Raymon W. Herndon -- born in Walterboro, S.C., on 1 November 1918 -- reported for active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps at New River, N.C., on 29 April 1942.
Herndon was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for "extraordinary heroism and outstanding courage while serving with the 1st Marine Division during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands, September 14, 1942. While engaged in a hazardous reconnaissance patrol on the southern slope of a hill, Pfc. Herndon was mortally wounded. With the enemy advancing rapidly on his position, and realizing that he had no chance to survive, he asked that he be left with a weapon to cover the withdrawal of his patrol to the top of the hill. His brave and loyal fighting spirit above the call of duty, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country."
(APD-121: displacement 2,130; length 306'; beam 37'; draft 12'7"; speed 23.6 knots; complement 186; troop capacity 162; armament 1 5-inch, 6 40 millimeter, 6 20 millimeter, 2 depth charge tracks; class Charles Lawrence)
Raymon W. Herndon (DE-688) was laid down on 12 June 1944 at Quincy, Mass., by Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched 15 July 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Raymon W. Herndon, widow of Pfc. Herndon; redesignated as a high speed transport, APD-121, on 17 July 1944; and commissioned on 3 November 1944.
She departed Boston, Mass., on 23 November 1944 for three weeks of shakedown in Bermudan waters. After calling at Norfolk, Va., on 13 December through the holiday season, she stood out of Hampton Roads on 1 January 1945, transited the Panama Canal, and reported to Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, for duty on 7 January.
Arriving at San Diego on 16 January 1945, she departed nine days later, touched at Pearl Harbor on 31 January, and acquired her first combat experience in the capture and occupation of Okinawa. Commencing on 26 March 1945, she supported her embarked Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) 16 and provided antiaircraft gunnery support in the transport area of the invasion beaches. This duty continued through 19 June, only two days before Okinawa was finally declared secured to serve as a vital fleet and air base for the final step toward Japan itself. During the assault phase of the Okinawa operation, Raymon W. Herndon assisted in maintaining an outer antisubmarine screen that extended completely around the Hagushi Beach Transport area and the seaplane and logistics anchorage at Kerama Retto.
Together with the other ships, she also provided protection from enemy aircraft for the naval forces off the beachhead, and, next after the remote radar picket stations, bore the brunt of the relentless and determined attacks made by enemy torpedo, dive-bombing, and kamikaze aircraft. She splashed one attacking aircraft and assisted in the destruction of two others on 6 April.
Upon the close of hostilities, Raymon W. Herndon transported occupation forces to the China coast and to ports in Japan. She was then directed to return to the United States. Decommissioned on 15 November 1946, she was berthed at Green Cove Springs, Fla., and then shifted to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, Norfolk Group.
Stricken from the Navy list 1 September 1966, ex-Raymon W. Herndon was sold under the Military Assistance Program (MAP) to the Republic of China the next month.
Raymon W. Herndon received one battle star for her World War II service.
9 August 2019