U.S.S. LST 597
ADDENDUM TO HISTORY OF LST 597
By Lt. Robert D. Johnson Captain as of 11 November 1945
When the history of the U.S.S. LST 597 was written November 1945, it was suspected at that time that the “Old Gal’s” career would soon come to an end at some ship graveyard in the United States. But to the crew’s dismay and surprise the 597 has perhaps been busier since the end of the war than before.
Many of our old friends and original crew have been struggling in the garb of civilians for quite some time now, while a few of us have remained on and running, though we sometimes wonder why. But now she has finally met a most ignominious fate; she is to be turned over to the Japanese for their use in their practically non-existent Navy.
Since November 1945 we have sailed from Leyte to Manus, thence to Morotai and Batangas (on Luzon); then two trips back and forth from Batangas to Mindoro; and then a final trip to Morotai unloading again at Batangas. Christmas Day ceremonies while on the beach at Batangas were perhaps a bit non- regulation, but a howling good time was had by all. At Batangas on the fourteenth of January 1946 we received orders to proceed to the Island of Guam arriving at noon eight days later. There, all the guns, and for that matter all excess equipment including most of the luxuries, were removed, partially stripping the 597 in preparation for ultimate decommissioning at Japan. On the way to Japan w stopped at Rota Island in the Marianas, thirty miles north of Guam, and embarked 750 Okinawans for repatriation back to their homeland, arriving in Buckner Bay on 7 February, all of us very much wiser as to the ways, language, and smell of the Japanese. After unloading this hoard we again got underway for Yokohoma on the tenth of the same month. On the afternoon of the fourteenth we dropped anchor in Yokohoma Harbor, Honshu, Japan. The 597 will now no longer operate under the American Flag.
While sailing for the cause of freedom, the U.S.S. LST 597 covered over 48,000 ocean miles in the seventeen months, a good distance for any ship. When we left the States in the fall of Forty-Four, 121 enlisted men and nine officers were attached to ships company; now just before decommissioning there are 37 enlisted men and four officers. And to now we say farewell to our rolling home and wish her luck in her forthcoming travels and adventures under the flag of the Rising Sun, though to the Japs we can wish nothing but trouble. She has been cantankerous and ornery at times, yet she has been loyal and faithful. And when she finally does find her eventual resting place, whether at the bottom of the sea, in the mud, or in some bodies automobile, perhaps a fitting epitaph would be: “Tare Victor George”, or when translated from Navy flag code: “WELL DONE”
U.S.S. LANDING SHIP TANK597
Commissioned…………………………………..18 SEPTEMBER 1944
Decommissioned………………………………..__ FEBRUARY 1946
Submitted in original form by Louis P. Iacona EM1/C 24, January 2006