The USS Walker during WWII
To the Manchu Website:
While surfing for some possible information about my former ship, the USS Admiral H. T. Mayo (AP-125), which later was renamed the General Nelson M. Walker, I came across the short article entitled "The Love Boat from Hell," that gave some history about this vessel. In trying to find the source of that article, I came across this web site and thought that those of you who sailed on the Walker might be interested in a little more of her World War II history.
I was a "plank owner" on the Admiral Mayo, being in its original crew and remaining on that ship until just before it was decomissioned as the Admiral Mayo in May, 1946. I was aboard the Admiral Mayo laying at anchor at Ulithi atoll in the Caroline Islands with 5000 troops aboard when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We had sailed from Marseille, France on about the middle of July, 1945, and eventually debarked our troops at Okinawa some time close to the end of August. We lay at anchor at Ulithi for at least two weeks, maybe longer. I was very glad that I was part of the crew and not a passenger. And I was especially glad that I wasn't one of those soldiers we brought from Marseille to Okinawa in 1945. They had to live under those conditions that you experienced for almost two months. And when we were anchored at Ulithi atoll, waiting for something to happen, at least the crew got ashore for a little while to play softball and drink beer on the island of MogMog. Those poor soldiers had to stay aboard in that hot sun and watch us come and go. I guess I'm a lot more sympathetic now than I was then, although I felt for them even then.
One thing that I had in common with the soldiers was the food. Our captain, Captain Heimer, put out an order that when we had troops aboard, his crew would eat what the troops ate, which wasn't all that great, considering the number of men that had to be fed. I remember on a number of occasions, trading my plate in the chow line to soldiers for "C" rations! I know that on a number of the other troop ships, the crew had their own mess with their own chow.
The Admiral Mayo was one of the first troop ships into Europe after V-E Day. We sailed from San Francisco to Le Havre, France and picked up a boat load of troops (all ex-prisoners of war) and brought them back to Boston. We then went to Marseille where we picked up another 5000 troops and took them to the Pacific theater, where we ultimately debarked them at Okinawa. It was this bunch of guys that I referred to earlier. As your article indicates, the Admiral Mayo continued moving troops back and forth in the Pacific theater until April/May of 1946 when the Admiral Mayo was decomissioned and became the General Walker. Besides bringing troops home from the war, we transported some of the first people, both military and civilian personnel, to Japan to be a part of McArthur's occupation organization. I got off the Admiral Mayo in Seattle in April, 1946, just before she sailed for New York where she was decommissioned. I lost track of the ship and all my shipmates. Although I had had easy duty compared to some guys, I still just wanted to put it all behind me at the time. Now, I wish I had kept in contact with some of the guys I was closest to.
I want you to know that I have a great deal of respect for those of you who served in Vietnam (and also in Korea). While my war wasn't fun, at least, we World War II vets had the greater part of the country behind us. I think it has been (and still is) a travesty the way those of you who served in Vietnam (and in Korea, to an extent) have been treated. I'm glad to see that gradually changing, but the change hasn't come soon enough, and there is still a long way to go, in my estimation.
My best to you,