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USS Berrien (APA-62)

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History
United States
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USS Berrien (APA-62) was a Gilliam-class attack transport that served with the US Navy during World War II.

Berrien was named after Michigan. She was launched 20 March 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract by the Consolidated Steel Corporation at Wilmington, California; acquired by the Navy on 7 October 1944; and commissioned on 8 October 1944, with Lieutenant Commander John Murray Gallagher USNR in command. The ship was nicknamed the "Mighty B" and the "Blue Bitch".

Operational history

World War II

Invasion of Iwo Jima

She departed Pearl Harbor for operations in the Pacific on 27 January 1945. Berrien arrived in time to participate in the invasion of Iwo Jima. It was during this campaign, on the night of 21 February 1945, that the ship was hit bu an artillery shell on her after deckhouse. Seventeen of the crew were wounded and received the Purple Heart medal.

Invasion of Okinawa

Approximately one month later, the ship was again on her way into enemy territory with Transport Squadron 15 as part of the invasion of Okinawa. On Easter Sunday morning, the Berrien and other ships of the task force appeared off the southwest shores of Okinawa as part of a feint to throw enemy forces off balance and pave the way for the main landings on the western beaches of Hagushi. That morning, 2 U.S. Navy ships were hit by kamikaze planes. However, the feint succeeded and it was used again the next day. This worked well and losses were minimal.

The Berrien cruised offshore for about a week, waiting orders to proceed to Hagushi to unload her cargo. She was finally sent into enemy waters, accompanied by a destroyer escort and the destroyers USS Ammen and USS Brown. While en route, Berrien encountered a mine and had near misses by 4 torpedoes fired by a Japanese submarine. She arrived at Okinawa and remained there for 10 days, during which she was under constant attack from shore batteries and kamikazes. She received a hit near her stacks which wounded a radioman, making him the 18th Berrien crewman to receive the Purple Heart.

Air-sea rescue

From Okinawa, she sailed back to Saipan, and received orders to head to the South Pacific. The crew was initiated from 'pollywogs' into respectable 'shellbacks' at the Equator. From Tulagi she steamed to Noumea, New Caledonia, then back to the Mariana Islands. On the morning of 3 July, on the way into Guam, she participated in the air-sea rescue of 10 downed Army fliers. From Guam she returned to the US. While in San Francisco, the cease fire order was given in the Pacific theater. The war had ended.

After hostilities

Berrien returned to the Pacific and headed to Manila, then to Aomori, Japan as part of the initial allied landings in northern Honshū. From there, she steamed north to Otaru, in Hokkaidō, northernmost of the main Japanese home islands, for another initial landing on Nippon soil. At this point, the crew was asked if they wished to take part in the Bikini Atoll tests. There were not enough volunteers to man the ship, so she received orders to sail from Otaru into Tokyo Bay to take on Marines and Sailors returning home. She docked in Seattle, where she received many new crew members to replace those discharged, as well

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