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Tawakoni (ATF-114)

A Caddoan Native American tribe of the Wichita group that lived in Texas on the banks of the middle Brazos and Trinity Rivers during the 18th and 19th centuries.

(ATF-114: displacement 1,330; length 205'0"; beam 38'6"; draft 14'3"; speed 16.5 knots; complement 85; armament 1 3-inch, 2 40 millimeter; class Abnaki)

Tawakoni (ATF-114) was laid down on 19 May 1943 at San Francisco, Calif., by the United Engineering Co.; launched on 28 October 1943; sponsored by Mrs. R. F. Parker; and commissioned on 15 September 1944, Lt. Cmdr. Clarence L. Foushee in command.

Tawakoni conducted her shakedown training in the San Pedro Bay area from 1 October to 3 November 1944 and returned to San Francisco on the 28th. Two days later, the fleet ocean tug headed for Hawaii and arrived at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, on 12 December 1944. On 4 January 1945, she got underway for the Mariana Islands, towing a barracks ship and a gasoline barge. After calling at Eniwetok and Ulithi, she arrived at Saipan on 7 February and joined the Fifth Fleet.

Tawakoni was off the Iwo Jima beaches on 19 February 1945 as marines of the V Amphibious Corps began the assault on that island. That day, the tug assisted destroyer minesweeper Gamble (DM-15) which, on the 18th, had been hit by two 250-pound bombs. On the 25th, the tug suffered minor damage when a heavy surf pounded her against LST-785 while assisting that ship to beach. Tawakoni remained off Iwo until 10 March, performing retraction, towing, and salvage operations for amphibious craft. She towed LSM-59 to Tanapag Harbor and then returned to Ulithi on 23 March for repairs.

On 27 March, Tawakoni sortied with Task Group 51.1, the Western Islands Attack Group, and arrived off Okinawa on 1 April. During the next few days, she helped to retract landing craft and retrieved barges and buoys. On the 6th, as the tug was preparing to get underway to assist Bush (DD-529), approximately 50 miles off Okinawa and badly damaged by suicide planes, a kamikaze attack began. She fired on a suicide plane which crashed alongside a nearby LST and, with the aid of two destroyers, splashed another. A third was downed within an hour. As Tawakoni neared Bush, two planes came in astern for suicide runs. The tug made a quick turn to avoid the first kamikaze, which crossed the bridge and splashed about 50 feet off the port bow. The ship was showered with debris and gasoline but suffered no damage. The ship's gunners shot down the second plane. Meanwhile, Bush had sunk. Tawakoni stood by Calhoun (DD-801) which had been hit by a kamikaze, as the crew of that ship was transferred to LCS-82.

On the 16th, Tawakoni participated in the invasion of le Shima and splashed one enemy plane before towing Laffey (DD-724) to the Hagushi anchorage. She continued operating in Okinawan waters until 1 July when, with units of the 3d Fleet, she headed for San Pedro Bay, Leyte.

While the tug was in the Philippines, Japan capitulated. On 15 September, Tawakoni returned to Okinawa which was her base until the following spring. She was frequently called from Buckner Bay for services elsewhere : at Wakayama and Hiro Wan from 21 September to 17 October 1945, at Yokohama and Yokosuka from 9 February to 4 March 1946, and at Guam from 11 to 27 March. She stood out of Buckner Bay on 5 April, bound for the United States, and arrived at San Francisco on 11 May.

Tawakoni operated along the California coast until 15 August when she towed AFD-26 to the Canal Zone. From Balboa, she steamed to Pearl Harbor to take Skipjack (SS-184) in tow for delivery to San Francisco. On 23 December 1946, the tug entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and remained until 24 February 1947.

Tawakoni returned to Pearl Harbor on 4 March conducting local operations until 14 May, when she got underway for China. After calling at Kwajalein, Okinawa, and Guam, she arrived at Tsingtao on 12 July. The tug remained in Chinese waters until 1 December 1947 when she headed for Guam and arrived at Apra Harbor on 1 January 1948. During the next two years, Tawakoni performed towing services which took her to the Marshalls, Alaska, Panama, Japan, Hawaii, and the west coast of the United States.

Tawakoni stood out of Sasebo on 12 November 1950 and-three days later at Hungnam, Korea-joined Task Force 90, Amphibious Force, Far East. She planted buoys in the channels at Wonsan, Hungnam, and Inchon and provided towing services to ships of the 7th Fleet. She returned to Sasebo on 14 May 1951 and reached Pearl Harbor on 2 July. She made two round trips to Guam before returning to San Diego on 1 December 1951. On 7 January 1952, Tawakoni steamed to Seattle; took two covered lighters in tow; and returned to Pearl Harbor on 2 February. On 22 September 1952, the tug got underway for Adak and operated in Alaskan waters until 2 April 1953.

Tawakoni operated in the central and western Pacific for the next 15 years, calling at ports from Alaska to Australia and from Hawaii to Japan. On 9 October 1968, she stood out of Pearl Harbor with a small drydock in tow that was delivered to Danang, South Vietnam, on 6 November. Tawakoni then began trawler surveillance at "Yankee Station" with the 7th Fleet until 17 December 1968 when she headed for Singapore. One month later, she returned to Vietnam and operated between there and the Philippines until early April 1969. The ship received repairs and alterations at Pearl Harbor from 15 April until 13 November. During the next six months, the tug shuttled between ports in the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, and Guam. With the exception of two deployments to the western Pacific, Tawakoni operated in the Hawaiian area from May 1971 to May 1978. She was deployed to the western Pacific from 28 February to 19 October 1972 and from 19 February to 8 August 1974. On 1 June 1978, Tawakoni was struck from the Navy list and sold to Taiwan.

Tawakoni received two battle stars for service during World War II, three for her labors during the fighting in Korea, and four for duty in Vietnam.

Published: Thu Jun 22 00:20:11 EDT 2023