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 545th MP Company

1st Cavalry Division

 

 

545th MP Company and US Navy

A Pictorial History

 

As of January 26, 2012

 



I recently sent out an email with a little information concerning the frequent use of the Navy as a mode of transportation for both individual 545th MPís as well as the entire unit and received several emails in response. One of them in particular was from a 545th veteran who had also served in the Navy and he thoughtfully recommended some corrections to my ill informed and unstudied information pertaining to Navy ships. Hopefully, this pictorial history will clear up any misunderstandings or misrepresentations I may have published earlier.

When a soldier or his unit is assigned to a new post or deployment, the common form of transportation today is either civilian or Military Aircraft. This was not always the case. The writer of this document remembers when he was a young private being sent to Germany from AIT for his first unit assignment on the USS Rose which was an old WW II Troop Transport. We left New York in February of 1961 and the trip across the North Atlantic took 14 days. The bunks were hung on chains and were twelve high. If the man on the top bunk puked, everyone below got splattered. We did get to go topside once a day for an hour (weather permitting) for some fresh air while they hosed down the troop areas. If you were not a Sergeant Major or above, thatís how you were billeted on shipboard and there were no exceptions. The chow was excellent, but you had to remember to hold on to your coffee cup in the high seas as it tended to slide around a bit on the mess deck if you didnít

Most of these old troop transports were converted WW I freighters, oilers or fire ships or in some cases old cruisers or even in a few cases old aircraft carriers. Towards the end of WW II they did build some newer ones, but they all went to the European Theater. The following are some photos of the type of Troop Carrier that was used to transport our troops to the Pacific during WW II.

Once our Cav troopers received their jungle training and new equipment in Australia, they were shipped out to the Pacific Islands in Troop Transports and then off loaded onto what were called ADPís as shown here below. This one just happens to be a converted WW I Cruiser.

United States Ship USS Monticello AP 61 Build in 1928 and operated by a US Coast Guard Crew

 

 

US Army Transport USAT George Washington Build in 1908 and Manned by a Merchant Marine Crew

 

 

United States Ship USS General J.R. Brooks (AP312) Build in 1943 and manned by a US Navy Crew

 

 

Cav Troopers prepare to ship out for the Australia in the Pacific

 

Once our Cav troopers received their jungle training and new equipment in Australia, they were shipped out to the Pacific Islands in Troop Transports and then off loaded onto what were called ADPís as shown here below. This one just happens to be a converted WW I Cruiser

 

To actually get to the island the MP Platoon had to off load into an LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) as seen in the photo above. The Division Provost Marshal  actually had his PMO shop set on one of these vessels initially.

  

The USS General Freeman departs Seattle, Washington with 545th MP's on board headed for Japan 1948

 

US Troop Transport General M.M. Patrick on which many of our 545th MP's traveled to Japan in 1948

 

545 MP's returning from Japan and Korea were often shipped aboard one of the transport mentioned

above and when they arrived in San Francisco Bay were brought ashore by one of the many smaller vessels like the

Ferry Yerba Buena shown above.

 

545th MP Company unloading on the beach in Korea 1950

 

545th MP Directing traffic on the beach in Korea 1950

 

545th MP's hit the beach in Korea 1951

 

US Navy Assault Group headed to Iwo Jima from Japan with the 545th on board for amphibious landing training in 1956

 

The final phase of troop and supply movement to Vietnam centered on the bulk of the 1st Cavalry Division departing Ft. Benning, GA and deploying by troop and cargo ships of the Military Sea Transport Service. Approximately 13,500 men and their cargo left Columbus, GA by train and bus to staging areas at port cities in the Southeastern United States. Six troop ships, seven cargo ships and four aircraft carriers were employed in the over water movement. The 2st Brigade loaded on the Unites States Navy Ship (USNS) Geiger, the 2nd Brigade and an Artillery Battalion loaded on the USNS Buckner and the 3rd Brigade on the USNS Rose. The remainder of the Division, including elements of the Support Command, Aviation Group and the various combat units loaded on the USNS Darby, Patch and Upshure. On 16 August, the USNS Bucker and USNS Darby departed Charleston, SC. The other four troop ships departed over the next four days from Charleston, SC. and Savannah, GA.

The 470 aircraft of the division were loaded on the Carries USNS Kula Gulf, USNS Croaton, USNS Card and the USNS Boxer. The Boxer, carried a total of 239 aircraft, fifty seven Chinooks (CH-47ís), four Flying Cranes (CH-54ís) six Mohawks (OV-1íS) fifty Hueys (UH1ís) and one hundred twenty-two Sioux (OH-13ís). On 11 August, the first of the carries, the USNS Croaton sailed from Mobile, AL. The remaining three departed on subsequent days. The USNS Card left Mobile, Al and the USNS Boxer and USNS Kula Gulf sailed from Mayport Naval Station at Jacksonville, FL. the sea movement through the Suez Canal. The other aircraft carriers and troop ships sailed west through the Panama Canal, stopping at the island of Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines

 

Not only did a great number of 1st Cav troopers travel to Vietnam in US Navy vessels, but once we got there, we shortly again loaded up in sea going vessels and went from North to South in them.

 

One of the old WWII Jeep Carriers (probably the USNS Boxer) which were taken out of moth balls to transport the Helicopters of the 1st Cav Div entering the Panama Canal August 6, 1965.

 

SSG Raymond L. Beaudrot, 2nd Platoon Sergeant, 545th MP Company aboard the US NS Darby which is the troop transport that most of the members of the 545th traveled on enroute to Vietnam in 1965.  SSG Beaudort returned to CONUS early due to the death of his father.

 

 

545th MP's pass through the Panama Canal August 6, 1965

 

One of the Locks in the Panama Canal as seen by the 545th MP's August 6, 1965

 

Locks on the West Side of the Panama Canal as seen by the 545th MP;s August 6, 1965

 

On Sunday, 5 September 1965, the Captain and crew of the USNS Barby provided a Victory dinner for the members of the 1st Cav Div, Air Moble aboard ship and the 545th MP's were there as well.

 

Victory Dinner Menu

 

News Clipping approx September 12, 1965

 

545th MP's approaching Qui Nhon, Vietnam and can finally see land. Septem 13, 1965.

 

MG Kennard and BG Knowles board the USNS William O. Darby in Qui Nhon Harbor as 545th MP's provide scort and security September 13, 1965

 

Not only did a great number of 1st Cav troopers travel to Vietnam in US Navy vessels, but once we got there, we shortly again loaded up in sea going vessels and went from North to South in them.

 

One of the many naval vessels that carried the 545th to the southern sector of Vietnam and it did not end there.

 

 

 

On 4 August, the USNS Soderman (see photo above), a roll-on, roll-off ship, belonging to the US Military Sealift Command, three football fields long and fifteen stories in height from keel to bridge, was loaded in Beaumont, Texas. The First Cavalry Division which included the 545th MP Company was on its way to Bosnian peacekeeping duties ahead of schedule, with the help from MTMC who arranged to move the equipment for the Division via the Adriatic Sea Ė instead of a traditional approach through Northern Europe. The bold move through the Croatian port of Rijeka saved two weeks of transit time for the ďFirst TeamĒ soldiers and equipment.

For the USNS Soderman, the distant port of Rijeka drew closer by the hour. As the ship approached the lands of the former country of Yugoslavia, the personnel of the MTMC were joined by some new and valuable partners, military and civilian. The military partners included the 21st Theater Area Command (TAACOM) of Kaiserslautern, Germany, who was charged with the responsibility of setting up a small city to speed the transition from ship unloading to onward movement to Bosnia.

 

USNS Soderman unloading at the Port of Rijeka. All information and photos of USNS Soderman were provided by the 1st Cavalry Division Association. Persian Gulf War, Southwest Asia.

 

USNS Capella

USNS Capella, a Roll On, Roll Off Vessel.

 

On 07 August 1990, a deployment order for the Southwest Asia operations was issued. The order called for the division to be attached to the XVIII Airborne Corps to reinforce Saudi Arabia and organize for combat operations. Plans calling for the division to deploy by 15 September extended the work day to 14, 16 and in some cases 24 hours. On schedule, by mid September over 800 heavy loaded vehicles were loaded at the Fort Hood railhead to make the trip to the seaports of Houston and Beaumont. An additional 4,200 vehicles formed road conveys that left every two hours, around the clock. Most of the equipment and vehicles for the 545th MP Company were shipped aboard the USNS Capella as seen in the photo shown above.

 

 

So the next time you are strapped into an aircraft and think ďMan Ė Iím stuck in this plane for another 18 hoursĒ, just remember the soldiers who had to ride the waves for days or weeks on end down in the bowels of some ship!

Personal thanks to SFC Mac McCarty who served in the 545th in Japan from 1955 to 1956 and had prior Service in the US Navy for keeping me on the right path with these navel vessels.

Additionally, for everyoneís information we have in our membership probably the only living US Army Vessel Master and Pilot retired, WO Patrick E. McClendon who as a Corporal in the 545th MP Company in Japan who has on occasion reminded me that the 545th was occasionally water borne.


Sam Reinert
CPT MP USAR (Ret)
Founder
545th Military Police Company Association
626 1/2 South 9th Street
Richmond, Indiana 47374 USA

 

 

        
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