Location: Sacramento, California

I am a retired lawyer and administrative law judge, aged but active, with a variety of interests.

Friday, October 15, 2004

History of U.S.S. Oak Hill (LSD-7)

A Narrative History of U.S.S. Oak Hill (LSD-7)
from 5 January 1944 to 17 November 1945, Composed by an Anonymous Crew Member in 1945 and Revised and Enlarged by Captain James M. Moose, Jr., USNR (Ret), a Former Crew Member, in April 2003

The first U.S.S. Oak Hill (LSD-7) was authorized by an Act of Congress on 7 July 1942. Her keel was laid at the Moore Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Oakland, CA on 9 March 9 1943, and the ship was launched on 25 June 25 1943. Her sponsor was the wife of LCDR Robert E. Garrels, USN, then Assistant Supervisor of Shipbuilding, U.S. Naval Station, San Francisco. [At the time of this revision, a second U.S.S. Oak Hill (LSD-51) is in service.]

The morning of 5 January 1944 was not a pleasant one in the Oakland, CA yard of the Moore Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, where Oak Hill lay moored. It had rained throughout the previous night and, by the appearance of the sky, it was evident that it would rain again that day. Notwithstanding the inclement weather, it was business as usual in the Pre-Commissioning Office and at the Detail Barracks of the U.S. Naval Receiving Ship, where every effort was being made to move necessary equipment and records to the new ship and, in general, to set up her housekeeping arrangements.

At 0800, a Navy tug attached to the Receiving Ship tied up astern of the Oak Hill, loaded with men and their gear. These were the men who would be the crew of the new ship, the men who would man her guns and keep her engines running, on whom her life would depend - and a greener lot of new recruits could not be found. There were a few old timers among them, and on them and a few experienced officers would rest the responsibility for making the rest into "men of war."

This was the first time most of the crew had seen their new ship. Most had no idea as to her function. Some thought she was an aircraft carrier of some sort; others thought she was a cargo vessel. Almost all stood and gaped at their first sight of her. She was in fact something new, and as yet unmentioned in the press. Although she was the seventh of her kind, very few of the crew had seen or heard of a "landing ship dock." Her lines were not the most graceful, and she would later be called "cheese box" and "garbage scow," but she had been built for a purpose. She was 457 feet in length, with a beam of 72 feet and a draft of 18 feet, and displaced 4,490 tons. Her primary purpose (as the crew learned) was to operate with amphibious task forces, carrying loaded landing craft which, under their own power, would issue from a flooded well deck (extending from the stern two-thirds of the ship’s length) through a gate in the ship’s stern and head for the landing beaches.

At 1100 on that rainy morning of 5 January 1944 the Oak Hill was placed in commission, assigned to the command of her first captain, CDR Carl A. Peterson, USNR. No one seemed to know for sure the significance of the ship’s name. The builders believed "Oak Hill" was the name of a school for girls in England. This information did not seem quite right to the captain, who initiated an inquiry to the Navy Department. Shortly after commissioning, the ship received a large picture of Oak Hill, the residence of James Monroe, the nation’s fifth president, for which the ship was named. The curiosity of the crew was satisfied: they knew that their ship had a good American name, and the picture was hung in the wardroom as proof of her name’s origin.

Oak Hill left the dock at Moore’s on 7 January 1944, and ship and crew were at last on their own, on the way to becoming a part of the fleet and of the effort to defeat the enemy, the Empire of Japan. Yet much remained to be done before even beginning the shakedown cruise: it was necessary to receive and stow ammunition, dry stores, and fresh provisions. This hard work was undertaken gladly, however, the crew happy in the knowledge that they were about to get their chance to get into the war.

The crew could not know that Oak Hill would steam 80,000 miles in less than two years, that she would take part in major landings at Saipan, Palau, Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa, and in lesser affairs at Ulithi Atoll and, near Okinawa, at Iheya Shima and Aguni Shima. Nor did they know that their ship would encounter numerous air attacks and a submarine attack, and would weather two typhoons. They were resolved, however, to do their best, and they knew that they needed to get the most out of the shakedown cruise.

The shakedown actually began with application of a new coat of paint, rather than drills. Oak Hill received the ministrations of the painters at the U.S. Naval Repair Base, San Diego, who gave the ship a flashy camouflage job, featuring shades of green and gray, with occasional patches of black, and only then proceeded to six weeks of intensive training. The crew worked with a will at this training, which included gunnery, ballasting, and loading and handling cargo, among many other things, most of which were peculiar to the specialties into which the Navy divides the work of its officers and men. This, the ship’s first serious work, was facilitated by the leaven of the "old hands," officers and enlisted men, including a sprinkling of former merchant marine officers, who knew their way around ground tackle and engine rooms. At the end of this period, the crew were fairly on their way to becoming a capable unit: "The officers and men of the U.S.S. Oak Hill," and they were ready to undertake any job the Navy handed them.

May 1944 found the ship in Pearl Harbor, although not for the first time, after a largely uneventful crossing from the West Coast, "largely" because it was during this crossing that the crew became acquainted with Seabag. His master had planned to send Seabag ashore at Pearl, but quarantine regulations would not allow it, and as a consequence Seabag became an adopted and well-loved canine shipmate. Seabag never liked the reports of the guns, but could always find a kindly sailor in a repair party to shield his ears when the guns spoke. He was a crew member during three major engagements, but went AWOL in December 1944, failing to return from a shore liberty.

Oak Hill had been to Pearl Harbor on three or four other occasions, always laden on the outbound leg and in ballast on the return leg. Now she was being loaded at Pearl, the shakedown days were over, and the crew were no longer "green." Oak Hill took a well deck lading of LCMs (landing craft, medium) to Hilo, on the island of Hawaii, where she embarked tanks, cargo and personnel of the Second Marine Division.

The crew would not forget the Second Marines, who were with them for over a month. Of all the passengers Oak Hill carried, they were the most memorable to the crew, and the ones for whom they had the warmest feelings. They had been involved in the terrible fighting at Tarawa in November 1943, were veterans, and each one had his story to tell.

Now the crew underwent more training - loading, unloading, and manuevers - rehearsing for the upcoming operation at Saipan. Rehearsals completed, the ship sailed for Saipan, via Eniwetok. On 14 June 1944, the eve of the landings, Oak Hill was close enough to her destination that her crew knew she could be attacked by Japanese aircraft - they could observe the flashes from the naval bombardment - and they were tense with excitement. On 15 June Oak Hill launched tank-carrying LCMs, which, after landing their tanks and tank crews on the beach, assisted in the unloading of cargo ships. Saipan was Oak Hill’s first operation, and it was carried off reasonably well. One error was made, resulting in the capsizing of an LCM and the loss of a much-needed tank. Fortunately, the crews of the LCM and the tank escaped drowning, and the incident was soon forgotten.

At 1840 on D-Day, just as dusk was falling, Oak Hill first fired at an enemy plane. Her 5-inch gun, which had done well in firing practices, helped put up a barrage into which Japanese planes seemed unwilling to venture. Battery officer LT Daniel M. Newbern and Gunner’s Mate First Class Grady W. Risner were highly gratified by their gun’s performance.

Oak Hill anchored offshore, and remained in her anchorage for six days thereafter, for the purpose of repairing small craft, LCMs, LCVPs, and LCTs. During one 24-hour period, she attended to twenty (20) such craft. On 22 June 1944, in company with a number of other ships, Oak Hill sailed for Pearl Harbor. Thereafter, she sailed to San Francisco in company with U.S.S. Lindenwald (LSD-6), and upon arrival underwent a ten-day upkeep period.

Upon completion of the upkeep period, Oak Hill sailed again for Pearl Harbor, where she was assigned to a task group destined for the Western Carolines operation. She was again combat loaded, with three LCTs and their crews and the officers and men of the 710th Tank Battalion, for a voyage which was to be remembered well by many of the crew.

Beginning 19 August, while en route to the next operation, a small minority of the crew were astir with unwonted activity, doing a great deal of hard work that would result in considerable consternation for a good many of their shipmates. Oak Hill was about to enter the Royal Domain of Neptune, and it was the solemn duty of all trusty shellbacks to initiate the pollywogs of the crew. The great day was 22 August, when Oak Hill crossed the line, and the efforts of the shellbacks were finally revealed in impressive costumes and ingenious instruments of torture. Initiation activities consumed a large part of the day, as they undoubtedly did on all of the vessels of the convoy, and for a brief period attention was diverted from the serious business of war.

Oak Hill steamed on to Guadalcanal, then almost a backwater in the Pacific War, where she rehearsed her role in the Palau landings. On 17 September 1944, Oak Hill arrived off Anguar Island, in the Palau Island group of the Western Carolines, and the LCTs in her well deck successfully landed their tanks and crews. During the morning of the initial landing, the ship was menaced by mortar and small arms fire from the beach, but she maneuvered so that it was ineffective. Once again Oak Hill was assigned the task of repairing small craft, which was successfully performed despite the evasive maneuvering.

During the days that followed, Oak Hill joined a task unit for the capture of the Ulithi Atoll, a group of 40 islets in the Western Carolines. Ulithi was occupied without resistance, and the task unit commander gave permission to send recreation parties ashore. This R&R, in peaceful, almost idyllic, surroundings will never be forgotten by those who participated.

Upon completing repairs to some small craft, the ship proceeded to Humboldt Bay, on the northern coast of New Guinea, and was assigned to the Seventh Amphibious Force, a part of the Seventh Fleet. ["Humboldt Bay" is a valid name, appearing in several ship histories, but has not been found in current atlases.]

At this point the crew began to believe that Oak Hill was needed everywhere in the Western Pacific, as she never seemed to stay in one place for very long. From Humboldt Bay she proceeded to Langemak Bay, New Guinea, near Finschhafen, in company with U.S.S. White Marsh (LSD-8) and two minesweepers, U.S.S. Token (AM-126) and U.S.S. Teal (AM-23). At Langemak Bay she loaded a variety of landing craft and proceeded to beautiful Seeadler Harbor, on the island of Manus, Admiralty Islands, named for the armed German merchant cruiser commanded by CDR Felix von Luckner which used the harbor as a refuge during World War I. (Luckner sank 14 Allied ships without loss of life on either side.) Manus was then an enormous forward base of the Navy: the U.S.S. Pennsylvania (BB-38), a battleship, was present, high and dry in a floating drydock. Manus was also a base for Army Air Force bombers. Oak Hill’s short stay here permitted enlisted crew members to go ashore for more R&R, also called"beer."
[Note:U.S.S. Mount Hood (AE-11) blew up in Seeadler Harbor on 10 November 1944.]

At Seeadler Harbor Oak Hill embarked boats and personnel of Company "A," 592nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, which carried the combat cargo of Company "D," 44th Tank Battalion, First Cavalry Division, and rehearsals were begun for what would be the biggest operation yet. Two days out of Seeadler Harbor the crew received booklets disclosing that the ship was going back to the Philippines.

On D-Day, 20 October 1944, cargo and personnel were successfully landed on the island of Leyte, and the ship immediately sailed for Hollandia, on the northern coast of New Guinea, to load supplies and reinforcements. In company with other LSDs, she made six such trips, some of them via Biak and Mios Woendi, carrying a variety of cargoes. On one trip, between Hollandia and Leyte, she encountered enormous seas, the tail end of a typhoon, and the ship rolled 45°, according to the inclinometer on the bridge.

Following her shuttle trips to Leyte, Oak Hill sailed for the island of Morotai, north of Halmahera, in what had been the Dutch East Indies, in company with U.S.S. Belle Grove (LSD-8), U.S.S. Gunston Hall (LSD-5), and U.S.S. Lang (DD-399). The Lang had seen more than her share of active combat with Japanese ships and aircraft, as she had been involved in the protracted battles in "The Slot," in and around Guadalcanal. [Her history is posted on the net at:]

Belle Grove and Gunston Hall left the task unit short of Oak Hill’s destination, going to Sansapor, in western New Guinea, and Oak Hill and Lang continued on to Morotai, where Oak Hill spent five grand days, the crew fishing and swimming and almost forgetting they had ever been to Leyte, while loading three LCTs, with other cargo and personnel of the First Battalion, 544th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment. The ship then proceeded to Cape Sansapor, at the end of the Vogelkop Peninsula, which is the westernmost point of the island of New Guinea, to join a task group formed for an assault on the island of Luzon at Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines.

At 0028 on 30 December 1944, while lying at anchor off Cape Sansapor, "general quarters" was sounded on Oak Hill’s PA system, and all hands went to their battle stations. Searchlights on the beach soon illuminated a Japanese float plane, which was destroyed by a hit from an AA battery on shore at 0035. This was the first occasion for most of the crew to observe the destruction of a Japanese aircraft.

Oak Hill’s next movement was to San Pedro Bay, in Leyte Gulf, on the east side of Leyte Island, for further staging for the landings in Lingayen Gulf. The crew had heard a great deal about the employment of suicide aircraft attacks by the Japanese against American ships, which began at Leyte shortly after the landings on that island, and they were to witness these attacks at first hand during the passage of the convoy from San Pedro Bay to Lingayen Gulf.

Oak Hill and her convoy having passed through Surigao Strait into the Sulu Sea, at dusk on 4 January 1945 the crew on deck observed the convoy’s CAP (Republic P-47 Thunderbolts) shoot down three Japanese "Val" dive bombers. They also observed, over a period of twenty minutes or so - it seemed a very long time to those watching - a Japanese plane at a great altitude fly down the starboard side of the very large formation, at a distance of several miles, in the direction of its course and, turning, fly back on the opposite side of the convoy, again two or three miles distant, apparently unseen by American fighter planes, and again changing its course, this time by 90°, fly across the convoy and - finally - through a tremendous barrage, crash into an escort carrier. [She was the Ommaney Bay (CVE-79), and she was sunk with the loss of 100 men.]

At 1857 on 8 January, still in transit to Lingayen Gulf, Oak Hill opened fire on a Japanese Zero approaching high on her port beam. Her 40mm guns were seen to have scored some hits, and a burst from the 5-inch gun, firing proximity-fuzed ammunition, apparently induced the pilot to change course. The plane then nosed down and crashed into the water close astern of a nearby transport. Oak Hill claimed an assist in the demise of this plane.

Oak Hill anchored in Lingayen Gulf at 0744 on 9 January 1945, and sent her LCTs, with their cargo and personnel, on their way to the beach. She was then ordered to withdraw and proceed to Leyte. She did so in company with a very large number of ships, formed into a convoy, and the watch officers on the bridge were entertained on the TBS ("talk between ships") for a couple of hours or more by the convoy commander’s irate and caustic comments on the failure of one vessel to execute his tactical signals properly - or at all.

Following a transit which was uneventful except for the verbal pyrotechnics just mentioned, Oak Hill arrived at Leyte on 12 January 1945 and proceeded thence to Morotai for another lading - cargo and personnel of the 3017th Engineer Maintenance Company of the 544th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment. She then returned to Leyte to join a task unit bound for Lingayen Gulf.

At 1700 on 24 January 1944, the first day out from Leyte, the convoy was attacked by Japanese aircraft. One plane was immediately shot down by ships’ gunfire. A plane having been reported on the starboard quarter, the convoy was turned (all ships changing course simultaneously) to starboard, so as to place the plane more on the beam of its constituent ships, thus giving their anti-aircraft ordnance its greatest effect. The plane, which was judged to be a "Betty" bomber, capable of carrying bombs or torpedoes, launched a missile which struck a ship in the outboard column on the starboard side of the convoy. The plane was hit by 40mm fire, however, and was soon aflame. As she approached Oak Hill’s column and rank, it seemed certain to observers on Oak Hill that she would crash into their ship, and likely that the pilot was making every effort to bring this about. This did not happen, but the plane flew directly over Oak Hill, at little more than masthead altitude, and crashed into the sea on her port beam at no great distance. It is likely that the pilot had lost control of his craft, as he had nothing to lose by taking Oak Hill with him to the Great Beyond. One expression concerning the close call came from Steward’s Mate First Class Joe Smelly of Centreville, AL, who told the gunnery officer, LT James L. Slaughter of Jonestown, MS, "Sir, you shoot ‘em down, I’ll sure pray ‘em over the ship." No one thought that Joe was being facetious, and not many were in a joking mood.

Oak Hill landed her reinforcements for Lingayen on 27 January 1945, returned then to Leyte, and sailed from the latter place to Milne Bay, and thence to Guadalcanal, as part of a task unit which included U.S.S. White Marsh (LSD-8) and U.S.S. Casa Grande (LSD-13), her sister ships, and U.S.S. Mustin (DD-413), another veteran of the Guadalcanal actions of 1942 and 1943.

While Oak Hill stopped off for a few days at Milne Bay, on the extreme eastern tip of New Guinea (recall that she had also been to the western extreme of the island) to load landing craft, her crew enjoyed some R&R, which was thought the best yet. Upon arrival at Florida Island, on the opposite side of Iron Bottom Sound from the island of Guadalcanal, on 27 January 1945, Oak Hill went alongside U.S.S. Vulcan (AR-5) for minor repairs. (Iron Bottom Sound, also called Iron Bottom Bay, is so named for the American ships which lie sunk there.)

Oak Hill’s officers were enabled to visit the "Iron Bottom Bay Club," an establishment on Florida Island which supplied a variety of potables in addition to beer, which was all that enlisted personnel were able to get and which was consumed by the latter in an ambiance less congenial than that in officers clubs. The beer drunk by the crew was usually supplied by the ship, brought up from some inviolable space in the bowels of the ship and carried ashore in its natural warm state with those who were to drink it. "Ironically," much of this beer was "Iron City," brewed in Pittsburgh, PA.

After this trip, Oak Hill crewmen came to refer to U.S.S. Mustin as "our little friend," as her captain was a friend of Oak Hill’s supply officer, LT Keith N. Sherlie, of Snohomish, WN, and the two had made arrangements (with Captain Peterson’s permission) for Oak Hill to provide ice cream on appropriate occasions for Mustin’s crew. Having more advantages in this regard than the crews of smaller ships, Oak Hill crewmen were happy to share their gedunk supplies with their less fortunate and fully deserving protector. Needless to say, Oak Hill always knew when Mustin was in any port in which she called. [The history of U.S.S. Mustin is posted on the internet:]

Upon completion of repairs, Oak Hill loaded LCMs and their crews and proceeded to the Russell Islands (just north and east of Guadalcanal), where she embarked the First Tank Battalion of the First Marine Division on 28 February 1945. On 8 March she embarked cargo and personnel of Standard Landing Craft Unit 36 (a Navy unit), and then joined a transport group destined for landings in the Ryuku Islands for rehearsals. Upon completion of these rehearsals and AA firing practices, she sailed for Ulithi Atoll, where she was to stage for landings on Okinawa, in the Ryuku Islands.

At 0730, on 1 April 1945, Easter as well as All Fools Day, Oak Hill launched her tank-laden landing craft off the Hagushi Beaches, on the west side of Okinawa, all of which landed their ladings successfully. Having accomplished this, it became Oak Hill’s mission to repair damaged landing craft, and this task was immediately undertaken. At this point, the LSD in general, and the Oak Hill in particular, proved to be an extraordinarily valuable ship type. Higher authority had believed the LSD capable of repairing small craft, including LCVPs, LCMs, and perhaps LCTs (the latter so large that only three could be carried in the well deck), but were skeptical about her ability to repair ocean-going landing craft.

On Captain Peterson’s urging that she had such capacity, Oak Hill was given the opportunity to prove it and, in the event, she did. In addition to the smaller craft, LCVPs and LCMs, which were repaired in large numbers, in the 72-day period following D-Day Oak Hill docked and repaired 17 LSMs (landing ship medium), 6 LCSs (landing craft support), 6 LCIs (landing craft infantry), and 17 LCTs (landing craft tank). All of this work was accomplished with the threat of attack by enemy aircraft a constant factor, which required an almost constant level of alert ("Set Condition Baker") by her gun crews.

Most of this period (6 April – 22 June) coincided with the desperate struggle, just a couple of aircraft minutes away, between Japanese kamikaze planes and the radar picket line of American destroyers and other vessels, during which 3000 sacrificial sorties were launched by the Japanese against American naval forces, apart from conventional air attacks, sinking 21 ships and damaging (permanently or temporarily) 66 more. During most of this period, Oak Hill - and other ships lying off the Hagushi beaches - "made smoke" with their oil fog-generating machines during nighttime hours as protection from kamikaze aircraft. During April 1945 Oak Hill went to general quarters 79 times, and for periods up to 12 hours.

On 3 June 1945 Oak Hill was part of a task group which supported landings on Iheya Shima, an island 25 nautical miles northwest of Okinawa’s north tip, carrying tanks and personnel of Company "A," Second Tank Battalion, Second Marine Division. Returning to her anchorage off the Hagushi Beaches, she embarked tanks and other vehicles of the same outfit for a landing on Aguni Shima, 25 or 30 nautical miles west of Okinawa. She then returned to her "regular" anchorage and made preparations for another return to the Philippines, to which she then proceeded and where she remained for the balance of the month of June. The crew were afforded R&R on Samar Island, which was greatly relished after the long stint at Okinawa.

On 6 July 1945 Oak Hill was underway for Guam, carrying three LCTs loaded with motor torpedo boat (MTB) skids. She arrived off Apra Harbor, Guam on 10 July in the midst of a submarine alert, and her entry into the port was delayed a few hours. On 13 July she was underway again, headed for Espiritu Santo, in the New Hebrides, via Enewetok in the Marshalls. Upon arrival in the former place, she disembarked the three LCTs and loaded cargo, personnel and six MTBs of MTB Squadron 37, which she then carried to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, calling first in San Pedro Bay, Leyte. She arrived in the former place on 9 August 1945.

At that time rumors were current that Japan had offered to surrender, and it was a fact that a celebration of sorts was occurring on the beach, as Oak Hill was treated to a display of rockets and tracers such as her crew had never seen during even heavy attacks by Japanese aircraft. Captain Peterson forbade any participation in this affair, however, and Oak Hill’s gun crews observed strict fire discipline.

On 11 August the ship was underway again for Leyte, where her crew were to learn that even if the Japanese high command was offering to surrender, some of its subordinate units were not aware of it. At 1826 on that date, an Oak Hill lookout, GM2C Robert O. Whitbeck of Denver, CO, reported a periscope on the ship’s port quarter, distant one thousand yards. Oak Hill instantly changed course and the engine room was ordered to afford steam for maximum speed. The periscope was now astern, and the sub appeared to be on a parallel course, its speed estimated to be about 12 knots. Oak Hill’s radical course changes seemed to be matched by the sub, which, strange to say, seemed to surface from time to time. It was now concluded that the "sub" was not full size, but was much smaller.

The escort, U.S.S. Thomas F. Nickel (DE-587), fired one depth charge pattern astern of Oak Hill. After following in Oak Hill’s wake for about twenty minutes, the "sub" exploded with great force at a distance of about 2000 yards, a detonation apparently unrelated to the depth charges. At 1910 a second periscope was sighted astern, and Nickel dropped another pattern of depth charges, subsequently reporting that an explosion unrelated to the effect of the depth charges had occurred, and that it was assumed that the second sub had been destroyed.

These missiles were "kaiten" suicide submarines, which have been described as "not so much a ship as an insertion of a human being into a very large torpedo." Launched from full-size submarines, they were essentially a standard 24-inch Type-93 torpedo, with the mid-section elongated to create a space for a pilot, who sat in a canvas chair practically on the deck of the craft, a crude periscope directly in front of him, and the necessary controls close to hand in the cockpit. The propulsion unit was in the tail, and the nose was packed with 3000 pounds of high explosive.

The commander of the mother submarine, the I-58 (the sub which torpedoed and sank U.S.S. Indianapolis (CA-35) on 29 July 1945), is reported to have believed that Oak Hill was a seaplane tender. The kaiten launched against Oak Hill were apparently the last such weapons to be launched in the war.

Official word that the war had ended reached Oak Hill when she was anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, and was anticlimactic: the gunnery celebration which occurred was far less than that had been observed at Okinawa. The crew of Oak Hill were gratified nonetheless.

Although she had been ticketed to go to Espiritu Santo to discharge her MTB skids, Oak Hill unloaded them at Guinan, on the Island of Samar, and proceeded to Iloilo, Panay Island to load cargo for another operation. On 29 August she loaded boats, cargo and personnel of the 532nd Boat and Shore Regiment, Second Engineer Special Brigade, as well as men of the 40th Infantry Division. In company with an escort, U.S.S. Crosley (APD-87), she then proceeded to Okinawa, encountering off Luzon the worst typhoon of her experience, surpassing that met in October 1944. At Okinawa she joined ships of a task unit carrying troops and equipment of the 24th Corps destined for the occupation of Korea. Upon discharging her lading in Jinsen, Korea, she returned to Leyte in company with U.S.S. Parle (DE-708), U.S.S. Lloyd (APD-63), and other APDs.

On 16 September 1945 she was underway for her second trip to Iloilo to load cargo and personnel of the 532nd Boat and Shore Regiment. While in Iloilo, the crew had liberty and enjoyed it greatly, despite the almost complete destruction of the town. For most of the crew, this was the first visit to what can be called a town in over 15 months.

Oak Hill was underway again for Jinsen, Korea on 18 September in company with U.S.S. Lloyd (APD-63), U.S.S. Seminole (AKA-104), and U.S.S. Torrance (AKA-76). Upon discharging her cargo in Jinsen, she proceeded independently to Leyte to effect much-needed repairs.
After repairs were accomplished, some of which occurred while the ship was in dry dock, Oak Hill loaded boats and crews destined for Korean Service Group and Service Division 101. She sailed for Jinsen, Korea on 24 October and arrived on 1 November.

After discharging her lading, she embarked LCVPs and their crews for transportation to Tsingtao, China. Calling first in Weihaiwei, she arrived in Tsingtao on 5 November. Upon discharging the lading, the crew enjoyed two days of liberty in Tsingtao and the ship then sailed for Jinsen, Korea.

Oak Hill spent a month in Jinsen repairing small landing craft, as well as LSMs and LCSs, which are ocean-going vessels. The crew also enjoyed liberty, which included several hunting trips in the hill country behind the port. The officers proved the best hunters: they returned with pheasants, while the enlisted men returned with nothing but wild tales.

On 17 November 1945, the date this history ends, the crew bade farewell to CAPT Carl A. Peterson, USNR, of Beverly Hills, CA, Oak Hill’s commanding officer since commissioning. (Captain Peterson was promoted to four-stripe rank while serving in Oak Hill.) He was relieved by LT Raymond C. Russell, of San Francisco, CA, a former merchant marine officer, who had also been aboard since commissioning, serving first as First Lieutenant and then as Executive Officer.


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