Commissioned USS Tortuga (LSD-26), 8 June 1945; Lt. Comdr. Raymond G. Brown, USNR, in command.
Commissioned during the final phase of World War II, when we left Boston and headed South. Off the coast of Virginia, we loaded a large Dredge to be transported to the Pacific. Tortuga conducted shakedown in the Virginia capes area and was at Colon, Canal Zone, en route to the Pacific combat area on 15 August 1945 when she received news of Japan's surrender. We were bound for Hawaii. The dock landing ship soon proceeded to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, and subsequently operated in Korean and Chinese waters repairing small craft and serving in the mobile support unit attached to Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet. Operating initially out of Jinsen (now Inchon), Korea Tortuga subsequently conducted her support missions out of Tsingtao, Taku, and Shanghai, China, Hong Kong; and Yokosuka, Japan. In the spring of 1947, the ship returned to the west coast of the United States via Guam and Pearl Harbor, and was decommissioned and placed in reserve at San Diego on 18 August 1947.
The highlights of various ports. Saipan, Okinawa, and 2 typhoons.. That dredge, broke loose & almost sunk us. All hands turned too to get it lashed down... Skipper Commander R.G.Brown was able to drop a snubbing hook into the chain plate on the deck of the dredge and all was well. We finally unloaded that dredge in Buckner Bay, Okinawa. On to Subic Bay, Philippines.
Subsequently we operated in Korean and Chinese waters, repairing small craft and serving in the mobile support unit attached to Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet. Operating initially out of Jinsen (now Inchon), Korea, Tortuga subsequently conducted her support missions out of Tsingtao, Taku, and Shanghai, China; Hong Kong; and Yokosuka, Japan.
We started a shuttle of Marines to various Ports in China. Then up to Inchon Korea to repair Army Boats. June l945, approximately half the crew was up for discharge, we left the Tortuga at Subic Bay along with the skipper… (We were to sail State Side aboard the troop ship General George M. Randal... `as we proceeded out the harbor ‘The Mighty T’ was leaving and running alongside … We watched with tears in our eyes, and all of a sudden Tortuga does a 90 degree turn under the bow of the troop ship… Again, no collision, but a lot of horns and whistles, I often wonder if the skipper told the new skipper of those numerous other steering casualties that we previously had enroute!
Comprehensive History of Tortuga 26 Continued
· Decommissioned, 18 August 1947, at San Diego
In the spring of 1947, the ship returned to the west coast of the United States, via Guam and Pearl Harbor, and was decommissioned and placed in reserve at San Diego on 18 August 1947.
· Laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, San Diego Group
· Recommissioned, 15 September 1950
the communist invasion of South Korea in the summer of 1950, Tortuga was
recommissioned on 15 September 1950, Comdr. Elof W. Hermanson in command.
Reactivated in response to the Navy's need for amphibious ships created by the
war in Korea, the landing ship dock underwent an abbreviated refitting and
shakedown before she sailed for Japan on 29 December. Proceeding via Pearl
Harbor and Eniwetok she arrived at Sasebo on 3 February 1951. Tortuga
participated in a feint landing which preceded the operation mounted to
recapture the strategic port of Inchon.
USS Leonard F. Mason (DD-852) steamed for the Western Pacific once again during the early stages of the Korean War - 13 November 1950 - and joined in antisubmarine warfare exercises. On 22, 24, 28, and 30 March 1951, Mason conducted tests listed in Annex ABLE ComCarDiv 15 OpOrder 3-51 in the vicinity of 35-10N, 139-23E with the USS Tortuga (LSD-26).
time, intelligence reports indicated that the Chinese communists might take
advantage of American preoccupation with the war in Korea by mounting an
invasion, across the Taiwan Strait, of Nationalist-held Formosa. American
strategists felt that, in such an endeavor, the Chinese would utilize many
seagoing junks since, in operations off Korea, vessels of this type had proven
to be almost unsinkable. Accordingly, Tortuga raised eight 60-foot junks
from the depths of Inchon harbor and transported them to Yokosuka to be studied
to determine what ordnance would be most effective against them.
Tortuga remained in the Far East through 1952 for two more Korean deployments. During the first, the landing ship provided support services at Inchon; and, in the second, she took part in the massive amphibious feint at Kojo, North Korea, from 13 to 16 October 1952, and in operations off Wonsan, supporting minecraft in November and December. During 1953, Tortuga participated in the Korean prisoner-of-war exchange after the Panmunjom Armistice and also conducted landing exercises and maneuvers in the Far East and off the west coast of the United States.
Tortuga was deployed to the Western Pacific (WestPac) again in 1954. The signing of the Geneva accords which ended the fighting between the French and Viet Minh resulted in the creation of two Vietnams-north and south. The former was to be in communist hands; the latter was to be governed by non-communist leaders. Diverted to Haiphong from Yokosuka, Tortuga arrived at her destination on 21 August 1954 to take part in the massive evacuation of French nationals, in Operation "Passage to Freedom," as well as the moving of Vietnamese refugees who chose not to live in the north under communist domination. The landing ship conducted four round trips from Haiphong in the north to Tourane (now Danang), Saigon, and Nha Trang in the south, before she returned to Yokosuka on 4 October. For the remainder of the year, she conducted minesweeper support operations in Korean waters.
During the 14 years from 1955 to 1969, Tortuga would remain employed in a regular schedule of deployments to WestPac. She was based at San Diego until 30 June 1966, when her home port was changed to Long Beach. In between deployments-which included exercises and equipment lifts and labors to help maintain the 7th Fleet's readiness-Tortuga conducted local operations out of west coast ports and underwent progressive modifications during regular availabilities.
The difficulties of successfully interdicting the supply lines of an army whose logistic requirements per man were about a sixth of those of U.S. forces had reinforced the lesson, which promised also to apply to action between naval air and gunnery forces and fleets of wooden junks.
Such fleets present numerous small targets, hard to hit, impossible to sink, and whose destruction may prove excessively costly in ammunition expenditure. On 24 February, therefore, with the Formosan question in mind, ComNavFE directed Admiral Thackrey to provide some samples at Yokosuka for practice purposes. Eight 60-foot Korean junks were salvaged at Inchon and brought across in the LSD Tortuga; a sunken Chinese 100-foot 600-tonner presented more difficulties, but in time was floated, beached at Wolmi Do, and embarked in the LSD Colonial for delivery to Japan. In March and April extensive tests were conducted under the direction of Rear Admiral Edgar A. Cruise, commander of the Hunter-Killer Task Group. But his report on ordnance selection was not completed until May, by which time the Communist build-up in Formosa Strait had already had strategic effect.
Following the communist invasion of South Korea in the summer of 1950, Tortuga was recommissioned on 15 September 1950, Comdr. Kenneth S. Shook in command. Reactivated in response to the Navy's need for amphibious ships created by the war in Korea, the landing ship dock underwent an abbreviated refitting and shakedown before she sailed for Japan on 29 December. Proceeding via Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok, she arrived at Sasebo on 3 February 1951. Tortuga participated in a feint landing which preceded the operation mounted to recapture the strategic port of Inchon.
Tortuga remained in the Far East through 1952 for two more Korean deployments. During the first, the landing ship provided support services at Inchon; and, in the second, she took part in the massive amphibious feint at Kojo, North Korea, from 13 to 16 October 1952, and in operations off Wonsan, supporting mine-craft in November and December. During 1953, Tortuga participated in the Korean prisoner-of-war exchange after the Panmunjom Armistice and also conducted landing exercises and maneuvers in the Far East and off the west coast of the United States.
Tortuga was deployed to the Western Pacific (West-Pac) again in 1954. The signing of the Geneva accords which ended the fighting between the French and Viet Minh resulted in the creation of two Vietnams—north and south. The former was to be in communist hands; the latter was to be governed by non-communist leaders. Diverted to Haiphong from Yokosuka, Tortuga arrived at her destination on 21 August 1954 take part in the massive evacuation of French nationals, in Operation "Passage to Freedom", as well as the moving of Vietnamese refugees who chose not to live in the north under communist domination. The landing ship conducted four round trips from Haiphong in the north to Tourane (now Danang), Saigon, and Nha Trang in the south(to September 27, 1954), before she returned to Yokosuka on 4 October. For the remainder of the year, she conducted minesweeper support operations in Korean waters.
About this time, intelligence reports indicated that the Chinese communists might take advantage of American preoccupation with the war in Korea by mounting an invasion, across the Taiwan Strait, of Nationalist-held Formosa. American strategists felt that, in such an endeavor, the Chinese would utilize many seagoing junks since, in operations off Korea, vessels of this type had proven to be almost unsinkable. Accordingly, Tortuga raised eight 60-foot junks from the depths of Inchon harbor and transported them to Yokosuka to be studied to determine what ordnance would be most effective against them.
The left column identified the period of time for which that particular unit and its attached personnel qualified for the basic medal. The center column gives dates for which a unit's attached personnel qualified for a 3/16-inch bronze engagement star for participation in combat operations, if any. The right column gives the code of the designated engagement, a description of which is listed below.
Only one star is authorized for participation in one or more engagements with the same code.
Tortuga (LSD 26):
3 Feb-10 Sep 51 7 Feb-8 Mar 51 K4
19 Sep-20 Nov 51 20-21 Apr 51 K4
7 Aug 52-24 Mar 53 22 Apr-20 Jun 51 K5
22 Aug-25 Nov 53 7-9 Sep 51 K6
23 Sep-3 Nov 51 K6
6 Nov 51 K6
17-18 Oct 52 K8
7-16 Dec 52 K9
19-20 Dec 52 K9
18 Feb 53 K9
26 Feb-7 Mar 53 K9
10 Mar 53 K9
· During the Korean War Tortuga (LSD-26) participated in the following campaigns:
Korean War Campaigns
Campaigns and Dates
Campaigns and Dates
First UN Counter Offensive
Korean Defense Summer-Fall 1952
Communist China Spring Offensive
Third Korean Winter
UN Summer-Fall Offensive
Korean Service Medal
President Harry S Truman created the Korean Service Medal with Executive Order No. 10179, of 8 November 1950 to commemorate the service of members of the Armed Forces of the United States during operations in the Korean area.
a. Eligibility for the medal (at left in photo) is based on the following:
(1) Duty must be performed in Korea, including the waters adjacent thereto within the following limits: From a point at latitude 39 · 30" N., longitude 122 · 45' E., southward to latitude 33 · N, longitude 122 · 45' E; thence eastward to latitude 33 · N., longitude 127 · 55' E.; thence northeastward to latitude 37 · 05' N., longitude 133 · E.; thence northward to latitude 40 · 40' N., longitude 133 · E.; thence northwestward to a point on the east coast of Korea at the juncture of Korea with the U.S.S.R.; or in such areas as Commander, Naval Forces Far East considers has having directly supported the military effort in Korea.
(2) Such duty must have been performed between 27 June 1950 and 27 July 1954.
(3) Sea Duty. -- Service for one or more days in the designated area while attached to and serving on board a vessel of the Navy or Coast Guard, or other vessel to which regularly assigned for duty.
(4) Shore duty. -- Attached to and regularly serving on shore in the designated area for one or more days with an organization that is participating in combat operations or in direct support of combat missions.
(5) Temporary Additional Duty. -- Service of 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days in prescribed area is required for personnel on temporary additional duty, except in cases where in a vessel, aircraft, or unit engages in combat with, attacks, or is attacked by enemy forces, at which time all United States naval personnel serving in the vessel, aircraft, or other unit shall immediately become eligible for the medal without reference to time limit.
(6) Passengers. -- No individual en route in a purely passenger status, i.e., observer, visitor, courier, or escort, shall become eligible for the medal unless the means of conveyance on which he is traveling is attacked by or engages in combat with the enemy. In the latter case he shall become eligible for the medal on the occasion of the attack or combat.
(7) Patients in hospital ship. -- Personnel embarked in a hospital ship for passage as a patient shall be considered as attached to the ship.
The medal was designed by Thomas Jones, a sculptor on the staff of the Army Institute of Heraldry. The front, or obverse, depicts a traditional Korean gateway while the back, or reverse, shows the Taegut or Yin-Yang symbol taken from the South Korean flag.
United Nations Korean Medal. All members of the naval service of the United States who are eligible for the Korean Service Medal under existing regulations are automatically eligible for the United Nations Korean Medal.
The medal was initiated by U.N. General Assembly Resolution 483 (V) of 12 Dec. 1950. Presidential acceptance of this award for the U.S. Armed Forces was announced by the Department of Defense with its directive No. 110 23-3 of 27 Nov. 1951.
Originally entitled the "United Nations Service Medal" in the mid-1950s, a 1961 UN administrative change redesignated it the "United Nations Korean Medal."
The designer and precise symbolism of the United Nations Korean Medal are not given in standard references. The polar azimuthal equidistant projection view of the globe encircled by an olive wreath is the universal symbol of the world body, a design which the group has used since its organization in 1945.
The light blue in the ribbon -- and in all emblems of the United Nations -- was selected as a hue that did not appear in the flag of any member nation at that time of its creation. One anecdote suggests that the shade was designated "Stettinius Blue" in honor of Edward R. Stettinius, U.S. Secretary of State and leader of the United States delegation to the conference. The Army's Institute of Heraldry lists the color officially as "Bluebird."
No official reason is given for the 17 vertical stripes, but it is an important fact that 17 member nations officially bore arms as part of the U.N. forces in Korea (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Union of South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. Denmark and Italy provided medical support only). Approximately 1 million service members of the United Nations and South Korea combined participated in the action.
The clasp illustrated is in English, but the medal itself was issued with clasps and reverses in approximately a dozen different languages to accommodate the native languages of participating member nations. The blue-and-white ribbon design is common to all the various medals, except that the Turkish version often is seen with a simple dark red ribbon replacing the blue-and-white version, a symbolic rejection of a color scheme the Turks perceived as representing the flag of historical rival Greece.
ROK KOREAN WAR SERVICE MEDAL (Est 1999)
U.S. veterans of the Korean War
are eligible to
receive the Republic of Korea Korean War Service Medal
Criteria for award of the Republic of Korea Korean War Service Medal (ROK KWSM) have been established by the ROK government. To qualify for the medal, the veteran must have:
To obtain the medal, those who meet the criteria above must provide the US Air Force Personnel Center (contact information listed below) a copy of their discharge paper, commonly known as a "DD-214," or a corrected version of that document, a "DD-215." National Guard members must provide their statement of service equivalent, "NGB Form 22." Please only send copies of these documents, do not send original documents.
US Air Force Personnel Center contact information:
Office hours: Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (CST)
Telephone numbers: (800) 558-1404, (210) 565-2432/2520/2516, or fax (210) 565-3118
Mailing address: HQ AFPC/DPPPRA, 550 C Street West, Suite 12, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas 78150-4714
Web Page address: http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/awards/
To obtain information concerning your personnel records (e.g., DD Form 214 and medical records) contact the National Personnel Records Center. When requesting information, provide the veteran's full name, SSN, mailing address, applicable service number, branch of service, dates of service, type of information needed and the veteran's signature on request. Please forward all personnel records requests to:
National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63132-5295
COM: (314) 538-4200
FAX: (314) 538-4175
Korean War Medal
Recently, the Defense Department has announced that Korean War veterans may accept and wear the (Republic of Korea) War Service Medal.
It first was offered on Nov. 15, 1951, by the South Korean Minister of Defense to the Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations Command. The medal was intended for award to those who participated in the Korean War for at least 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days on or after June 25, 1950.
In his original offer, the Korean Minister of Defense stated that, "It is requested that you accept the Republic of Korea's recognition of the splendid service rendered by the United Nations command and delegate authority to commanders of forces of the nations fighting in Korea to award the Korean War Ribbon to members of their commands."
The United States acknowledged the offer but turned it down. Over the years many Korean War veterans had tried to get the Defense Department to accept the medal, but to no avail. In 1996 the Army noted that it could find no record that the Korean Government ever offered the medal to the Department of Defense, which was technically true: the original offer was made to the United Nations Command. The Army then took the position that unless the Korean Government resurrected their original offer, the Army was "not in a position to officially recognize or approve acceptance of the medal."
Interestingly, a number of other countries that participated in the Korean War did accept the medal, and examples are found in medals groups from those countries. On August 20, 1998, Francis M. Rush Jr., Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, approved the acceptance and wear of the Korean Service Medal.
To be eligible for this foreign award, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps personnel must have:
· served between the outbreak of hostilities, June 25, 1950, and the date the armistice was signed, July 27, 1953;
· been on permanent assignment or on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days; and
· performed their duty within the territorial limits of, in the waters immediately adjacent to or in aerial flight over Korea while supporting or participating in combat.
Further criteria will be set forth in an amendment to Uniform Regulations. A current copy of the medal is available but does not have the Taeguk (the traditional Korean Yin-Yang symbol) woven into the drape as the originals (shown above) do.
Tortuga's 1952, 53 Korean Cruise
5/20/52- SAN FRANCISCO TO PORT CHICAGO
TO LOAD AMMO
5/23/52- SAN DIEGO
7/21-23- PEARL HARBOR, T.H.
8/1/52- ENIWETOK ATOLL, MARSHALL ISLANDS
8/7/52- YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
8/21/52- MURORAN, HOKAIDO, JAPAN
8/22/52- OTARU, HOKAIDO, JAPAN
8/28/52- MURORAN, HOKAIDO, JAPAN
9/1/52- CAMP McGILL, JAPAN
9/18/52- CAMP McGILL, JAPAN
9/28/52- CHIGASAKI, JAPAN
10/6/52- OTARU, JAPAN
10/12/52- KANGNUNG, KOREA
10/15/52- KOJO, KOREA
10/16/52-POHANG DO, KOREA
10/16/52- KURYONG PO, KOREA
10/18/52- KURYONG PO, KOREA
10/20/52-CAMP McGILL, JAPAN
10/20/52- YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
10/27/52- NAMAZU, JAPAN ( SAGAMI BAY )
10/29/52- CAMP McGILL, JAPAN
10/29/52- YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
11/03/52- CAMP McGILL, JAPAN
11/04/52- CHIGASAKI, JAPAN
11/05/52- YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
11/06/52- CHIGASAKI, JAPAN
11/09/52- SASEBO, JAPAN
12/07/52- WONSON, KOREA
12/08/52- CHOMJIN, KOREA
12/09/52- WONSON, KOREA
12/17/52- SASEBO, JAPAN
12/19/52- INCHON, KOREA
12/23/52- YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
1/12/53- CAMP McGILL, JAPAN
1/17/53- CHIGASAKI, JAPAN
1/18/53- YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
2/15/53- SASEBO, JAPAN
2/18/53- PUSAN, KOREA
2/19/53- SASEBO, JAPAN
2/21/53- INCHON, KOREA
3/07/53- SASEBO, JAPAN
3/10/53- PUSAN, KOREA
3/11/53- SASEBO, JAPAN
3/13/53- OSAKA, JAPAN (R&R)
3/18/53- YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
3/31/53- ENIWETOK, MARSHALL ISLANDS
Tuesday, March 31, 1953 the USS Tortuga, LSD-26 left the harbor
4/01/53- BIKINI ATOLL, MARSHALL ISLANDS
4/02/53- ENIWETOK, MARSHALL ISLANDS
4/03/53- KWAJALEIN, MARSHALL ISLANDS
4/10/53- PEARL HARBOR, T.H.
4/20/53- SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
3rd Bn (Reinf.) 3rd Marines formed Battalion Landing Team 3/3. BLT 3/3 and Marine Air Group 13 including the Black Sheep Squadron and the Death Angels Squadron became part of Brig. Gen. James P. Riseley's 1st Marine Provisional Air-Ground Task Force. We boarded the USS TORTUGA, LSD 26 at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H. and sailed on 23 June, 1953, we arrived San Diego, CA. on 30 June, 1953.
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