History and Deployment
Chip's grandfather, George L. Potter (1919 - 1992), served his tour of duty in World War II aboard the USS Gage. The Gage was an "attack transport" vessel that served to move men and material to the battle fields of the South Pacific. The ship was designed to carry Army or Navy full units - berthed in upper cargo holds - and vehicle and heavy equipment in the lower holds. Twenty landing craft were stowed topside. The USS Gage was fitted with one 5in main gun (on the bow) and 12 40mm anti-aircraft artillery guns. This class of Navy Ships was named for U.S. counties.
George Potter served as a RADAR operator aboard the Gage. George Potter carried the newly designated rating of Radarman (RdM). This rating was established by the Navy in 1943 and would earn a Yeoman or Seaman an extra five (5) dollars per month pay if he qualified. This rating still exists. George (and other RADAR operators) spent most of his tour separated from the rest of the crew. After all, this was cutting edge technology and was not widely known about.
The USS Gage received one battle star for her service in World War II. The Battle Star was awarded for her service at the Okinawa Invasion.
The USS Gage's Voyages (Major Transits)
23-November-1944:Shakedown through 1-January-1945.
USS Gage and crew set sail from San Francisco, California, for the South Pacific.
Upon arrival at Kaurimarau, Russell Islands, 1-February-1945, Gage
disembarked a Military
Civil Affairs Group.
04-February-1945: Arrived at West Kokum Beach, Guadalcanal, with 298 marines. The Gage was assigned as a fighting unit in Division 34, Transport Squadron 12. The Gage participated in warfare maneuvers in the Solomon Islands.
Training period through 06-March-1945 in preparation for the Okinawa
: Training period through 06-March-1945 in preparation for the Okinawa invasion.
15-March-1945: Departed Guadalcanal for Ulithi. This was the staging area for Okinawa invasion.
01-April-1945: The Gage joined in the assault at Hagushi Beach, Okinawa. Gage landed and supported marines of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment, 6th Division, a Navy construction battalion, a medical company, and combat equipment. Gage was on station for five days and nights during heavy fighting and almost continuous kamikaze threat.
The Gage earned one Battle Star for the Okinawa Invasion operations.
05-April-1945: Left the Okinawa area and traveled via the Saipan Island, Marianas, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to San Francisco, California.
Gage arrived at San Francisco, California, and embarked the men and equipment of an Army Air
Gage landed the Army Air Corps personnel at Manila, Luzon, P.I.
Reported for duty with Amphibious Group 9 at Leyte and was dispatched to
New Guinea. After embarking troops at Langemak and Humboldt Bays for
transport to Iloilo, Panay Island, P.I., she returned to San Francisco,
02-August-1945: Gage arrived San Francisco, California. When the news of the surrender of Japan was announced, Gage was under repair in Todd's Dry Dock at Seattle, Washington.
Gage set sail from Seattle, Washington, with 1,724 Army casual replacements who disembarked
at Saipan in the Marianas 5 September.
18-September-1945: Gage departed with 1,600 marines whom she landed late in October as part of the occupation forces at Hiro Wan, Honshu, Japan. These troops were disembarked at Nagasaki Kyushu, Japan.
26-September-1945: Gage shuttled troops from the Philippines and other area bases to ports in Japan through November, 1945.
14-December-1945: Gage reached Portland, Oregon, as the "Magic-Carpet" for 1,700 Army veterans embarked at Okinawa and Manila.
10-January-1946: The Gage made a "Magic Carpet" voyage from San Francisco to Yokosuka. She returned 25 February 1946.),
04-April-1946: The Gage made a "Magic Carpet" voyage to Samar, Philippine Islands, and arrived back on 10-May-1946..
28-May-1946: She again departed San Francisco, California, to support Navy occupation forces at the Chinese ports of Tsingtao and Tientsin and the Japanese ports of Yokosuka and Sasebo.
26-June-1946: Gage departed Sasebo embarked Army veterans in the Marianas and Hawaii, then transited the Panama Canal for Norfolk, arriving 29-July-1946.
USS Gage remained berthed at Norfolk Naval Shipyard
until her decommissioning 26-February-1947 .
26-April-1996: Men and Women (family and friends) attending the Gage's 1996 Reunion boarded a Department of Transportation tug boat at Fort Eustis for a trip to visit the rusting hulk sitting silently in the James River Reserve Fleet.
8-May-2002: The alumni and their families bid farewell at the Final Reunion in Atlantic City, NJ.
Summer 2009: The Gage was towed from the James River Reserve fleet to Brownsville, Tx. There, Esco Marine Salvage will undertake the final dismantling and scrapping of this fine ship.
Total Distance Traveled
APA 117 Haskell
Oregon SB Corp
James River, Va
What is an APA
Amphibious/Attack Transports were designed to sail to the site of amphibious operations carrying assault troops and support equipment. APA/LPA's had the capacity to hold a full battalion of troops. The APA disembarked troops with its own landing craft. The APA would then stand off the beachhead ready to evacuate troops, casualties, and prisoners of war. In order to carry out its primary mission, APA's had to provide all facilities for the embarked troops including, berthing, messing , medical and dental care, and recreational facilities. All APA's in the Navy inventory on 1 January 1969 were redesignated LPA's.
USS Gage's Namesake
The Oregon Trail enters Nebraska in Gage County. Many of the frontier trails criss-cross this historic county.
Gage County was named for the Methodist Minister Reverend William Gage. Reverend Gage was the Chaplain of the first Territorial Assembly in 1856.
The first settlers under the Homestead Act of 1862 settled in Gage County. The 160 acre home of Daniel Freeman (Union Army scout) and his wife, Agnes, is now the Homestead National Monument.
USS Gage's Ribbons
China Service Medal (extended)
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp)
Philippines Liberation Medal
George and Bertha Potter with fellow
shipmate Norm Pierce
Rear Admiral L.J. Alexanderson USNR (Ret) was born on June 27, 1910. Class of 1930 State University of New York Maritime College, Schuyler, New York. Captain Alexanderson took command of the USS Gage at the age of 34. He served the Gage from Commissioning until 20-August-1945. Admiral Alexanderson won many awards, including the American Defense Medal with Star, the American Theatre Medal, Victory Medal WWII and the Naval Reserve Medal.
He became Commodore of the SS United States (the Big U) from 1966 to 1969. The SS United States took the transatlantic speed record from the Queen Mary. Nicknamed "Ajax" and the White Knight by the Schuyler Engineers (SUNY) who served with him on SS United States. Alexanderson is regarded as on of the best mariners of the United States Lines' fleet. Once quoted as saying, " It is said that in a fox hole there are no atheists, and I believe that it is also so on the bridge of a ship."
Ellery Clark Midgett, Captain, USN (Ret.) served as the skipper of the Gage until decommissioning. He served in Korea as Commander of Fleet Activities in Inchon. Retired the Navy in 1958 and joined the Merchant Marines. Served faithfully until retirement as Master Captain in 1968. Volunteered for command duty aboard a hospital sheet for Dessert Shield/Storm but was deemed too old (at 86) by the DoD.
Captain Midgett passed away 25-July-1998.
George L. Potter
January 3, 1992
The movie "Away All Boats" is based aboard an APA boat.
Left to Right
Top Row: QM Frank North, S. H.E.Howell, RdM. Murrell Oliver, S. Jay Imel, Al Stoeckert, RdM. Leon Olson, J.N.Ruston
Middle Row: Richard Murdock, Ralph W. Porterfield, RdM. George Autry, RdM. Norman Pierce, RdM George Potter, RdM Bill McClintock, J.W.Brown
Seated: AerM Albert Morschauser, Ens. R.C.Nelson, Lt. Joseph Beaver, Lt. K.S.Peterson, Lt. Jerome Kasimatis, QM. James Murphy
The USS Gage is Scrapped
A Fond Farewell
Efforts to restore the Gage and turn her into a memorial or museum were tireless in her final years. Unfortunately, her condition, the economy and time worked against those efforts.
Starting in July of 2009, Esco Marine Salvage in Brownsville, TX, got the job to begin salvaging the USS Gage for scrap metal.
The USS Gage spent years in the James River reserve fleet off of Fort Eustis in Virginia (near the Surry Nuclear Power Station) awaiting the scrap yard. The reserve fleet is managed by the Department of Transportation.
Restoration of the DE-766 USS Slater has scavenged some parts from Gage, including speaker housing for the bridge and steel frames for berths. The restoration of the DD-661 USS Kidd (berthed in Baton Rouge) also scavenged some parts.
The USS Kidd DD661
The USS Kidd Memorial in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, presents a living history memorial to the Fltecher Class Destroyers of World War II.
Much of the Kidd needed refurbishment before she could be open to the public as a museum. The USS Gage proved to be a bonanza of parts and equipment used to restore the Kidd to a pretty close state of her original condition.
Some of the equipment scavenged from the Gage during the Kidd's restoration included: bunks, mess tables with benches, radar parts, plotting table from the CIC, 20mm ammunition lockers 20mm magazines, troughs for the heads and WWII-era incandescent light fixtures.
The USS Slater DE766
The USS Slater also needed some work when she was being restored as a memorial in Albany, NY.
The Destroyer Escort is on display at Albany's reiverfront.
The Gage gave up the following equipment for the Slater: air search radar console, the SA radar antenna, a VD-2 radar repeater, TDE and TAJ radio transmitters, two radio operatorís tables, a sterilizer for sickbay, a portable sterilizer for the wardroom, radio receivers, antennas and patch panels, the four sky lookout chairs, troughs and trough seats, washroom mirrors, bunks and chains, the Hobart dough mixer, dozens of light fixtures, all kinds of speakers and amplifiers, compartment fans, desk lights, and MK14 gunsights and compressors. SLATERís whole radio room is restored with many of GAGEís radios.