SHIP'S HISTORY

 

USS BEXAR


 (APA/LPA-237)


     


                                                           


 


 


    Highlights of her 25 years of active service are as follows:


 


Late 1945/February 1946


      She joined the Magic Carpet Fleet and participated in returning WWII troops home from the Pacific theatre of action.


 


Early 1946


      After a brief tour of duty in the San Diego area she was ordered to Pearl Harbor to take part in Operation Crossroads, the atomic bomb tests.  In June she proceeded to Bikini Atoll where she served as the flagship and equipment supply support center in conjunction with that testing.


 


August 1946


      Returned to ConUS for radioactivity testing and was cleared for duty by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in January of '47 and then transited the Panama Canal enroute Norfolk, VA.


 


January 1947


      Transferred to Commander Amphibious Forces Atlantic, AmphibiousGroupTwo and was home-ported in Norfolk, VA. and took part in Operation Frigid in Newfoundland just prior to Thanksgiving. She remained with the Atlantic fleet for the remainder of '47 ranging in duty from the Canal Zone, south, to as far north as Argentia, Newfoundland.


 


December 1947/February 1948


      Embarked units of the 2nd Marines, at Morehead City, N.C.,  for their deployment to Malta and subsequent transfer to units of the 6th Fleet.


 


 


 


August 1948


      On 14 August, at ceremonies held aboard the Bexar, ComPhibTwo presented the ship and crew with the coveted Meatball ("E" for excellence) and all hands shared in prize money awarded.


 


Fall of 1949


      Participated in amphibious Operation Miki in the Hawaiian Islands.


     


 


December 1949


      Participated  in cold-weather exercises, as part of COMTRANSDIV-22, along with the USS Fremont(APA-44), USS Randall(APA-224) and the USS Colonial(LSD-20).


      Note: In this era, between WWII and the Korean War (ludicrously known then as a United Nations “police action”) she won the coveted Meatball,  a battle efficiency pennant, on two separate occasions.


 


August 1950


      With hostilities in Korea commencing in June she was ordered to Crete in August 1950 and embarked Marines for the long trip to Japan via the Suez Canal and then the Red Sea, India Ocean and the South China Sea.


 


September/October 1950


      Participated in the Inchon and Wonson landings in Korea and the evacuation of Chinnampo and Inchon.


 


October 1951/January 1952


      Operated in various ports between Japan and Korea rotating and landing troops including those of the 5th Calvalry Division and the 45th Division.


     


August 1953


      Arrived at Koji Do, Korea and assumed the role of flagship in support of Operation Big Switch, the prisoner movement from Koji Do to Inchon.


 


February 1955


      Arrived at Ta’ Chen Islands and participated in the evacuation of Chinese Nationalists to Formosa taking over 3,000 refugees on board.  Destination: KeeLung, Formosa.


      Note: By the time she left Korea in April of 1955 the Bexar had received three battle stars.


 


Summer of 1956


      Won the red ‘E’ for High Engineering Efficiency.


 


 


November of 1957


       Embarked elements of 3rd BN, 1st Marines at Naha, Okinawa emroute Dingalen Bay, Republic of the Philipines, for participation in PHIBLINK.


 


February of 1958


      Participated in Operation Strongback, a large post-war amphibious exercise held in the Philippine Islands.


 


Summer of 1958


      Won the Assault Boat Coxswain Award, the battle Efficiency Award and added a hashmark to her red ‘E’.


 


October 1958


      Arrived in Seattle, WA. and took Army troops on board for Operation Rocky Shoals.


 


August 1959


      The Bexar crew endured oppressive heat (to 108 degrees), working rare ‘tropical hours’ participating in Operation Saddle-Up and landing Marines in Borneo.


 


June/August 1960


      The Bexar was in Pearl Harbor and joined in celebrating the admission of Hawaii as the 50th State in the Union.  Following deployment to WestPac she responded to a request for emergency assistance from the governor of Pangasinan Province, Luzon Is., Republic of the Philippines.  This was the first emergency landing in the fabled Lingayen Gulf area since World War II and was a significant effort at aiding the people of that province.


 


 



September 1960


 


      In Djakarta, Indonesia the Bexar receives Pres. Sukarno and his wife and embarks 1,150 officers and men for transport to the Republic of the Congo in support of a United Nations mission, Operation SEA LIFT, to quell the Mau-Mau hostilities in Leopoldville. For this she was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.


Immediately thereafter the Bexar was assigned a "People-to-People" cruise and made ports of call on the West Coast of Africa and in South America.


Note: By the time the Bexar returned back to her home port of San Diego on 4 December 1960 she had become the first US amphibious vessel to circle the globe on one continuous voyage, logging in 27,828 miles during 84 days total underway.


 


June 1961


      For the second consecutive time she earned the Assault Boat Coxswain Award.


 


October/November 1961


      Participated in Operation Silver Sword in the Hawaiian Islands.


 


August 1962


      Participated in Operation Tulangan in the Philippines off Mindoro Island.


 


October/December 1962


     When U.S. reconnaissance flights revealed the clandestine construction of missile launching sites, President Kennedy publicly denounced (22 Oct., 1962) the Soviet actions. He imposed a naval blockade on Cuba and declared that any missile launched from Cuba would warrant a full-scale retaliatory attack by the United States against the Soviet Union. On 24 Oct., Russian ships carrying missiles to Cuba turned back. On 27 Oct. the Bexar embarked Marines and equipment in San Diego for transit through the Panama Canal. When Khrushchev agreed (28 Oct.) to withdraw the missiles and dismantle the missile sites, the crisis ended as suddenly as it had begun, but the US maintained extensive Naval activity in the Atlantic to maintain pressure on Kruschev and monitor Russian shipping/naval activity. The United States ended its blockade on Nov. 20, and by the end of the year the missiles and bombers were removed from Cuba. The Bexar returned from her subsequent Mediterannean deployment, as part of this operation, to San Diego on 15 Dec. 1962. For this effort she received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.


 


Spring 1963


      Participated in Operation Flagpole, a joint exercise with forces of the Republic of Korea.


 


Late 1963


      Entered yards for extensive overhaul and modernization lasting for five (5) months, anticipating actions in Vietnam.


 


November 1964


      Made her first mission to Vietnam.  Provided flood relief in Da Nang harbor area and embarked UDT teams as their home-base for surveying of ‘Red Beach’ area for planned February 1965 amphibious invasion.


 


March 1965


      Landed supplies and men of the 7th fleet SLF (Special Landing Force) in conjunction with the USS Thomaston (LSD-280) at Da Nang, Vietnam.  She then steamed north to participate in the largest amphibious operation since the Korean War.  She rendezvoused with the USS Princeton(LPH-5), which served as launch vessel for the SLF helicopter squadron.


 


February 1966   


     Departed San Diego, for Seal Beach, enroute Vietnam via Pearl Harbor to deploy 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine regiment, 1st Marine Division troops.


 


July/August 1966


     Disembarked Company ‘H’, 2nd Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment in support of 3rd Marine Div operation at Da Nang, Vietnam


 


January 1967 


     The Bexar engaged in amphibious operations off Okinawa with elements of the 2nd Batallion, 4th Marine Division.


 


July/November 1967


     As part of regularly scheduled yard overhaul she took on all new LCVPs and LCMs.


 


December 1967/January 1968


     She transported troops and equipment from Pearl Harbor to Da Nang, Vietnam and then took (underage) Marines to Okinawa.  (Note: Directive in effect, at that time, provided for minimum age for Marines  in actual combat zones)  She then proceeded to Yang Po Rie, Korea for ‘wet net’ training of 5,000 Korean 5th Division Marine troops.


 


February/March 1968


     Embarked troops of the 1st Batallion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5thMarine Division and convoyed with the USS Washburn(AKA-108) and the USS Vancouver(LPD-2) to Da Nang, Vietnam and then returned to Yang Po Rie to continue joint training exercises.


 


Late Spring/Early Summer 1968


     Anchored at Vung Tau, Vietnam, 47mi. south of Saigon, as home-base support of River Assault Squadrons 13 and 15 who were conducting assault incursions up the tributaries of the Mekong River Delta area.


 


Late Summer/Fall 1969


     Once again she participated in joint-training exercise with elements of the South Korean Navy and Marines.  In October she departed for San Diego and was part of a joint Navy/Marine operation named Keystone Cardinal. Upon arrival at San Diego she disembarked 1,400 marines and equipment.


 


December 15th, 1969


     Official decommissioning ceremonies transfer the USS BEXAR, now with hull designate LPA-237,… to Commander, Naval Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility (The Mothball Fleet).  This sad event marked the completion of 25 years of dedicated, good and faithful service by ship and crews to the nation whose flag she so proudly flew.


 


Closing Note:  This history is, by no means, intended to represent all the various activities the Bexar was involved in during her 25 years of service.  It is an ongoing venture open to amendments and additions of significant import  which are verifiable.   Any shipmates who served on-board and may have cruisebooks or other memorabilia (PODs, etc.) to verify information should advise me via the CONTACT US page and I will be glad to include same in this history.  I have, during this process, found significant errors in detail involving the Bexar historically and have endeavored to clear the record by corroborating information as much as is possible.  I am proud to have had the opportunity to have crewed aboard her and been one of the many who have manned the helm of this ship as she steamed ahead into her berth in US Naval history.  She is gone, but not forgotten.., and lives on in the name and men of this association. 


                    Robert 'Bob' Weiss


                    Compiled 20 Jan 2003


                    Last amended 31 March 2011