Bexar, Noble, Henrico, 2 AKAs Haul Marines
A quintet of Amphibious Squadron One transports, all veterans of theTachen Islands evacuation, arrived in San Diego last Friday morning with another segment of the returning First Marine Division. Arriving in the "big ship component" of PhibRon-1 were the USS Henrico (APA-45 ), USS Noble ( APA -218 ), USS Washburn ( AKA-108 ), USS Bexar ( APA-237 ) and the USS Union (AKA-106 ).
The returning ships will have aboard approximately 4,500 personnel of the First Regimental Landing Team of the First Marine Division. Arriving with the PhibRon-9 representative, the USS Horace A. Bass (APD-124 ). Completing her Third Far Eastern tour of duty since WW I I, the Bass played an active role in the final stages of "Passage to Freedom."
All five transports were scheduled to arrive at 0800 with the Noble and Union berthing at North Navy Pier; the Henrico at South Navy Pier; the Washburn at Mole Pier, Naval Station; and the Bexar at Pier One, Naval Station.
Capt. N. J. Frank, ComPhib-Ron-1, returned aboard his flagship, the Henrico. Capt. Frank was embarkation group commander for the Tachen Islands evacuation during mid-February.
The five transports along with other evacuation participants picked up the tag "most efficient movers in the world" for the Tachen operation. The operation involved the complete redeployment of personnel and equipment, both civilian and military, from the Tachens to Keelung, Formosa, in less than 90 hours under adverse weather conditions. Rear Admiral L. S. Sabin, ComPhibGruWestPac, who directed the amphibious phase of the evacuation praised the untiring efforts of all PhibPac personnel involved for their ready ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances during the maneuver.
News bulletins during the evacuation listed the Henrico as the first United States ship to take aboard Tachen evacuees for the trek to Formosa. The "Happy Hank" has compiled a unique history of being in the thick of things, less than six months following her commissioning as a Navy ship in 1943 she was one of 4,000 vessels that formed the largest armada in Naval history -- the Normandy invasion force.
The Henrico was also active in the Pacific theater during WW I I. After participating in the Okinawa campaign a Japanese plane crashed into her starboard side and killed 51 crew members. The Noble observed her tenth anniversary of commissioning at Inchon, Korea, on Nov. 27, 1954, while on her recently concluded tour of duty. She transported 3,150 civilians and 1,475 Chinese Nationalist troops during the evacuation.
The Union added a heroic feat to her record during the tour by rescuing three Chinese fishermen who were near death after three days' exposure on a bamboo raft in a South China Sea storm. Commanding officers of the returning transports are
Capt. Andrew J. Hill., USS Henrico;
Capt. Richard H. Blair, USS Bexar;
Capt. John N. Huges, USS Union;
Capt. Harry H. Greer Jr., USS Washburn;
Capt. Charles M. Howe, USS Noble;and Lt, Cdr. Ernest O.Erickson, USS H. A. Bass.