Horace A. Bass (APD-124)
Horace Ancel Bass, Jr., was born in Roanoke, Va., 22 September 1915, and enlisted in the Navy 24 February 1941. In May he was designated Aviation Cadet, and after aviation training was appointed ensign 5 December 1941. Ensign Bass underwent further flight training and reported to carrier Saratoga in early 1942. Assigned to Yorktown during the pivotal Battle of Midway, he flew as part of the combat air patrol 4 June, and although his plane was damaged, shot down an attacking dive bomber and a fighter. For his important part in the battle Ensign Bass was awarded the Navy Cross. Assigned to Fighting Squadron 5 on board Saratoga. Bass again acted as combat air patrol during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons 23-25 August 1942. As he and his fellow pilots protected Saratoga, Ensign Bass was shot down and reported missing in action. He was presumed dead 24 August 1942, as Japanese fleet units were blocked from driving on Guadalcanal.
Horace A. Bass (APD-124) was launched, after being reclassified from DE-691, by Bethlehem Steel Co., Fore River, Quincy, Mass., 12 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. H. A. Bass, Jr., widow of Ensign Bass; and commissioned 21 December 1944, Lt. Comdr. F. W. Kuhn in command.
The new high speed transport fitted out at Boston Navy Yard and conducted shakedown training off Bermuda, after which she sailed to New York, where she arrived 15 February 1945. Departing next day, Horace A. Bass escorted ammunition ship Firedrake to Panama, from where she proceeded to San Diego 3 March. After gunnery exercises in the area the ship sailed westward to join in the climactic phase of the Pacific War.
Horace A. Bass stopped at Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and Ulithi, en route to Okinawa, where the largest fleet assembled in the Pacific was engaged in what was to be the final major amphibious strike of the long war on the threshold of Japan. The ship arrived off Okinawa 6 April, just in time to take part in repelling one of the fiercest Japanese air assaults of the campaign. As the desperate attack was driven off, Horace A. Bass was credited with at least one plane splashed. As the battle raged ashore, she served on the vital picket line until 10 April, when she sailed with a convoy to Guam. On the return passage she sank submarine RO-109 with a single accurate depth charge attack south of Okinawa 25 April. Arriving 26 April, the ship resumed the hectic picket duty interspersed with convoy voyages to Saipan and Guam. Though the island was secured in mid-June, the air attacks continued, and Horace A. Bass continued to provide antiaircraft and antisubmarine protection to the countless ships off Okinawa. Early 30 July, the ship was on picket duty in the area when a low-flying suicider crashed through her superstructure and fell alongside, her bomb exploding close aboard. Horace A. Bass suffered hull damage and 14 casualties, but was quickly repaired. She remained off Okinawa until sailing north toward Japan 14 August.
After the surrender 15 August, the transport remained off Japan with 3d Fleet units until the ships triumphantly entered Tokyo Bay 27 August 1945. Horace A. Bass took part in the occupation of the giant Yokosuka Naval Base, furnishing the prize crew which took possession of battleship Naflato, one of the very few major ships left to the Imperial Navy. The American ship remained at Yokosuka assisting in the occupation until sailing for the United States 14 January 1946.
Horace A. Bass arrived San Francisco 7 February 1946, and spent the remainder of the year in the San Diego area on training operations. The ship sailed again for the Far East 27 January 1947, this time to support American efforts to stabilize the volatile Chinese situation. Arriving Tsingtao 5 March, Horace A. Bass acted as a station ship until sailing again for San Diego 30 July. The second half of 1947 was spent on training exercises in California waters, and in early 1948 the ship operated off the Mexican coast. She proceeded to China again 16 June 1948, and again served as station ship at Hons Kong and Tsingtao, occasionally sailing to the Marshalls and Guam. As Communist troops began to gain the upper hand in the Chinese civil war, Horace A. Bass evacuated civilians of several nations from Nanking in November. The ship departed China 1 December 1948, arriving San Diego 21 December for repairs and training.
After exercises off San Diego and a large amphibious training assault in Hawaii, Horace A. Bass sailed from Hawaii 14 November 1949 for another tour of duty in China. Arriving Hong Kong 30 November, she remained in waters off China and southeast Asian countries to protect American interests in the area, arriving San Diesro 12 June 1950.
With the outbreak of the Korean war in June 1950, American naval power moved swiftly into the Far East to support and make possible land operations. Horace A. Bass sailed 14 July to join the fleet units already deployed off Korea, arriving 2 August with troops of the 2d Marine Division. Underwater Demolition Teams and Marine Reconnaissance units were assigned to her, and the ship moved to the eastern coast of North Korea to carry out vital raids on Communist supply lines. Between 11 and 17 August she made three successful raids, destroying three tunnels and two bridges. During this period Horace A. Bass added bombardment during daylight hours.
As United Nations forces prepared to go on the offensive, the transport played an important part in the planning for the upcoming Inchon operation. Her raiding parties reconnoitered possible beaches 20-25 August, and departed Pusan 12 September for the main Inchon assault. Horace A. Bass put her troops ashore in the first wave 15 September, as the brilliantly successful amphibious operation suddenly reversed the course of the war.
As troops pushed northward, the fast transport resumed her raiding duties, making two attacks on tunnels and bridges near Songjin, 6-8 October 1950. For this operation Horace A. Bass carried Royal Marine Commandos. Late in October, she took part in operations to clear the port of Wonsan for another landing, assisting minesweep-ing groups. The ship then spent 3 months on beach survey duty before sailing for the United States 28 January 1951. For this highly successful tour of duty, Horace A. Bass and her Special Operations Group received the Navy Unit Commendation.
The veteran ship steamed toward Korea again 24 September 1951, and after stopping at Yokosuka resumed bombardment and raiding duties along the coast of North Korea. In 14 separate raids with American, British, and Republic of Korea landing parties Horace A. Bass did much to interrupt the all-important supply lines from the north, so vulnerable to mobile forces afloat. She completed her second tour of duty in Korea 3 July, when she sailed from Yokosuka. The ship arrived San Diego, 20 July 1952.
Horace A. Bass spent the next year in operations off the California coast, but sailed 15 July 1953 for her third tour of Korean duty. Upon her arrival Yokosuka 3 August, the ship became flagship of an Amphibious Control Squadron, and took part in various training landings in Japan. She also conducted three survey operations and two demolition assignments on the Korean coast, where the armistice was now in effect. The ship visited other Pacific ports during this period before departing Yokosuka 5 April 1954.
The ship operated off the West Coast on training cruises and antisubmarine exercises until getting underway for the Far East again 23 October 1954. She carried on practice landings in Korea and took part in fleet exercises until February, when she moved to the Formosa Straits to evacuate Nationalist Chinese troops from the Tachen Islands. With this important Cold War operation over, Horace A. Bass steamed to Haiphong, Indochina, 26 February to take part in operation "Passage to Freedom", as thousands of Vietnamese from the north fled Communist domination. The transporting of these civilians to the south was completed 20 March and the ship was underway from Sasebo, Japan, 4 April 1955, bound for San Diego.
After her arrival Horace A. Bass was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet, transiting the Canal 2-4 June and arriving Philadelphia 10 June 1955. She was then assigned to the 4th Naval District as a naval reserve training ship During the years that followed the fast transport made short cruises with naval reservists to Caribbean ports, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, helping to maintain the skills of hundreds of reserve officers and men. She arrived Orange, Tex., 3 November 1958, and decommissioned 9 February 1959. Horace A. Bass entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Orange, where she remains.
Horace A. Bass received two battle stars for World War II service, and six battle stars in addition to her Navy Unit Commendation for Korean.War service.