History

Jerome Official Navy Photo_1U.S.S. Jerome County (LST 848) History

The following is an “unofficial” history of LST-848 later named the USS Jerome County which has been compiled using many sources such as government archives, various web sites, and interviews with shipmates.

LST-848 was an LST-542-class Landing Ship Tank built for the United States Navy during World War II. Construction began on November 6, 1944 at the American Bridge Co., Ambridge, PA  (near Pittsburgh). She was launched only six weeks later on 21 December, one of over 1,000 LST’s built for World War II amphibious landings of heavy equipment onto enemy beaches.  Her sponsor was Mrs. F. D. Porter.  She was commissioned on 20 January, 1945 with Lt. R.P. Bentley as her first commanding officer.  Most of LST- 848’s crew was transferred from LST- 773, then in the shipyard being converted to a Motor Torpedo Boat Tender later named the Antigone (AGP-16).

After launching, she sailed down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, LA, conducting her shakedown training en route and off Florida in January and February of 1945.  On 24 February she departed New Orleans for San Pedro, CA, with a stop in Balboa, C.Z.  While in transit, according to one crewman on-board at the time she suffered her first casualty at the entrance to the Panama Canal. At San Pedro she transferred small craft and departed  for San Francisco on 21 March , arriving there on 23 March.

On 28 March LST-848 departed from San Francisco for the Hawaiian Islands . She arrived at Maalaia Bay, Maui, on 8 April (and or Kalua Harbor on 9 April) where she once again transferred small craft.  For the next six weeks she completed amphibious training and conducted exercises in the Hawaiian Islands.

LST- 848 departed Pearl Harbor on June 6, 1945 bound for Apra, Guam, arriving  11 June.  She then proceeded to Saipan where she loaded a Marine radar squadron and headed for Okinawa (Qumi Shima).  She arrived at Hagushi Harbor on 3 July, off-loaded her cargo, and embarked  Marines for transport to Guam.  She left Hagushi on 10 July and transited in convoy to Guam arriving there on 16 July.  Two days later she was underway again for Saipan and then back to Guam. She returned again  to Saipan for additional cargo and departed from there for Okinawa on 11 August.

The war’s end found LST 848 at sea; she arrived at Hagushi Harbor, Okinawa on 17 August 1945.  On 4 September she departed Okinawa for Tokyo Bay loaded with trucks and other equipment for use by the Occupation Forces.  Arriving in Tokyo Bay on October 4, she left after only four days for Leyte, Philippines.

On her return to Japan, LST- 848 served as a base for the occupation Shore Patrol until they were located ashore.  While in Japan she took vehicles to the southern city of Aomori, Honshu where Lt. William Kommers, USNR, relieved Lt. Bentley as skipper.  Two days later they rode out a typhoon while tied up near coal docks that protected the ship.  In early December 1945 she departed Japan for the U.S.. For her service during the war she earned the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal,  the Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal. For her services in support of the Occupation Forces of Japan from 2 September to 8 December she earned the Navy Occupation Medal with the Asia Clasp.

After stops in Saipan and Pearl Harbor, LST-848 arrived in San Francisco on February 11, 1946.  In early April 1946 she sailed north to the Columbia River and Portland, OR.  She was then mothballed at Swan Island. On August 10, 1946, she was decommissioned at Vancouver, WA,  and placed in the Columbia River Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet-Tongue Point, Astoria.

On July 1, 1954, while still in “mothballs”, the LST 848 was renamed the U.S.S. Jerome County.  At this time all U.S. Navy LSTs were named after counties in the United State.  Jerome County is in Idaho. The Jerome County remained in the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Tongue Point, Astoria, OR, until early August 1959.

In the last week of August 1959, the crew of the U.S.S. La Moure County (LST-883) began re-activation of the Jerome County at Long Beach, CA, and she was re-commissioned at on December 7, 1959.  She was  assigned to LST Division 72, a unit of Landing Ship Squadron Seven and Amphibious Squadron Seven with LT Kenneth H. Ruecker as her commanding officer. Shakedown took place along the Pacific Coast with LCDR Gerald Bradford, USN, assuming command on Feb 20, 1960.

On May 14, 1960 the Jerome County departed San Pedro, CA  for mid-Pacific operations out of Midway Island in support of  the Missile Impact Locator System and the 1960 MILSPAC Operation.  In late October, after five and a half months of missile support operations she returned to San Diego. For her service during this perod she received three letters of appreciation and three messages of commendation from higher authorities including Commander Amphious Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Commander Hawaiian Sea Frontier.

Jerome County spent the latter part of 1960 and early 1961 doing maintenance and local operations out of San Diego.  On 12 May, she sailed to Port Hueneme to pick up Marines for a two-week exercise.  More local and fleet training took place in June and July.  In August and September 1961 the ship underwent an extensive overhaul (FRAM I) at NRF San Diego, adding to the superstructure and greatly increasing the ship’s communication facilities.  At this time the ship was nominated for the Amphibious Force Personnel Excellence Award. From October through December 1961 she was at Seal Beach and Long Beach , loading ammunition and stores and participating in local exercises, returning to San Diego for Christmas.

Jerome County  departed San Diego in company with the Tioga County (LST 1156) on January 14, 1962 .  They arrived in Pearl Harbor on 31 January,  after experiencing heavy weather for half of the voyage.  One crewman required transfer to the navy hospital for constant “sea sickness”.

Upon arrival at Pearl Harbor Jerome County reported to CJTF-8 for participation in “Operation Dominic” a nuclear test series centered at Johnston and Christmas Islands. After taking a detachment of UDT personnel and their equipment (including explosives) on board, the Jerome County was ordered to Baker Island to establish a missile-tracking site.  She departed for Baker Island on 7 February. However before arriving there she was re-routed to Christmas Island, then a UK-owned island which is now called Kiritimati, to support the testing of Polaris submarine missile launchings and nuclear detonations above the atmosphere.  From 19 February through 28  February she was anchored at Christmas Island and served as the communications relay ship between the U.S. and U.K. militaries.  During this period  the UDT detachment helped widen the boat channel into the small harbor by blasting coral reefs. The crew also enjoyed a great beach party with beer brought in with the ship for the occasion. The party was held on an uninhabited nearby reef.  Jerome County returned to Pearl Harbor on 6 March.  On the return trip one of the Filipino steward mates attacked another crewman with a knife. He was restrained and confined to the captain’s sea cabin until he could be transferred from the ship.

On 16 March 1962 the Jerome County again departed Pearl, this time with supplies for Johnston Island, the launch site for testing land launched missiles.  In order to discharge cargo alongside the dock on Johnston Island she was required to navigate a narrow ship channel with a 90 degree turn. This was accomplished by using the ship’s LCVPs as pusher boats to “twist” the ship while moving.  The objective of this phase of  Operation Dominic, was the testing nuclear weapons exploded in space to gauge the effect on radio communications. In support of these operations Jerome County made four more voyages between Pearl Harbor and Johnston through July, carrying everything from toilet paper to the Admiral’s car.  During one loading in Pearl Harbor, a civilian stevedores told the crew it was OK to take some beer from the pallets since they allowed for about 10% “shrinkage”.  When the captain learned of this, he declared that all the beer should be returned.  Very little showed up.  During at lease one trip to Johnston Island the crew surreptitiously used CO2 fire extinguishers to cool their beer.

On July 7, 1962 on Johnston, Lt. W.G. Almand relieved Lt. Cdr. G. R. Bradford as Commanding Officer.  At approximately 2000 on the evening of July 8, Jerome County was at sea 20 miles south of Johnston Island when a missile with a nuclear warhead was launched and detonated directly overhead. The explosion occurred about 100 miles up in space.  There was no noise, but a bright white flash lit up the dark sky and slowly turned yellow, then orange, then red – all of it lasting about two minutes.

Returning to Pearl on 11 July, Jerome County left for Christmas Island onn 17 July. She  returned to Pearl on July 30, fully loaded herself and towing a barge loaded with construction vehicles from the concluded operations. On 3 August Vice Admiral H.A. Yeagher, Commander Amphibious Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, presented the Commanding Officer with the Battle Efficiency Award which the Jerome county earned during fiscal year 1962.

After eight months in Mid-PAC, the Jerome County returned to San Diego on 18 August. She spent September and October 1962 in San Diego doing maintenance and upkeep including having the port engine repaired at the NRF and alongside U.S.S. Hector (AR 7).

On 10 October 1962, Jerome County sailed north for the first week of the World Fair in Seattle, WA, and particiption in Operation “SHORELINE”, a joint Army-Navy CPX operation near Fort Lewis, WA. She arrived in Tacoma, WA, on16 October.  On 21 October she moved to Solo Point, Ft. Lewis Army Base, to board troops for the Operation but returned the next day to off-load all army personnel after  President John F. Kennedy ordered a surface blockade of Cuba and a Def-Con 3 alert was put into effect.

Jerome County departed Puget Sound to return to San Diego at flank speed – almost 13 knots!  She arrived in San Diego on 28 October but was too late to join the other amphibious ships that had loaded Marines and sailed south.  While in San Diego navy divers were used to remove the port screw and repair the damage from hitting a log in Puget Sound that caused significant vibration.  On 5 -8 November the ship loaded causeways at Miramar Boat Basin, Camp Pendleton and practiced “splashing” them in south San Diego bay.

In December 1962 the Assistant EO (Engineering Officer) and DCA (Damage Control Assistant), Bob Jornlin was detached from the Jerome County and ordered to go aboard the mothballed LST- 825 to help put it back in running order. He and and a crew of 5 officers and 35 men then sailed it to Little Creek, VA. (Note: many years later he was asked to go to Taiwan and look for an LST to bring back for a museum. Later he went to Greece, where he helped 28 others bring back LST 325 back to the US. LST 325 is now in Evansville, IN.)

During January and February 1963 the ship participated in local operations, including amphibious landings at Camp Pendleton.

On 18 March 1963, the Jerome County departed for Mid-PAC again.  She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 30 March.  On 1 April she loaded army troops and trucks at Waipio Point (West Loch) to transport to the army’s training base on the big island of Hawaii.  The next morning, she off-loaded at the small harbor ramp at Kawaihae, Hawaii and returned to Pearl Harbor on 2 April.  Throughout April, May, and June the ship made eleven trips to Kawaihae transporting army troops.  The normal routine was to load troops on Monday morning, travel overnight to Kawaihae, off-load in early morning, have lunch (with some R&R on the beach in the afternoon), load returning troops, and travel all night to arrive back in Pearl Harbor early next morning.  There were typically two trips per week, so that the crew was in Pearl for most weekends. Sometimes she made a side trip to the Kaneohe Marine Base on the other side of Oahu and once to Port Allen on the island of Kauai.  During the eleven weeks she operated in support of the Army in Hawaii she carried 3,o73 personnel and 8.807 tons of cargo and vehicles while steaming 4,752 miles between the islands.

On 20 June Jerome County departed Pearl Harbor in company with U.S.S. Holmes County (LST 836). She arrived in San Diego on 2 July and entered the National Steel dry-dock on 8 July for two weeks for hull inspection and repair.  During August the ship participated in local ops with UDT personal but on 17 September returned to the National Steel shipyard for an extensive overhaul (FRAM II) that lasted through January 1964.  This yard period included the overhaul of both engines and some minor equipment, and significant alterations wich improved habitability for the crew and increased the ships operating capability including a new tripod mast.

From February to August 1964 the Jerome County was in-port in San Diego and probably conducted refresher training and operational exercises in the SOCAL op areas as well as routine maintenance and upkeep. On July 13, 1964, Lt. Theodore A. Fischer, Jr., USN relieved Lt. W. G. Almand, USN as Commanding Officer of the Jerome County in a Change of Command ceremony at the San Diego Naval Station.

In early September 1964, Jerome County participated, along with four other San Diego based ships, marine and army personnel, in operation “Sea Bar” at Solo Point, Fort Lewis, Washington.  This was a training maneuver involving the affairs of two mythical countries, Washtonea and Orgonia.  The war game involved U.S. assistance to Washtonia which had been infiltrated by Orgonia-led guerrilla forces.  The assistance consisted of assault forces brought ashore from LSTs and other landing craft.  After completing this exercise successfully, Jerome County went to Nanaimo, British Columbia for a four-day goodwill visit.

Jerome County returned to San Diego from Nanaimo and in November 1964 was presented with the “Golden LST” award by Vice Admiral John Colwell, Commander Amphibious Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, for her contribution to the San Diego Community Service Campaign.

In January 1965 the ship deployed again to Mid-PAC for a five-month deployment.  During most of that time she was transporting troops of the Army’s 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks from Waipo Point (West Loch) on Oahu to Kawaihae on the island of Hawaii.  While these operations were routine they provided some challenging ship handling evolutions, including beaching the LST and effecting causeway marriages. The ship also participated in “Sailor Hat”, an operation in which Jerome County transported civilian scientists to Kahoolawe, an uninhabited island southwest of Maui, to detonate 500 tons of TNT, simulating a nuclear explosion and testing the effects on nearby ships of various types.

While beaching on Kahoolawe the stern anchor grabbed immediately on a coral reef causing the stern anchor cable to run out too fast and almost come off the stern anchor winch. This burnt up the stern anchor winch and caused a near over the side evacuation of the stern anchor detail. Subsequently the stern anchor had to be salvaged using the ships LCVP’s and the winch had to be replaced in the Pearl Harbor shipyard.

The Mid -PAC deployment was cut short when President Johnson ordered 500,000 troops into Vietnam.  LSTs like the Jerome County were destined to come into their own in the planned operations.  Ports and landing sites in Vietnam were not dredged for deep draft ships, and only the old World War II style LSTs like the Jerome County with their minimal draft could get into such places as Chu Lai, a major marine staging area.  Every LST on the West Coast not in overhaul or otherwise impaired was rounded up and made ready to transport the troops as quickly as possible. While the Jerome County was still in Pearl Harbor a formation of LSTs, most of them sister ships in  Landing Ship Flotilla One, came steaming into Pearl on their first leg of the journey west to get those ground forces to their destination per the President’s orders.  Due to their hasty departure many of these ships were short of necessary repair parts and other supplies and the Jerome County was quickly stripped of many of these. Shortly thereafter in June the Jerome County was ordered back to San Diego for “limited upkeep”.  In July she and three other LANDSHIRONONE (Landing Ship Squadron One) LST’s made a port visit in San Francisco.

On August 10th, 1965, a mere six weeks after Jerome County returned from her mid-Pac deployment, she departed San Diego along with two other ships of Landing Ship Flotilla One, for Southeast Asia and the Vietnam War. Jerome. She transited non-stop from San Diego to Chu Lai, SVN at a speed of 8.5 knots, crammed to the crow’s nest with a marine Hawk missile battery and their extensive equipment. Out of sight of land for the entire the voyage, she had to depend on celestial navigation for daily posits.  The crew entertained themselves on the long trip with a beard growing contest, and a raucous initiation for those crossing the international dateline for the first time. On one or two occasions the ship also recovered glass floats broken loose from Japanese fishing nets which were prized by the CO and hove to for swim call off the bow ramp. The ship also conducted live fire gunnery and small arms training which included some competitive shooting between the ships gun crews and the on-board marines who were assigned to some of the single 40mm mounts.

The ship arrived at Chu Lai, SVN, five weeks after her departure from San Diego. During the ensuing four-month deployment, she worked in support of COMUSMACV and NAVSUPPACT Da Nang.  Assigned duties included carrying cargo and army personnel to and from the South Vietnamese ports of Chu Lai, Da Nang, Cam Ranh Bay, and Saigon.  She spent many weeks doing logistical runs from Da Nang to Chu Lai.  LSTs were the only ships that could actually get into Chu Lai at that time, since it hadn’t been dredged and had a sand bar over which even WWII LSTs could only cross during high tide.  The Jerome County would have to wait off Chu Lai until tidal conditions were favorable, hurry over the sand bar, unload, get back out ahead of the receding tide, head back to Da Nang for another load to take up to Chu Lai, and wait for the next tide. On one occasion the ship experienced some unloading delays while on the beach and was a little late getting underway.  The tide was receding faster than expected and the ship bottomed out on the sand bar, and was stuck there, blocking the harbor entrance until the next high tide.  She remained there all night, at Condition IA for Beaching, with the navigator on the bridge taking fixes that never varied.  Another of the Chu Lai supply trips involved taking on a tank deck load of beer, for the troops’ R&R.  But the beer did not command a very high priority with those managing the off-loading on the beach, so the ship bobbed around for quite a few days off Chu Lai, waiting to be called in to offload.

In late September the Jerome County earned the Vietnam Service Medal for a transit up the Saigon River while moving the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry from Cam Ranh Bay to Saigon – a six hour sea detail at General Quarters all the way, through several “unsecured” areas, potentially exposed to hostile fire.

Another trip was made into Cam Rahn Bay, which at the time was totally undeveloped.  Marines on the beach in tents and a few abandoned French colonial buildings were all that could be seen.  Since no U.S. ships had apparently been there before, the Jerome County had to use some out-dated French hydro-graphic charts for navigation – which was challenging for the navigation team.

In addition to SVN coastal operations the ship visited Hong Kong in mid-September for crew R&R and had two upkeep periods in Subic Bay, Philippines for material repairs.

Near the middle of November 1965, the ship arrived in Subic for of a couple of weeks of tender availability.  While there it was expected that a sked change message extending its 7th Fleet op-con assignment would be received.  However this did not happen.  On November 19, 1965, Jerome County departed WESTPAC, and after a grueling, pounding voyage in foul weather most of the way, arrived in her home-port of San Diego on December 22. The weather was so bad during this transit that lateral cracks began on the main deck forward of the crawler crane. This was a serious matter of concern which required some extensive deck plating repairs later. Damage to the 40MM gun mounts and LCVP davits also occurred. The most serious problem resulting from the weather however was the 40 MM ammunition. The pounding the ship received was so significant that the projectiles on the shells began working loose and dropping off into the Ammo cans causing an extremely dangerous and potentially explosive situation. An immediate CASREP was sent and the ship was directed to put into Pearl Harbor to offload the damaged ammunition before proceeding to San Diego.

In 1966 Jerome County continued under the command of Lt. Cdr. T. A. Fischer.  She spent most of January and February repairing storm damage from her last WESTPAC deployment.  On 3 March, she departed San Diego for WESTPAC and the Vietnam War again.  Her cargo included Marine LVT’s, water Buffalo’s (water tank trailers), and portable generators.  The LVTs were loaded with materials for “Operation Handclasp”, a charity project for the people of Southeast Asia.  After a two-day stop in Pearl Harbor, Jerome County left for Da Nang, South Vietnam.  During this passage one of the ship’s service generators threw a piston through the block, but the ship proceeded with only two of the three generators running.

The ship arrived in Da Nang, off-loaded her cargo, and went to Subic Bay, Philippines for repairs, arriving on 14 April.  With the generator repaired, Jerome County left Subic on 24 April loaded with 600 tons of ammunition and 90 tons of bomb fins destined for Chu Lai, South Vietnam.  Arriving on 28 April, she off-loaded at the Cus Ho Ramp at Chu Lai, and then departed for Saigon on 30 April.  On 2 May she was recalled to Da Nang, assigned to the Da Nang-Chu Lai shuttle.  From 5 May until 29 May she transported over 3,700 tons of vital supplies between Da Nang and Chu Lai. She also went to Cam Ranh Bay where she loaded 375 tons of heavy construction equipment for Da Nang.

On 1 June she departed Vietnam and arrived in Subic Bay on 4 June.  After a brief stay she proceeded to Hong Kong for R&R.  Heavy rains and flooding in Hong Kong dampened the otherwise welcome break from the hard work of the Da Nang-Chu Lai shuttle.  On 16 June she went back to Subic Bay for upkeep.  She departed Subic on 29 June with 55 Marine personnel and 448 tons of munitions for Da Nang.

LT Fred W. Bailey relieved LCDR. Fischer as Commanding Officer at Da Nang on July 15. After LT Bailey assumed command, the Jerome County continued on the Da Nang-Chu Lai milk run.  During one of the landings at the Chu Lai the attempt was made to beach with the bow doors open to avoid having to back off and beach again. Unfortunately the port bow door snagged on some rocks and was bent back along the port side. The Boatswains mates and engineers were able to manually open and close the door so the ship could continue operations but eventually it had to be repaired in the Subic Bay Dry Dock.

on 1 September 1966 Jerome County departed Subic Bay for CONUS via Yokosuka Japan.  On the way home from Japan, the ship stopped in Pearl Harbor for several days, departing there on 3 October for Southern California, having logged 23,000 miles on this deployment.  She reached San Diego on 13 October and spent the remainder of 1966 in upkeep, maintenance, and local training.

January 1967 found Jerome County participating in operation “Trairaid II”, a COMLANSHIPRON ONE amphibious exercise.  During Trairaid II, Jerome County was used as a platform for the Marine Corps “ONTOS” (4.25″ recoil-less rifle) in a gunnery exercise off San Clemente Island.  Fired from the main deck, the “ONTOS” proved very effective, especially when used simultaneously with the ship’s 40mm guns.  However the concussions from the guns were severe. Following an Administrative Inspection in February, Jerome County departed San Diego on March 3 and proceeded to San Francisco for overhaul.

After arriving in the bay area Jerome County entered Dry dock 5 at the Bethlehem Steel Co., in the Hunters Point Naval shipyard area.  From there she was moved to the Willamette Ship Yards across the bay in Richmond, CA. The overhaul was extensive and most of the ship above the o-1 level was reconfigured. While this was in progress the crew was moved to a berthing barge moored aft of the ship.

In June of 1967 the ship returned to her home port of San Diego and commenced refresher training. This consisted of underway and amphibious training off San Diego, San Clemente Island, Camp Pendleton, and Catalina Island. During a gunnery exercise the ship earned a battle ready “E” for shooting two holes in a long sock towed by a plane. The underway training period was concluded in August and the ship entered a stand down period

On 4 November 1967 the Jerome County departed CONUS for her third SW Asia deployment carrying a load of two swift boats and four aluminum houses on the main deck and 17 troop trucks and schoolbooks for Vietnamese children in the tank deck.  She arrived in Hawaii on 14 November and departed for Guam on the 18th. During this transit her main engines quit about a half dozen times for a few hours every other day probably due to a fuel pump problem.On 24 November she crossed the 180 deg parallel and conducted traditional  initiation ceremonies. She arrived in Guam on 7 Dec and after repairs  departed for Subic Bay in the Philippine on 11 Dec arriving there on 15 Dec. The next day she left for Da Nang,  SVN, arriving there on 20 December to offload the trucks and houses. Two days later she delivered the swift boats at Cam Ranh Bay. After this  she made several runs between  Da Nang and Cua Viet  and then sailed to Vung Tau arriving there on 10 January where she commenced six weeks of river transit operations  in the Mekong Delta while  acting as a re-supply ship for the Mobile Riverine Base. While in the Delta she sailed upriver 26 miles to Ben Tre, offloaded and returned to Dong Nam before returning to Vung Tau on 15 Jan. The territory she was operating in on this trip was very unsecure. although she was not attacked small craft working in the area were continually fired on.

After the Mekong Delta support operations the Jerome county proceeded north again.In March of 1968 as the ship pulled into the beach at Cua Viet, the North Vietnamese began shelling the area, walking the bombardment up both sides of the ship.  Hunks of shrapnel, some as big as dinner plates slammed into the sides of the ship. Fortunately, fortunately they did not get a direct hit as the tank deck was full of ammo and fuel in big rubber bladders. However, as the ship began to retract from the beach, the North Vietnamese began mortar fire which landed much closer and several Jerome County crewmen were wounded. One Boatswains mate was hit in the back with shrapnel, but had his vest on so it only knocked him down. Another Boatswains mate was hit in the head, but it just ripped his skin and hair and didn’t penetrate the skull. Two big pieces of shrapnel just missed an electricians mate who was sitting on the bench on the fantail. One piece blew a chunk of wood out of the bench right next to him, and one went between his legs.  Eventually the ship was able to retract into the river and get out through the channel.  It then remained offshore in support off shore operations during which time the North Vietnamese laid down another barrage of artillery, hitting the Naval Support Activity and the ammo dump. For almost two days the ramp, where the Jerome County had been off loading, burned and blew sky high. For actions during this period (29 November 1967 to 1 June 1968) she received a Meritorious Unit Commendation .During this deployment the she also  earned the Combat Action Ribbon and five battle stars.

Jerome County returned to San Diego in June 1968. At about this time LT J.D. Shewchuk, USN, relived LCDR Bailey as the Commanding Officer .From June 1968 to mid 1969 the Jerome County was probably in port conducting upkeep or involved in training and local ops in the SOCAL area.

In mid-1969 plans for a fourth Southeast Asia deployment were cancelled, and Jerome County prepared instead for transfer to a foreign government. Decommissioned again on April 1, 1970 she was turned over, via lease, to the Republic of Vietnam Navy that same month. She became the Republic of Vietnam Navy ship RVN “Nha Trang” (HQ-505).  When the North Vietnamese army conquered South Vietnam five years later, she escaped to the Philippines and subsequently became the Philippine Navy’s RPS “Agusan Del Sur” (LT-54).  The ship was decommissioned by 1986 and discarded by the Philippine Navy in about 1992. Her final fate is unknown.

AWARDS EARNED BY USS JEROME COUNTY SINCE COMMISSIONING:

WORLD WAR II SERVICE:

Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal

Victory Medal

American Campaign Medal

Navy Occupation Service Medal

 

COLD WAR SERVICE

Battle Efficiency Award

VIETNAM SERVICE

Meritorious Unit Commendation

Presidential Unit Citation

Vietnam Service Medal

Five Battle Stars

Vietnam Campaign Medal

National Defense Service Medal

Sources:

Dennis Hager (1964-1967) ENS/LTjg, Gunnery Off. & 1st LT

Paul Knostman (1964-1965), LTjg, XO

Pete Waid (1963-64), PN3

Bob Jornlind (1962), ENS, Asst EO & DCA

Herm Dikkers (WWII crew member), LCVP crew

William Kommers (WWII crew & 2nd C.O.)

Earl Shaffer (WWII crew), mailman

Gary Piercy (1962/3 crew), Ens/Lt(jg), Gunnery & Comm. Off.

Pat Marshall (Viet Nam era crew)

Bill Cayford (GMG3 1967-68)

Deck logs 1961/62/63 Government Archives

Dictionary of American Fighting Ships

Mobile Riverine Force Association  and various other Websites

Total years in age: 47  (1945-1992)

Total years in commission: 12    United States  (1945-46 & 1959-70)

5    South Vietnam (1970-1975)

16    Philippines  (1976-1992)

Total years    33

Revised in October 2012