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Kephart (DE-207)

(DE-207: dp. 1,400; l. 306'; b. 36'10"; dr. 9'5"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 4 1.1", 8 20mm., 3 21" tt, 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.), 2 dct.; cl. Buckley)

William Perry Kephart, born Meyersdale, Pa., 9 September 1915, enlisted in the Naval Reserve 15 August 1937 and was appointed Aviation Cadet 3 months later. After flight training at Pensacola, Fla., he was commissioned Ensign 1 December 1938. He served with air groups in Saratoga (CV-3) and Wasp (CV-7), and in May 1940 returned to Pensacola as a flight instructor. Six months later he rejoined Scouting Squadron 71 on board Wasp. Promoted to Lieutenant (j.g.) 15 June 1942 and Lieutenant (temporary) 1 October, Lt. Kephart was killed in action 14 October while engaging the enemy over Guadalcanal.

Kephart (DE-207) was launched 6 September 1943 by Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, S.C.; sponsored by Mrs. A. P. Kephart, mother; and commissioned 7 January 1944, Lt. Comdr. I. H. Cammarn in command.

After shakedown off Bermuda, Kephart departed New York 23 March for convoy escort duty in the Atlantic. During the next 3 months she made three runs from New York to Gibraltar and Bizerte, Tunisia. Returning New York 30 June for conversion to a high speed transport, she was reclassified APD-61 on 5 July.

Kephart departed New York 30 September and joined the 7th Fleet at Hollandia, New Guinea, 10 November. As a unit of TransDiv 103, she departed in convoy 17 November and arrived Leyte Gulf, Philippines, 24 November. After a run to the Palaus, she embarked troops of the 77th Infantry at Leyte and steamed 6 December with Task Group 78.3 for amphibious assault at Ormoc Bay. During landing operations 7 December Kephart's guns splashed two Japanese planes in a fierce raid. Returning to Leyte 8 December, she embarked soldiers of the 19th Infantry; sailed 12 December for Midoro; and landed assault troops at San Jose 15 December, again under heavy enemy air attack. Returning to Leyte 17 December, she continued 20 December to Hollandia to prepare for antisubmarine and amphibious operations.

Carrying men of the 158 RCT, Kephart departed Noemfoor, Schouten Islands, 4 January 1945 to rejoin the fight to liberate the Philippines. Steaming to Luzon, she arrived San Fabien, Lingayen Gulf, 11 January and landed reinforcements, despite constant harassment from enemy planes emerging from the heavy air attack unscathed. Returning Leyte 15 January for 3 months of antisubmarine patrol, Kephart took part in scattered landing operations in the Philippines: at Grande Island, Subic Bay (30 January); Puerto Princesa, Palawan (28 February); Zamboanga, Mindanao (10 March); Cebu City, Cebu (26 March); and Cotabato, Mindanao (17 April).

Kephart departed Leyte Gulf 4 May for escort and assault operations in the Dutch East Indies, arriving Morotai 7 May. After escorting a convoy to Mindanao (18-20 May), she returned to Morotai 21 May and embarked troops of the Australian Army for an amphibious assault at Brunei Bay, North Borneo. Sailing 4 June, she landed troops 10 June amid dwindling enemy resistance; then she patrolled the South China Sea hunting submarines before returning Morotai 19 June. She sailed 26 June carrying Australian soldiers to the eastern coast of Borneo 1 July for the final major amphibious operation of the war-the landing operations at Balikpapan, Borneo.

Continuing escort and antisubmarine duty, Kephart departed Morotai 16 July and reached Leyte Gulf 2 days later. On 4 August she began amphibious training at Albay and Lagonoy Gulfs, Luzon, in preparation for a possible invasion of Japan. After the fighting ended 15 August, she sailed from Leyte Gulf 29 August to Okinawa to embark occupation troops for Korea. She reached Jinsen, Korea, 8 September; and then shuttled between the Philippines and Korea. She steamed from Jinsen 29 October via Sasebo, Japan, and Okinawa to Tsingtao, China, arriving 14 November to support the Chinese Nationalists' effort to repel Communist aggression on the Chinese mainland.

Returning Okinawa 22 November, Kephart embarked 147 homebound veterans and departed 26 November for the United States. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, she reached San Diego 16 December. Two days after unloading her passengers she sailed for the East Coast and arrived New York on New Year's Day 1946. Following overhaul, she departed 8 February for Green Cove Springs, Fla., arriving the 11th. Kephart decommissioned 21 June and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Orange, Tex. She was struck from the Navy List 1 May 1967 and transferred under the Military Assistance Program to the Republic of Korea 16 May 1967.

Kephart received five battle stars for World War II service.

Published: Wed Apr 13 12:58:53 EDT 2016