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1 June, 1945
The LCS-111 In Action Off Okinawa, 2001
After D-Day, the U.S. Navy took stock of what had gone right and what had gone wrong with the landings at Normandy. One of many problems that they considered was the need for close-in fire support for the amphibious craft that landed troops and vehicles on the beach. In 1944 and 1945, 130 Landing Craft Support (LCS) ships were built to support landing operations in the Pacific, including a possible invasion of the Japanese home islands.
Roughly one third the size of a destroyer, each of these ships carried more armament for its size than any other type of ship - rockets, 40- and 20- millimeter cannon, and .50 caliber machine guns. They were manned by a mixture of Navy and Navy Reserve crews, mostly new recruits seasoned with combat veterans brought back from the Pacific. One of these veterans was my father. At 16, he had lied about his age to enlist in the navy, had served in the Solomons and Marshall Islands, and been promoted to Chief Petty Officer.
When the LCS-111 steamed out of Maryland, part of a flotilla headed for Panama and the Pacific, Dad was the youngest man aboard, the ranking NCO, and the only combat veteran. In May of 1945, the 111 joined other ships patrolling off Okinawa, where the Japanese had begun to use kamikaze attacks against ships supporting the invasion if the island.
From an after-action report dated 1 June 1945 - Nakagisuko Wan (Now Buckner Bay), Okinawa:
At approximately 0800 hours LCS-111 observed a plane flying slowly off to starboard. Shortly afterward the anchorage came under attack by four Tonys (Japanese Kawasaki Hien-61"Swallow" fighters). The USS Sandoval, APA-194 (a Haskell-class attack transport) suffered a kamikaze strike to her superstructure. A second kamikaze veered away from the anchorage under fire from the 3- and 5-inch guns of the transports and onto the 111's guns.
I made this Photoshop drawing to be presented at a reunion of the 111's crew in 2011. The ocean, sky and land are stock photo images (the part of Okinawa is played by Catalina Island) but the ships and aircraft were drawn in Photoshop from photos.