(APA-191: dp. 14,833 (f.); l. 455-; b. 62-; dr. 28-1-; s. 17 k.; Cpl. 536; t. 1,562; a. 1 5-, 12 40mm.; cl. Haskell; T. VC2-S-AP5)
A county in Montana.
Pondera (APA-191), built under Maritime Commission contact (MCV hull 659), was laid down by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Wash., 28 April 1944; launched 27 July 1944; sponsored by Miss Elinor C. Gottlieb; delivered to the Navy and commissioned 24 September 1944, Comdr. Lawrence J. Hasse in command.
Following shakedown, Pondera remained in California waters, training precommissioning crews for APAs, until 23 January 1945. Two weeks of amphibious training followed and in February she departed San Francisco for Hawaii. After further amphibious training she carried the 81st Construction Battalion to Okinawa, anchoring off Hagushi 26 April. Later shifting to Nakagusuku Wan, she disembarked troops there 3-4 May and during the night assisted Carina (AK-74), damaged by a suicide boat. On the 8th she departed, with casualties embarked, for Saipan, whence she sailed to San Francisco.
She completed a second troop lift to the Far East, Leyte, in July, and was enroute on her third transpacific run when the war ended. Arriving at Ulithi 25 August, she sailed to Guam, disembarked half of her troops there, then continued on to Okinawa to discharge the remainder. In mid-September she took on men of the XXIV Corps and on the 24th debarked them at Jinsen, Korea. In October she carried further elements of that Corps to Korea, then, after replenishing at Manila, joined TransRon 17, 8 November, at Hong Kong, to lift troops of the 8th Chinese Nationalist Army to Tsingtao. Completing that mission 16 November, Pondera reported for "Magic Carpet" duty and on 20 November arrived at San Diego with units of the 5th Marine Division. She completed her second and last "Magic Carpet" run at San Francisco 9 March 1946 and ten days later got underway for the east coast and inactivation. Arriving at Norfolk 6 April, she decommissioned and was transferred to the Maritime Commission 6 June 1946. Struck from the Navy List 19 June 1946, she was laid up in the James River berthing area, National Defense Reserve Fleet, where she remains into 1970. Pondera earned one battle star during World War II.