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Officials ask sailors, Marines, soldiers who served on World War II ship to sound off


Last updated 5/15/2019 at 8:48am

RIVERSIDE - Riverside County's former military affairs commissioner put out a call for former sailors who served aboard the World War II-era combat transport USS Riverside to come forward.

Tom Freeman, currently policy director for county Supervisor Manuel Perez, said it is past time for personnel who spent time on the transport ship, named for Riverside County, to be recognized.

"We are looking for those (sailors) who served aboard the ship, and those Marines and soldiers who may have ridden her home, or to the combat zone,'' Freeman told City News Service.

He said the servicemen's relatives are also being sought.

The USS Riverside was lost in 1968, two decades after it was de-commissioned by the Navy and turned into a freighter for private use on the open seas.

Freeman researched the vessel's history, but is still trying to ascertain how and why Riverside County was honored with a ship named after it.

He said in the early 1940s, the Navy's shipbuilding administrative offices were located in the Riverside area, and that "may have helped the cause.''

The result was a nearly 500-foot-long, 8,100-ton ship that set sail in 1944, near the close of World War II.

According to Freeman, the USS Riverside, designated APA 102, became the flagship for Taskforce Squadron 41, completing its wartime service in the Pacific.

Freeman said the ship made runs through the Panama Canal and stopped numerous times at Pearl Harbor, often carrying wounded servicemen and cargo.

At least twice after the war ended, the USS Riverside was tasked with carrying troops home from overseas climes in "Operation Magic Carpet'' rides, Freeman said.

The ship was retired from the Navy on May 8, 1946. It was sold to private interests in 1948 and used for oceanic journeys, changing hands three times before wrecking near Isabel Island in Chile in March 1968. Remains of the sunken transport are still visible where it went down.

A scale model of the ship is on display in the Veterans Conference Room of the County Administrative Center in downtown Riverside.

Freeman asked anyone who was affiliated with the ship during its military service to contact him directly at [email protected]

He said the hope is to record oral histories, as well as publicly recognize those who served aboard the county-named vessel.

According to Freeman, in 2014, county representatives submitted a formal request for the Pentagon to consider naming a future ship after Riverside County. There has been no response to date.


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