WW2 Shipmates to Recall Okinawa Invasion

Photo: Naval Historical Center
Photo: Naval Historical Center
Battle of Okinawa from the USS Dade, Photo: Bill Cates
Battle of Okinawa from the USS Dade, Photo: Bill Cates
More of the Battle of Okinawa, Photo: Bill Cates
More of the Battle of Okinawa, Photo: Bill Cates

(CINCINNATI) - Surviving sailors of the USS Dade are gathering this weekend in Covington for what may be their last time.

The USS Dade (APA 99) was built at Pascagoula, Mississippi.  She was sailed to Hoboken, N.J. for a conversion and was commissioned in November 1944.  She then sailed to San Francisco and then off to the Pacific Theater.

The ship in crew took part in putting ashore Marines during the invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945.  According to the Naval Historical Center, the ship was under aerial attack while putting men and equipment ashore and suffered casualities.

Another bit of history for the USS Dade - she carried the first occupation troops into Japan immediately after the surrender.  The USS Dade sailed up Tokyo Bay past the USS Missouri shortly after the surrender document was signed by General Douglas MacArthur with First Calvary troops to discharge them at Yokohama, Japan.

One of Bill Cates' shipmates, Harold LaLonde, obtained a copy of this historical Surrender Document with the signatures.

Another shipmate, Roy Taylor, wrote a personal account of the the battle of Okinawa. You can click here to see the cover, page1, and page 2.

Click here for a detailed iternary of the USS Dade during WWII.

Over 300 men served on the Dade during WWII.  These heroic sailors have gathered for a reunion for the last several years with about 20 veterans being able to make the trip.

According to Bill Cates, organizer of this years' reunion, this could be the last time these shipmates will gather.

"There are only 8 of us left out of the estimated 300 crew members.  We are all in our mid 80's.  Now we are down to the end of the line."

The U.S. Navy is supplying a color guard for this weekend's activities.  A memorial service will remember the deceased crew members and the National Anthem will be performed.

After the war the Dade was sold to Matson Navigation Company.  She was renamed Hawaiian Retailer and functioned as a merchant ship.

According to the Naval Historical Center the Dade was sold to scrap in in September 1970.

FOX19.com: Roger Seay