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USNS STURGIS BRINGS THE 508TH HOME
Photo cropped from original and retouched by Dick O'Donnell   The USNS General S.D. Sturgis (AP-137) left Bremerhaven, Germany on or about November 1, 1946 bringing, amongst others, the 508th PIR home.  The ship docked in New York City's harbor on November 9th, delivering the regiment stateside almost three years after its departure on the USAT James Parker in late December 1943.

   Many of the regiment's more seasoned troopers had already taken advantage of the points system in order to head stateside sooner.  But there were many original 508ers still on board due to lower point standings or because they had decided to remain in service.  Whatever the case, they were all happy to see the New York skyline heave into view and know that they were home at last.

   Amongst some of the greatest things to look forward to was the lack of a heaving deck and room to move around in.  The Sturgis was just 522 feet long and 71 1/2 feet at its widest point.  Cramped quarters considering there were over 5,000 passengers and crew aboard.  The usual shipboard routine of serving only two meals a day would be a quickly fading memory as well, as least for those who had been able to keep the food down.

   But more than anything, the "Big Apple" beckoned and so did the future.

Construction of the General S. D. Sturgis (AP-137) was begun in 12 November 1943 at Kaiser Shipbuilding Corp., in Richmond, California and she was launched on 12 November 1943.  The ship was named after General Samuel Davis Sturgis (United States Military Academy, Class of 1846).

After shakedown cruises she was acquired by the U.S. Navy on 31 March 1944 and placed in ferry commission on 24 April 1944 for transfer to Portland, Oregon. She was placed in full commission  at Portland, Oregon on 10 July 1944.

Designed as a transport, the Sturgis was necessarily lightly armed with only four single 5"/38 dual-purpose gun mounts, four twin 1.1" gun mounts (later replaced by four twin 40mm gun mounts) and 15 twin 20mm gun mounts.  Enough to perhaps be annoying but not enough to stave off a serious attack.  By the same token, she was slow with a single propeller that could churn out no more than 18 knots.

The Sturgis served extensively in the Pacific ferrying men and materials to places that became famous as a consequence of the war.  She carried part of Admiral Halsey's 3d Fleet staff via Eniwetok to Pearl Harbor  She made a round-trip, troop-carrying voyage from San Francisco to Langemak Bay and Hollandia, New Guinea; and San Pedro, Leyte as the Pacific campaigns reached a climax.

She then headed for Europe, departing San Francisco 16 June 1945 for France. After embarking troops at Marseilles 9 July, she departed the next day to redeploy them in the Pacific. 

Debarking her passengers at Manila on 20 August, General S. D. Sturgis sailed from that port six days later with officers and officials of the United States, Australia, Canada, Netherlands East Indies, China, and the Philippines, delivering them to Tokyo Bay 31 August to witness the historic Japanese surrender ceremonies there on 2 September. The ship got underway on 26 September for Seattle arriving there on 8 October. She then made three round-trip voyages from the West Coast to Japanese ports, supporting occupation troops before departing San Francisco on an around-the-world voyage calling at Manila, Singapore, Calcutta (April 15), and Port Said, and arriving in New York on 10 May 1946 with  3,248 unattached returning troops.

She was decommissioned in New York on 24 May 1946 and was delivered to the WSA (War Shipping Administration) for peacetime operation as an Army transport, and then struck from the Naval Register (date unknown.).

One Atlantic run as an Army transport was made in November 1946 as testified to by the ship's onboard newspaper and the photos on the following pages.  The newspaper contained articles about separation procedures at Camp Kilmer, profiles about the newspaper staff and some sports scores. There was also a guide to New York Harbor and a hand drawn map of the harbor.

The Sturgis continued to serve as a personnel transport during the Korean War and earned three battle stars.  She was ultimately scrapped in February 1980

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