USS TELFAIR HISTORY

WORLD WAR II

 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.


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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.

KOREAN WAR

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.

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POST KOREAN WAR

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.

THE SIXTIES

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.

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FINAL DECOMMISSIONING

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)

Decommissioning Program (pdf)

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Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

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
 

 Click below for a complete history of the Telfair that was created by Ensign Bruce  S. Patterson at the time of its final decommissioning in 1968. Other information sources can be found at WIKIPEDIA and at NAVSOURCE.

Telfair History (Patterson) (pdf)

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