A BRIEF HISTORY OF USS LCS (L) (3) 122
Richard M. McCool, Commanding Officer
"On 8 December 1944, United States Ship, Landing Craft Support, Large, One Hundred and Twenty Two was commissioned at Lawley Shipyards, Neponset, Massachusetts.
This ship was assigned to Group TEN of LCS (L) Flotilla FOUR.
An initial trial run was held to check the equipment on board. From the 12th to the 16th of December 1944 the ship was enroute to Little Creek, Virginia. On the 16th of December anchored overnight at Little Creek, Virginia. Left this anchorage the next morning only to arrive at Solomons, Maryland. From 17th to 27th of December was spent at Solomons during which time the ship and crew went through a strenuous training program that consisted of fire-fighting, damage control, salvage and rescue operations, and last but not least gunnery exercises and rocket firing.
On the 27th of December the ship sailed to Norfolk, Virginia., where it stayed for repairs and general maintenance work in preparing for sea. At that time some members of the crew were granted 72-hour and 48-hour passes. Orders came for the 122 to shove off to sea on the 27th of December 1944, and we arrived in Key West, Florida on the 4th of January 1945. Four days were spent in Key West, Florida, where liberty was enjoyed while maintenance work was accomplished.
The 122 left on the 8th of January and arrived in Coco-Solo, Panama on the 20th of January. There was a short stay to wait our turn through the Canal. We passed through the Canal and stopped in Balboa for a few hours, and then sailed into the smooth Pacific for the first time. From the 23rd of January to the 3rd of February we sailed along the coasts of Panama and Mexico.
We arrived in San Diego, which felt very cold after leaving Panama. During the first 10 days in San Diego, mostly repairs occupied the crew’s and ship’s time. After that a training program was carried out. Practice invasions were made along with gunnery exercises, rocket firing and salvage and rescue work. Captain N. Phillips, USN, was in charge of all maneuvers this vessel undertook.
The LCS 122 left San Diego on a gloomy day of rain, and headed for Hawaii. On the 24th of March we arrived in Pearl Harbor just to do more training and get more repairs. Rocket invasions were practiced by LCS (L) Group TEN under the command of Lt. Commander Dodson, USN.
The time from the 17th to the 24th of April was spent sailing to Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands. We spent 3 days in Eniwetok, and on the 27th sailed for Guam. We arrived in Guam, Marianas on 3 May, only to be redirected and sent to Saipan in the Marianas. We spent very little time in Saipan, taking on provisions, fuel and water. Orders next were to sail to Okinawa. We left Saipan on the 5th of May for Okinawa and arrived on the 10th.
Arrival in Okinawa was very warm, with air raids every few hours of every night, and sometimes in the day. While at Okinawa the 122 was attached to the Fifth Amphibious Forces. The assignment consisted of anti-suicide boat patrol and radar picket patrol with the emphasis on picket patrol. On the 29th of May this vessel shot down one enemy aircraft and was given credit for an assist on another.
On the 10th of June while on radar picket patrol this vessel assisted the stricken USS WILLIAM D. PORTER (DD-579), which had taken a near miss by a Japanese suicide plane which had dropped a bomb near the stern that opened plates on the destroyer’s bottom. Salvage work proved to be fruitless, and ninety-nine members of the crew from the PORTER were taken off by this vessel.
On the night of the 11th of June 1945, three Japanese planes attacked this vessel. One was shot down, an assist was credited on another, and the third plane crashed into the base of the pilothouse, causing heavy casualties. Eleven men were killed and twenty-nine were wounded. Due to the extensive damage suffered, the ship had to be sent to a rear area for repairs.
The LCS 122 left Okinawa on 22 June, enroute to Leyte, Philippine Islands, and arrived there on the 27th of June. Battle damage repairs were effected here during the first 7 weeks. After that a program of logistics was carried out to complete the necessary preparations for going to sea. Gunnery exercises were also held during the month of August. The 122 stayed in Leyte for V-J Day celebration and left the next morning on September 2nd for Tokyo Bay, Japan.
The 122 arrived in Japan on the 11th of September, in Tokyo Bay under peaceful conditions. After two days of laying around waiting for a duty assignment we were assigned to carry liberty parties of the larger ships of the U.S. Fleet. These consisted of runs to Tokyo, Yokohama and Yokosuka, which were all rotated. To this day our assignment is the same and we remain in Tokyo Bay awaiting our turn to sail back to the States again. The LCS (L) 122 took us up the road to Tokyo and it will also take us back."
Captain McCool recovered from his wounds, and remained in the Navy for 30 years, retiring in the early 1970's. In the last half of his career he joined the Navy's Public Affiars organization. He is one of the few living servicemen who saw action in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He currently lives in Washington state.
For his heroic actions on 10-11 June 1945 Captain McCool was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His citation is presented below:
The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to LIEUTENANT RICHARD MILES MCCOOL, JR United States Navy for service set forth in the following citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above the call of duty as commanding officer of the USS LCS 122 during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Ryukyu chain, 10 and 11 June, 1945. Sharply vigilant during hostile air raids against allied ships on radar picket duty off Okinawa on 10 June, Lieutenant McCool aided materially in evacuating all survivors from a sinking destroyer which had sustained mortal damage after the devastating attacks. When his own craft was attacked simultaneously by two of the enemy’s suicide squadron early in the evening of 11 June, he instantly hurled the full power of his gun batteries against the plunging aircraft, shooting down the first and damaging the second before it crashed his station in the conning tower and engulfed the immediate area in a mass of flames. Although suffering from shrapnel wounds and painful burns, he rallied his concussion-shocked crew and initiated vigorous firefighting measures and then proceeded to the rescue of several trapped in a blazing compartment, subsequently carrying one man to safety despite the excruciating pain of additional severe burns. Unmindful of all personal danger, he continued his efforts without respite until aid arrived from other ships and he was evacuated. By his staunch leadership, capable direction and indomitable determination throughout the crisis, Lieutenant McCool saved the lives of many who otherwise might have perished and contributed materially to the saving of his ship for further combat service. His valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of extreme peril sustains and enhances the highest tradition of the United States Naval Service.
Harry S. Truman