USS Okaloosa (APA-219)
|Name:||USS Okaloosa (APA-219)|
|Namesake:||Okaloosa County, Florida|
|Laid down:||8 August 1944|
|Launched:||22 October 1944|
|Acquired:||28 November 1944|
|Commissioned:||28 November 1944|
|Decommissioned:||21 July 1949|
|Struck:||1 October 1958|
|One battle star for World War II service.|
|Class & type:||Haskell-class attack transport|
|Tonnage:||150,000 cu. ft, 2,900 tons|
|Displacement:||6,873 tons (lt), 14,837 t. (fl)|
|Propulsion:||1 x Westinghouse geared turbine, 2 x Combustion Engineering header-type boilers, 1 x propeller, designed shaft horsepower 8,500|
|Boats & landing
|2 x LCM, 12 x LCVP, 3 x LCPU|
|Capacity:||86 Officers 1,475 Enlisted|
|Crew:||56 Officers, 480 enlisted|
|Armament:||1 x 5"/38 caliber dual-purpose gun mount, 1 x quad 40mm gun mount, 4 x twin 40 mm gun mounts, 10 x single 20mm gun mounts|
|Notes:||MCV Hull No. 567, hull type VC2-S-AP5|
Okaloosa was named after an Okaloosa County, Florida. She was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MCV Hull 567) on 8 August 1944 by Permanente Metals Corporation of Richmond, California; launched 22 October 1944; acquired by the Navy on a loan charter basis 28 November 1944; and commissioned the same day, Capt. R. E. Jasperson in command.
World War II
Following commissioning and fitting out, Okaloosa departed Seattle with troops 26 January 1945 for Honolulu, then operated out of Pearl Harbor until sailing 29 March with Army units for Eniwetok, Ulithi, and Okinawa.
Invasion of Okinawa
She arrived off Okinawa 26 April and offloaded troops without incident during the next four days, despite frequent enemy air attacks. The transport then returned to the West Coast, arriving San Francisco 22 May. Her stay was short, however, and she embarked troops and cargo immediately, leaving 30 May for Manila and Leyte, Philippines.
Operation Magic Carpet
Assigned to Operation Magic Carpet on 16 November, Okaloosa sailed to Jinsen, Korea, took on her full capacity of returning troops, and sailed 30 November for Tacoma, Washington, arriving 17 December. Four days later, she entered Puget Sound Navy Yard for overhaul. She sailed 11 January 1946 via the Panama Canal for Norfolk, Virginia, arriving on the last day of the month. Also, on the 14th, she came under full ownership of the Navy.
For the next few years, Okaloosa operated out of Norfolk, many times with Marines from nearby bases. Three times, in June and July 1947 and June 1948, she conducted cruises for large numbers of east coast reservists, sailing to Bermuda on the last two. In addition, amphibious exercises took her to Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands on a number of month-long cruises and several shorter ones.
On 15 April 1949, Okaloosa sailed from Norfolk for Orange, Texas, and deactivation. After overhaul, she decommissioned on 21 July and entered the Texas Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 October 1958 and transferred to the Maritime Administration 23 September. In 1970, she was still berthed at Mobile, Alabama as part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet. Her final disposition is unknown. (The Okaloosa was decommissioned in 1977 and struck from Naval records.)
When the vessel was dismantled, its relics were salvaged and Baldwin County, Alabama requested the ship's bell for a war memorial at its satellite courthouse in Foley. On 4 January 2012, county officials of Okaloosa County will retrieve the bell from Foley for future display in front of the Northwest Florida Regional Airport terminal. In exchange, the U.S. Navy will present Baldwin County with the bell from the USS Peterson for its memorial. Okaloosa County will hold a dedication on 26 April 2012.
"The Baldwin County Commission has been extremely gracious," said Tracy Stage, projects manager for the airport, of the transfer of the bell. "We're bringing it back to Okaloosa County where it belongs. I can't think of a better way to recognize the Navy, the Marine Corps and all the veterans." Okaloosa County Judge T. Patterson Maney discovered the bell during a visit to Foley and has been working to bring it back to its namesake county.
Okaloosa received one battle star for World War II service.
- Barlow, Kari C., "Bell from USS Okaloosa to come to airport", Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Thursday 22 December 2011, Volume 65, Number 326, pages 1-2.