U.S.S. Clay APA 39

By Milton L. Anderson ‘52

Image of Milton The U.S.S. Clay was commissioned at the Todd Shipyards, Hoboken, New Jersey on December 21, 1943.  She was classified as an Attack Transport, with a displacement of 16,100 tons (full load), length: 492’, beam: 74’6”, draft: 26’6”, speed: 18 knots, armament: 2 5”38 DP, 4x2 40mm, 12x2 20mm, and a complement of 575.  Her name was derived from the eighteen Clay Counties throughout the United States.  She sailed from Norfolk on January 27 1944 with the 22nd Marine Regiment and arrived at Pearl Harbor on February 15,1944.  This was the beginning of her more than 100,000 miles of war operations.

The following are excerpts taken from Milton Anderson’s history of the U.S.S. Clay APA 39 & U.S.S. Elizabeth C. Stanton PA 69.  Milton served as a machinist mate first class on the U.S.S. Clay.  In May of 1944 she was one of the American armada that went after the Japanese stronghold in the Marianas.  The U.S.S. Clay was the Flagship of a transport division of seven ships and carried the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division, together with the Regimental Headquarters Unit.

In June of 1944 she was part of a group of ships that executed successful feint landings off northwestern Saipan.  “No effort at realism was spared.  Boats were hoisted out and proceeded toward the beach in waves with no troops aboard.  The boats closed to 6,000 yards of the beach and returned to their parent ships without damage or casualty.  Intelligence reports later indicated that a substantial force of Japanese troops were diverted to repel this false landing.”

In October the U.S.S. Clay was part of a task force that was diverted for the invasion of the Philippines.  “Since the reconquest of the many Philippine Islands had started, there was no rest for the busy CLAY.  Her course led from Leyte to Kollandia, to Morotai, where for five nights Japanese aircraft flying from Halmahera kept the gun crew on alert.  Back to Leyte with vital reinforcements in personnel and supplies, CLAY unloaded in one day and departed 14 November for Manus and thence to Cape Gloucester, New Britain, where she dropped anchor in Borgen Bay 27 November to prepare for the invasion of Luzon at Lingayen Gulf.”

In April 1945 she took part in the assault on Okinawa.  “As Easter Day dawned, there was no time to reflect on the beauty of the day.  It was April 1st off Okinawa.  Aboard CLAY the busy personnel had little time to notice the flashing of guns, the roar of rockets and planes, the clatter of winches and cranes and the white plumes trailing wave after wave of boats as they carried the tense landing forces toward the columns of flame and smoke billowing into the sky over the shore.  The gigantic panorama of violence and coordinated strength displayed the power and spirit of an America that was not to be denied.”

She then left for San Francisco to prepare for the final assault on Japan.  She left San Francisco with 1,600+ replacements for the Philippine Islands.  “The day the Japanese emissaries came to Manila to effect surrender arrangements, CLAY was swinging around her anchor in hot Leyte Gulf.”  On September 8th, in a formation with other ships, she steamed into Tokyo Bay.  She continued training and transport duties and she took part in “Magic Carpet” duty, which brought back American fighting men from the far reaches of the Pacific to the U.S.A.  She was decommissioned in May of 1946.   The U.S.S. Clay received four battle stars for service in the Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign; American Theater Ribbon: Asiatic Pacific Ribbon, 4 bronze stars, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, 2 bronze stars.

University Archives, 701-231-8914
Published by the University Archives, NDSU
Last Updated: 8/27/04