. During the next 2 years she operated in the Pacific between Guam and San Francisco, carrying dependents and servicemen to stations in the Far East. Transferred to MSTS under Navy captain and crew in October 1949, she departed for Norfolk via the Panama Canal and Bermuda, arriving 10 January 1950. She then operated in the Caribbean until 11 April, when she departed for San Diego. General H. W. Butner arrived San Diego 24 April, and on 10 May made another Pacific cruise which lasted until her return to the West Coast 12 June.

Before the month ended, the Korean War broke out. Fortunately, General H. W. Butner was one of the handful of ships immediately available. She promptly returned to Guam with vitally needed troops; returned to the West Coast for more troops; and headed for Japan, arriving Yokohama 31 August to prepare for the Inchon landing. This daring amphibious operation took the Communist troops by surprise and forced them to abandon the ground they had taken in South Korea and to scurry north across the 38th Parallel. Arriving off the beach 16 September, troopship General H. W. Butner landed her troops in this important action, and then departed for Japan. The last day of the year saw her depart from Okinawa for San Francisco.

During 1951 the ship continued to sail from California to Yokohama and Guam in support of the U.N. effort in Korea until she departed San Francisco for Galveston, Texas, 29 June. From there the ship continued to Bremerhaven, Germany, and thence to New York, mooring 5 September 1951. During the next months she carried troops and dependents to the Mediterranean and back, then departed for the Pacific again 19 February 1952. Transiting the Panama Canal from New York, she arrived at Yokohama 19 March, and 3 days later began the long trip back to Panama. From the Canal Zone, General H. W. Butner sailed to La Pallice, France, and to Bremerhaven, where she embarked passengers for New York.

General H. W. Butner began a regular schedule from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Southampton and Bremerhaven soon afterward, supporting American military commitments in Europe. Except for occasional visits to the Mediterranean (June 1953 and September-October 1959) and to the Caribbean (November 1956 and November 1958) she continued this run until decommissioning 28 January 1960 at Bayonne, N.J. General H. W. Butner was turned over to the Maritime Administration, and in March 1960 entered the National Defense Reserve Fleet, berthed in James River, Va., where she remains ready for reactivation should the need arise.

General H. W. Butner received two battle stars for Korean service.

Published: Fri Jul 10 09:33:36 EDT 2015