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SS Adoniram Judson

For actions on October 24 – 29 1944

Gallant Ship Award Citation:

In October 1944, the SS ADONIRAM JUDSON, first United States merchant ship to dock at Tacloban, Island of Leyte, during the initial invasion of the Philippines, provided the principal air cover for the landing area for two days until joined by other ships of the expedition. Her guns, manned by a skillful and courageous crew, defeated vigorous and continuous attacks by enemy planes in a series of heroic actions. During this period she unloaded steel airfield landing mats and other military material vital to the success of the operation.

The stark courage of her stalwart crew against overpowering odds caused her name to be perpetuated as a Gallant Ship.

The Liberty ship SS Adoniram Judson was built by Permanente Metals Corp. at Richmond, California. Delivered on March 3, 1943, the vessel was immediately placed in operation under a general agent agreement with W. R. Chamberlain Company.

Operating in the Pacific, Adoniram Judson took part in the Philippines campaign in the Fall of 1944. Adoniram Judson arrived at San Pedro Bay, offshore of the city of Tacloban on the island of Leyte, on October 23; just two days after the Allies invaded the Philippines. The vessel was carrying, among other cargo, metal landing mats to construct a temporary air strip on the island.

Early in the afternoon of October 24, Adoniram Judson was ordered to dock in Tacloban, becoming the first merchant vessel to arrive there after American forces liberated the port. In fact, for that first day, Adoniram Judson was the only U.S. vessel at Tacloban’s docks. Alongside two 40-milimeter gun emplacements and guns from several small landing craft Adoniram Judson‘s gun batteries provided the primary anti-aircraft defense for the area.

Japanese fighters and bombers continued to attack Adoniram Judson as it unloaded its cargo while the Naval Armed Guard and the ship’s merchant crew heroically defended the ship from enemy air strikes. As night fell, to conceal its position, the ship went dark whenever the crew heard more enemy bombers approaching while they continued to unload their cargo.

Air raids continued day and night for several more days as the ship continued to unload. By October 25, Adoniram Judson was one of three Liberty ships in port. On October 28, it had unloaded all of its cargo, including the vital landing mats.

According to the vessel’s master, Adoniram Judson repelled the 56 bombing and strafing runs made on the ship over the course of its three days in port. The ship’s Naval Armed Guard, with assistance from its merchant crew, shot down at least two, and possibly up to six enemy aircraft, and used over 8,000 rounds of ammunition.

Updated: Monday, October 29, 2018