USS Callaway, APA-35
A county in Missouri.
Builder: Western Pipe and Steel Company in San Francisco, California.
Beam: 69' 6"
Draft: 26' 6"
Displacement: 8,920 tons
Top speed: 18.4 knots
Armament: 2 x 5"/38 dual purpose; 4 x twin-mount 40mm; 12 x 20mm
The USS Callaway was one of twenty-nine C3 hulls completed as assault transports. They comprised the Bayfield class. Fitted with booms enabling them to launch landing craft, they carried a mixed armament of 5", 40mm and 20mm guns. All class members survived the war.
Callaway (APA-35) was launched 10 October 1942 as Sea Mink by Western Pipe and Steel Company, San Francisco, California. She was a Maritime Commission type hull (C3-S-A2) and was built under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 270). She was sponsored by Mrs. W. Manuell and was acquired by the Navy on 24 April 1943 and was commissioned that same day with a Coast Guard crew under the command of Captain D. C. McNeil, USCG.
Callaway sailed from Norfolk 23 October 1943 for San Diego and training with Marines in preparation for the first of her five assault landings. Joining Task Force 53 at Lahaina Roads, Hawaii, Callaway sailed for her baptism of fire at Kwajalein, where she landed troops in the assault that overwhelmed the defenders 31 January 1944. After staging at Guadalcanal, she proceeded combat-loaded for the occupation of Emirau where her troops landed 20 March. Transfers of troops and cargo in the Solomons and Ellices, and training at Pearl Harbor continued until 29 May, when Callaway got underway for her third assault invasion, the bloody inferno of Saipan, on 15 June. Laden with casualties, Callaway returned to Pearl Harbor to embark army troops for rehearsal landings at Guadalcanal, for which she sailed 12 August. On 17 September, with battle-tried skill the transport launched her troops in the assault on Angaur in the Palaus, then returned to Manus and New Guinea to prepare for her assignment to the first reinforcement echelon for the northern Leyte landings. Arriving in Leyte Gulf 22 October, Callaway landed her troops with the speed and ease born of experience, then retired through the raging Battle for Leyte Gulf for a month of operations supporting the Leyte campaign. These brought the transport back to Leyte 23 November, where she joined in driving off enemy air attacks as she disembarked her troops.
Preparations in New Guinea preceded in the Lingayen assault, in which Callaway distinguished herself as a member of the Blue Beach Attack Group. As the invasion force sailed north, desperate Japanese kamikaze attacks were launched in a determined effort to break up the landings, and on 8 January 1945, a suicide plane broke through heavy antiaircraft fire to crash on the starboard wing of Callaway 's bridge. Cool and skillful work against resulting fires kept material damage to a minimum, but 29 of Callaway 's crew were killed and 22 wounded. A number of her crew were decorated for their actions that day and their award citations give a good indication of the hell they went through.
Seaman Second Class Ralph E. Martin was posthumously awarded a Silver Star for: "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as a member of a gun crew on the U.S.S. CALLAWAY in action against Japanese forces in the Pacific on 8 January 1945. Manning his station aggressively when the vessel was attacked by Japanese suicide plane, he unhesitatingly relinquished all chance of escape as the plane plunged toward the target and remaining steadfastly at his gun, continued to direct his fire with unrelenting fury upon the enemy until carried away with his weapon by the terrific impact. With indomitable fighting spirit and unyielding devotion to duty in the valiant defense of his ship he gallantly gave his life for his country.
Seamen First Class Rollin A. Fritch, Charles J. Hughes, and Enio John Centofanti were also posthumously awarded Silver Stars when they too were killed manning their battle stations at anti-aircraft batteries that were hit by the kamikazes.
Despite the heavy loss of personnel, Callaway carried out her mission the next day with her usual competence. Temporary repairs at Ulithi put her back in action by early February, when she carried Marine reinforcements from Guam to Iwo Jima, and wounded from that battle scarred island back to Guam, arriving 8 March.
For the next 3 months, Callaway transported men and equipment between the bases and operating areas of the western Pacific, then embarked Japanese prisoners of war at Pearl Harbor, whom she carried to San Francisco, arriving 16 June 1945. After overhaul, she returned to Pearl Harbor 27 August, loaded occupation troops, and sailed to disembark them at Wakayama, Japan. Two transpacific voyages carrying homeward bound veterans ended with Callaway 's own return to San Francisco 12 March 1946. The transport then sailed to New York where her Coast Guard crew was removed on 10 May 1946.
For service in World War II, Callaway received six battle stars. She was sold back to the merchant marine in 1948 where she served as the President Harrison. She was scrapped in 1974.
Coast Guard At War: Volume V: Transports & Escorts, Part II. Washington, DC: U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Historical Section, Public Information Division, 1949.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.