Memories of serving on the USS Terrell County LST

By Al Berg


Our Founding secretary and engine room mechanic, Al Berg still with a wrench in his hands, then and now.


                        Memories of serving on the USS Terrell County LST-1157

I was transferred from the USS Point Defiance LSD-31 to the USS Terrell County in April 1961.

While flying to Japan in a Navy C-121 (Super Connie.) the plane commander came around asking everyone where they were headed?  When I told him an LST he replied, “Oh they probably aren’t underway much or go far.”  (Remember this.)

Finally arriving in Yokosuka, Japan and finding out the ship was gone, flew out the following day to Okinawa where I caught up with the ship on 15 April 1961.
We went from Okinawa to the Philippines, Borneo, Philippines, Hong Kong, Okinawa and finally arriving back at our home port of Yokosuka in June 1961.  (Never underway or go far much?)

Landing Ship Squadron Nine was formed 1 July 1960 onboard the Terrell County while underway for Japan.  CLSR-9 consisted of eight 1156 class LST’s, forward deployed with it’s home port being Yokosuka, Japan.
     USS Terrell County LST-1157 (Flagship)
     USS Tom Green County LST-1159
     USS Vernon County LST-1161
     USS Washoe County LST-1165
     USS Washtenaw County LST-1166
     USS Westchester County LST-1167
     USS Whitfield County LST-1169
     USS Windham County LST-1170

While serving onboard, which was pre-Viet-Nam and was mostly still known as French Indo-China to the majority of the crew and not really even thought about, other than we had some advisors stationed there,

The ships at that time were manned by a peace time complement and average between 120-130 crew members, not including the CLSR-9 Staff complement.
If we were to go out for gunfire practice only two of the three mounts could be fully manned.  After Mount-31 would fire, its crew would shift over to Mount-32 and then fire its guns.  In those days gunfire was very minimal and only enough rounds would be fired to qualify for any required scores.

In-port upkeep time was the busiest for the engine room crews having to hold PM’s (Preventive Maintenance) on the engines.  Every 600 hours of operation 2 cylinders units would have to be pulled out of the engines to insure bearings, liners and piston rings were with in tolerance.  If we had been underway for weeks on end, that could mean up to six units per engine had to be pulled and checked and it usually took at least two full working days to do two units.
What fun that was to torque down a main-bearing after reinstalling.  One man lying on the deck plates holding the socket on the nut, while three others pulled on the torque wrench, extended with a four foot piece of pipe to get the main bearing nuts torqued to 600 foot pounds.

Being underway and the ship rolling in heavy seas wasn’t fun either.  The messenger of the watch running from Port to Starboard exhaust trunks to vent the air from the seawater intakes as they came out of the water and the top watch ready to jump over the hydraulic clutches to reset the governor overspeed trip if the propellers came out of the water and the engines over-sped and tripped off line.

Then there were the good times.  Bar hopping in Yokosuka, especially when no Aircraft Carrier was import and the prices dropped.  Japanese whiskey and water for 100 yen. (about 30 cents)  Going to the EM club when the “Gay Little Hearts” were appearing and the cute guitar player/singer.
The first time in Bangkok when we were hosted by the Thai Navy and all of the tours, shopping and the Sans-Suki bathhouse.  (say no more!)
The second trip to Bangkok to load cargo and on the way back to Subic Bay avoiding going on the tank deck because it was full of 500 pound bombs, as if that would make any difference if they blew up.
Hong Kong and all of its low prices, the patent leather shoes that usually fell apart with in a couple of months.  At the EM club and mixing and drinking with British, Australian and New Zealand sailors.   The tram ride up to Victoria peak, eating at a floating restaurant in Aberdeen, the Mainland Kowloon tour and looking over the heavily fenced and guarded border into Red China.

Oh yes there were the good times and the bad times.

Alfred Berg
EN2 USS Terrell County LST-1157