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LCI(L)-759

1944–1946

(LCI(L)-759: displacement 387; length 159'0"; beam, 23'8"; draft 5'8" (limiting); speed 14.4 knots; complement 40; armament 5 20-millimeter; class LCI(L)-351)

The unnamed large infantry landing craft LCI(L)-759 was laid down on 17 April 1944 at Portland, Ore., by Commercial Iron Works; launched on 10 May 1944; and commissioned at her building yard on 22 May 1944, Lt. (j.g.) William G. Blackman, USNR, in command.

Reporting for her shakedown on 27 May 1944, LCI(L)-759 got underway on 31 May for San Diego, Calif. to begin that training . On 15 July, she sailed for the Territory of Hawaii. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 24 July, she conducted further training in Hawaiian waters through the middle of August. On 17 August, she sailed for New Guinea, standing in to Milne Bay on 7 September and reporting to Commander, Seventh Amphibious Force, for duty. For almost two months, LCI(L)-759 transported troops between Milne Bay, Alexishafen, Jaulup Bay and Humboldt Bay. Underway from the last-named body of water on 5 November, she sailed for the Philippine Islands with Infantry Landing Craft (LCI) Flotilla 15, reaching San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on 12 November.

LCI(L)-759 transported troops between various landings of San Pedro Bay, and on the morning of 6 December 1944 embarked 236 men of the 77th Infantry Division at Terragona, Leyte. The next day, Task Group (TG) 78.3 (Rear Adm. Arthur W. Struble) landed Army troops (77th Infantry) on the eastern shore of Ormoc Bay after bombardment by destroyers and LCI(R)s. Within three hours of the first soldiers’ going ashore, however, Japanese air attacks began. Kamikazes damaged the destroyers Mahan (DD-364) and Lamson (DD-367), the former irreparably, compelling her scuttling by Walke (DD-723).  Flusser (DD-368) and the rescue tug ATR-31 extinguished Lamson’s fires and she was towed to Leyte Gulf. Other suiciders damage high speed transports Ward (APD-16) and Liddle (APD-60) with Ward, irretrievably damaged, being later scuttled by O’Brien (DD-725). Still other kamikazes damaged the tank landing ship LST-737, and sank the medium landing ship LSM-318. Near-misses accounted for damage to LSM-18 and LSM-19. LCI(L)-759 suffered no damage in the operation, assisted in repelling Japanese strafing attacks on the retiring amphibious shipping.

LCI(L)-759 returned to San Pedro Bay the following day [8 December 1944], then sailed for Mindoro on 11 December in Task Group (TG) 78.3, arriving off the invasion beaches around sunset on 15 December. Once again, TG 78.3 (Rear Adm.Arthur D. Struble) landed the troops, this time on the southwest coast of Mindoro -- LCI(L)-759, for her part, landing 146 soldiers of Company “C”, 503rd Parachute Infantry, and 34 men of the 161st Parachute Engineers on Blue Beach -- under cover of carrier-based planes (Rear Adm. Felix B. Stump). Many felt that that operation, conceived and undertaken to secure an all-weather airfield to support large-scale landings on Luzon, to be a hazardous venture deep into Japanese-controlled waters.  Kamikazes again took a toll on the invasion shipping and the supporting ships and their escorts, damaging LST-472 and LST-738 irreparably; they were scuttled off the southern tip of Mindoro by Hall (DD-583). Suiciders also damaged the escort carrier Marcus Island (CVE-77), the destroyers Paul Hamilton (DD-590) and Howorth (DD-592) and the motor torpedo boat PT-223.

LCI(L)-759 then returned to San Pedro Bay where she embarked 18 war correspondents and 16 other passengers, sailing on 3 January 1945 for Lingayen Bay, Luzon, then landing those people on 9 January. She operated in Lingayen Gulf until 7 March, then proceeded back to San Pedro Bay. Sailing from that place in convoy IG-15 on 24 March, the ship debarked 158 men of Company “C”, 369th Regimental Combat Team, at Biak, Schouten Islands, on 31 March. Underway again on 2 April, in convoy BG-525, she arrived at Morotai, Halmahera Island, three days later to participate in its occupation.  She then transported cargo from various ships to the beaches until 21 April. The following day, she landed 175 men from Company “K” of the Army’s 124th Infantry at Mindanao, Philippines, returning to the familiar waters of San Pedro Bay on 26 April.

LCI(L)-759 continued to operate from San Pedro Bay for the next four months, transporting passengers and freight  between that place and Cebu City, Cebu; Zamboanga, Mindanao; and Puerto Princessa, Palawan. Underway from San Pedro Bay on 5 September 1945 to proceed to her next destination via Okinawa (initially as part of convoy IOK-23), she reached Shanghai, China, on 18 September. After remaining there for nearly a month, she cleared that port on 12 October for Ningpo City, Yung River; and Kiirun, Formosa. Returning to the latter place on 1 November, she got underway to return to the United States on 16 December. Proceeding via the Marianas, and Pearl Harbor, LCI(L)-759, having been instructed to report to Commander Western Sea Frontier, for disposal, arrived at San Pedro, Calif., on 26 February 1946.

Shifting to San Francisco, Calif., on 23 March 1946, the ship reported to the Naval Net Depot at Tiburon, Calif., on 22 April. There LCI(L)-759 was decommissioned on 13 May 1946. Stricken from the Navy Register on 19 June 1946, the ship was transferred to the U.S. Maritime Commission on 17 February 1948, and was ultimately sold to Lee J. Immel.

LCI(L)-759 received two battle stars for her participation in the Leyte and Mindoro landings.

Commanding Officers                             Date Assumed Command

Lt (j.g.) William G. Blackman, USNR          22 May 1944

Lt. (j.g.) Coleman C. Ryther, USNR             21 August 1945

Lt. (j.g.) O. H. Wienges, Jr., USNR               10 December 1945

Ens. J. R. Adams, USNR                               10 April 1946

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Robert J. Cressman

6 July 2016

Published: Thu Jul 14 13:36:16 EDT 2016