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Shipping out again - Across the Pacific by LST

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A breathless and sleepless overnight train ride brought the 801st Engineers to Fort Lawton in Seattle at 0700, where the men were trucked into the fort proper and assigned to barracks. The move was eased by an advance party that had been sent ahead and who now held all the answers to questions about mail, passes, and Seattle. To everyone's amazement, half the battalion was given passes for the evening and for every evening thereafter. The official history reports that many good times were held in Seattle and the 801st forgot their original idea that it was a "Navy town."

Training schedules were also set up with hikes, orientation, lectures by Lt. Col. Galanti, softball and volleyball games, debarkation drill and that all-time favorite, policing of the company area.

The battalion would ship out in two groups. The first, a group of 24 officers and 540 enlisted men under battalion Executive Officer Major Robert L. Clifford, would sail by LST, whose top speed of 12 knots would require a large head start over the remainder of the battalion who would be traveling by relatively speedy 17 knot attack transport. On the morning of 16 July the group formed on Pier 91 to load LSTs 205, 243, 731 and 790. The embarkation went without incident and by 1700 hours the LSTs were slowly drifting out into Puget Sound.

Landing Ship Tank
The Landing Ship Tank (LST) was one of the workhorses of the sea during World War II.

It had tremendous cargo capacity for its size and was cheap tp build.

Its bow doors and flat bottom made it ideal for beach landings, but these same factors made it a less than ideal ride at sea.

Twelve days later the convoy put in to Pearl Harbor. The LSTs took four days making minor repairs and replenishing stores while the men of the 801st toured Honolulu and the place where the Imperial Japanese Navy dragged America intro the war. Six LCIs had joined the little fleet, and on 12 August they reached Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands.

Pacific map
Click the map to see a larger image of the courses of the two groups of the 801st across the Pacific.

Two days later they were off again, this time five ships, reaching Saipan in the Mariana Islands five days later. Saipan, scene of one of the bloodiest and hardest fought battles in the Pacific, was now a recreation facility, and the men spent twelve days there before orders to proceed were received. The dropping of the atomic bombs and the surrender of Japan had been announced just before their arrival, and it was apparent that high command was thinking over what it was going to do next.

On 29 August a flotilla of sixty ships set out for Okinawa, arriving on 3 September. It took four days to land the 801st, and on 7 September they disembarked from their LSTs at Naha Landing, a 53-day trip from Seattle.

Next: Shipping out again - the USS Pondera >

At ease in Seattle

With dad's attack transport delayed for repairs, his part of the battalion suddenly had three weeks free time on their hands. more >