Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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(AP-74: dp. 12,255; l. 572'8"; b. 72'2"; dr. 26'; s. 17.5 k.; cpl. 501; trp. 4,660; a. 15", 4 3", 8 40mm., 13 20mm.)

John Archer Lejeune, born Pointe Coupee Parish, La., 10 January 1867, was previously honored by the Marine Corps in the naming of Camp Lejeune, N.C. A graduate of Louisiana State University 1884, and the Naval Academy 1888, he served as a naval cadet aboard Vandalia bound for Samoa.

His Marine Corps service began with his appointment 1 July 1890 as a 2d lieutenant, USMC. During the Spanish-American War he served as commander of the Marine Guard on board Cincinnati. In the next decade and a half, he received assignments to such trouble spots as Panama, Philippines, Cuba, and, in 1914, Vera Cruz, Mexico. On 6 January 1917 he was appointed a brigadier general.

With the entry of the United States into World War I, General Lejeune, attached to the Marine Corps Headquarters, Washington, D.C., sought duty at the front. He arrived in France 8 June 1918 and was soon placed in command of the 2d Division, AEF, the only Marine officer to command an Army division. Promoted to major general in July, he was awarded both the Army and Navy Distinguished Service Medals and several French medals for his leadership in the great offensives which ended the war. He climaxed 45 years of continuous service as Commandant of the Marine Corps from 30 June 1920 to 5 May 1929.

Retired in November 1929, General Lejeune served for 8 years as Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute. Six months before his death on 20 November 1942, he was appointed Lieutenant General on the Marine Corps Retired List.

Lejeune (AP-74) was launched as Windhuk by Bloom & Voss Co., Hamburg, Germany, for Deutsche-Afrika Linien in 1936; interned at Santos, Brazil, in December 1939; acquired from Brazil 12 May 1942; placed in ferry commission as Lejeune 26 March 1943, Capt. John T. Bottom, Jr., in command during transfer from Rio de Janerio to Norfolk for conversion; and commissioned 12 May 1944, Capt. L. E. Kelly in command.

As the German Windhuk, the ship had seen action early in World War II as a support vessel and a raider before her internment by the Brazilians. Purchased by the Navy in 1942 and converted to a troop transport, Lejeune began service on the transatlantic run in the aftermath of the Normandy invasion. Departing New York 15 June 1944 with 4,460 troops embarked she completed 10 round-trip voyages before the end of the war. In December she transported elements of the 69th Infantry Division, which 5 months later met the Russians at Torgau on the Elbe River. Beginning 21 January 1945, her main port of call became and remained Le Havre, France, even during her period of "Magic Carpet" duty. A total of 19 crossings were made to ports ranging from Glasgow, Scotland to Oran, Algeria, prior to overhaul at Norfolk beginning 9 May 1946.

Lejeune departed the east coast 28 September for naval transport service in the western Pacific. Shanghai and Tsingtao, China, and Yokosuka, Japan, were among her westermost destinations during four voyages from San Francisco between 19 October 1946 and 1 August 1947. On her last NTS voyage, she arrived New York, her former home port, 29 August but returned to San Francisco 25 September. In all she transported approximately 100,000 troops.

Having served the United States well, this ex-German ship sailed 2 October for Bremerton, Wash., and inactivation. Decommissioned 9 February 1948 and placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Tacoma, Wash., she was struck from the Navy Register in July 1957. Transferred to the Maritime Administration, she was later scrapped.

Published: Wed Jul 29 02:01:40 EDT 2015