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Lamons (DE-743)

(DE-743: dp. 1,240; l. 306'; b. 36'8"; dr. 8'9"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 2 40mm., 10 20mm., 9 dcp., 2 dct., 3 21" tt.; cl. Cannon)

Kenneth Tafe Lamons, born 12 October 1909 in Greenville, Tenn., enlisted in the Navy 29 February 1928 and rose to the rank of Boatswain Mate Second Class. He served continuously until his death from wounds received in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941. The Secretary of the Navy commended Lamons: "For distinguished devotion to duty and extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety...when as gun captain of a 5-inch antiaircraft gun, on USS Nevada, he maintained an effective fire with his gun, in local control, despite heavy casualties on his gun, bomb hits, exploding ammunition on deck, and serious fires, until killed at his station."

Lamons (DE-743) was laid down 10 April 1943 by Western Pipe & Steel Co., San Pedro, Calif.; launched 1 August 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Leora M. Lamons, widow of Boatswain Mate Second Class Lamons; and commissioned 29 February 1944, Lt. Comdr. C. K. Hutchison in command.

After shakedown Lamons departed San Francisco 10 May 1944, escorting three merchant ships to the western Pacific. She arrived Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, 3 June, and joined the screen of fueling groups supporting the invasion of Saipan. The destroyer escort remained in the Marianas until Saipan was secure.

The fleet next turned to the Palau Islands which were needed as staging points for ships and aircraft during the forthcoming Leyte landings. During September Lamons screened fueling groups which replenished ships en route to the Peleliu assault.

Returning to Manus 1 October, the destroyer escort prepared for the vital Philippine Islands invasion. Sailing 4 October with Task Group 30.8, Lamons steamed toward the fueling areas off Leyte. For the next 3 months she operated-as a screen for oilers replenishing the fleet during the Philippine campaign. With Leyte secured, Lamons departed Ulithi 29 December as screen for a refueling group supporting the Luzon landings.

The destroyer escort returned Ulithi 27 January 1945 and prepared for her next assignment, the invasion of Iwo Jima. Departing Ulithi 8 February, she steamed toward the tiny volcanic island which was needed as a stop-over base for B-29 air raids on Japan. Lamons remained in the fueling areas until early March supporting the bloody but inspiring struggle which wrested this invaluable strategic base from Japanese hands.

Preparations for the invasion of Okinawa, the last remaining barrier on the road to Japan, were now complete. Lamons sailed 19 March to screen oilers as they refueled the ships of the greatest armada assembled during the Pacific war. After remaining in the vicinity throughout the Okinawa campaign, she sailed 26 June to protect the escort carriers which assured troops of the 8th Army air superiority during landings in Balikpapan, Borneo.

The Navy now turned to Japan itself. In mid-July, Lamons sailed with Task Group 30.8 to fuel carriers engaged in air raids on the enemy homeland. The destroyer escort continued these operations until after Japan capitulated. She arrived Ulithi 31 August for a brief respite but was at sea again 10 September escorting Escambia (AO-80) to Okinawa before sailing for home 1 October.

After a brief stop at San Pedro, Calif., the destroyer escort sailed for the east coast, arriving Philadelphia 23 November. Lamons decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla., 14 June 1946, and joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in February 1951. At present she is berthed at Philadelphia.

Lamons received nine battle stars for World War II service.

Published: Wed Apr 20 23:52:07 EDT 2016