Thursday, February 19, 2015

USS Hector arrives in the Philippines, 1945

For several months in 1944-1945, my dad, Frank Dolan, was stationed on his repair ship, USS Hector, at Ulithi in the Western Caroline Islands. As part of Service Squadron 10, which had converted the lagoon there into a major naval facility, Dad's ship next was ordered to the Philippines. The progress of American forces closer toward victory throughout the Philippine Islands required advancing support elements, like repair ships, into closer proximity to the fighting afloat and ashore.

Hector sailed from Ulithi on February 16th, as part of Task Unit 50.9.6, escorted by the destroyers Bancroft and Bailey. Also joining this task unit were the attack cargo ship Fomalhaut, destroyer tenders Dixie and Markab, and repair ship Prometheus.1 The task unit was the vanguard of Service Squadron 10, of which the main force would follow in May.

On today's date in 1945, Hector arrived with Task Unit 50.9.6 at her new location in San Pedro Harbor, off Tarragona, in the northwest end of Leyte Gulf near where the Leyte Landings occurred the previous October. While the Battle for Manila raged nearby to the north, Hector's crews began repairing ships and readying other craft for continued operations against the Japanese occupiers.2

Hector remained on duty in Leyte Gulf until the end of March, when she returned to Ulithi for 21 days. Then in late April, Hector was shifted to Saipan in the Mariana Islands, while the main body of Service Squadron 10 was moved to San Pedro Harbor.

For his role in the Philippines Campaign from February through March, Dad received the Philippine Liberation Campaign Ribbon.

1Prometheus was the sister ship to Dad's previous repair ship, USS Vestal.
2Also on today's date in 1945, American Marines began their assault on Iwo Jima, preceded by 5 days of naval and air bombardment. Dreadful fighting there will last for 5 weeks.

Sources: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships; USS Hector and USS Prometheus War Diaries, February & March 1945

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