LST-783 Cruise Book

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LST-783 Cruise Book, A WWII Journal

Identify LST-783 crew members by moving the cursor over the crew photo.

Joseph Aloysius Simendinger CMoMM(AA) Lt jg Wayne Debeer Stores Officer Lt jg Fred L Hartman Gunnery Officer Lt jg Paul A Demkovich Asst 1st Lt Lt jg Robert G Walker 1st Lt Ensign Paul Edward Cox Jr Lt jg William C Marshall Engineering Ensign Chester A Jackson Jr Communications Lt Fredrick B Williams Exec & Navigator Lt Jack K McAllister Commanding Officer Charles Herman Gardner BM2/c Bufford Eldridge Larremore STM2/c Myron Raphael Connor MOMM1/c Armand Richard Girouard PHM1/c Michaelangelo Ferrier MOMM2/c Vincent Franchell RDM3/c Clarence Edward Wilson SC3/c Adam Charles Bruzgis F1/c Burdsall Canter S1/c Omar Williams Van Tassel BM2/c William Henry Clark PHM2/c Ralph Frank Mallozzi SK3/c Sylvester Biggs Fetner RM1/c Darwin Sherwood Minnich MOMM1/c Anthony Joseph Buffo Y3/c Joseph Nichols Goeders GM3/c Donald Alvin Karnosh QM3/c Carl Leverne Scott S2/c James Anthony Kelley S2/c Irvin Rappaport SF1/c William David Hutsell BKR3/c Ralph H. Thrasher MOMM1/c Richard Lee F1/c Kenneth Dryden S1/c Curtis Gribble F1/c Marvin Francis Hayes MOMM2/c John Irwin Hessler COX Lemar Joseph Hill FC2/c Cecil Grant Ketterman F1/c William Henry Lynn GM3/c Homer Samuel McLintock RDM3/c James Miller Montgomery F2/c Billy Stewart Orr MOMM2/c Paul Hollis Raymond MOMM2/c James Duel Spruiell S1/c Gaylord Humble S2/c Joseph Estes Shappard SC1/c Marvin Coyle Heffer GM1/c Melvin Ray Betts S1/c Franklin Henry Swanger BKR1/c Hugh Orville Horner S1/c LST-783 Crew photo August 1944
LST-783 Crew, August 14, 1944, New Orleans, Louisiana

Lt jg Wayne Debeer Stores Officer, Lt jg Fred L Hartman Gunnery Officer, Lt jg Paul A Demkovich Asst 1st Lt, Lt jg Robert G Walker 1st Lt, Ensign Paul Edward Cox Jr, Lt jg William C Marshall Engineering, Ensign Chester A Jackson Jr Communications, Lt Fredrick B Williams Exec & Navigator, Lt Jack K McAllister Commanding Officer, Joseph Aloysius Simendinger CMoMM(AA), Charles Herman Gardner BM2/c, Bufford Eldridge Larremore STM2/c, Myron Raphael Connor MOMM1/c, Armand Richard Girouard PHM1/c, Michaelangelo Ferrier MOMM2/c, Vincent Franchell RDM3/c, Clarence Edward Wilson SC3/c, Adam Charles Bruzgis F1/c, Burdsall Canter S1/c, Omar Williams Van Tassel BM2/c, William Henry Clark PHM2/c, Ralph Frank Mallozzi SK3/c, Sylvester Biggs Fetner RM1/c, Darwin Sherwood Minnich MOMM1/c, Anthony Joseph Buffo Y3/c, Joseph Nichols Goeders GM3/c, Donald Alvin Karnosh QM3/c, Carl Leverne Scott S2/c, James Anthony Kelley S2/c, Irvin Rappaport SF1/c, William David Hutsell BKR3/c, Ralph H. Thrasher MOMM1/c, Richard Lee F1/c, Kenneth Dryden S1/c, Curtis Gribble F1/c, Marvin Francis Hayes MOMM2/c, John Irwin Hessler COX, Lemar Joseph Hill FC2/c, Cecil Grant Ketterman F1/c, William Henry Lynn GM3/c, Homer Samuel McLintock RDM3/c, James Miller Montgomery F2/c, Billy Stewart Orr MOMM2/c, Paul Hollis Raymond MOMM2/c, James Duel Spruiell S1/c, Gaylord Humble S2/c, Joseph Estes Shappard SC1/c, Marvin Coyle Heffer GM1/c, Melvin Ray Betts S1/c, Franklin Henry Swanger BKR1/c,  Hugh Orville Horner S1/c

The following is a segment from LST-783 Cruise Book, A WWII Journal  that entwines the ship’s official deck log entries, my father’s journal notes and features writings from Captain Lt. Jack McAllister to his wife during the war offering an unprecedented look at his ship, officers, crew and life aboard a Large Slow Target. This is the only accounting of the perils and adventures of the LST-783 and her crew and is available only through our website.

6 DEC 44 – Kelly - Today we arrived at Tarragona Beach, which is ruler straight and nearly 30 miles long. The Palm trees here stand straight up and are 100 feet high. Our ship is the first ship on the right on the beach; nine other LSTs are on our port side, also on the beach. USS Duffy (DE-27), USS Martin (DE-30) and the two YMSs at anchor behind us; USS Martin (DE-30) was the assigned Fire Control Ship. It seemed like we had air raids all day long. Every time we’d succumb from General Quarters, bong-bong it’s another General Quarters so finally we just stayed at General Quarters with guns cocked, loaded and waiting; we never got any rest from then on. We got our first taste of action today, shooting down a Japanese “Betty” Mitsubishi two-engine medium bomber with a crew of seven. USS Martin (DE-30) said fire and all 10 LSTs opened up on the Betty. My gun, on the port side, couldn’t. We were facing the other LSTs so we just lay on the deck as 20mms and 40mms were whizzing overhead toward the Japanese plane only a few hundred yards off our starboard side. We were throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at him as he pulled up above the hundred foot trees, smoking and heading inland, down the coast above the trees. He crashed five miles down the beach. The co-pilot was the only one alive. The tail gunner didn’t even have his head. I admit I was scared! The Japanese were actually bombing Tacloban, the capitol of Leyte, up the beach, about five miles. A liberty ship got another plane off shore with his 20mms and the plane just blew up in the air - 0245 land sighted bearing 300º, distance about 12 miles; 0340 sounded General Quarters; 0556 secured from General Quarters; 0816 sounded General Quarters; 1023 anchored 1.5 miles off Tarragona, Leyte, traveled 1327 miles; 1150 secured from General Quarters; 1302 underway to beach on Leyte Island; 1316 beached off Tarragona; 1330 LST-479 beached alongside to port; 1336 commenced unloading U. S. Army cargo; 1625 sounded General Quarters; 1635 all engines ahead one-third to remain beached; 1702 secured from General Quarters; 1835 went to General Quarters, enemy planes in the area; 1840 opened fire on enemy planes; 1842 ceased fire; 2145 secured from General Quarters; 2315 sounded General Quarters; 2335 secured from General Quarters - McAllister - You should see the place, it’s beautiful, but we won’t be here long and our beer is running low, only about 80 cases left. We’ve been getting beer for the crew and allowing them to drink it ashore at various places where there isn’t such thing. You can sell it here for $50 a can. Can you believe it? Money means absolutely nothing to these boys. As I imagined there are no post offices here so I’ll have to wait ‘til we get back to mail this episode. The Army troops were fine to have aboard, no trouble at all and the officers sure hated to leave this paradise. It is 2200, we just finished a nice air raid, and I’m dead tired. The ‘Japs’ really came in this time and still not a bit of damage to the ship. We’re sitting ducks here on the beach, but these ships put up such a terrific anti-aircraft barrage that they don’t come near us as it would be suicide. We shot down the only one that dared. You can bet that God has been with us every minute. Those boys on the guns are really good! For a while, it looked like the Fourth of July; you never saw so much ammo in the sky. It was a little bit of excitement and a few moments away from the monotony of it all.

7 DEC 44 – Kelly - Nothing but air raids all day. This afternoon the invasion of Mindoro, PI, is leaving the harbor. This convoy, plus others will go around through Surigao Straight and onto Mindoro to launch another invasion in the Philippine Island area. The invasion of Ormac Bay is taking place today on the other side of Leyte - 0000 beached on Tarragona, ships head 278º; 0030 sounded General Quarters; 0108 secured from General Quarters; 0215 sounded General Quarters; 0345 secured from General Quarters; 0800 Mustered at Quarters, no absentees; 1100 published the finding and sentence in the case of Simmons, J. G. Jr., sleeping on watch, guilty, to perform 60 hours extra police duty and to lose $15 per month for 4 months, total loss of pay amounting to $60. Published the finding and sentence in the case of Stanek, P. E., sleeping on watch, guilty, reduction to next inferior rating and to lose $15 per month for 3 months, total loss of pay amounting to $45; 1205 sounded General Quarters; 1210 secured from General Quarters; 1223 sounded General Quarters; 1229 opened fire on strange aircraft; 1230 ceased fire; 1418 secured from General Quarters; 1643 sounded General Quarters; 1655 secured from General Quarters; 1703 retracted from beach; 1733 anchored in Leyte Gulf about 2.2 miles off Tarragona; 1845 small boat alongside, commenced loading stores; 2000 General Quarters for half hour, 1500 rounds of ammo expended; 2032 secured from General Quarters; 2200 General Quarters one hour, 1000 rounds of ammo expended; 2255 secured from General Quarters - McAllister - The whole ship has been sacking in as we got no sleep at all last night. It’s only noon now, but I find that I have to try to get a letter off between raids here and they have six or seven of those damn alerts each day. Even now, I can scarcely keep the papers open. I’ll be ready to move off the ship in one hour when those orders come. Nothing could please me more. I must go eat as they just piped “Chow Down.” It’s been a couple hours as there were two air raids and by the time we got back the food was cold. The first decent meal since the Army left. Pork Chops, mashed potatoes and peas. It’s been three years of war today. How much more will we have to go through? Oh how I pray that it will all be over soon. As I suspected, we were up most all night last night, one air raid after another, but as usual, they didn’t amount to anything. Not a single ship was damaged. We should be leaving here very soon now too, as soon as we’re unloaded. It has been raining here the entire time. I’ll be glad to get out of here. I don’t like sitting on the beach.

8 DEC 44 – Kelly - It was another day of constant General Quarters. Six miles out in the Gulf, three Corsairs shot down a Japanese “Kate” torpedo bomber and a high altitude bomber today. USS Duffy (DE-27) went to the rescue and took the Japanese pilot to Tacloban. We received word today that the night we shot down the Betty Bomber he was so low that the 10 LSTs firing at it also hit the tree tops of the Palm Trees, killing seven of our soldiers, three natives and injuring eleven soldiers and 14 natives on the beach. It was a tough break that couldn’t be helped - 0830 sounded General Quarters; 0952 secured from General Quarters; 1037 YMS-288 alongside the port side to receive fuel, water and provisions; 1138 sounded General Quarters; 1252 secured from General Quarters; 1528 YMS-288 underway after receiving fuel, water and provisions - McAllister - We received another honor, a feather for the cap today. That plane that we knocked out that night was confirmed and now we’re painting a nice ‘Jap’ flag with a plane under it on our Conn. How bout that? It didn’t take long and we officially have a Japanese Bomber to our credit. Not bad, I say. The air raids are still averaging seven a day, but it seems useless. They don’t hit anything, but we knock down a couple each day without fail. Honestly, the crew looks forward to it. It’s like a big game to see who can knock down the most. The only bad thing is that it’s awfully annoying. I’m usually in the shower, in the head, shaving or in the sack or something. Tomorrow is another Captain’s Inspection. They seem to roll around quicker now and the weeks seem to slip by quickly while time in general seems to lag. It’s hard to explain. Another good game of bridge tonight, we’ve been playing it quite consistently as of late. After the “victory” of the plane shot down the whole crew seems to be in good spirits even with the morbid, depressing, torrential, drizzle that seems to persist day and night. The weather is cool in the evening and one puts in a restful night. Even I seem to be slightly lifted tonight.

9 DEC 44 – Kelly - This morning we were at General Quarters waiting for Japanese planes when four Marine Corsair F4 fighter planes popped over Olmog Mountain heading for us and out to sea. No one knew for sure if they were Japanese or ours. Some trigger-happy Army guy opened up with a .50 caliber machine gun so all ten LSTs opened up on them. Our gun 6 (aft twin 40mm) was on the tail of the third Corsair and getting closer with each shell when the order to cease-fire came. They say the last shot was two feet off his tail - 1700 sounded General Quarters; 1706 secured from General Quarters; 1714 sounded General Quarters; 1812 secured from General Quarters - McAllister - Today has been a very dreary day, drizzling and overcast. As a result of the poor fly conditions, the ‘Japs’ haven’t bothered us today so all is quite peaceful for a change. You’ve never seen such miserable weather it rains all the time. We’re ready to leave now so we should be shoving off soon. Captain’s Inspection was very routine. The ship looked fine so this afternoon we’re on “Holiday Routine” where everyone just takes it easy. The usual four of us played bridge all afternoon and I never seem to get tired of that game.

10 DEC 44 – 0831 got underway for San Jose, Leyte Island; 1011 anchored 1.5 miles southeast of San Jose, Leyte Island - McAllister - It stopped raining for a few minutes once today. We have been very lucky today with few General Quarters. Things have been completely dull today; only three raids and they didn’t even come within range. As a matter of fact, we spent the afternoon playing seven rubbers of the most cutthroat bridge you can imagine. You’d think we were playing for a dollar a point instead of 1/20th of a cent. I still have complete control of my nerves and this is a lot less strain than New Orleans and the shakedown. Even school at Washington was a nightmare compared to this. At long last, we got the laundry fixed. I have clean clothes at last. I bet I spent an hour in the shower tonight, shave, sh--, whoops, shampoo, etc. The food is better now that we’re rid of the Army. The sly old Supply Officer is very clever and was holding out on us. Ensign Walker just came in to chat, he can’t sleep. He’s quite a little guy. He loves to reminisce about old times and places.

11 DEC 44 – 1030 held Captain’s Mast - Stark, H. J., shirking duty, punishment, 20 hours extra duty - Wolford, G. C., insubordination and shirking duty, punishment, 35 hours extra duty; 1038 Captain’s Mast adjourned; 1118 USS Martin (DE-30) alongside to starboard for refueling; 1630 finished refueling USS Martin (DE-30) that got underway from alongside to starboard; 1713 sounded General Quarters; 1718 secured from General Quarters - McAllister - There isn’t the slightest bit of Xmas spirit out here naturally, just the usual day’s routine. Fortunately the ‘Nips’ haven’t bothered us much the last couple days and I’ve managed a divine nine hours sleep each night, which has helped pass the time away. As a matter of fact, all we’ve been doing is eating, sleeping and playing bridge. I had expected to be out of here by now, but there is a delay somewhere. We should be on our way in a day or so though.

12 DEC 44 – 1333 LCT-882 alongside to starboard; 1420 LCT-822 got underway from alongside to starboard; 2000 Latitude 10° 59’ N Longitude 125° 05’ E, sounded General Quarters; 2020 secured from General Quarters - McAllister - This is certainly a strange war, just to think, here we sit literally bored to death with inactivity and just a few miles from here is the front lines. Now and then of course, there are air raids, but such futile attempts that they are actually laughed away. Yes, it’s hard to figure out and I suppose there’s no use cluttering up my little head with the reasons why. So many strange things happen that I don’t dare mention or discuss. The Pacific, to coin a phrase, stinks.

13 DEC 44 – 0342 sounded General Quarters; 0356 secured from General Quarters; 0800 Mustered at Quarters, no absentees; 1115 made all preparations for getting underway, anchor at short stay; 1302 LCI-361 along port side to transfer naval personnel as passengers; 1309 LCI-361 away from port side; 1337 underway in accordance with Fleet Order # 1-44, Task Unit 94.4.1 enroute from Leyte Gulf to Ulithi, Caroline Islands in company with LSTs 244 (flag), 38, 45, 71, 130, 275, 450, 479, 484 and escorted by USS Duffy (DE-27), USS Martin (DE-30), YMS-163 and YMS-288; 1600 Homonhon Island off port bow about 10 miles distant - McAllister - At last, we are underway and for the very first time since we’ve been out here, we’re heading east. I’ll admit that I’m glad to be going away from this last stop. The air raids, etc., pretty much kept us on the edge all the time, but already we’ve left it well behind us. Not a thing happened through the day and with my getting up at daybreak, I’m just about dead on my feet. We loaded 57 passengers, the only survivors of the Destroyer USS Mahan (DD-364) which was sunk 7 DEC at Ormac Bay. Reportedly, nine ‘Jap’ suicide planes dove at her from 1500 feet. The Mahan shot down six of them in their dive down. The planes didn’t have any bombs, but they were full of gas. Planes hit the bow, the conning tower and the stern. Ammo was going off everywhere. Abandon ship, at least those left alive. Destroyer USS Walke (DD-723) picked them up and let the Mahan have a torpedo, which broke the ship in two. The stern sank right away, but it took nineteen rounds of 5.5 shells to sink the bow and that was with all the ammo exploding in it also.

Please visit the Midway to order your copy of LST-783 Cruise Book, A WWII Journal.


Here's Joey with LST-783 shipmates.

Don Karnosh & Joey Kelly
Don Karnosh

Captain Jack McAllister
Captain Jack McAllister -
Also Joey with the Captain's Son Jack McAllister Jr.
Raymond Jones & Joey Kelly
Raymond E. Jones
Sylvester Biggs Fetner & Joey Kelly Gaylord Humble & Joey Kelly Lacy Adams & Joey Kelly Harry Sonnefeldt & Joey Kelly Emmett Kelly Jr. in the Navy

Sylvester Biggs Fetner

Gaylord Humble

Audrey Lacy Adams

Harry Sonnefeldt

Emmett Kelly Jr.

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