Paul James Register -- born at Bismarck, N. Dak. on 5 November 1899 -- and appointed from North Dakota to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. (12 June 1917–6 May 1920). The institution’s Lucky Bag annual lauded his character and thoughtfulness, noting that “Greater love hath no man than this.” The publication also good naturedly added, however, that Register never adjusted to the urbanization of the area, noting that he “found the devious ways of suspenders too much for his unsophisticated mind to cope with and he used to leave them hanging down behind on the background of his service—in times of stress when late blast was nigh.” In addition, he completed two brief midshipman cruises on board Missouri (Battleship No. 11) (7 June–30 August 1918) and Delaware (Battleship No. 28) (7 June–28 August 1919).
Following his graduation and commissioning as an ensign, he served on shore and at sea, with both the Battle and Scouting Fleets, during the interwar period. Register went to sea consecutively in: Florida (Battleship No. 30) (9 July 1920–1 July 1921); destroyer Truxtun (DD-229) until Shaw (DD-68) reached Newport, R.I., on 19 September, when he transferred to her; and he then served in George E. Badger (DD-196) until she was decommissioned on 11 August 1922. Register passed through the receiving ship at Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pa. and then served as the assistant engineering officer on board heavy cruiser Rochester (CA-2) (19 August 1922–16 April 1923). He completed a brief course in submarine instruction on board minesweeper Chewink (AM-39), which tended submarines at New London, Conn. (24 May–30 August 1923).
Following that training he reported to transport Argonne (AP-4) at New York, upon which he sailed for service with the Asiatic Fleet, reaching Cavite, Philippines, on Christmas Eve (26 October–24 December 1923). Register then put his underwater operational knowledge to work while serving on board S-6 (SS-111) in Submarine Division 12. The submarine was past her prime, however, and the Asiatic Fleet summarized her readiness well by reporting her readiness as “not satisfactory,” and adding that “The material condition of the fleet, with the exception of the submarine divisions, has improved during the past year.” S-6 burned out her main motor armature, and sailors and civilian workers replaced it with a “spare” armature.
Register then returned to familiar ground when detached from S-6 and completed the general line postgraduate course of instruction at the Naval Academy (1 July 1927–16 April 1928). He attended the Naval War College at Newport, R.I. (30 June 1928–28 May 1929), and then returned to sea on board battleship Maryland (BB-46) (14 June 1929–16 June 1932), with additional duty assisting to organize a secondary battery gunnery school course on board Oklahoma (BB-37) in the summer of 1930. Register returned again to the Naval Academy (17 March 1932–24 May 1935), which included taking part in a midshipman cruise on board Arkansas (BB-33) (June–August 1934). He served as an aide and flag lieutenant on the staff of Commander Destroyers, Battle Force (10 June 1935–7 June 1937), and as an aide and flag secretary on the staff of Commander Destroyers, Scouting Force, largely on board destroyer tender Melville (AD-2) (7 June 1937–17 May 1938). Time ashore gave him a break from the rigors of sea duty when he served at the Navy Recruiting Bureau at New York City (16 June 1938–14 August 1940), where he was promoted to lieutenant commander, effective from l July 1939. As World War II loomed the United States expanded its armed forces, and shore duty for the seasoned Register included officer-in-charge of the Naval Reserve Education Center in the Third Naval District at New York (14 August 1940–30 April 1941), with additional duty as an instructor at the Naval Reserve’s 31st and 32nd Divisions at the state armories at New Rochelle and Yonkers, N.Y., respectively.
Register reported for duty as communication officer on board battleship Arizona (BB-39) on 23 May 1941. He was killed when the Japanese sank Arizona during their attack on Pearl Harbor, T.H. on 7 December 1941. Register received the Purple Heart posthumously, as well as the Victory Medal (Grand Fleet Clasp) for his service in Florida. He was survived by his wife Ethel and two children, Paul J. Jr. and Nancy S., all of whom lived in Jackson, Miss.
(APD-92: displacement 2,130; length 306'; beam 37'; draft 12'7"; speed 23 knots; complement 204; troops 162; armament 1 5-inch, 6 40 millimeter, 6 20 millimeter, 2 depth charge tracks; class Crosley)
Register (DE-233) was laid down on 27 October 1943 by the Charleston [S.C.] Navy Yard, S.C.; launched on 20 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Ethel L. Register, widow of the late Lt. Cmdr. Register; reclassified to a high-speed transport (APD-92) on 17 July 1944; and commissioned on 11 January 1945, Cmdr. James R. Cain Jr., USNR, in command.
The ship initially carried out a series of structural firing tests, builder’s trials, towing and fueling exercises, and engine tests in the vicinity of Charleston (11–31 January 1945). She then made her shakedown cruise to Bermuda and in Chesapeake Bay (1–23 and 25–28 February, respectively). Register accomplished her post-shakedown availability at Norfolk, Va. (1–11 March) and then stood out for her long voyage to fight the Japanese in the Pacific. The ship embarked 50 soldiers and 32 sailors when she passed through the Panama Canal on 17 March, disembarked the passengers when she touched briefly at San Diego, Calif. on 26 March, and then completed voyage repairs there. Register resumed her journey when she got underway from the Navy Pier and steamed independently to Pearl Harbor (3–11 April). The ship cleaned and repaired her boilers during an availability at Pearl Harbor (11–18 April), and then trained with underwater demolition teams at Maui (18–25 April), including practicing shore bombardment at Smuggler’s Cove, Kaho’olawe, on 20 April.
On 27 April 1945, Register embarked three commissioned and 100 enlisted passengers, along with 20 tons of cargo, and stood down the channel in company with Osterhaus (DE-164) -- the escort commander -- Parks (DE-165), and Tatum (APD-81), escorting seven ships bound for Ulithi in the Carolines. All hands entered the Sacred Order of the Golden Dragon when they crossed the International Date Line on 2 May. Register reached Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands on 6 May, and continued her journey with two other escorts and three ships the following day, Cmdr. Cain serving as the escort commander. A Japanese Yokosuka PY1 Frances (Ginga) kamikaze had crashed aircraft carrier Randolph (CV-15) at Ulithi on 11 May, and as Register arrived at the atoll two days later, the garrison sounded a red alert because of fears of another such attack and her crew manned their battle stations. Following the alert the ship disembarked her passengers, unloaded cargo, and accomplished repairs.
The high-speed transport and three other ships escorted 11 merchantmen that sailed from Ulithi to Hagushi Beach, Okinawa (15–19 May). Register anchored off Hagushi and the next day refueled. The fighting raged furiously afloat as well as ashore, and on 6 April the Japanese had launched the first of a series of ten mass kamikaze attacks, interspersed with smaller raids and named Kikusui (Floating Chrysanthemum) No. 1, against Allied ships operating off Okinawa. These attacks involved 1,465 aircraft through 28 May. At 1440 on 20 May 1945, Register consequently received orders via voice radio to relieve Knudson (APD-101) on screening station Baker-13. Register summarily relieved Knudson and at 1545 began patrolling the station, her lookouts and radar vigilantly searching the sky and horizon for attacking planes or suicide boats, and her sonar scanning for submarines. The ship patrolled a sector 7,000 yards long, keeping in phase with Harry E. Hubbard (DD-748) in sector Baker-14, and a minesweeper that patrolled Baker-12.
A “Flash Red” alert indicating that radar pickets detected enemy planes approaching suddenly sounded over the voice radio circuit at 1835, and Register immediately called away general quarters. At 1920 watchstanders spotted ten Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Type 0 carrier fighters roaring toward the station at high speed, low over the water and from the west, directly out of the sun as it set rapidly. All batteries commenced firing and the ship increased speed, making what her historian summarized as “radical” course changes to avoid her tormentors.
The enemy formation split up, but four of the planes headed for Register. Two attacked from starboard, one from ahead, and one from astern. The plane that dove on the ship from astern crashed in the water abeam to starboard. The attacker from ahead began a low, gliding run, attempting to crash the ship’s bridge. The Japanese pilot briefly strafed Register from his wing mounts and then stopped firing abruptly, passed down the port side, narrowly missing the mainmast, and would have crashed to the fantail but for the kingpost, which deflected the plane overboard close aboard on the starboard quarter. The impact buckled the kingpost at the point of contact about ten feet above the deck, and it crashed over No. 3 40 millimeter gun, wounding the captain and 12 of the crew: Lt. (j.g.) Wayne C. Marietta; Ens. Cooper G. Curtice; F1 Lorion W. Bird, USNR; Coxwain Willis O. Bradford, USNR; S2 Gerald W. Cook, USNR; S2 Ray S. Gallotte, USNR; S2 Charles W. Gray, USNR; F2 Melvin L. Grayson, USNR; Coxwain James E. Johnson, USNR; S2 Otis Mitchell, USNR; S2 Alvin R. Pittman, USNR; and S3 Albert A. Aliano, USNR, all of whom subsequently received the Purple Heart. Despite falling debris Johnson bravely remained at his gun station, at one point removing a ruptured cartridge case from the gun with his bare hands. Bradford, Gallotte, and Gray refused medical attention despite their painful wounds and continued to carry ammunition to the gunners, and, together with Johnson, afterward received Commendation Ribbons for their “conduct,” which exemplified their “great value to the naval service,” Cain reporting that they fought the ship “with utter disregard for their own safety.” The attack also caused considerable damage to the hull. Five-inch gunfire damaged the fourth plane and it turned and escaped. At 1927, after seven minutes of violent action, the ship stopped firing.
Yokes (APD-69) relieved Register the following morning, and the ship retired to Hagushi to await battle damage repairs. Lt. Cmdr. John R. Furman, USNR, received dispatch orders directing him to relieve Cain as the commanding officer, which he did on 2 June, Cain moving on to command Transport Squadron (TransRon) 100 in Kilty (APD-15) at San Francisco, Calif. The ship meanwhile sounded general quarters 15 times while Japanese planes attacked the vessels gathered offshore (21–27 May). She then joined the six escorts and 18 merchantmen of Convoy No. 5, bound from Okinawa to Saipan in the Marianas (27 May–2 June), Register acting as the escort commander. The ship gained several underwater sound contacts during the voyage but failed to positively identify any as enemy submarines.
Register sailed in company with John C. Butler (DE-339) to Leyte in the Philippines (5–10 June), and then completed repairs alongside destroyer tender Sierra (AD-18) through 29 June. She escorted 20 tank landing ships (LSTs) to Okinawa (29 June–4 July), reporting that she “only” manned her battle stations during two red alerts on Independence Day. Register accompanied the two escorts and nine ships of a convoy to Ulithi before returning with Burke (APD-65) and Ringness (APD-100) to Leyte (6–16 July). The ship next accomplished additional repairs alongside Markab (AD-21), making runs on 18 and 24 July to test the vibration of the new kingpost. At the end of the month she joined Ringness and shepherded escort aircraft carriers Chenango (CVE-28) and Gilbert Islands (CVE-107) to Ulithi (29 July–2 August).
Japanese submarine I-58 torpedoed and sank heavy cruiser Indianapolis (CA-35) northeast of Leyte, near 12°02'N, 134°48'E, on 29 July 1945. Crewmen who abandoned ship suffered horrifically from exposure and shark attacks. On 2 August, a Lockheed PV-1 Ventura from Fleet Air Wing (FAW) 18, commanded by Lt. (j.g.) S.M. Worthington, USNR, and flown by a relief crew from Patrol Bombing Squadron (VPB) 28, en route from Saipan to Jinamoc in the Philippine Islands, sighted some of the ship’s survivors in what appeared to be a lifeboat, as well as rafts and life jackets, around 11°32'N, 133°34'E. The Ventura reported the sighting, and the Philippine Sea Frontier Command relayed the discovery to a number of ships operating in the region.
On 2 August 1945 Register received orders urgently diverting her from escort duty and to steam to the area of 11°54'N, 133°47'E. Planes flew overhead and fired flares and turned on their searchlights to illuminate the Indianapolis’s survivors for the rescue ships, which also initially included destroyers Ralph Talbot (DD-390) and Madison (DD-425), Bassett (APD-73), and Ringness, and escorts Cecil J. Doyle (DE-368) and Dufilho (DE-423). Two Consolidated PBY Catalinas had landed in the water before dusk and also illuminated the scene. The men on board Register only learned of the name of the cruiser and the magnitude of the tragedy when they rescued a survivor from his life raft. At 1400 Register joined four other ships in a scouting line from left to right: Madison; Ringness; Register; Ralph Talbot; and Dufilho. The ships initially steered 135° at 15 knots. At 0350 on 5 August, eight ships formed a scouting line in order: Helm (DD-388); Aylwin (DD-355); Ralph Talbot; Madison; Dufilho; Alvin C. Cockrell (DE-366); French (DE-367); and Cecil J. Doyle. The Officer in Tactical Command (OTC) sailed on board Madison, and the ships proceeded in column on an initial course of 108°, spaced approximately eight miles apart, at a speed of 14 knots. Register and Ringness joined the column at about 1000, and Alvin C. Cockrell relieved Madison as the OTC and guide at 1405. The ten ships continued their search at various courses and speeds until they covered the area determined to be the most likely to contain survivors, by 1907. On 3 August Register picked up 12 of the cruiser’s crewmen, and during the afternoon Dufilho and Ralph Talbot transferred an additional 25 men they had rescued. Register carried her 37 castaways to Peleliu in the Palau Islands, where she transferred them to a hospital on 4 August. The ship returned to the scene the following day, but found only four life rafts and two floater nets. On 6 August she received orders to discontinue the search and came about and sailed to Leyte.
Register lay at Leyte when the Japanese surrendered (7–19 August 1945). She then screened Task Group (TG) 95.7, consisting of Arkansas (BB-33), California (BB-44), Nevada (BB-36), Texas (BB-35), Biloxi (CL-80), Mobile (CL-63), Gainard (DD-706), Abercrombie (DE-343), Charles Lawrence (APD-37), Hopping (APD-51), John Q. Roberts (APD-94), Lee Fox (APD-45), Ringness, and Tollberg (APD-103) to Buckner Bay, Okinawa (20–24 August). Two days later Register stood out for Philippine waters, spending most of the next month at Manila Bay and Subic Bay awaiting orders (2–16 September). The high-speed transport then moved to Lingayen Gulf, where she spent the remainder of the month hauling water to merchant ships.
While she delivered mail from San Fernando to various ships of TransRon 20 on 1 October 1945, Register received orders to assist an unknown ship reported to be in distress in the area. She searched for two days but failed to locate the mysterious vessel, and then sailed in company with Barber (APD-57) to Okinawa (3–5 October). The ship fueled and joined transports of TransRon 20 carrying occupation troops to Wakayama, Honshū, Japan, Montour (APA-101) serving as the OTC during the voyage (5–7 October). A typhoon capsized and grounded many ships in the area on 10 October, but Register rode the tempest out at Wakayama without casualties. She then served as the harbor entrance patrol ship at that port through 26 October. Toward the end of the month she joined the screen of 14 transports and six merchantmen and steamed to Nagoya, anchoring outside the port on 27 October. During her stay at Nagoya, Register operated as the harbor entrance control vessel. Rear Adm. Albert G. Noble broke his flag in amphibious force flagship Wasatch (AGC-9) as the senior officer afloat.
Orders directed Register to return home and to embark a “capacity load” of passengers and with three Navy officers, 19 sailors, ten Army officers, and 101 enlisted soldiers, she headed east on 9 November 1945. Reaching Pearl Harbor on 15 November, she disembarked the soldiers and continued on her homeward voyage two days later, still packed with additional sailors as passengers. The ship arrived at San Diego on 23 November and within two days resumed her cruise. Register dropped anchor at Balboa just long enough to fuel on 3 December, and then entered the Panama Canal, anchoring at Limon Bay at Cristóbal to investigate a shipmate lost at Balboa. When the ship completed the investigation on 5 December she continued her journey, passing through the canal, transferring her passengers ashore when she stopped for only an hour at Jacksonville, Fla. and returning to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 11 December. On the day after Christmas, Register entered drydock to prepare for her inactivation. The ship floated out of the dry dock while continuing her inactivation work on 29 December 1945.
On 7 January 1946, Register began her final voyage when she turned southward, dropping anchor to unload ammunition at Hampton Roads, Va. the following day. The high-speed transport resumed her cruise on 15 January, and anchored in the St. Johns River off Jacksonville on 17 January. The following day Register moved to Green Cove Springs, Fla., where she was decommissioned on 31 May 1946 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Later transferred to a berthing area at Orange, Texas she remained in reserve until stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 September 1966. On 22 October of that year she was sold under the Military Assistance Program to the Republic of China (Taiwan) as Tai Shan (PF-38).
Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Cmdr. James R. Cain Jr., USNR 11 January 1945
Lt. Cmdr. John R. Furman, USNR 2 June 1945
Lt. (j.g.) A. R. Winter, USNR 14 December 1945
Lt. Cmdr. J. R. McKee, USNR 17 December 1945
Lt. (j.g.) R. E. Kurz, USNR 31 March 1946
Register earned one battle star for her World War II service.
Mark L. Evans
22 June 2016