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USS Hermitige (AP-54) returning from a Magic Carpet cruise between Guam and San Francisco, mid-1946. Passengers included a SeaBee Battalion.
At the start of the Second World War, she was seized and interned in the Panamanian port of Cristóbal, where she was moored. In December 1941, with the entry of the United States into the war, she was seized by the United States. She was converted to a transport by Cramp Shipbuilding of Philadelphia; and commissioned 14 August 1942, Captain Donald F. Patterson in command. The ship could accommodate up to seven thousand men following its conversion. The ship was armed with one 127/38mm gun and six 76/50mm guns.
USS Rendova (CVE-114)
USS Rendova (CVE-114) was a Commencement Bay class escort carrier of the United States Navy.
She was originally assigned the name Mosser Bay and completed as the Willamette, she was laid down by Todd-Pacific Shipyards, Inc., Tacoma, Washington, 15 June 1944; launched 29 December 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Anna-Marie H. Kurtz; and commissioned 22 October 1945, Capt. R. W. Ruble in command.
Rendova completed shakedown in early January 1946, and reported for duty with the 1st Fleet in February. During March, she conducted exercises off the west coast, but in April, her complement was reduced to a maintenance crew. Immobilized at San Diego for a year, she remained on the active list as the administrative headquarters for Carrier Division 15 (CarDiv 15). In the spring of 1947, she returned to full active duty and for the next year conducted training exercises off the west coast and in the Hawaiian Islands.
On 1 April 1948, she departed San Francisco en route to Turkey with a cargo of AT-6 training planes for that country's air force. Steaming via the Panama Canal, she arrived at Yesilkoy 28 April, off loaded her cargo, and continued her voyage 4 May. She moved south to Suez, thence crossed the Indian and Pacific Oceans. With numerous good will visits en route, she returned to San Diego 1 July, only to depart again on another mission, this time to Tsingtao, on the 28th. At Tsingtao 23 – 27 August, she was back in San Diego, her homeport, in late September and through the fall trained on the west coast. With the new year, 1949, she again sailed west; operated between Tsingtao and Okinawa until mid-April; then returned to her homeport and resumed 1st Fleet training operations. In October, she arrived at Bremerton, where, after overhaul, she was decommissioned, 27 January 1950, and berthed with the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
The USS Rendova and crew were present for two nuclear tests during Operation Ivy. The official names of the test were Ivy Mike and Ivy King. Crew were subjected to minimal exposure, officially rated to be .02 rem gamma total. The blasts were held near Eluklab Island. The Rendova was present for both atmospheric and ground testing. These tests were the first ever successful detonations of hydrogen bombs.
Six months later the North Korean Army crossed the 38th Parallel and Rendova was ordered activated. Recommissioned 3 January 1951, she reported for duty in April and on 3 July steamed west. She arrived at Yokosuka 2 August; underwent further training off Okinawa; then on 20 September, arrived at Kobe to relieve USS Sicily (CVE-118) as aircraft carrier unit under CTG 95.1.
On the 22nd, she completed embarking personnel, planes (F4Us), and equipment of Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 212. On the 23rd, she conducted carrier qualifications for the squadron. On the 24th, she loaded ammunition and supplies at Sasebo and on the 25th, she got underway for operating area "Nan" in the Yellow Sea. There she relieved HMS Glory (R62) assuming CTE 95.11, and on the 26th, launched her first close air support sortie. During the next months, she cruised off the west coast of Korea, alternating with HMAS Sydney (R17) as CTE 95.11. VMF-212 recorded 1,743 sorties in support of ROK, U.S. Marine, and EUSAK ground forces; enforcing the U.N. blockade; rendering SAR assistance; and flying armed and photo reconnaissance missions. On 17 November, the ship and the squadron established a new sortie record for CVEs – 64.
Rendova completed her last support operation 6 December. By the 22nd, she was back at San Diego and with the new year, 1952, she resumed west coast training operations with the 1st Fleet. In September, she sailed west again and for two months participated in Operation "Ivy" – an atomic test series in the Marshalls, then she returned to California.
In commission, in reserve in 1953, she continued her training activities off the west coast, and in 1954 returned to the active fleet and another WestPac deployment, this time as a hunter-killer carrier. Back in California by mid-June, she conducted exercises out of Long Beach until October, then shifted to Mare Island for preinactivation overhaul. She reported to the Pacific Reserve Fleet, San Francisco Group, 2 February 1955 and was decommissioned 30 June. Reclassified AKV-14 in 1959, she remained in the Reserve Fleet until struck from the Navy list 1 April 1971.
Rendova earned two battle stars for Korean war service.
USS Casablanca (CVE-55)
Walter with Congressman Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, California.
Services with full Military Honors was conducted on 25 February 2019 at Greenlawn Memorial Park
North of the River
USS Biloxi (CL-80)
USS Biloxi (CL-80) was a Cleveland class light cruiser that served in the Pacific from the start of 1944 to the end of the war, supporting the fast carrier task force and taking part in the invasions of Saipan, the Philippines, the Palaus and Okinawa and the battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf. The Biloxi received nine battle stars for her service in the Pacific during World War II.
The Biloxi was launched in February 1943, commissioned on 31 August 1943 and spent the rest of the year training and preparing for action, before joining Cruiser Division 13 of the Pacific Fleet.
The Biloxi entered combat in January 1944, serving as part of the cruiser screen around the fast carrier task forces. She took part in the invasion of Eniwetok (31 January-8 February 1944), following by a series of raids on Japanese held islands, starting with Truk (16-17 February 1944), the Marianas (21-22 February) and Palau, Yap, Ulithi and Woleai (30 March-1 April).
In late April the Biloxi supported the Allied landings at Hollandia, New Guinea, shelling Japanese shore installations. Truk, Satawan and Ponape were the target on 29 April-1 May, before the carriers returned to the Marianas (11-24 June). This period including the invasion of Saipan (14 June) and the battle of the Philippine Sea (19-20 June 1944), where the Biloxi was part of the cruiser screen.
For the rest of 1944 the fast carriers carried out a mix of raids on Japanese held islands and operations in support of the invasion of the Philippines. The Biloxi was with the cruiser screen throughout this period. She took part in raids on the Bonin Islands (3-4 July 1944), Chichi Jima (4 July), Palau, Yap and Ulithi (25-27 July), the Bonins (4-5 August), the Volcano Islands, Bonin Islands and Yap (31 August-8 September), Okinawa (10 October), northern Luzon and Formosa (11-14 October) and Luzon again (repeated from mid-October to mid-December).
Officers and Crew of USS Biloxi (CL-80), October 1943
During this period the Biloxi also took part in the invasion of Guam (12 July-15 August), the invasion of the Palaus - Peleliu and Anguar (6 September-14 October), the battle of Leyte Gulf (24-26 October), and the invasion of the Philippines.
1945 started with more raids on Luzon, but the fleet then began to move further afield, starting with a raid of the Chinese coast (12 and 16 January), and the first naval attacks on the Japanese Home Islands (15-16 February and 25 February-1 March 1945). She took part in the fighting off Okinawa from 25 March until 20 April, despite being hit by a kamikaze aircraft on 27 March 1945.
On 27 April 1945 the Biloxi left the fleet and returned to the US for an overhaul. She returned to the battle in time to take part in a raid on Wake Island (18 July 1945) and reached Leyte on 14 August. The Japanese surrender ended the war, and the Biloxi was used to transport liberated POWs from Nagasaki. She then joined the occupation fleet before departing for the US on 9 November. The Biloxi had one of the shortest post-war careers of the Cleveland class cruisers - she went into the reserve on 18 May 1946, but went of commission on 29 October 1946. She remained in that state until 1962 when she was broken up.
USS Casablanca (CVE-55)
Casablanca, a port of French Morrocco, was the major base for the American campaigns in North Africa during World War II.
Casablanca has borne three names and three type designators. Originally assigned the name Ameer and the designator AVG, she became ACV-55 on 20 August 1942, and was renamed Alazon Bay on 23 January 1943. She became Casablanca 3 April 1943, and CVE-55 on 15 July 1943. Casablanca was launched 5 April 1943 by Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Vancouver, Wash., under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. F. D. Roosevelt; acquired by the Navy 8 July 1943; commissioned the same day, Commander W. W. Gallaway in command; and reported to the Pacific Fleet.
Casablanca operated in the Straits of Juan de Fuca as a training ship for escort carrier crews from the time of her commissioning through August 1944. On 24 August, she cleared San Francisco carrying men, airplanes, and aviation gasoline to Manus, great base for western Pacific operations. Returning to Seattle 8 October, she resumed her training operations in Puget Sound until 22 January 1945, when she began a repair period at San Diego.
Putting to sea 13 March, Casablanca called at Pearl Harbor, then delivered passengers and aircraft brought from the west coast at Guam. Acting as transport for passengers, aircraft, and aviation gasoline, she operated between Samar, Manus, and Palau until 12 May, when she put back for a west coast overhaul. She returned with passengers to Pearl Harbor 24 June, and through the summer transported sailors from the west coast to Pearl Harbor and Guam. After brief employment in carrier qualification training off Saipan in August, she carried homeward bound servicemen to San Francisco, arriving 24 September. Continuing to aid in the redeployment of Pacific forces, Casablanca carried passengers on a voyage from the west coast to Pearl Harbor in September and October, and in November, made a passage to Pearl Harbor, Espiritu Santo, and Noumea to embark more passengers. Her last voyage on this duty, from 8 December to 16 January 1946, was from San Francisco to Yokohama. Casablanca cleared San Francisco 23 January for Norfolk, Va., arriving 10 February. There she was decommissioned 10 June 1946, and sold 23 April 1947.