Odyssey of LCT # 1066
February 4, 2000
By Pete Nuzzolo
Photo's an crew list, Pete Nuzzolo and Mayland P Lewis Jr.
LCT 1066- Nip Lewis Skipper in Sasebo, Japan September 1945 to April 1946
Solomon Island Amphibious Training Base
The storyof LCT # 1066 starts when the crew for LCT #1066 was assembled at Solomon Maryland Amphibious Training Base where we trained on Mark # 5 LCTs. Our Crew consisted of(12) Enlisted men and (1) officer, only one enlisted man had sea experience, that was our Boatswain Mate John Pacheco from New Bedford Mass, who was a commercial fisherman by trade. John was an exceptional person about (32) years old at this time.
The crew already on the LCT trained the new Crew who in turn trained the next crew, This coupled with classes ashore rounded out our training.
All of this training took place in the Chesapeake Bay area some times going as far as Virginia Beach to train with Marine Corp personnel. Training for LCT Crew # 1066 took place in the winter of 1942-43 lasting about 3 months. We also had navigation training for the officer and the quartermaster, where they had to find certain buoys located out in Chesapeake Bay area.
After this training ended we received orders to travel to San Francisco California, to pick up out Landing Craft. We traveled by train taking the Southern Scenic Route, sometimes stopping at the Harvey Restaurants for meals. The trip took about (3) days.
All of the crew was happy to be assigned to the Pacific Theatre of operations.
Upon reaching San Francisco, we were billeted at Treasure Island Navy Base awaiting Construction of our LCT.
Our Craft was built at Mare Island Shipyard, Actually all parts were built off base and assembled at Mare Island. There was one LCT Launched every (3) days,
After LCT # 1066 was launched, it was completely outfitted and trial runs took place in San Francisco Bay area. After acceptance by the Navy Dept we moved aboard permanently and traveled to Oakland California awaiting transpiration overseas.
We were loaded as deck cargo on the Liberty Ship (James A. Drain) whose cargo consisted of(5) holds filled with Aviation Gasoline in (50) gallon drums The LCT had to be dismantled into (3) Sections for transportation. After loading we sailed alone, for our destination Port Moresby New Guinea, the date was May 6,1943.
The trip to Port Moresby took (28) days and was uneventful with beautiful sailing weather all the way. We had the usual ceremony when we crossed the equator. We knew
when the ship crossed the Equator, because when looking into the heavens at night we no longer could see the big dipper, instead we saw the Southern Cross and it seemed there were many more stars in the southern hemisphere than up north.
Traveling on a merchant ship was really great especially when you had a choice of menu for dinner.
It must be noted that New Guinea is the second largest island in the world about (1,600) miles long. It was of strategic importance to the Japanese who hoped to threaten Australia, which is just south of New Guinea with a population of only (12 Million) during World War 2.
Upon reaching Port Moresby, LCT 1066 was assembled with the help of Seabees stationed there. At about the time we reached Port Moresby, Gen. McArthur had landed troops at Hollandia and was headed up the north coast of Dutch New Guinea making landings for the purpose of constructing Air fields, In the process a large group of Japanese troops were by passed in an area called Wewak, we were notified to give this area a wide berth, as the troops there had field pieces that would fire on us if we came too close.
We and about (14) other LCTs were assembled into a Group, with a Group commander stationed aboard the command LCT. We then proceeded up the north coast of New Guinea unloading supply ships in support of the troops and Sea Bees who were building landing strips and roads, we seemed to he constantly on the go visiting ports with strange sounding names, such as Milne Bay,Buna, Finchaven,Madang,Hollandia, then Noemfoor Island.where a large Air field was constructed. Constructing this Air Field required a an enormous amount of supplies, every thing from steel landing Mats to (5001b.) Arial bombs, all had to be brought in from supply ships to the beach, mostly by LCTs.
Wile at Noemfoor Island, we experienced our first Monsoon season, where for almost a month high winds, torrential rain, and heavy surf prevented us from unloading much needed supplies. It was a real relief when suddenly the monsoon stopped and we were able to resume operations so that the Liberator bombers could continue bombing missions.
New Guinea is not only the second largest island in the world; it's also a place of spectacular beauty, miles of sandy beaches lined with palm trees and crystal clear water. Occasionally when we could, we would search for rare seashells which were plentiful.
We did not see many natives; occasionally we would see a coast watcher who lived with the native's go by in native outrigger canoes. We did see some native people who lived in huts located on poles off shore, but we had almost no contact with them.
There was plenty of PT Boat activity in New Guinea and at various times we had the opportunity to visit aboard a PT Boat. I quickly noted that PT Boats were powered by three (1500 horsepower) gasoline engines compared to our three (225 horsepower) diesel engines aboard the LCT. There were quite a few air raids, but we were never targeted specifically. At this time (4) additional 50 Caliber anti aircraft machine-guns were added
to the already existing (2) 20 Millimeter anti aircraft guns, which were our original compliment.
On about October of 1943 we were loaded aboard an LSD (Landing Ship Dock) and transported to the Philippine Islands to assist landings at Tacloban. We were kept very busy unloading ships and supplies. We also transported army artillery units up the many rivers so they could construct firebases on top of some high ground, this was to supply artillery support for ground troops and also protect the area from air raids as they had Radar Vans that could detect enemy aircraft.
When enemy aircraft were detected these bases fired (3) red tracers this meant every body to general quarters as an air raid was eminent.
It must be remembered that the Philippine Islands consists of over (1,000) Islands, so almost everything must be transported by sea, and these Firebases also had to supplied on a regular basis using landing craft.
It was in the Philippines that we experienced our first Kamikaze attack, it was real scary, especially for a (19) year old. Although we admired the courage of these Fliers, We could not understand their thinking. Air raids were common and there was some serious damage to merchant ships.
It was in the Philippines that we lost an LCT from our Group, it was unloading landing mats from a Liberty ship that had already been damaged by Kamikaze, on another attack a Kamikaze dived on the same Liberty Ship, missed the Liberty Ship and struck the LCT tied alongside, only (2) enlisted men survived the attack. Air attacks were common in this area for the next (3) months then they tapered off
All of the LCT, 5 that operated in the Philippine Islands area eventually adopted a monkey as a mascot, LCT 1066 was no exception. Our pet monkey was named (Louie); there are two things I learned about monkeys. One is they cannot be house broken, another is they tend to be ornery little critters. Louie loved our boatswain mate, some said that was because they looked so much alike, I kind of disagreed I thought Louie was better looking.
We continued to operate in the Tacloban and Samar Island area for about (6) months, mostly hauling supplies and personal to various parts of this lower portion of the Philippine Islands. When the Philippine campaign was completed, the entire LCT Flotilla # 14 attached to the 7th. Amphibious Force was assembled and we sailed under our own power with a destroyer escort to Okinawa Japan, there were about 40 LCTs in the flotilla
The trip to Okinawa took (7) days about (1200) miles with moderate seas, long rolling waves which reminded you of climbing a long hill, then sledding down the other side, I
noted that the Engine Tachometer indicator would continually go over the Red Line, this worried me, as over revving could cause engine failure, but the (671 Detroit's) our main engines never failed us.
We entered Naha Harbor in Okinawa; the entire harbor was filled with capitol ships that had assisted in the initial landings, which seemed to have gone smoothly. These Capitol ships were also firing their main batteries in support of the Marines ashore. We were again broken up into groups of about (14) LCTs each and given assignments. We immediately started unloading merchant ships transporting equipment and supplies ashore.
We traveled up the coast of Okinawa, even visited the Island of le Shima where the Correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed. There was a Monument there erected by the (77th)Division in his honor.
It was wile in Okinawa that we experienced our first Typhoon, fort Linately we had enough time to enter an Inland sea, where we were able to miss the full brunt of the storm Our Landing Craft was equipped with a (I 5OOLb anchor) attached to a (1" Steel cable) once the anchor dug into the mud, it held securely.
Most Capitol Ships were ordered out to Sea, to better ride out the storm. The next day when leaving the Inland Sea, we saw what was left of (2) mine sweepers that did not have time to entered sheltered waters, all that was left on the beach was the main engine with the drive shaft and propeller attached.
We also passed a Liberty ship that was completely blown out of the water surrounded by sand. We were led to believe that the Typhoon did more damage than the Kamikaze. This was hard to believe since a large portion of Naha Harbor was filled with damaged ships, which were on picket duty, warning of attacks, when they were badly damaged. We were on Okinawa when President Roosevelt died; all flags were set at half-mast In honor of our president.
It seemed to us that the campaign in Okinawa was going as well as could be expected It was in August as the campaign in Okinawa was winding down, that we heard that an Atomic Bomb had been dropped on Japan, this was horrific news, as no one had even heard of a Atomic Bomb, let alone visualize a explosion that could wipe out a complete city and kill (50,000) people. It was a real shock to us, as we soon realized that the war would have to end soon.
The war did finally end, with every ship in the harbor, firing every flare they could get their hands on, some also fired their Anti Aircraft guns, their tracers making it look like a fourth of July celebration.
The war ending this way removed a lot of doubts, as we expected a very difficult campaign, knowing how fanatical the Japanese were.
With the war ended we were able to attend Sunday Mass aboard Capitol ships. I remember going aboard the Battle Ship Tennessee. It was a real experience and after Mass we were able to buy ice cream and candy from the ship's stores, it was really a treat.
I also attended Mass with the Marines ashore, where an altar was set up right on the beach and a Navy Chaplain conducted Services. It proved a real experience for me, something I always remember.
Soon we were again loaded up with Army Engineering Equipment, and assembled into a convoy heading to the city of Sasebo, Japan. The trip to Sasebo only took us a little over a day's sailing. Once there a Japanese patrol boat, painted all white with a red stripe meet us, and escorted us through the mine fields which were designed to protect the harbor of Sasebo.
I wondered why no large ships were in our convoy, it seems that the air force had dropped acoustic mines at the entrance of Sasebo harbor, These mines were designed to let a number of ships sail over them, then explode under the next ship that activated the trigger mechanism. The mines were activated by propeller noise.
We were told that small vessel propellers did not activate the mines. (We hoped)
These mines trapped a number of Japanese Navy ships in Sasebo harbor. I recall seeing a number of Aircraft Carriers one named (Juyno) with decks fully loaded with planes and some Destroyers which could not leave due to the mine threat.
The city of Sasebo was completely destroyed, the only thing standing were bank vaults, which seemed to have withstood the bombing. People were living underground beneath the wrecked buildings.
We dropped the Army Engineers off at a Seaplane base, which had concrete runways running directly into the water making it easy to unload the heavy equipment the engineers needed.
It seemed like a only a matter of a couple weeks before the engineers had the streets all cleared of debris, the electricity came on, and trolley cars started running, the city just seemed to come to life.
For the first month we were not allowed ashore unless accompanied by an officer and in-groups.
It was soon discovered that there was no threat from the civilian population, we were then allowed ashore to buy souvenirs and visit the Petty Officer Clubs, which were established Ashore.
The occupying military force allowed the civilian personal to salvage any thing that could be dismantled and reused for non military purposes, but items such mortar shells and things that could not be dismantled safely, were loaded on to LCTs and we took them out to sea and dumped them, this was an ongoing task and occupied us for some time as the Japanese had a lot of material stocked in caves ready for the impending invasion.
We also carried supplies to other cities to the north of us as their harbors were also mined.
It took about (3) months before the harbors were finally opened for ship traffic.
Occupation duty in Japan was a real change for us; at least we could go ashore and sightsee, purchase souvenirs or just go to the Navy recreation clubs, and have a beer or a hamburger.
The Japanese population seemed very wary of American Servicemen, but after a wile they warmed up and I personally never heard of any attacks on American Servicemen by Japanese civilians. The Japanese are extremely hard working people who had suffered
greatly, and still did not complain, at no time at all, the city of Sasebo came to life, pe9ple no longer lived underground children could be seen playing in the streets, we tended to admire the courage and tenacity of the Japanese people. We no longer saw the Japanese people as the enemy, but rather tended to realize that were people, just as we were.
The Marine Corp brought in young Marines who could speak perfect Japanese, they systematically blocked off every street and checked all civilians for weapons, as well as searched all of the private homes in the city.
Soon LST, 5 started to bring in Japanese solders from all parts of Asia, they were off loaded to LCTs, we then transported tem to special parts of Sasebo where they were processed and sent home. The process was called repatriation.
About this time the Point system was established, whereby each person was assigned a number of points depending on, length of Service, Married with children etc. I believe you needed (90) points to be rotated home.
Of course the older crewmen with dependants were the first rotated home, so we immediately lost the Boatswain and Gunners mate. These two men were a couple of great people who profoundly affected the rest of us crew members, being older and wiser, they and their work ethic (leading by example) and taking responsibility seriously inspired all of the junior crew members
I would like to pay my respect to the officers and crewman of LCT # 1066, we had trained together and some how welded into one of the best LCT crews in our Flotilla. We had frequent inspections from the Group Commander and although no one got a (4-0) we consistently scored one of the highest ratings, We were blessed with some remarkable crewmembers, notably our Skipper Lt. W.T Lybrand who was only (23) years old when he took command of our landing craft. Mr. Lybrand of course had not only the responsibility of operating LCT !066 but he also had the responsibility of the welfare of the entire crew of LCT 1066.
John Pacheco our boatswain mate whose former sea experience as a commercial fisherman were invaluable in keeping our landing craft in good seaworthy condition. He seemed to be constantly painting or otherwise kept busy splicing eyes on mooring lines etc. He even spliced the (I ~') cable when the eye holding it to the (I 5001b.) anchor started to come apart
Leroy Fehrman our gunners Mate was also a valued member of our crew, his expertise In the maintenance of the armaments aboard our craft was really a full time job. They had to be serviced on a daily basis, due to sea conditions, he also instructed all of the crew about safety around the guns a well as thoroughly trained all of the gunners on how to lead and hit targets. His knowledge and expertise were indispensable.
All of the mechanical equipment on board was the responsibility of Motor Machinist Mates, which were myself Pete Nuzzolo, and Bob Clawson, this was an awesome responsibility, which we took seriously.
Vintor was our electricians mate, very capable and dedicated person.
The rest were Seaman, whose responsibilities were tied to the daily and never ending chore of keeping LCT # 1066 in good seaworthy condition.
Responsibility was the key word on a small vessel; there was no excess personal to turn to, any problems with machinery or equipment had to be resolved by those ratings on board.
We did have a repair ship assigned to us, but they were too far away when needed.
It must be noted LCT # 1066 never missed an assignment, thanks to the officers and crew who carried out their assigned duties and responsibilities, We were proud to be sailors in the U.S. Navy, and even prouder to serve our country.
I was finally rotated home in March of 1946.
Bill Lybrand Skipper and Nip Lewis Ex. Officer
B/R L/R Vinter-Electrician, Davis-Seaman, Fehrman- Gunnersmate, Lt. Jg. Lybrand-Skipper, Clauson-MoMM, Pacheco-Boatswain Mate
F/R L/R J. Mead-Seaman, N/A B , Slora-Cook, P. Nuzzolo-MoMM , Medlin-Seaman
2nd Class Wisconsin Rapids Wisconsin
Crew Members as Follows,
Name Rank Home Town
William T Lybrand Lt. (Skipper) Prospect Park, Pa
Mayland P. Lewis Jr. Lt. Jg. Ex. Officer Nahant, Mass
John Pacheco Boatswain Mate 2nd Class New Bedford Mass
Leroy C. Felrrman Gunners Mate
Fred Vinter Electrician Mate 2nd Class Phila Pa
Pete Nuzzolo Motor Machinist lst Class Staten Island N.Y.
Bob Clawson Motor Machinist 2nd. Class Grand Rapids Michigan
George Slora Cook 2nd Class Barrie Vt.
Jack Meade Seaman 1st Class Michigan
Dave Davis Seaman 1st Class Lexington, Kentucky
Orville Medlin Seaman 1st Class Rockmount, NC
Ed Klemintovic Quartermaster 2nd Class Lancaster Pa.
Electrician Mate 3/c
© 2000 LCT Flotillas of World War II ETO PTO