USS TELFAIR (APA-210) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 558) on 30 May 1944 at Richmond, Calif., by Permanente Metals Corp.; launched on 30 August 1944, sponsored by Mrs. J. L. Cauthorn; and commissioned at San Francisco on 31 October 1944, Comdr. Lyle O. Armel, USNR, in command. Following fitting out at Oakland, Calif., and shakedown and amphibious training off San Pedro, Calif., TELFAIR returned via San Diego to San Francisco to load troops and cargo for her first westward voyage.
On the second day of 1945, she sailed westward and reached Pearl Harbor on the 8th. Nine days later, TELFAIR resumed her voyage carrying elements of the 111th Infantry to the Palaus for garrison duty. She disembarked troops at Peleliu between 30 January and 6 February and then continued on to the Philippines, arriving at Leyte on 9 February to prepare for the invasion of the Ryukyus. In mid-March, TELFAIR embarked elements of the Army's 77th Division and sortied from San Pedro Bay with Task Group (TG) 51.1.
The Western Islands Attack Group, as TG 51.1 was called, was responsible for conducting the prelude to the Okinawa invasion by securing the anchorage at Kerama Retto, a small cluster of islands just to the south and west of Okinawa. Accordingly, it was the first element engaged in combat in the vicinity of Okinawa during the actual invasion operation. Between 25 March and 2 April, TELFAIR participated in the assault and occupation of those key islets. On 30 March, she reembarked her troops, and, on the afternoon of 2 April, she cleared the roadstead for a waiting area to the south.
That evening, just after 1830, her task group was jumped by 10 or more kamikazes. TELFAIR and her sister-ship GOODHUE (APA-107) were attacked by three planes in rapid succession. Her gunners and those of GOODHUE combined to explode one in mid-air. A second, after ricocheting between her starboard and port kingposts, smacked into TELFAIR’s bulwark, then careened over the side. The third, his glide deflected by gunfire, crashed into GOODHUE’s cargo boom, smashed her after 20-millimeter gun tubs, and joined his compatriot in the sea.
TELFAIR remained in the vicinity of Okinawa supporting the invasion until 26 April when she got underway for Ulithi Atoll in the Western Carolines. She entered the lagoon on the 30th, replenished, and repaired battle damage until 22 May. On that day, TELFAIR headed east to return to the United States. She reached Seattle on 13 June, disembarked passengers, and underwent further repairs.
On 26 June, TELFAIR steamed out of Puget Sound and again pointed her bow westward. On 13 July, she delivered Army hospital units safely to Saipan. Four days later, she left the Marianas, bound for San Francisco, where she arrived on the last day of July. Putting to sea once more on 12 August, TELFAIR shaped a course for Ulithi, but peace had returned to the Pacific before she reached that atoll on the 28th. Over the next two months, she steamed between Luzon and Leyte in the Philippines, visiting Manila from 1 to 13 October. On the 16th, she departed Lingayen Gulf to land occupation troops in Japan. She made Hiro Wan and Kure, at Honshu, on the 20th and subsequently landed her passengers.
At the end of October, TELFAIR reported for "Magic Carpet" duty. On 2 November, she arrived at Samar, in the Philippines, where she embarked her first load of veterans for the return voyage to the United States. On the 4th, TELFAIR departed the Philippines and, after almost three weeks at sea, entered port at Portland, Oreg. TELFAIR remained on the west coast until Christmas Eve when she weighed anchor to return to the western Pacific. She stopped at Saipan at the end of the first week in January 1946; then continued on to Manila where she moored on the 12th. For the next two months, she operated in the Philippine Islands, visiting Subic Bay and Samar. She departed Samar on 5 March and, after calling at Pearl Harbor, reached San Francisco on the 25th. On 8 April, she arrived at Stockton, Calif., to begin inactivation overhaul. On 20 July, she was inactive and berthed with the Stockton Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet.
The North Korean attack upon the Republic of Korea in June 1950 returned TELFAIR to life. She was ordered activated on 7 August and actually rejoined the Pacific Fleet when she was recommissioned on 12 September 1950, Capt. John Andrews, Jr., in command. During the period of fighting in Korea, roughly June 1950 to July 1953, TELFAIR deployed to the western Pacific on three separate occasions. During the first, from October 1950 to July 1951, she visited Yokosuka, Kobe, and Sasebo in Japan and Inchon and Chinnampo in Korea, shuttling troops from the former three ports to the latter two. Her first and second Korean War deployments were separated by six months of operations along the west coast of the United States.
Her second tour began with her departure from San Francisco on 26 January 1952 and ended upon her return to the west coast at San Diego on 24 May. In the intervening period, she saw no actual Korean service, but steamed between Okinawa, Kobe, Yokosuka, and Sasebo primarily engaged in training United Nations troops in amphibious operations.
Her third and final deployment during the Korean conflict began on 30 October 1952 after four months on the west coast. It took her to the already-familiar Japanese ports and to Manila, Subic Bay, and Hong Kong, as well as the Korean ports of Pusan, Inchon, the island of Koje Do and to the vicinity of Sokcho Ri. TELFAIR returned to San Diego on 20 April 1953 and resumed operations in the eastern Pacific.
Between August 1953 and February 1958, TELFAIR made three more deployments to the western Pacific. For the most part, her duties during those visits to the Far East consisted of lifting United Nations troops from now-peaceful Korea; shuttling troops and supplies between American bases in Korea, Japan, Okinawa, and the Philippines; and participating in 7th Fleet amphibious exercises. In August 1954, however, she did depart from her normal routine to participate in Operation "Passage to Freedom," in which Navy ships evacuated Vietnamese refugees from Haiphong in the communist-controlled northern half of newly-partitioned Indochina to Saigon in the pro-western southern portion. During non-deployment periods, TELFAIR conducted west coast operations and leave and upkeep periods in California ports.
On 29 February 1958, TELFAIR was decommissioned once more and laid up with the National Defense Reserve Fleet. A little over two years later, it appeared that her naval career was at an end once and for all. On 1 July 1960, TELFAIR was transferred to the Maritime Administration, and her name was struck from the Navy list. However, the Navy reacquired her on 24 August 1961, and her name was reinstated on the Navy list on 1 September. She was placed in commission for the third time on 22 November 1961, Capt. E. M. Higgins in command.
TELFAIR's new seven-year lease on life took her to new oceans and new ports of call for, immediately following training off San Diego, she headed for duty with the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet. She transited the Panama Canal on 1 February 1962 and arrived in her new home port, Norfolk, Va., on the 6th. From then until final decommissioning in 1968, she alternated cruises to the Mediterranean as a unit of the 6th Fleet with operations in the western Atlantic as a unit of the 2d Fleet. On her Mediterranean cruises, she joined other units of the 6th Fleet in bi-national and multinational amphibious exercises. She was also on hand in Greek waters in April 1967 as part of the back-up force protecting American lives and property during the takeover by the military junta in Athens. When assigned to the 2d Fleet, TELFAIR operated from Norfolk and cruised the Atlantic seaboard, in the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico. She was normally engaged in amphibious exercises with marines from Camp Lejeune, though she also conducted summer training cruises for midshipmen of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. TELFAIR's years in the Atlantic Fleet included four deployments to the Mediterranean, one deployment to the Caribbean and visits to every major seaport from Boston to Fort Lauderdale while conducting East Coast operations.
On August 9, 1968, Commander Fletcher H. Shaw, USN, relieved Captain Newton H. Morgan, USN, as Commanding Officer. On 31 October 1968, TELFAIR was decommissioned for the third and final time at the Naval Amphibious Base located at Little Creek, Va. and was redesignated as LPA-210. On the following day, her name was struck from the Navy list. On 26 June 1969, she was transferred to the Maritime Administration once more, this time for simultaneous transfer to her purchaser, the Boston Metals Co., of Baltimore, Md., which subsequently scrapped the ship. TELFAIR's last voyage at sea began at 1825 Z on July 14, 1969, when the Curtis Bay Towing Company towed her to Baltimore for final disposition.
TELFAIR earned one battle star for World War II and three battle stars during the Korean War. During World War II and the Korean conflict, TELFAIR also won the following awards and ribbons.
The Asiatic-Pacific with 1 star -- World War II Victory Ribbon
Naval Occupation Medal -- China Service Medal
National Defense Ribbon -- Korean Service Ribbon with 3 stars
United Nations Ribbon -- Korean Presidential Unit Citation
At the time of decommissioning, TELFAIR held five Assault Boat Awards, three Operations Green "E's", two Communications Green "C's", and two Engineering Red "E's".
IN HER LATER YEARS, TELFAIR WAS AFFECTIONATELY REFERRED TO AS THE "TREMBLIN' T" BY CREW MEMBERS BECAUSE OF A SHAFT VIBRATION AT HIGH REVOLUTIONS.
Click below for a copy of the final decommissioning program held on October 31, 1968
(by then, Telfair had its designation changed from APA to LPA)
Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive - Okinawa -2 April 1945) - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1)
Second Row - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp) - National Defense Service Medal (2)
Third Row - Korean Service Medal (3) - United Nations Service Medal - Republic of Korea War Service Medal
USS TELFAIR (APA/LPA-210)