Monday, October 01, 2007

Fightin Ship

USS Alpine APA-92 anchored at Guam

USS Alpine APA-92 anchored at Yokahama, Japan late 1945

Alpine (APA-92) was launched 10 July 1943 by Western Pipe and Steel Co., San Francisco, Calif., for the Maritime Commission, as Sea Arrow; sponsored by Mrs. Helen Marsh, transferred to the Navy 30 September 1943; and commissioned 22 April 1944, Lieutenant Commander G.K.G. Reilly in command.

Alpine joined the Pacific Fleet and during 21-27 July 1944 took part in the invasion of Guam. She returned to Pearl Harbor before steaming westward to participate in the Leyte landings (20 October). After loading reinforcements at Hollandia, Alpine returned to Leyte 18 November. Scarcely had the transport arrived off Leyte when she was hit by a Japanese suicide plane which demolished one small landing craft, killing its three-man crew, and tore a hole in the port side. Alpine completed unloading and retired to Manus, Admiralty Islands, for repairs. Repairs were completed in time for Alpine to take part in the Lingayen landings (11 January 1945) and the landings around Subic Bay, Luzon (29-30 January). She spent the next two months as temporary repair ship for the small landing craft at Leyte.

In March 1945 Alpine departed Leyte for the Okinawa landings (1 April) At 1910 on 1 April, before she could land all her troops, Alpine was hit again by a Japanese suicide plane. The plane crashed through the forward deck setting fire to numbers two, three, and four holds. Alpine had 21 of her passengers killed, 18 of her passengers and 8 of her crew wounded. She completed temporary repairs at Okinawa, 7 April, and then steamed to Seattle, Wash., for permanent repairs, arriving 30 May.



J_G said...

Susie, My Father was a Motor Machinist on the ship USS Alpine that I have posted above. My Father was a humble and honorable man and he didn't talk much about his horrific experiences in the Pacific during WWII.

He would have to ride the landing craft into shore loaded with soldiers or Marines and take care of the engine to keep it running. One time when I could get him to talk about the things he saw he said that sometimes they would let down the door of the boat and machine gun fire would fill the front of the boat and kill many of the men right in front of his eyes. They would have to ride back to the ship with the bodies of the men and the next group waiting to go ashore would have to help unload the dead men before they could get into the boats.

When the first Kamikaze hit the Alpine at Leyte they were unloading men and the boats were in the water. My Father said the planes would come out of nowhere and just slam into ships without warning. This was the beginning of the Kamikaze warfare.

Later at Okinawa he was in the boat returning to the ship and the second Kamikaze hit just as they were pulling alongside of the ship. He said there was fire everywhere and some gasoline from the plane set his boat afire and they had to fight the fire in the boat. My Father rarely talked about his experiences until after an incident that happened to me on a deployment to the Mediterranean. One of our utility boats went missing for a couple of days and later he saw the small article printed in the Philadelphia newspaper about it. I wasn't on that boat, it ran out of fuel on it's way back from picking up mail and parts. They thought it had been hijacked by the Red Brigades that infested that area of Italy at that time.

Anyway when I got home from that deployment my Father talked to me about some of his experiences and I shared with him some of the wild and horrendous things I saw on that particular deployment.

SusieQ said...

It is so difficult for me to comprehend what these men went through as they watched soldiers, sometimes their buddies, get mowed down (i.e. machine gun filling the front of the boat and killing many men right in front of his eyes.)

I have utmost respect for people who have been placed in situations like that and somehow are able to feel the pain yet carry on at the same time. That takes a very special kind of inner strength.

I look forward to hearing more about your family and its history.

Marie's Two Cents said...

Great Post Jenn,

That was one intense Video.

How similar it is that we are facing suicide bombers today and we have already faced them before!

J_G said...

With determination and the "can do" American optimism that was taught to me by my Father the people that would do such evil can be defeated.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Jennifer left a comment here, which you might be interested in reading.

She indeed has a rich family history that needs to be shared.

J_G said...

Word, my Father was like most WWII veterans that saw combat. They did what they had to do, they saw some things they would have preferred to have never seen and afterwards don't talk much about because it is painful and they considered part of their duty as good Americans.

I try and keep his memory the way he lived and I only share the things he told me about his experiences with people that I think matter. Sure, by sharing here in this format there are going to be people that read it that I believe are unworthy and won't understand the respect and dignity that WWII veterans deserve but I always treat it with the utmost respect for without them the world would be a much worse place today.

Bill Lussenheide said...

My father Bill Lussenheide Sr. was on the USS Alpine through the entire missions listed above.

He was just 18, and the memories of this all made huge impressions on his life, both good and bad. The two Kamikazee attacks were memorable...he lost his best friend in one of them.

The Alpine went on a victory tour after the war, going to several Asian ports, and this too was an amazing education for my Dad.

Thanks for posting the USS Alpine and blessings on all who were part of the "Great Generation".

David J. Hargrave said...

Hi. My dad, William J R Hargrave was an ensign and radar officer on the Alpine and was also the ships photographer. He recounted several stories to me about the times the Alpine was hit by kamikazes and the horrendous loss of life and damage that was incurred both physically and emotionally by the crew and it's passengers of soldiers and Marines. He has since passed away and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. I will always remember the fierce love he had for the Navy and of his dedication and memories to his shipmates and crew of the Alpine. Thank you all for your comments and remembrances here.

David J Hargrave