LCS(L) Landing Craft Support (Large)
Turner Publishing, 1995, 144 pages
The LCS(L)(3) (Landing Craft Support (Large) Mark 3), often referred to as
LCS(L) or LCS, played an important role for the U.S. Navy in the latter part of
the Pacific War in the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and other places. This
book edited by four men from the National Association of USS LCS(L) 1-130
the overall history of these 130 warships, sometimes referred to as "mighty
midgets," along with numerous stories submitted by veterans.
The typical LCS(L)
had a crew of 6 officers and 75 enlisted men. The ship's primary mission was to
provide close-in gunfire support for troops assaulting a contested beach, but
during the Battle of Okinawa many LCS(L)s were deployed to radar picket stations
set up to protect the main fleet and to detect attacking Japanese aircraft.
Kamikaze aircraft sank two LCS(L)s near Okinawa, and Japanese suicide boats sank another
three LCS(L)s in the Philippines.
The book has two main parts with the first 20% summarizing the history of the
130 LCS(L)s and the last 80% consisting of stories submitted by LCS(L) veterans.
Both sections include many historical photographs, although some have vague
captions. The veterans' stories range widely in quality, length, and approach.
They appear in no particular order, but an index allows a reader to find stories
related to a particular ship. Some stories, such as "LCS 118: A Radar
Picket Patrol" by Earl Blanton (author of Boston——to Jacksonville (41,000 Miles by
Sea) about the LCS 118, provide an exciting and concise
account of the ship's battles with kamikaze aircraft. Other "stories" are just
rather dull diaries of a ship's movements and actions, and many seem to be just
telling the official Navy version of a battle rather than providing personal insights. Some veterans
submitted a short personal vignette or
poem, many which are humorous.
The many stories will interest LCS(L) veterans and their families, but two
other books, Fighting Amphibs: The LCS(L) in
World War II (1997) by Donald Ball and Mighty Midgets At War: The Saga of the
LCS(L) Ships from Iwo Jima to Vietnam (2000) by Robin L. Rielly, provide more organized and thorough histories
of the LCS(L)s.
William J. Mason, who served aboard LCS(L) 86, was disappointed with
media coverage of the LCS(L)s' exploits in battle (p.114-5):
The USS LCS(L)(3) 86 officers and men, along with members on the
other LCS ships, were the main cast of characters in the greatest sea-air
battle in the history of the United States Navy. Yet, little is publicly
known about the history or the fate of the LCSs. We didn't have war
correspondents on board to report the daily toll taken by the officers and
men on the LCSs. They were assigned to the big ships, as though this was
where the action was. Consequently, few newspaper or magazine articles were
written about the "Mighty Midgets." It is particularly noted that there is
no identified newspaper or magazine article that mentions an LCS being hit
by bombs or Kamikaze planes. All stories were devoted to destroyers, our
dear friends, and the "big boys" - the battleships, carriers and cruisers
who we were protecting while on the radar picket station.
Mason goes on to explain how much his ship accomplished (p. 115):
The Navy's highest award, the Navy Unit Commendation, was awarded to the
USS LCS(L)(3) 86 for meritorious service and heroism in action
against enemy Japanese aircraft and suicide boats during the Okinawa
Operation from April 18 to June 21, 1945.
The officers and men of the USS LCS(L)(3) 86 distinguished
themselves in battle as well as in peacetime on four occasions: (1) the
rescue and damage control given to the USS Braine DD 630 when it was
hit by two Kamikaze suicide planes at Okinawa on 27 May 1945, that resulted
in 67 being killed and 103 wounded; (2) the rescue and damage control given
to the USS William D. Porter DD 579 at Okinawa on 10 June 1945, when
it too was hit by a Kamikaze plane and eventually sank without the loss of a
single life; (3) the rescue and damage control given to the USS LCS(L)(3)
122 when it was hit by a Kamikaze plane at Okinawa on 11 June 1945,
which caused the deaths of 10 enlisted men and one officer as well as 29
wounded and (4) the rescue and damage control given to a Japanese tug and
barge when their load of ammunition exploded killing 14 Japanese and
injuring nine others on 4 October 1945 in Tokyo Bay, Japan.
LCS(L) 122 assisting the sinking destroyer
William D. Porter (DD-579) after bomb carried by
kamikaze aircraft exploded underneath ship (June 10, 1945)