From: DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL FIGHTING SHIPS, Vol. III, pp. 496-500.
James O'Hara, born in Ireland in 1762, came to Philadelphia, Pa., from England in 1772. The following year he moved to Pittsburgh and served as a frontier trader and government agent with the Indians in western Pennsylvania and western Virginia. Af ter the start of the Revolutionary War, he enlisted as a private in a company of volunteers and was later elected captain. He journeyed west with a force under George Rogers Clark and participated in the struggle for control of the West. From 1781 to 1783 he served as assistant quartermaster for General Nathaniel Greene. After the war, he returned to Pittsburgh and became a successful businessman. President Washington appointed him Quartermaster General of the Army 19 April 1792. O'Hara resigned his appoi ntment 1 May 1798. From 1796 to 1802 he filled many important government contracts as a businessman. Later he became a prominent manufacturer of glass, and he helped pioneer the cotton trade between the United States and England. In addition, he became a successful banker and an enterprising land speculator. O'Hara died 16 December 1819 in Pittsburgh.
496 (497 photo of USS James Madison launching)
(APA-90: dp. 8,600; l. 492'; b. 69'6"; dr. 26'6"; s. 19 k.; cpl. 538; trp. 2,200; a. 1 5", 2 3", 8 1.1", 16 20mm.; T. C3-S-A1)
James O'Hara (APA-90) was laid down for the Army under Maritime Commission contract by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp., Tacoma, Wash., 16 June 1941; launched 30 December 1941; sponsored by Miss Anne B. Denny; and delivered to the Army 3 0 November 1942. During the next 4 months she served as an Army transport, steaming from the West Coast to Australia, thence via the Panama Canal to New York. Arriving New York early in April 1943. she was acquired by the Navy 15 April and commissioned 26 April, Comdr. Charles Allen in command.
After shakedown, James O'Hara departed Norfolk early in June for duty with the 8th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Arriving Oran, Algeria, 22 June, she prepared for the forthcoming invasion of Sicily. Carrying troops of the 45th Infantry Divi sion, she departed 5 July for Operation "Husky", and, as part of CENT Force under Rear Admiral A. G. Kirk, she closed the Sicilian shore off Scoglitti 10 July. Despite heavy seas and an enemy air attack, she debarked her troops as Allied forces sought to wrestle the strategic island from Axis control.
During almost the next 2 months James O'Hara shuttled troops from North Africa to Sicily; then she prepared to take part in the invasion of Italy. Assigned to Rear Admiral J. L. Hall's Southern Attack Force, she departed Oran 5 September and app roached the Gulf of Salerno late 8 September as the Allies announced the armistice with Italy. During mid-watch, 9 September, she debarked assault troops in landing boats, and later began unloading cargo. Her boats assisted HMS Abercrombie, damaged by a German mine. Undaunted by German air
attacks, the veteran transport discharged cargo at the Paestrum beaches before departing for Oran 11 September. As Allied forces secured Salerno, entered Naples, and began the hard-fought drive up the boot of Italy, she continued to transport reinforce ments and cargo from North Africa to Italy. On 30 November she departed Oran in convoy for the United Kingdom; and, with almost 2,000 troops embarked, she arrived Belfast, Northern Ireland, 9 December Departing for the United States 20 December, she reach ed New York 31 December.
Sailing for Norfolk 15 February 1944, James O'Hara embarked marines and loaded cargo before departing for the Pacific 26 February. She arrived Pearl Harbor 16 March and during the next 2 months practiced for the forthcoming invasion of th e Marianas. As part of Vice Admiral R. K. Turner's Northern Attack Force, she departed Pearl Harbor 29 May; touched at Eniwetok; and carrying troops of the 4th Marine Division, arrived off Saipan in the early hours of 15 June. She debarked her troops in t he initial assault waves, then discharged cargo as bitter fighting raged on shore. After embarking casualties and enemy prisoners, she departed 17 June and cruised northeast of Saipan while Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's East Carrier Task Force defeated Adm iral Ozawa's Mobile Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the greatest carrier battle of the war. Following the re-
sounding American victory, James O'Hara returned to Saipan 23 June; completed unloading cargo; and departed 24 June for Eniwetok and-Pearl Harbor.
Following additional amphibious training, James O'Hara departed in convoy 12 August and reached Guadalcanal the 24th. On 8 September she sailed for the Palau invasion, aimed at securing air bases prior to the scheduled invasion of the Philippine s. She closed the Palaus 15 September, and 2 days later, debarked troops during the amphibious assault against Anguar Island. She remained off the Palaus until 23 September when she sailed for the Admiralties, arriving Manus 27 September.
There, James O'Hara embarked troops of the 1st Cavalry Division and departed in convoy 12 October for the invasion of Leyte. Assigned to the Northern Attack Force, she entered Leyte Gulf 20 October, closed about 7 miles off San Ricardo an d debarked five waves of assault troops. After unloading 476 tons of combat cargo, she sailed that evening for the Palaus and arrived Kossol Passage the 23d. She embarked survivors of escort carriers Gambier Bay and St. Lo, sunk while gallantly defending the Leyte beachhead in the Battle off Samar, and from 28 to 31 0ctober carried them to Guam. After returning to Manus 15 November, between 17 and 29 November she transported reinforcements to Leyte and sailed to Hollandia, New Guinea, to prepare for the invasion of Luzon.
As part of Vice Admiral D. E. Barbey's San Fabian Attack Force, James O'Hara departed Sansapor, New Guinea, 30 December with troops of the 6th Infantry Division embarked. Steaming via Leyte Gulf and Surigao and Mindoro Straits, she entere d Lingayen Gulf 9 January 1945 and boated assault troops and cargo during amphibious landings which spearheaded the liberation of Luzon. Departing the same day, she steamed via Leyte and Ulithi to Guam where she arrived 6 February to stage for the amphibi ous invasion of Iwo Jima.
Carrying men of the 3d Marine Division, the attack transport departed Guam 17 February and arrived off Iwo Jima the 19th. Until 27 February she operated in the retirement area; then during the next week she debarked reinforcements, unloaded cargo, and embarked casualties. On 5 March she sailed for Guam where she arrived 8 March to debark more than 400 casualties of the bitter fighting on Iwo Jima.
From 9 to 27 March, James O'Hara sailed via the Solomons and the New Hebrides to New Caledonia where, during the next month, she practiced amphibious attacks. Between 3 May and 15 July she transported men and supplies from New Caledonia a nd New Guinea to the Philippines. After loading cargo at Guiuan, Samar, she sailed for the United States 18 July and reached San Francisco 4 August.
After the cessation of hostilities, the veteran transport departed 25 August and carried troops via Eniwetok to the Philippines. Arriving Manila Bay, Luzon, 17 September, she operated along the Luzon coast until 1 October when she departed Lingayen Gul f for Japan. Steaming in convoy, she reached Wakayama, Honshu, 7 October and debarked occupation troops. She departed Nagoya, Honshu, 28 October, embarked returning veterans at Tinian 3 November; and sailed for San Francisco 5 November. After arriving 17 November, between 22 December and 4 February 1946 she made another "Magic-Carpet" run to Saipan and back to the West Coast.
James O'Hara decommissioned at San Francisco 5 April 1946 and was transferred to the Army the same day. During the next 4 years she served out of Seattle, Wash. as a transport under the Army Transportation Corps. Reacquired by the Navy 1 March 1950, she was reclassified T-AP-179 on 28 April and assigned to MSTS.
During the struggle to repulse Communist aggression in South Korea, James O'Hara transported troops and supplies from the West Coast to the Far East. Operating primarily out of Seattle, between October 1950 and July 1954 she made 18 deplo yments to ports in Japan and South Korea. In addition she supplied American bases in the Marshalls and the Marianas, and she made numerous troop training and rotation runs to bases in Alaska. She continued this pattern of deployment and readiness operatio ns until 30 November 1959 when she arrived Seattle for inactivation. She entered the National Defense Reserve Fleet in Puget Sound 14 January 1960. Transferred to the Maritime Administration in November, her name was struck from the Navy List 1 July 1961. At present she is berthed at Olympia, Wash.
James O'Hara received seven battle stars for World War II service and one battle star for Korean service.