From Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships,
Vol. IV (1969), pp. 85-86
A county in southern Michigan.
(APA-195: dp. 6,720; l. 455"; b. 62'; dr. 24'; s. 17.7 k.; cpl. 536, trp. 1,562; a. 1 5", 12 40mm., 10 20mm.; cl. Haskell)
Lenawee (APA-195) was laid down 26 May 1944 by Kaiser Shipbulding Co., Vancouver, Wash., under Maritime Commission contract; launched 11 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Olaf Haugen; and commissioned 11 October 1944, Comdr. Carson R. Miller in command.
Built to transport assault troops to hostile shores, Lenawee picked up her complement of landing craft at San Francisco and departed 26 November 1944 for the Pacific theater. Following amphibious training in the Hawaiian Islands, she sailed 27 January 1945 for Saipan. In the Marianas the final rehearsals for her entrance into the battle zone were held, and 1,503 troops of the 5th marines and the 67th Naval Construction Battalion embarked. After a 3-day voyage, she arrived Iwo Jima on D-Day 19 February; her boats helped place the first wave of marines ashore before debarking her own troops 3 days later. Withdrawn on the 27th, she retired to Guam to discharge marine casualties and perpare for the final large-scale amphibious operation of World War II.
Sailing south to Espiritu Santo, she embarked over 1,000 troops of the Army 27th Division to reinforce the Okinawa invasion forces. Landing troops and cargo each day and retiring to open sea each night, she suffered no damage from kamikaze attacks during the stay in the area 9 to 14 April.
As part of Commodore J.B. McGovern's Transport Squadron 16, she transported troops from the Philippines to Japan and was present in Tokyo Bay with 1,135 troops of the 1st Cavalry when the Japanese surrendered 2 September. Returning to her home port, San Francisco, 31 October, Lenawee made two "Magic Carpet" voyages to the western Pacific before decommissioning at Stockton, Calif., 3 August 1946, and entering the Reserve Fleet.
The outbreak of the Korean war caused her to recommission 30 September 1950, Capt. E.M. Brown in comand. With San Diego as her home port, she has operated part of each year, except 1952 and 1956, in the Far East. Her first voyage began 22 March 1951 when when she departed for Yokosuka, Japan. Operating mainly among the Japanese Islands, she twice transported men and supplies to the Korean theater before returning home 27 November. Again in May of 1953 Lewanee returned to transport duties in Korean waters and was at Inchon in July when the final truce was signed.
The Chinese offshore islands and Vietnam proved to be the new crisis areas in the Far East. Following a period of amphibious training early in December 1954 with Korean marines, Lewanee joined in the evacuation of Chinese Nationalist civilians and troops from the Tachen Islands to Formosa, on her last trip carrying U.S. Ambassador to China Karl L. Ranking for a first hand observation.
Even without such crises, the Navy never loses its alertness, continually training for any eventuality. Each year amphibious operations were held with marines either off the California coast, in the Hawaiians, or elsewhere in the Pacific. Joint exercises were also held with Philippine troops in 1957, with British forces off Borneo in 1959, with Korean marines in a cold weather operation in 1962, and in 1965 with units of the Royal Thailand Navy.
Beginning in 1963 the South China Sea became a regular scene of operation for Lenawee. Following the North Vietnamese PT boat attack on Maddox and Turner Joy in August 1964, she prepared for her 10th Far Eastern tours since recommissioning. The people-to-people project was not neglected as a result of this new crisis, for the ship carried 10,000 pounds of textbooks and medical supplies to the Philippines and Vietnam after she departed San Diego 7 November 1964. With TF 76, she stood-by laden with marines in the South China Sea from12 December until 10 April 1965, when 3d Division Marines were landed at Da Nang. Five days later her boats landed men of the 4th Marines at Hue. Reloading at Okinawa Lenawee returned to debark additional troops of the 4th marines in an assualt landing at Chu Lai 7 May. On the 24th she brought 2,001 tons of ammunition to these same men. One month later, she was en route for a short stay in her home port. On 9 August 1965 she departed California with Battalion Landing Team 1/1 on the first nonstop voyage made by an attack trasnport direct to Da Nang, arriving the 28th. Returning to San Diego 28 October, Lenawee spent the remainder of the year and the first 8 months of 1966 off the west coast. She conducted type training and participated in various amphibious exercises until departing on her last deployment 4 September 1966.
Lenawee carried marines to Okinawa, successfuly weathering typhoon "Ida" on the way; then, after a stop in Japan, transported Republic of Korean troops from Pusan to Da Nang. She ferried U.S. servicemen from Okinawa to Vietnam and back in December, before returning to the west coast, arrivng at San Diego 8 January 1967 to begin preparations for inactivation.
Lenawee decommissioned 20 June 1967, was transferred to the Maritime Administration on 23 April 1968, and was struck from the Navy list 30 June 1968. She is presently berthed in the Maritime Administration Reserve Fleet at Suisan Bay, Calif.
Lenawee received two battle stars for World War II service and three for Korean service.