Kemper County LST-854


Kemper County

A county in Mississippi

(LST-854: dp. 1,625; 1. 328'; b. 50'; dr. 11'; s. 12 k.; cpl.
266; a. 3 40mm., 12 20mm.; cl. LST-542)

LST-854 was laid down by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., Seneca, Ill., 30 August 1944; launched 20 November; sponsored by Mrs. M. A. Menkol; and commissioned 14 December, Lt. E. J. Robeson in command. New

After shakedown off Florida, LST-854 departed Orleans for the Pacific 16 January 1945. Steaming via the Panama Canal, the West Coast, and Pearl Harbor, she reached Ulithi, Caroline Islands, 1 April. There she
prepared to Support the invasion of Okinawa; then n, with an Army Aviation Engineer Battalion on board, she sailed 12 April for that strategic island which lay at the gateway to the heart of the Japanese empire. LST-854

The campaign was well underway when arrived Nago Wan, Okinawa, 6 days later. Despite heavy enemy air raids, she unloaded troops and equipment, then
returned Ulithi 5 May. During the remaining months of the war, she shuttled troops and equipment among the Philippines and Okinawa in preparation for a possible invasion of Japan. Following the end of World War II,
she operated in the Far East, transporting occupation
forces until November.

LST-854 arrived Seattle, Wash., 16 December, East 27 after overhaul and training returned to the Far East June 1946.From 1946 to 1949 she transported Navy and

Marine Corps troops and cargo among Chinese ports and the Marianas. The veteran landing ship returned to the United States 6 June 1949, and decommissioned 21 October at; Puget Sound Navy Yard.

During early January 1952, LST-854 participated in the landing of the 40th Division at Inchon and provided refugees lifts along the Korean coast. Departing Yokosuka 25 February' the landing ship arrived San Diego 16 March. After overhaul and training along the West Coast, she was back in Japan 26 November. For the remaining months of the Korean conflict, LST-854 shuttled troops and cargo in support of U.N. forces engaged in fierce combat on the Asian mainland. Following the truce which ended hostilities, the veteran landing ship transported proand anti-Communist prisoners to await repatriation.

LST-854 returned San Diego 17 October and, following overhaul, performed training exercises along the West Coast. From May 1954 to May 1960, she sailed on four WestPac cruises in which she supported the 7th Fleet operating to protect U.S. interests in the event of reckless Communist attempts to upset the peace and stability of Asia. LST-854 was named Kemper County 1 July 1955.

After returning from her WestPac cruise 6 May 1960, Kemper County spent the next 5 years performing amphibious training exercises along the California coast and in the Hawaiian operating area.

As Communist aggression increased, the United States expanded efforts to protect the integrity and independence of the Republic of South Vietnam. To aid in the vast logistic demands created by the crisis, Kemper County departed San Diego 11 October 1965, arriving Subic Bay, Philippines, 12 November. Ten days later she arrived Da Nang and operated along the coast of South Vietnam for the rest of the year. She operated primarily in the rivers of the Mekong Delta transiting enemy-controlled territory to carry supplies to the Vietnamese Army Headquarters Can Tho. Four times she ascended these streams as far as 90 miles inland. On 3 March 1966 she assisted tanker SS Paloma which lay burning and adrift in the Saigon River after a Viet Cong attack. On reaching the scene, she shelled the river bank from which the Communist attack had been launched while fighting the conflagration on the tanker.

During this deployment Kemper County carried over 10,000 tons of military cargo and vast quantities of food and clothing for the war-stricken civilian population of South Vietnam before returning to San Diego 28 May 1966. Her services won her the Battle Efficiency "E" Of 1966. She operated off the West Coast into 1967 preparing for future action.

LST-854 received one battle star for World War 11 service and five stars for service in the Korean conflict.